It is that time of the year again. All the glitz, glamour and giddiness of European pop music will coalesce in a festival of extravaganza, debauchery and over-the-top performances. At least we’re counting on over-the-top performances here. We are, of course, speaking of the Eurosong 2022. The first semi-final is on for tonight, the second for Thursday night, with the main event on for Saturday, 14 May. And seeing as this is the Balkan Express, we will, of course take a look at the Balkan entries for the 2022 Eurovision Song Contest.
And just to get what will become immediately obvious out of the way. This here show is extending its own definition of The Balkans and aligning it with its true geographical meaning. We usually bring you music from what used to be Yugoslavia. But there are simply not enough ex-Yugoslav entries this year to fill an entire show. Which is why we start with an Albanian entry Sekret – or Secret, unsurprisingly so, by Ronela Hajati, whose original choreography was apparently so provocative that it she was asked by the Eurovision to change it. I don’t know. Google it and decide for yourselves.
Mia Dimšić, representing Croatia with a track called Guilty Pleasure left Croatian Eurosong stans underwhelmed and convinced she has no chance of breaking through to the finals. Though I’m sure if the Talyor Swift from Slavonija region somehow survives until Saturday, there will be plenty of Croatian commentariat coming out of the woodwork saying they knew she had it in her all along. Oh, and since we already mentioned morality, apparently Mia took out a final scene from her choreography, too.The part where she originally kissed a boy she was cheating her boyfriend with. Who knows why?
Speaking of drama, the title of Greek entry is Die Together. It that is not dramatic, I don’t know what is. Amanda Tenfjord, the artist behind – or rather, in front of – the song is Greek-born but has lived in Norway since the age of three. And so, combining the Balkan flair for melodrama and Nordic sense of terminal inevitability, she will aim to replicate last year’s top ten finish for Greece. Or die together trying.
North of Greece is the country of Macedonia. Officially called North Macedonia, its name stands as proof that other than the sense of melodrama and – maybe – hospitality, few things run deeper in the Balkans than perceived grievances. But we’ll let you google the Greek-Macedonian naming dispute on your own. The one thing that does run deeper than perceived grievances is superficial patriotism. Which is what North Macedonian artist Andrea experienced. During the Eurosong 2022 photo-shoot she was asked pose without a flag. She obliged the photographers, only to be lambasted by some Macedonians for “disrespecting the flag”. She was even forced to apologise in a video statement for what is arguably a non-event. In case you were wondering how thin-skinned Balkan nationalists still are.
Projects and postmodernism
North of, well, North Macedonia is Serbia. It’s kind of hard to stake out their Eurovision history because it went through a couple of iterations. But when Serbia as we know it today competed for the first time in 2007, it immediately won the competition. Which has got to be some kind of a record. This time however, Ana Đurić Konstrakta says that her tune In Corpore Sano will either be a total hit or a total flop. And given the post-modernist nature of her song she might well be right.
Bulgaria was up for a bit of drama as well. It was revealed last January that Ronnie Romero, vocalist of the Intelligent Music Project was wanted by the police. He failed to appear in court over allegedly violating a restraining order. Apparently, the matter did not escalate further which means Bulgaria will get to rock on stage in Turin. And I mean intentionally rock.
Montenegro qualified for the Eurosong finals in 2014 and 2015, although the high-water mark of their Eurosong contribution is still the 2012 performance of Rambo Amadeus with his pro-European anti-hit Euro Neuro. More to the point, however, the country skipped the 2020 and 2021 editions of the competition. Meaning that Breathe by Vladana marks a sort of return by the small Adriatic country to Eurovision song contest
High school band
Bosnia-Herzegovina is absent from the Eurovision song contest for the sixth year running due to financial constraints. Which leaves us with Slovenia as the final Balkan Express 2022 Eurosong entry. LPS, short for Last Pizza Slice are a high-school disco-funk band from Celje with an appropriately zero fucks given attitude about, well, everything but themselves. And to be honest, the main drama in the Slovenian selection process was not about this tune per se. Rather, every other contestant sucked donkey balls, and so LSP won. Their tune Disko is about a boy dreaming about a girl who dumped him for another dude. It is all very high school. Occasional off-key singing included.
And there you have it. Seven Balkan Eurovision Song Contest entries, spread over two semi-finals. Look them up on Youtube, tune in for the actual events and remember, above all, Eurosong 2022 is supposed to be outrageous fun.
Balkan Express will be back next week.
Balkan Express takes weekly trips into contemporary musical production of, you guessed it, the Balkans. Forget gusle and tamburice, this show is about rock, pop and a sense of humour. Well, at least there’s guitars. On air most Tuesdays in a new-and-improved time-slot at 1100 hrs. Usually. Your train conductor is Aljaž (aka @pengovsky) who once did the world a solid and decided never to sing again in public. Which is why he ended up doing radio.
TuesdaysWith : Aljaž Every Tuesday at 10.00
Balkan Express takes weekly trips into contemporary musical production of the Balkans.