01 March 2018

Nova deca / Sanja Ilić and Balkanika / Serbia | Review

Sanja Ilić & Balkanika / Eurovision 2018 / Serbia
Sanja Ilić and Balkanika to represent Serbia
Countries which formed the former Yugoslavia usually bring a distinctive quality to the Eurovision Song Contest, something which is increasingly appreciated in a competition that sometimes feels like it has sold out to a repetitively bland template of 'one size fits all' Western music. That's not to say that it is ALL bad, but the uplifting recognition of regional differences should always remain a vital element of the Eurovision phenomenon.

Flag Serbia
With Montenegro having served up its slice of Balkan balladry, all eyes turned to Serbia to see what they would produce. For fans of world music, the winner of Beovizija - the Serbian national final - is heaven sent.

Sanja Ilić and Balkanika is a project which has been around since the turn of the century and one which specializes in combining elements of traditional Serbian music with a modern urban flavour. The Serbian Eurovision entry, Nova deca (Our Children) could be described as exactly that.

Starting out with nearly a full minute of wailing and moaning by the female vocalists, the song shifts gears as the sound of pounding drums intensifies over an insistent clamour of voices combined with an ethnic wind instrument. Now, a Eurovision hit needs to grab the listener's attention pretty quickly, and stalling any hook until halfway through the song is effectively a recipe for disaster. Unfortunately, by the time Nova deca begins to get more appealing, many voters will have lost interest.

Songs from the Balkans usually take the listener on a truly dramatic journey. They tend to develop and intensify over the passage of three minutes. This Serbian entry, while no doubt captivating to a local audience, feels as if it could be two compositions cobbled together and is therefore not entirely satisfying.

Unfortunately for Serbia, it will probably go the way of similar ethnically sounding examples of recent years - think Macedonia 2013 for instance - and fail to make it to the Grand Final. Hopefully, this kind of result will not deter countries from continuing to enter colourful examples of their regional tradition. For Eurovision, it's just finding the right one.

What do you think?

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