The Wiwi Jury — our in-house team of music unprofessionals — is reviewing and rating the 40 competing songs in Eurovision 2022. Next we review Montenegro, who have chosen Vladana with “Breathe”.

Were we gasping for more? Read on to find out!

Vladana – “Breathe” (Montenegro Eurovision 2022)

Review: Vladana – “Breathe”

Luis: The second I heard Montenegro’s song, I was into it. Vladana brings amazing vocals and stage presence to an entry whose only problem is the lyrics. Not the message, the lyrics: it somehow feels as if they were written in Montenegrin and then directly translated into English. Somehow the words don’t seem as smooth as the song’s progression, which is fabulous. The ending is really strong, and it’s admiring to see how Vladana created epicness out of the pain she expresses in the song.

Score: 8

Jonathan: There’s clearly a lot of meaning behind “Breathe” for Vladana. However, the song perhaps doesn’t get those emotions over to the listener as much as she would have wanted. The biggest barrier is the rather basic nature of the lyrics. “The air is what they breathe / They’ll die without it” – this could come from a primary school science lesson. Musically, it does build into quite a rousing ballad and it’s generic enough to appease people from any country. So, who knows, maybe if Vladana sells it on the night we could still see a Tamara Todevska style sweep of the jury vote. 

Score: 5

Oliver: Aside from the colourful styling, there’s little setting “Breathe” apart from other Balkan ballads of Eurovision yesteryear. Despite huge vocals, dreamy woodwind passages and soaring strings, this song won’t make its way into history books any time soon. But there’s a reason this formula works, and Vladana is doing it well. As one of the only tracks of the year in 6/8 time, “Breathe” has a breezy, ethereal feel. It’s comparable in structure and ambience to Donna Burke’s “Sins of the Father”, an equally epic piece from the Metal Gear Solid V soundtrack. With a stroke of luck, Montenegro could find its way back into the Eurovision final.

Score: 6.5

William: Discussing the pandemic through song isn’t easy — and may well end with a lyrical mess. Cue Vladana’s “Breathe”, which proves the point: “The air is what they need, air is what they breathe, they’ll die without it, it’s unforgivable.” No one disputes that. But spelling it out so bluntly makes this song read more like a protest pamphlet — and protest pamphlets are rarely memorable. The music is stronger than the text, but not even that will save this: “Breathe” sucks the air out of the room and with it any shot of a spot in the final.

Score: 3

Antranig: It wouldn’t be Eurovision without a great Balkan ballad and that’s where Montenegro steps in. While the lyrics may be in English, “Breathe” has all the elements of a solid entry from the region. I think people will relate to this song but I don’t know if it has the immediacy to stand out from the crowd. Nevertheless, if Vladana can deliver live, she definitely has the tools to deliver Montenegro its third grand final appearance. Make no mistake, Vladana is a classy performer and this is a quality entry.

Score: 7

Montenegro Eurovision 2022 ranking

In the Eurovision 2022 Wiwi Jury, we have 18 jurors but only have room for five reviews. The remaining scores are below:

Angus: 3.5

Cinan: 8

Deban: 6.5

Josh: 4.5

Lucy: 4

Natalie: 6

Pablo: 6

Renske: 6

Robyn: 5

Ron: 6.5

Sebastian: 5

Suzanne: 6

Tom: 7.5

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 3 and a high of 8.

Wiwi Jury verdict: 5.81/10

What do you think of Montenegro’s Eurovision 2022 entry? Share your own score and review for Vladana’s “Breathe” below!

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Briekimchi
Briekimchi
2 months ago

You’ve had the same sort of ranking journey with this as I’ve had. Hopefully, the live vocals are a pre-party thing and not a live Eurovision broadcast thing.
I just wish the instrumentation was better and that there was more effort to make this sound polished (underdeveloped is actually a good word for it) as yes, it could’ve been a much grander and captivating entry.

Briekimchi
Briekimchi
2 months ago

I actually have this rated fairly highly, despite a number of faults. It’s just very melodically pleasing to me and the actual structure of the song is something I can follow and feel like I’ve gone through a proper musical journey. There is a really good song at the core but it’s just under some layers of, incompetent lyricism and musical production. The lyrics are a huge issue and honestly, I always thought they would be from the moment I saw who was involved in the songwriting and Vladana’s insistence that they were going to present this song in English.… Read more »

Briekimchi
Briekimchi
2 months ago
Reply to  Briekimchi

Rating: 7.0/10.0

Colin
Colin
2 months ago
Reply to  Briekimchi

This is a really fair and well written review, Briekimchi. My initial rating was actually also around a 7, before I really start analyzing the lyrics. The thing is, cheesy lyrics *can* even work in a song’s favor (I’d say that both Cleopatra and Mata Hari would be lower on my lists if the lyrics were actually middle of the road, and not fully camp), but it’s not recommended in an emotional song like this. If your goal is for the people to take your message seriously, you try to have at least solid lyrics. ”Bad lyrics” enjoyment add to… Read more »

mark dowd
mark dowd
2 months ago

totally agree with William. The lyrics are too “on the nose.”.. Too literal and banal. NQ.

ayzelto
ayzelto
2 months ago

I really appreciate how meaningful this song is for her. It’s touching in a way, but quite weak at the same time. I don’t think this will stand out, neither qualify. But we will see.. 5,5/10 from me.

Héctor
Héctor
2 months ago

Finally a review of this song I can get behind. I don’t know why, I feel this song was being overrated. I find this song rather boring and uninteresting. Yes, she has a great voice but that’s not enough obviously. The typical ballad sung by female that’s has incredible voice but really goes nowhere and it’s to bland to even make me feel anything. I may be a little bit biased against this kind of ballads as I didn’t like North Macedonia’s 2019 “Proud” either. It is better than D’Mol though. Like at this moment everything professionally produced is a… Read more »

Azan
Azan
2 months ago

If she can infuse the Italian lyrics with the English lyrics, and work on the higher notes, I think this will do well

Lil Krumpy
2 months ago

35.Montenegro – I don’t know, I’d like Montenegrin obviously. It has the Balkan elements, but I don’t think it has enough emotional suspense for it to be a proper Balkan ballad.

Sabrina
Sabrina
2 months ago

It’s good to see Montenegro returning with ambition, putting a real effort on their entry. The production of the track is very good, as are Vladana’s vocals. And how not to be touched by a song about the loss of a mother during the pandemic? Unfortunately, all those positive qualities are seriously harmed by lyrics that sound like a bad translation. A considerable part of them are painfully literal (“Air is what they breathe, they’ll die without it”) and keep ruining my attempts to further connect to the material. 5.5/10

Colin
Colin
2 months ago

MONTENEGRO – This piano ballad has a very lovely melody and a great production. There is a clear care in its presentation. Usually, I love dramatic and sentimental songs. Still, I find some issues here. Most notably, the lyrics feel just too literal for the emotional toll they are aiming at. You can joke with ”blue is blue and red is red” when analyzing it, but how to have fun with ”the air is what they breathe” knowing the heavy backstory which lies behind it? Within the context, the lyrics sound a bit didactic, but if removed from it, they’d… Read more »

Briekimchi
Briekimchi
2 months ago
Reply to  Colin

My overall impression of this song is probably a lot more favourable than yours yet, I still find your review to be a bit too positive (even if I like the song!). I honestly can’t understand thinking that this song is well-produced since I am detecting so many issues in it solely in the musical production aspects! It’s so frustrating that there are this many bad decisions in what should be a good song. I do agree though that Vladana is selling this song well emotively and through her stage presence a lot more than vocally at this point. I… Read more »

Colin
Colin
2 months ago
Reply to  Briekimchi

My comment about a good production was mostly aimed at the care put into orchestration and the music video, which both feel polished. I wouldn’t call all of the instrumental choices perfect, though. The guitar, for instance, sometimes feels out of place. I just feel like odd instrumental choices are done deliberately, not for the lack of attention to details, if that makes sense? Vocally, she is solid, but at times, the higher register notes don’t hit the right spot, and I feel like a belter like this mostly aims at jury support to make it qualify. I might be… Read more »

Tobi with an I
Tobi with an I
2 months ago

Lets hope she can improve her vocals in Turin, the Pre Party Vocals were not good.

Polegend Godnova
2 months ago

i have several issues with this entry. from a songwriting point of view, it’s clunky: she’s often trying to fit too many syllables in one line, and her word choices aren’t always very…musical. and from a medical point of view, this song is basically about aggressive treatment, which i disagree with. but it has a beautiful instrumental, and i won’t be mad if it qualifies for the sake of montenegro’s future participations !

Una
Una
2 months ago

I rank it as one of my demi 2 qualifiers for it’s very personal to Vladana. Lyrically speaking it may not be the best, but it comes from the heart. The chorus has some redeeming quality and it’s easy to remember.
I applaud Montenegro’s return in 2022!!

Jo.
Jo.
2 months ago

it does sound like a protest song like “stop stealing our air, say no to hot air balloons”

ESCLOU
ESCLOU
2 months ago

7/10 For both the 2021 and 2022 seasons we have had songs which were about the pandemic, but imo none have been as personal as ‘Breathe’. Although some of the lyrics don’t really idk flow? you can for sure tell how much this song means to Vladana and I love that 🙂

Vivian
Vivian
2 months ago

I like this song a lot, although it has grown off me over the past few weeks. I still do enjoy it but the biggest pitfall here is Vladana’s vocal. If she manages to pick herself up and come on stage with great staging (which Montenegro CAN do!) I definitely think this could do better than what the odds portray right now. I would certainly welcome this into the final! A solid 7/10 for me!

Lewis
Lewis
2 months ago

I love a ballad. I love drama. And it serves me both!! I loved this song from first listen. For me a 9/10, only because nothing is perfect ?.

Ria van de Velde
Ria van de Velde
2 months ago

I like the song but she should sing the Italian version Respira

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_Mpe0ywRE70&ab_channel=VLADANA

Briekimchi
Briekimchi
2 months ago

100% this.
Or at least this arrangement with a non-English lyric.

Jesper Hjellnes
Jesper Hjellnes
2 months ago

As a ballad lover, I honestly like this one a lot. I would love to see Vladana qualify, but I don’t find it likely. Breathe sounds like a song that would be saved by the juries, but Vladana needs to have great live vocals for that to happen. And her pre-party performances have not been great. Still I’m hoping Montenegro will go through, I love the song

Kosey
Kosey
2 months ago

22. Montenegro – Vladana – Breathe – 6.5/10 – I love me a bit of melodrama and this one cranks it up very nicely. The quiet, slow start builds into a soaring vocal chorus which moves the song into that classic, extravagant Eurovision territory which always gets points in my book. The lyrical content is a little basic which holds back a deeper emotional connection but overall I imagine that I will be enjoying Vladana’s performance in Turin.

Purple Mask
Purple Mask
2 months ago

Here we have a flowing stop-start melody in 6/8 time, combined with the sincerity of emotion behind a suffering family that has been personally witnessed. The quiet first minute of the song draws the listener in, and establishes the flowing melody over the dramatic key of G minor. However, it is from Verse 2 onwards that I start to detect issues. The added instrumentation feels too heavy here, and the added clash notes in the second Pre-Chorus give me the creeps. Next we get a “Chorus 2,” where a string instrument (possibly cello or a folk instrument) doubles the melody… Read more »

pmsbm
pmsbm
2 months ago
Reply to  Purple Mask

Thanks for opening my hears to something really unexpected!

Briekimchi
Briekimchi
2 months ago
Reply to  Purple Mask

Excellent analysis, Purple. And actually, some spot-on criticism. They have shown that they can revamp this song successfully, now it’s just a question of whether they realise how much the song needs it and go with a version of it that sounds fit-for-purpose.

Stephanie
Stephanie
2 months ago

Maybe not a very popular opinion but I found this kinda boring.

Thanos
Thanos
2 months ago

32.Montenegro: I never really got into this song. It always gives the impression that it will go somewhere but it never actually does. I feel like the structure of the song is not gripping enough, and the music video didn’t impress me either. I have also seen people complaining about her live performances at the pre-parties which is also never a good sign. On the other hand, I do like some parts of the instrumentation. I feel like this song’s instrumental could have been a base for a nice Balkan Ballad. If they had gone more deep into that direction,… Read more »

Briekimchi
Briekimchi
2 months ago
Reply to  Thanos

I’m completely the opposite in my take. I love the structure of the song but have so many problems with the instrumental choices and the overall approach to the production.
I also have this about 15 places higher in my ranking than you do…so I’m speaking out of disappointment. ;;

KuhKatz
KuhKatz
2 months ago

Unfortunately, Montenegro is one of a few I personally put on a almost sure NQ-list.

There has to be a memorable staging to stand out because the song itself doesn‘t do anything. And if Vladana sings like at the preparties, it‘ll have no chance at all.

Zisk
Zisk
2 months ago

I have a hard time giving this anything above a 4 or 5. Balkan ballads have this kind of very specific ethereal vibe to them when done well and this just feels like some balkan melodies thrown onto a rather mediocre song with lyrics too blatant to actually get the point across without feeling preachy.

Efthymios
Efthymios
2 months ago

Lovely fusion between traditional Balkan and modern sounds, terrific lyrics (specifically, some of the best this year, being completely objective this time), the flow of the rhythm brings more power to the song as it progresses, I really like this entry as a whole. But if Vladana struggles to hit some of the higher notes in the end, I’m pretty worried that Montenegro won’t be qualifying to the Grand Final for yet another year. But still, I love the song as it is. My 23rd place, with an 8/10 rating (Yes, 23rd isn’t bad in my list for this year,… Read more »

gea
gea
2 months ago

The thing is, the song is trying to be Balkan and modern at the same time while at the end it doesn’t fulfill any of those two things. It is not a bad song, but we are slowly getting over this approach at Eurovision: Balkan countries can offer much more (see Serbia and Albania for example). However, if they manage to stage this properly and if she sings well, I think Montenegro has a chance to qualify.

Hannah
Hannah
2 months ago

I’m sorry but I really don’t like this song. I am unsure whether she will be able to sing this song on the ESC stage without shouting like she’s done at the pre-parties. She has a lot to work on. I’ll give it a generous 3/10.

The Voice of Reason
The Voice of Reason
2 months ago

I don’t get the hate towards the lyrics for this song and I predict that she’ll be much better live vocally at Eurovision.

Dent
Dent
2 months ago

she needs to work on her high notes, ironically she sounds like she’s out of breath at the line “You better breathe”

Emily
Emily
2 months ago

Montenegro – For what it is, it’s alright. It’s a decent Balkan ballad but I think the lyrics shouldn’t have been in English as I feel that’s what drags it down. For me it’s a non-qualifier but overall it’s not terrible, just not great. 5/10

okanial
okanial
2 months ago

I always find it annoying how William never say bad stuff even for songs we all know is gonna come last and/or with terrible vocals.

I’m shocked his comment about this is quite blunt and rude

Dawid
Dawid
2 months ago
Reply to  okanial

And then gives it 3 points anyway

Karl
Karl
2 months ago
Reply to  okanial

It’s not rude. It’s spot on. But yeah, I wish William didn’t always tried to sugarcoat things, especially with obviously bad entries.

Jamaraqueer
Jamaraqueer
2 months ago
Reply to  okanial

Huh? You say you don’t like sugar-coating. Then you say you are offended by a comment that doesn’t sugar-coat?

Okan
2 months ago
Reply to  Jamaraqueer

I didnt say I don’t like it. Im just shocked. I didnt expect that

Pete
Pete
2 months ago

Well, she has a nice eyebrows…. And that’s all about this song….

Leo M
Leo M
2 months ago

This is a strong ballad and had a nice message but there are just other songs that are stronger in their semi. It still could surprise us but right now I don’t have it in the top qualifiers 6/10

Scott
Scott
2 months ago

Nice melody- nice attempt at being current with the lyrics….. ticks all the Balkan Ballad boxes- will look amazing live ….. but it’s too forgettable.

User2134
User2134
2 months ago

I love her voice and the instrumental, but I believe this song would have benefited from not being in English. The translation results in a few limes sounding quite weird. 7/10 25th/40

User2134
User2134
2 months ago
Reply to  User2134

*Lines

Lorena
Lorena
2 months ago

I love Luis (I am Spanish too and follows him in Twitter), but, really, you cannot be that good with ALL the songs…. I think the minimum he has given so far has been 7.
We may agree, these are the best songs every country could get, but, if you give from 7 up, there is no way you really can see which one your real favourites are or make a difference between your number 5 and your number 20 or your number 30.

Karl
Karl
2 months ago

I agree with William wholeheartedly here.

Benny
Benny
2 months ago

Worst lyrics of the year totally unprofessional this can’t be rewarded by more than 2.5/10

Nicky
Nicky
2 months ago
Reply to  Benny

no worst lyrics of the year of course go to Malta lol

Polegend Godnova
2 months ago
Reply to  Nicky

malta’s lyrics are just basic, nothing comes close to “it hurts so fast when love goes bad” in terms of awful lyrics

just an esc fan
just an esc fan
2 months ago

As a fan of the Balkan ballads, it’s a song I really enjoy. The thing is that the choice for the lyrics being in English language was wrong. The lyrics feel random for me. Also, the vocals in pre-parties weren’t strong enough. Its strongest part is definitely its instrumentation. Despite Serbia being in the same semi, its chances to qualify are few. It needs a stronger vocal performance and a memorable staging.

Rating: 7.5/10 (20th)