The Wiwi Jury — our in-house panel of music unprofessionals — have come together to review a Eurovision legend who has performed at the contest twice and written many more songs for Serbia, as well as countries such as Montenegro and Bosnia and Herzegovina. Ladies and gentleman, Željko Joksimovic with the ballad “Nije Ljubav Stvar”.

To Eurofans everywhere, “Lane Moje” — Serbia and Montenegro’s Eurovision entry in 2004 — is a modern classic in the contest’s history. Željko Joksimovic followed up in 2012 with the equally authentic “Nije Ljubav Stvar”, this time representing the now independent Serbia. On his first attempt Željko narrowly missed out on victory with a second place finish, however his second attempt kept him inside the top three in third place.

The song speaks of being in love with someone but knowing the relationship isn’t working, and having to let go. With lyrics translating to “I wish you the best, this love is just my shipwreck”, it’s a heartbreaker that touched many fans across the continent. Are the Wiwi Jury crying with it, or have they turned off already? Let’s see.

Željko Joksimovic – “Nije Ljubav Stvar”

“Nije Ljubav Stvar” reviews

William: Zeljko Joksimovic isn’t afraid to let his music speak for itself, or to take a backseat and let his instrumentalists shine. Just as he did in 2004, he brought his Jesus lookalike friend to Eurovision, and he worked his wooden flute throughout the song. It all harked back to the days when ESC contestants performed with a live orchestra, rather than an electronic backing. As for the song, it builds gradually, but captures your attention instantly. I like the pace, and I love how Zeljko gave us face! Perhaps Serbia’s strongest entry since 2007’s “Molitva”.

Score: 7/10

Angus: “Nije ljubav stvar” is a really beautiful thing. From the interplay between the string players, the solemn opening over the piano, or Zeljko’s own command of the stage there is a real magic in the performance. It shows that when the ingredients of regional ballad come together on stage, you can get exceptional results. It has progression, dynamism and makes real use of the vast stage on offer in Azerbaijan.

Score: 7/10

Bernardo: Željko Joksimovic will go down as a Eurovision institution that helped showcase the best of his regional musical culture to the entire world. “Nije Ljuvan Stvar” is the crown jewel of his career. The strings arrangement and the melody takes you on a journey you hope will never end. Unfortunately Eurovision has a three-minute per song rule.

Score: 7.5/10

Deban: A classic ballad that warms the heart, “Nije Ljubav Stvar” is a feast for the ears. Lyrically poetic and beautifully arranged, this is a song that builds into an incredible climax. Željko Joksimovic’s strength as a singer-songwriter really comes to form; even the instrumental bridge tugs on your heart strings. Seven years on, listening to this song evokes the same feelings I felt in 2012. This Serbian entry has gone on to become one of my most played all-time classics.

Score: 8.5/10

Oliver: Željko Joksimovic has given us a quality entry every time he involves himself with the Eurovision Song Contest — regardless of which country he is working for. While a Eurovision victory has escaped his clutches, his songs still live on in the hearts of Euro-fans around the globe. The year 2012 may have been the year of Loreen, but “Nije Ljubav Stvar” is a quintessential example of what Joksimovic does best.  The orchestral musicality of this entry is one which still amazes me seven years after it graced the stage and the back-bending violin solo during the bridge gives me goosebumps every time.

Score: 10/10

Barnabas: Loreen might have won by a landslide in Baku, but that doesn’t take anything from the fact that Zeljko’s second Eurovision entry is the most beautiful song that has ever graced the Eurovision stage. The emotions and sadness expressed through the music pierce through the heart of the listener, breaking it to pieces, as Zeljko’s vocal mastery breaks through the barriers of language and culture, giving me goosebumps every time I listen to it. Thank you for competing twice, maestro!

Score: 10/10

In the Wiwi Jury we have 24 jurors but only have room for six reviews. The remaining scores are below:

Antranig: 4/10

Pablo: 8/10

Robyn: 7.5/10

Lucy: 6/10

Sebastian: 9/10

Jonathan: 8/10

Calvin: 9/10

Luis: 8.5/10

Kristin: 10/10

Edd: 8.5/10

Lukas: 5/10

Florian: 8/10

Steinunn: 10/10

Natalie: 6/10

Julian: 4.5/10

Katie: 8/10

Tom: 8/10

Charlotte: 5.5/10

We have removed the highest and lowest scores prior to calculating the average. This is to remove outliers and potential bias. We have removed a low of 4 and a high of 10.

Wiwi Jury verdict: 7.7/10

What do you think of this song? Share your own score and review below!

See all of our Wiwi Jury of the 2010s rankings here

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zelenovi
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zelenovi

This song makes me emotional to this day – as do Lane Moje, Lejla and Adio. We don’t deserve all the beauty that Zeljko has given us over the years <3.

Purple Mask
Guest
Purple Mask

At the time, this wasn’t one of my favourites. I even felt that its final score had been somewhat inflated by the “Balkan votes”. But, with the benefit of age and hindsight, I like this entry a lot more today. It’s a solid, by the numbers ballad, with a nice melody and a great singer.

Slytherin's Horcrux
Guest
Slytherin's Horcrux

This is my no. 1 favourite Eurovision song ever! I love it so much

Briekimchi
Guest
Briekimchi

Have to ask, if you don’t love an entry like this, what are you even watching Eurovision for?
Magical.

Jo.
Guest
Jo.

Tasteless people gave this less than 5.0/10
I’ll pray for them…

Jo.
Guest
Jo.

just kidding, I won’t, and may they burn in hell!!

Skiwalko
Guest

I guess in Eurovision hell fans are forced to watch “That Sounds Good To Me” on a neverending repeat.
Poor Antranig and Julian…

Sabrina
Guest
Sabrina

Beautiful song, great use of strings, crystal clear heartfelt singing, ellegant staging… what’s not to deeply respect about it? Even if it’s not his best effort, it’s a very solid one.

Joe
Guest
Joe

A beautiful tune. Kind of faded into the background both in comparison to the top two of 2012 and Lane moje, but it still really holds up. And he’s playing in New York next week so I’m gonna try and see him! 9/10.

Joe
Guest
Joe

Nije ljubav stvar seems to have faded into the background both in comparison to his previous appearance and the flashier top two of 2012, but the fact remains that this song holds up. 2012 was never one of my favorite Eurovision years, but this song is a major standout, building up really well and making great use of Joksimovic’s voice and traditional Balkan instruments. Definitely worth another listen.

My ranking so far:
1. Nije Ljubav Stvar
2. A Million Voices
3. Popular

DuncanLee
Guest
DuncanLee

Beautiful song

Skiwalko
Guest

“Lane moje” is an undeniable Eurovision classic (tho I would hesitate to call it a masterpiece), but, call me ignorant, “Nije Ljubav Stvar” is just… OK? It has nice lyrics, Zeljko sounds great, and the music is pleasant, but I can’t see the work of master many fans are building it up to be. The structure of the song and stage show are very similar to the 2004 entry, yet while “Lane moje” was stuck in my head the first time I heard it, “Nije…” just didn’t do much for me. Still, among many Balkan ballads we saw at Eurovision… Read more »

Mr. Vanilla Bean
Guest
Mr. Vanilla Bean

I agree with you. To be honest, I was underwhelmed by him in 2012 because I loved all his other Eurovision songs before SO MUCH, it wasn’t on the same level for me personally. Luckily, he recovered with “Adio”, which I LOVED again. Of course, in terms of results, a third place certainly needs no recovery.

Skiwalko
Guest

Same opinion here, “Adio” is definitely my favourite song of his, and Knez performed it in such an emotional and powerful way – it gives me chills every time and is in first place joint with Latvia and Sweden (yes, I’m one of the few people that think “Heroes” was a great winner) on my 2015 list.

Mr. Vanilla Bean
Guest
Mr. Vanilla Bean

Totally agree, I’m just replacing Sweden with Norway and Latvia with France. 😛

Skiwalko
Guest

Oh, Lisa was criminally underrated, what a voice! Yet I really don’t care for Norway. In theory it looks like an entry I should love, but I just never got its magic and don’t really listen to it. I know, I know, I have no taste 😉

Mr. Vanilla Bean
Guest
Mr. Vanilla Bean

Definitely my least favorite Joksimovic Eurovision entry and STILL a great one. But I love “Jutro” and “Adio” the most, followed by “Oro”, “Lane moje” and “Lejla”. Five excellent songs, that speaks for itself. Balkan ballads are one of my favorite genres of Eurovision songs so I’m naturally drawn to them. Considering what Serbia sent after Zeljko just proves how much they need them now as a songwriter. I honestly wish they’d just put him on retainer at this point. Not kidding. In 2012, however, my love went to Estonia, North Macedonia, Slovenia and Sweden, after Iceland switched to English.

Joe
Guest
Joe

Dude has never had a bad ESC entry. I know he’s said he doesn’t want to compete as a performer anymore, but I really hope he composes another entry (I think Montenegro could use his help again in particular).

Mr. Vanilla Bean
Guest
Mr. Vanilla Bean

I actually like him much more as a composer, so that would be perfect for me. Both Serbia and Montenegro could use some Joksimovic magic right about now. Or maybe Croatia could enlist him. He is the good Zeljko after all. “The Dream” has made that painfully obvious.

Briekimchi
Guest
Briekimchi

Am more of an “Oro” guy, myself.

Polegend Godgarina
Guest

a classic

James
Guest
James

2012 was the year of the Balkan ballad, with just bout everyone in the former Yugoslavia bringing in the goods: B&H, Croatia, Slovenia, North Macedonia, and Serbia.

But Montenegro just had to ruin it all that year. Lol

Möhrant
Guest
Möhrant

Montenegro had no ambition for high position in the competition with air condition.

Skiwalko
Guest

But they still stayed cool like a swimming pool.

Joe
Guest
Joe

That was the first song in the first semi. Wrap your head around that: if you decided to follow all three shows for the first time that year and hadn’t heard any of the songs before, your first impression of Eurovision would be Rambo Amadeus.

Skiwalko
Guest

Or 2010 with Epic Sax Guy, or Ping Pong in 2000…
Though I still can’t decide if my favourite “I don’t care” troll act was Rambo or Alf Poier… Tough call.

Mr. Vanilla Bean
Guest
Mr. Vanilla Bean

2008 was dark in terms of troll entries. Estonia, Ireland and Spain were unforgivable, really. Especially Estonia hurt, because they had good stuff.

Skiwalko
Guest

Nah, I love some good troll entry, including all the mentioned. And Kreisiraadio is like a better version of Il Volo really. But, to be fair, 2008 had lots of good/at least enjoyable music too, like Finland, Turkey, Azerbaijan, Norway, Portugal, Serbia, France (good song disguised as a troll act), to name a few.

Joe
Guest
Joe

One of my favorite stories: somebody reminded Rambo that Montenegro had never qualified up to that point. He replied, “And I intend to keep up that tradition.” No kidding!

Mr. Vanilla Bean
Guest
Mr. Vanilla Bean

That made me smile. Can’t help but like this one. It’s a different kind of trolling that’s more accessible to me. Like, if you actually have good humor (unlike the horror shows of 2008), I’m okay with it. And it couldn’t have been easy to be forced to rehearse that song so many times.

Joe
Guest
Joe

I appreciate the occasional troll act if it’s somewhat clever, but except for France, the ones in 2008 turned Eurovision into the joke non-fans dismiss it as. Thank goodness for Ukraine and Turkey.

Mr. Vanilla Bean
Guest
Mr. Vanilla Bean

Serbia and Portugal saved this year for me.

Joe
Guest
Joe

Them too. I also thought the UK and San Marino had good songs but they both tanked for reasons I’m not totally sure of. Only a handful of the actual good songs did well (I count Israel there too), and the winner wasn’t one of them.
There were only a couple of novelty songs that year I actually enjoyed. France, Latvia, and eternal guilty pleasure/blatant attempt to court the Eastern vote “Vodka” from Malta. Na zdroviye!

Skiwalko
Guest

2008 was not a bad year and I rest my case.
The top 3 was bad (tho Ukraine was fun on stage), but the big portion of the rest to me is god damn catchy! It was the peak of Eurovision’s craziness at its best and I love it (however Latvia always gives me a headache). Not many sophisticated songs tho, I have to admit that.

Stevan
Guest
Stevan

Mtonenegro is actually my 2nd in 2012

Pablo Nava
Member

Hot take?

By miles better than his 2004 try.

Tibor
Guest
Tibor

I’m not a huge fan of Balkan music, but this is one of the instances, when I just shut up, as soon as he opens his mouth. He clearly is meant to be a singer, I may not be particularly keen on the kind of music he makes, but I can recognise its merits. Still, I think that there were other acts in 2012 that would have deserved to finish higher, but I’m not upset about his good result and never was.