News flash, people! We have our fourth confirmed artist for Copenhagen 2014, in the form of 37-year-old Montenegrin singer Sergej Ćetković! Having been rumoured in connection with the participation since the summer, RTCG today finally confirmed their choice for Denmark, adding that Sergej himself will be writing the song.
With a career stretching back to the late 1990s, Montenegro seem to have adopted the often-favoured approach of sending an artist of moderate local renown, in the hope that their reputation will serve them well on the international stage. With regards to Balkan nations, these “local” superstars generally tend to be just as well known in neighbouring countries, so already we can congratulate the justification of this decision from RTCG. An artist like Sergej will be pretty much guaranteed to attract interest and – I’m sure they’re hoping – votes from Serbia, Bosnia-Herzegovina and Macedonia, and likely Slovenia, Albania, Romania and Bulgaria too. It’s just the nature of song and performer you’re getting here, very comfortable to ears attuned to Balkan music.
Ears like mine.
Being something of a connoisseur of Balkan popular music, I am a little apprehensive about the choice of Sergej for Montenegro. Alarm bells started ringing the moment the official press release described the entry as a “love song”. Images of a rip-off attempt at Zeljko or Hari Mata Hari came flooding into my mind. With some apprehension, I hit YouTube to discover just who this apparently famous guy was. And here’s what I found:
This song, released in 2010, is definitely the highlight of his discography for me. It’s pushing no boundaries here – unlike Rambo Amadeus and Who See – but maybe this is what Montenegro needs? It’s safe, middle-of-the-road, very typically Balkan, and in this particular case, anchored by a lovely melody which Sergej executes well – if understatedly. What I’m getting at here, is that yes, it’s *nice*. But what I generally do when discovering a new artist like this is seek out both ends of their sonic spectrum (that sounds sketchy as hell, but bear with me…) I try and find out what they sound like singing a ballad, and what their style of up-tempo is.
So for Sergej, ballads = generally well-executed, beautiful melodies yet overall: aesthetically bland… up-tempo = virtually non-existent in his recorded work to date. So, do we have a problem?
Well let’s go back to that old “love song” quote. Just because he said it’s a ‘love song’ doesn’t give us a 100% of Zeljko part IV. What kind of love song does he mean? Could he mean a Poland 2004 “Love Song” or a Cyprus 2012 “La La Love Song”? We can’t tell yet. Something else he did reveal today is the following gem of a quote from Eurovision.tv –
The rhythm is being dictated by the song, that exists only in contours at this moment
Oh don’t you just love it when people use literal translations which make no sense whatsoever in English? So, we’ve now got contours in our mystery love song. Splendid. Chances are it will be in Montenegrin – look at their track record and you’ll see that linguistically, their entries come in pairs, so there’s something of a precedent here – so adding the language to the style, and taking into account the majority of his back-catalogue, it wouldn’t be unreasonable to infer that Montenegro will send their first Balkan ballad in 2014 – a special contoured one, of course – *cheer*.
Assuming, therefore, that this prospective entry will bear all the expected tropes of the genre, we basically know what we’ll be getting. The formula has been phenomenally successful in the past for various Balkan nations, perhaps it will be the final push that Montenegro need to sneak into their first final? Of course, anything we or any other Eurovision site say about this now can be nothing more than speculation, and we will discover more in the coming months. Will Sergej’s performance turn out like a Zeljko tribute act then? Or will we see another original and unique entry from Montenegro in 2014? Only time will tell…
Svetlana Andriyenko from Ukraine: His song “Jos Volim Te” is very nice, if he sends music like this, Montenegro can do well
Svana Lístí Agnarsdóttir from Iceland: Montenegro will probably not qualify for the final again. To be honest, I think we’ll very rarely see them in the final! But good look to him anyway!
Ilias Kozantinos from Cyprus: Oh my god, Sergej is just the best singer they could have picked. Yes, the rumour is true, but he’s still a fantastic singer! Come on Crna Gora!!
Will Sergej prove to be the first Montenegrin performer to reach a Eurovision final? If you put me on the spot right now, I would say no, however Ilias and Svetlana in particular would likely disagree, as I’m sure many others would too… but what do you all think of him? Feel free to leave a comment below!