Following Eurovision 2019 in Tel Aviv — and after a fourth straight non-qualification — Montenegro’s broadcaster decided to say adio. Its money, it said, would be better spent on purchasing five vehicles to bolster the safety of the broadcaster’s fleet.
Two years on and we’ve been blessed with good news. The Balkan nation that gave us Who See’s spacemen suits and Slavko’s flying hair braid is back in the game. And who knows. Maybe their Eurovision 2022 star will be ferried around Podgorica in some very nice wheels.
At the end of October, Montenegro’s broadcaster RTCG opened submissions for their song selection for Eurovision 2022. The process comes with the curious rule that demos must be submitted anonymously: CDs or USBs of the demos must be put in a large envelope, with details of the applicant’s identity sealed in a smaller envelope inside. It seems their quirkiness isn’t limited just to the stage!
As we celebrate Montenegro’s return in Italy, it’s time to look back on its wonders of yesteryear. Re-watch the country’s eleven previous entries below. Then vote in our poll to let us know which one is your favourite.
2007: Stevan Faddy “‘Ajde, kroči” – 22nd in the semi-final
Stevan won the country’s national selection in a landslide, earning the right to be the very first singer to represent the country at Eurovision following its independence from Serbia.
The song’s Montenegrin title translates as “Come on, step in,” but it seems Europe was fine keeping its distance. The song finished 22nd in the semi-final out of 28 countries.
2008: Stefan Filipović “Zauvijek volim te” – 14th in the semi-final
Stefan Filipovic again performed in the national language. “Zauvijek volim te” (I Love You Forever) is a pop-rock love song in which he asks his beloved to “be his again”. Europe wasn’t swayed. The song finished 14th out of 19 in Semi-Final 1, though it did earn 12 points from Bosnia & Herzegovina, 10 from Slovenia and 1 from San Marino.
2009: Andrea Demirović “Just Get Out of My Life” — 11th in the semi-final
For some reason, Montenegro favours male performers, but the one time they sent a female lead, they did quite well. In 2009, Andrea Demirović delivered the sassy bop “Just Get Out of My Life”. It narrowly missed out on qualifying, placing 11th in its semi.
The upbeat bop was all about Andrea setting herself free from Mr Wrong. Let’s just say the character she portrayed would not be into the lyrics of Måneskin’s “I Wanna Be Your Slave”. As she sings: “Just get out of my, out of my, out of my head, just get out of my, out of my, out of my bed, it’s beyond belief, but true, I became a slave to you…”
Of course, there is a lyrical twist in the very final bar of the song, which suggests she’s not as resolute in her decision as the preceding three minutes suggest.
2012: Rambo Amadeus “Euro Neuro” — 15th in the semi-final
In 2012, “Euro Neuro” offered indirect social commentary on the state of the European Union, the financial crisis and ecological issues. But did Rambo Amadeus also sneak in some commentary on Montenegro at Eurovision, when he sang “I got no ambition for high position in competition”?
His music video famously featured a donkey. So our reviewer Meows Kitty had her claws out after his first rehearsal, which came with a donkey of a different sort. She wrote: “I can’t make out any of the words that are coming out of Rambo’s mouth with the drums and blaring horns in the background. It’s just a bunch of random noise and rambling. The donkey that contributed to the fame of the song was also on stage, but it wasn’t a real one. I think the prop is completely useless if Rambo is not going to ride it.”
2013: Who See “Igranka” — 12th in the semi-final
Who See and Nina Žižić‘s “Igranka” might be best known as an amazing drum ‘n’ bass song performed by two astronauts and a space diva. But as our Robyn pointed out, hidden within the lyrics is a recipe for a delicious fish dish. The astronauts rap, “Grill garlic, parsley and fish, give me all so I can overeat”. It’s a simple but classic combination of flavours, perfect to highlight freshly caught Montenegrin seafood.
By the way, “Igranka” not qualifying (despite placing fourth with the televote) is the biggest robbery ever and we are still upset about it.
2014: Sergej Ćetković “Moj svijet” — 19th in the grand final
While some countries always send songs in English, Montenegro isn’t afraid to mix things up. Six of the country’s ten entries — including their two qualifiers — have been in Montenegrin, spanning rock, rap, and of course Balkan ballads.
Our Romanian blogger Bogdan was in love. At the time he wrote: “Although Balkan music is not my jam, I like ‘Moj Svijet’. Even without the cinematic video, the song transports you to that beautiful part of the world and makes you fall in love with its colours, rhythms and sounds. (Too bad it ends so abruptly.) Sergej sounds a bit like Zeljko and ‘Moj Svijet’ is similar to ‘Lane Moje’, which makes sense: it represented Serbia and Montenegro ten years ago.”
2015: Knez “Adio” — 13th in the grand final
Montenegro has a reputation for their unusual entries, but they can also deliver an emotional Balkan ballad. Their two grand final qualifications have been with Balkan ballads, including Knez‘s powerful “Adio”, which placed 13th in 2015. Our Robyn was a fan. Here’s what she wrote ahead of Eurovision that year.
“There’s something very intriguing about this song. It has a great melody and Knez brings a certain gravitas to the performance. I’m thinking it might be the sort of song that really comes alive on stage. And I hope that the five women from the music video also make it to Vienna – they have a bit of the classic Montenegro weirdness without being too weird.”
2016: Highway “The Real Thing” — 13th in the semi-final
This was the year Montenegro sent an X Factor boy band. Except it wasn’t your typical X Factor boy band. Highway delivered the full-on stoner rock of “The Real Thing” in 2016. The band brought loads of rock attitude as they lurked in the darkness on the Stockholm stage.
The love was hard to come by with our reviewers, who ranked it 43rd of the 43 songs we reviewed that year. Antranig wrote: “Musically, I really like this song in the chorus — it sounds like it was made for a car-racing game’s soundtrack. However, their vocals are absolutely ghastly and it would probably feature on the soundtrack of my worst nightmares. Them singing “inside you” repeatedly almost warrants a phone call to the Montenegrin authorities.”
2017: Slavko Kalezić “Space” — 16th in the semi-final
In 2017, Slavko took a break from his day job as an actor and graced us with not just his smouldering good looks but also his metre-long braid. With “Space”, he took us to his intergalactic garden of sensual delights and delivered some of the most memorable hairography ever. His skin-tillating music video left a lot of folks saying WTF. But I really admired his bravery. Here’s what I wrote at the time in our Wiwi Jury review.
“It takes a brave man to spend three minutes shirtless while whipping his six-foot hairpiece back. And Slavko is a very brave man. From his talk of wet dreams to his references to ejaculation, he goes where no Eurovision singer has gone before — and then he thrusts and slut drops to punctuate his arrival. Musically he’s managed to pull the discotheque into 2017, delivering a feel-good track that should draw votes from all corners of Europe. It’s Montenegro’s best entry to date and — in the vein of Conchita and Cleo — it could climb the scoreboard despite its divisiveness. Slayko, indeed!”
2018: Vanja Radovanović “Inje” — 16th in the semi-final
In 2018 Montenegro rebooted its national selection Montevizija following several years of internal selections. Vanja, the only male competitor in the field, wowed with his lovely voice — deep, smooth, resonant and imbued with emotion. That he pulled that off in a hotel conference room deserves some applause.
Even so, our Croatian blogger Anthony thought his song paled in comparison to the great ballads the country had sent in the past. He wrote: “Back to basics for Montenegro with their tried and tested formula — a good old vintage Balkan ballad sung entirely in Montenegrin….But ‘Inje’ lacks depth and ends up sounding a tad repetitive to even be considered in the same league as ‘Moj Svijet’ and ‘Adio’.”
2019: D mol “Heaven” — 16th in the semi-final
Our Icelandic writer Kristin gave it a 3 out of 10.
This is like the final soundtrack from a straight-to-DVD Disney film. Does anyone remember The Little Mermaid 2? No? Well, good, ’cause “Heaven” is the tune you’d hear in that! D mol are very accomplished singers and together they harmonise perfectly, but this song does them no justice. It’s dreary, sappy and forgettable. Montenegro has left the building. Thank you, next.
Australian Sebastian, however, saw charms and handed it a 7.5
I’m feeling the love for D mol – merely for the fact that they are trying something aurally different in a sea of familiar sounds. As a recorded track, “Heaven” sounds like a ’90s track, covered by the cast of Glee. And it is exactly those clean, youthful harmonies which bring so much joy out of this track. It might be dated, and we’ve seen the standard key change and dressed-in-white look all before – but it’s still a bop. Seeing a group this large on stage is something that’s sorely lacking at Eurovision.