Serbia - Steve Stigwood

RTS is Serbia's national broadcaster and each year Beovizija is held to select Serbia's entrant for ESC. Serbia has only won Eurovision once, and this was in its debut year in 2007. Of course the winning song "Molitva" has become a classic Eurovision favourite and I hope soon to see another Serbian winner on the Eurovision stage.

This year, 76 song submissions were received and 24 of these songs were chosen for competition. In a spectacular event held over 2 nights these songs were narrowed down to 12 songs for the final held on  3  March. It is a long show with multiple hosts, interval acts and interviews but finally the Jury and televotes were tallied and the winner was announced.

The Winner for 2019 is Novena Bozovic with "Kruna" ( combined Jury and televote 20 points) - Novena is a 24 year old Music graduate from Belgrade University. She is a singer songwriter and she has written and composed "Kruna" (Crown) and she describes this song as "from my heart". She is no stranger to Eurovision stage as she represented Serbia in Junior Eurovision 2007, and was part of the trio that represented Serbia at ESC in 2013. Now it's time for her to step out alone.

The song is a bilingual modern ballad with a background of orchestral and traditional music. It starts slowly and builds to a powerful rock chorus that also includes orchestra and piano. Novena is a stunning performer, owning the stage and is able to bring an emotional pull to this song. The audience was spellbound, as was I. Her vocals were excellent, probably the best in the final.  Staging was simple and just a few pyro fountains to highlight the climax towards the end of the song. Costuming was elegant, modern and sexy. I'm predicting a top 10 finish for Serbia with this song.

Runner- up was Dzenan Loncarevic ( combined Jury and televote  17 points) with his dramatic performance of " Nema Suza". I can recommend that you take a look at this entry because what's happening on stage will not be repeated again- hopefully. Dzenan is a mature singer who presents Balkan drama at its best. It's a theatrical and powerful performance at times, and then verging on melodrama at other times. His vocals are excellent. The staging and support performers included a teary older woman who is knitting,  a concerned young man( possibly her son), a very large ball of wool, and the longest knitting scarf/rope/plait that has even been seen on any stage, I am sure. So long in fact, that it needs 3 ballet dancers to circle the stage with it and then lasso Dzenan: until finally he is ensnared. It was a very popular act.

Third place ( combined Jury and televote 16 points) was secured by the first entrant of the final Saska Janks, with her song " Da li cubes moj glas". Saska is a singer songwriter entering with her own material this year. She is a polished performer, well known to the Serbian audience, and was in fact  Beovizija runner-up in 2018. She has also been a back up singer for ESC in 2010, 2011 and 2015. I remember her being the overwhelming audience favourite that year and was not surprised that she again entered this final as the favourite. She is arresting on stage with her pink hair adventurous dress sense and signature raspy vocals. The song has a early introduction of traditional Balkan music and then opens into a faster "pop vibe". Saska described her song as " Pop soul Balkan fusion". It was an energetic performance.

Honourable mention goes to the upbeat fourth placed Wonderstrings with Irana Vladovic and their song "Moja Bol". It was a entertaining song with major string elements and drums. Irana's vocals were powerful and this song was a real surprise and I enjoyed it's unexpected quality and professional presentation. I hope they return in 2020.

In summary, I am hopeful that in 2019 Serbia should shine with Novena and I would be shocked if she does not make the final with this powerful song, her skilled interpretation and performance.