Serbia’s girl-group Moje 3 missed out on a spot in this year’s final by a mere 6 points, having performed their song “Ljubav Je Svuda” last in their semi-final, wearing what can only be described as the most hideous and unexplainable outfits Eurovision has seen since Barbara Dex herself. However, when they were chosen as Serbian representatives back in March, they were dressed in a completely different – and waaaay more suitable – way; which leads me to ask today’s “what if”… Would they have been able to squeeze into the final if they kept their national final costumes?
Rewind back to March 3rd 2013. The top three contestants from “Prvi Glas Srbije” – Serbia’s answer to “The Voice” – have been thrown together into a makeshift girl-group, specifically engineered for a shot at Eurovision. They’re already in the public conscience, and they easily win the national final with the up-tempo pop song “Ljubav Je Svuda”. For the national final performance, they put together a clearly defined concept for the stage presentation; rooted in the lyrics of the song. Nevena Božović portrayed a woman torn between her two consciences – the angel played by Mirna Radulović, and the devil played by Sara Jovanović. The presentation comes across like this:
Regardless of how much of a superficial group they are, I personally adore their song. Drawing towards the end of the national final season, a bit of supremely catchy, supremely trashy Balkan dance-pop was exactly what I needed to restore my faith in the overall standard of 2013. I loved it from first listen, and still love it to this day. And whilst the vocal performance wasn’t show-stopping by any means, the above performance of the song had at least one saving grace: the costumes.
Even these were initially ridiculed by the press and fans following the song’s selection, with the angel/devil concept only really making sense to those who had looked into the translation of the lyrics. However, it seemed as though Serbia had a fairly well rehearsed stage show all ready to take to Malmö, and their assumed automatic qualification was only further enhanced by the producers selecting them to close the first semi-final. Everything seemed in line for a fourth consecutive qualification… but then THIS happened…
We got to Eurovision and Moje 3 were no longer Moje 3… they appeared to have transformed into a set of lesbian dolls dressed in reject Christmas decorations chucked together by the set designer of Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory. The hair was outlandish, the make-up was frightening and the “dancing” – yes, I’m looking at you and your slut drops Sara – was frankly hilarious. All chances of qualification extinguished there and then with a set of shockingly bad artistic decisions.
But what on earth possessed the delegation to change the costumes and the staging!? Yes, the NF performance needed refining slightly, but it was there or there abouts. What would have happened in Malmö had the angel/devil theme been retained??
Personally, especially given it was so close to qualification, I think the costumes were the sole reason for this song’s failure to achieve at least 10th in the semi. I never saw it as a challenger for victory, despite how much I loved it, but I think it was certainly enough of a hit on a first listen to garner a sufficient amount of televotes and scrape into the final. The performance simply killed it. All it needed was 7 more points to beat Estonia – and that’s assuming the hypothetical improved performance didn’t take any away from Birgit’s actual total.
It had three Balkan neighbours to rely on – whose linguistic connections would have meant they were likely to understand both the lyrics and the NF stage concept – as well as a handful of Eastern European countries who have been potential voting allies in the past. There’s also the fact that the original stage show allowed a lot more focus on the strength of the song, alongside the appeal of the girls’ appearance to any straight guys who had (accidentally perhaps) decided to tune in and cast an ironic vote. The answer for me is simple: if they’d kept the outfits from the national final, we would have seen them in the final. But what do the fans think?
Thom Dutch from The Netherlands: It would’ve qualified, maybe even as 8th. They were only 6 points away from qualification and it was close anyways: Ireland 54, Lithuania 53, Estonia 52, Serbia 46. The costumes made the biggest WTF in there.
Michael Santillan from Ireland: Nope, but the song should have made it anyways!! It has a nice playful melody into it
Seth Wezendonk from The Netherlands: Better costumes doesnt make a better song, still my last place this year :p
Michael Romano from Australia: The costumes in the national final told the story of the song a lot better without causing a distraction. The outfits they chose for ESC gave us no chance to appreciate the song and it didn’t carry across the message as well as the NF costumes did
Although not always a bone of contention with a Eurovision entry, the case of Serbia 2013 stands to prove how presentation can mean the difference between reaching the final and languishing in the semis. After all, the costumes are part of the overall stage show – could you imagine Lordi doing Hard Rock Hallelujah without the masks, or Ruslana “wild dancing” in a ballgown? Exactly. It seems to be generally agreed that the original outfits could have been all that was needed for Serbia to get themselves into the final this year.
Do you agree? Feel free to leave your comments below!