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XTRA Preview & Review: Serbia – Beovizija 2018

The national final season is in full swing. On Tuesday, February 20th, Serbia’s Beovizija is kicking off and by tonight we will have our thirteenth act in the Eurovision lineup for this year. We’ve taken a look at the entries and the procedure below, so here is the XTRA Preview & Review of Beovizija 2018!

XTRA Preview: Beovizija 2018

After nine years of absence Beovizija is making its comeback tonight. The popular format of the festival was primarily used to find the next representative of the country. The last edition of Beovizija resulted with a non qualification back in 2009, when Marko Kon and his campy ‘Cipela’ represented the country.

Tonight, seventeen acts will battle it out for the chance to represent Serbia at Eurovision. The show will start at 21:00 CET and the winner will be determined by a 100% public vote.

RTS has provided instruction as to how to watch the show live from anywhere via Twitter.

And If your Serbian is a little rusty, you can always follow our live coverage on Twitter at @ESCXTRA.

XTRA Review: Beovizija 2018

SevdahBABY – “Hajde da igramo sada”  (Let’s Dance Now)

Tim: There is always a song that has a late 70’s throwback and this has to be it. It is very upbeat, which is a good thing and I like the hook that it has.

Score: 6/10

Miki:  Cool, funky, groovy and a bit of a throwback. I’m not sure whether the Serbian public would back this up fully, but I can see myself enjoying this after a few listens.

Score: 5/10

Nick: A huge throwback and not a very good one at that! I’m not sure what the point of this song is in this selection? It’s quite annoying, not interesting and it looks a mess.

Score: 3/10

Nathan: If this is how we’re starting the reviews, it’s a bad one for me. Totally not my cup of tea at all and have absolutely no time for this. Agreeing with Nick here, I am not sure of the validity of the inclusion of this song in this selection.

Score: 2/10

Rambo Amadeus and Beti Đorđević – “Nema Te” (Now you’re gone)

Tim: I like how laid back the song is, it is old style for me, a simplistic performance with this song could work, but personally, It is just not a fit for me.

Score: 5/10

Miki: This is literally a throwback. It has a nice jazzy flow but I am 99% this is more about the promo of a new collaboration between Rambo and Beti than representing Serbia at Eurovision. Kudos for the comeback Rambo, but we won’t be seeing you in Lisbon.

Score: 3/10

Nick: This is a lovely jazz effort by what looks to be a very experienced singer. The fact that Rambo Amadeus makes his status of most random artist true once more as he wades in after two minutes is legendary.

Score: 7/10

Nathan: If you were sitting in a piano bar, this is exactly what you’d expect to hear. Beti has such depth to her voice and range which suits the actually very beautiful piano line but goodness me, when Rambo wanders on in… it becomes something very different. Whilst it’s still true to the style of jazz, it disrupts the flow somewhat for me.

Score: 4/10

Maja Nikolić – “Zemlja Cuda” (Wonderland)

Tim: I like how upbeat the song is and how it builds it up to the chorus of it, I can definitely see myself dancing to this song, and it’s very memorable as well.

Score: 7/10

Miki: What would we do without Maja. She brings the party, the ethnic feel and screams “Hey Mama” louder than all the members of Sunstroke Project. She is the delusional diva this competition needs. I’d say this would be an epic camp entry at Eurovision if she wasn’t serious.

Score: 6/10

Nick: We all need a diva who’s a little crazy. Maja isn’t a little crazy, she’s a lot of crazy. A folk camp entry you would expect in Beovizija, a breath of slivovits air. I could only enjoy this if I had way too much to drink. But at the same time, I smiled when listening.

Score: 6.5/10

Nathan: From the opening four bars, you already know that this is in serious contention to win Beovizija. I actually really, really, really, really love the instrumental break. It’s very effective and a joyous melody created by traditional instruments.

Score: 7.5/10

Srđan Marijanović – “Bar da znam” (If I only knew)

Tim: A bit of country influences song would never do anyone harm, Its very mellow and I like how their harmonies intertwine and work very well with each other.

Score: 7/10

Miki: This was one of the first songs I heard from this years Beovizija lineup and I have to say it was a rocky start. I don’t hate this, I don’t love this but I definitely don’t see it as a serious contender for the win. It has a rather Ex-Yu nostalgic 80’s vibe.  

Score: 5.5/10

Nick: This sounds like a runner-up in an 80s Yugoslavian national final. The guitars, the tacky backing vocal and the lazy singer – It’s all been done before. And much better, as well. This bores me.

Score: 5.5/10

Nathan: This is everything I expected to be somewhere in Beovizija. It reminds me ever so much of Croatia’s 2007 entry “Vjerujem u ljubav”, it could be the brother to that entry and that isn’t a bad thing. I like the way their voices work together on this track.

Score: 6/10

Ivan Kurtić – “Ni sunca, ni meseca” (Neither sun, nor moon)

Tim: I like the folk influence that is on this track, it suits his voice very well, but it does sound a bit like Adio (or is that just me).

Score: 4/10

Miki:  No, sorry I can’t. Being a kid from the Balkans this is the “been there done” that entry. I never liked these type of songs and this one certainly wouldn’t change my mind. This is the typical slit my wrists after a few drinks in a kafana.

Score: 2/10

Nick: When I’d be walking the streets of Belgrade, this is the song I’d be hoping to hear from a local restaurant with cheap cevapi on a sticky old menu with pictures on it. Preferably by one of the owners. It tries to be so Balkan, it’s amazing.

Score: 7.5/10

Nathan: Honestly, I don’t ever find this style of Balkan entry enjoyable unless it’s done to an exceptional standard (“Adio” fits the bill!). It sounds like you’d hear it on the streets of Belgrade, by a busking performer. That just about summarizes it.

Score: 3/10

Sanja Ilić and Balkanika – “Nasa Deca” (Our Children)

Tim: I like the key change on this track, and how it mixes both modern music, with traditionalistic vibes and how they use that in order to harmonise their voices quite well, that makes the song unique in its own right. I hope it does well.

Score: 8/10

Miki: This would be my absolute winner of the evening. It’s ethnic, it’s mysterious and it delivers everything the previous acts struggled to do. Plus, the production values of this are top notch.

Score: 10/10

Nick: This sort of stays there in the middle for me. I like the look of it, with the two girls, the mad professors in the back. It tries to sound very Balkan and modern and somehow… I don’t really buy it? Decent, but not outstanding.

Score: 7/10

Nathan: The vocals right off the bat sound brilliant. However, the male vocals then bring this whole sound up another level entirely. Then, the unexpected. The beat kicks in – not exactly what I thought was going to happen. However, certainly a contender. Enjoyable as a piece in full.

Score: 6/10

Koktel Balkan – “Zato” (Because)

Tim: Everyone loves a song that has meaning, and this is that song for Serbia. I love how uplifting the song is and how the tempo just suits her voice really well.

Score: 7/10

Miki: Bland, middle of the road and average. I would not change the station if it were a radio hit. But I can’t see how this song could be elevated live …. It’s just there.

Score: 5/10

Nick: This is so beige, I can’t even. This is the sort of thing that would come six in an Irish national final in the mid 00s. A nice filler and probably a nice stage for them to showcase their talent, but this song won’t help.

Score: 4/10

Nathan: 

From the opening bars, I love where this is going. However, it goes nowhere much else. The chorus doesn’t ‘pop’ like it should do. It’s bland and won’t inspire votes.

Score: 5/10

Boris Režak – “Vila”(Fairy)

Tim: It’s quite folksy in its own right, which shows that the song is unique in its own right. If it does go to Eurovision, it wouldn’t be the first time this type of song has been in the competition.

Score: 5/10

Miki: I love “Vila”. This is cheeky, uplifting yet it remains very much Serban. I wouldn’t mind seeing this at Eurovision.

Score: 8/10

Nick: Give me a dance and another slivovits for this! At the end of the night, when everyone is already knackered, you need Boris to take your old aunt for a dance. Here we go!

Score: 7.5/10

Nathan: Well then… I just want to shout “Ovo je Balkan, Balkan, Balkan” during the introduction. That pretty much prepares you for what’s about to come. I have absolutely no idea what this will look like on stage and I dare not imagine it! I tired of the song after the first minute or so. Combine “So Lucky”, the Moldovan entry in 2011 with “Ovo je Balkan” and tone it all down a little. You end up with “Vila”.

Score: 5.5/10

Lana and Aldo – “Jača sam od svih” (Strongest of them all)

Tim: A song about empowerment never fails to get noticed by Eurovision fans. I love how classical meets rock on this song, it’s like the vocalist is Serbia’s Kaliopi.

Score: 6/10

Miki: Yeah, this is catchy but it doesn’t belong in this era. It’s good to celebrate some musical diversity but that’s where it ends. It’s the filler of the running order.

Score: 3/10

Nick: This voice deserves a rock effort, not a late 90s tune with trumpets and a hopping melody. I like her, I also quite like the song, but not together. It’s like this song lasts over five minutes, though…

Score: 4/10

Nathan: I am plenty confused by everything that exists here. The backing melody does not match the acts and the vocals at all. This is almost, and I stress almost, a joke. I really couldn’t make it past 1 minute and 15 seconds.

Score: 1/10

Dušan Svilar – “Pod krošnjom bagrema” (Under the locust tree)

Tim: It’s very simplistic with, consistent key changes. It doesn’t bring much to the table and I didn’t connect with the song or feel the emotion so I’m afraid that this one is not for me.

Score: 4/10

Miki: Dusan’s voice is everything. I think that that’s the only reason I’m ranking this higher than initially. Plus, that instrumentation is gorgeous, this is certainly in with a shot at winning Beovizija.

Score: 7/10

Nick: This is the exact song you’d be wanting from Serbia at Eurovision 2013. Gives me quite a few Sergej Cetkovic vibes and that’s not a bad thing. I like this a lot, he sings it well, it’s identifiable with the country and it’s solid.

Score: 8.5/10

Nathan: Describe this song in five words: “Serbian entry in a nutshell”. It needs only five words to describe it and it also scores nothing more than five.

Score: 5/10

Igor Lazarević – “Beži od mene” (Get away from me)

Tim: You can really feel the emotion that Igor shows in the songs, and man he sells it really well. I just need to see how he does this live vocally, hopefully he shines very well.

Score: 6/10

Miki: I don’t mind this. Plus, I’m all about young artists having a shot at representing their country at Eurovision. It has a certain 2000’s Balkan rock vibe and It feels kinda nostalgic rather than dated. So for that, I give it props.

Score: 6/10

Nick: Typical rock from a young guy. Or well, rock, they added some strong guitars and drums. All in all, a very decent effort by a talented singer.

Score: 7/10

Nathan: Firstly, I love Igor’s voice a lot. His range and tone impress me straight from the opening verse. If this is performed exquisitely live, this rock ballad will score well. This isn’t dated, agreeing with Miki, rather representative of the early 00s Balkan rock sounds that were prominent over the region. This is a young talent creating a song with a nod to his younger years. It ends rather soon and abruptly for my liking however!

Score: 8/10

Saška Janković – “Pesma za tebe” (Song for you)

Tim: A big voice – tick, she sounds like Serbia’s Mariah Carey, with all the high notes that she is showing within this song and I am loving it!!! I hope she’s as awesome, or yet better than the studio version.

Score: 9/10

Miki: She has done Eurovision three times before (as a backing singer). On all three occasions Serbia has managed to qualify for the final. First it was Milan, then Nina and last but not least Bojana in Vienna. Maybe It’s Saska’s turn this time around. She can certainly sing and this song is truly special.

Score: 8.5/10

Nick: I got reminded of the most robbed Macedonian national final song, Brod Sto Tone, ever during the bridge. The chorus is however more of a fairy tale gone wrong. An interesting piece of music that would suit a jazz club better than the Eurovision stage.

Score: 7.5/10

Nathan: Well, this arrangement stands out head and shoulders above everything that’s come before. Mixing a contemporary piano ballad with the traditional instrumentation makes this very representative of the region. Such incredible range and vocal power too. The only negative for me is the absurd use of the very low vocals on the backing singers in the very last chorus, distracting from the off-piste vocal acrobatics going on. Probably not for me, as Molitva never was, but it’s certainly a contender for winning Beovizija and would also push Serbia into another Eurovision final.

Score: 6.5/10

Lord – “Samo nek se okreće” (Just let it turn)

Tim: It sounds like something you would hear in a 30’s silent movie and then you add a bit of beat in their to make it sound modern, it sounds great but I just can’t imagine what kind of staging it has and how to place it with the other acts.

Score: 5/10

Miki: Lord’s “Samo nek se okrece” tries to be too many things but ends up a bit messy. The song just feels kinda busy and I don’t think this will be memorable at the end of the night.

Score: 3/10

Nick: A decent song, a good voice and a weird twenty second instrumental bit in the middle. I dread to think what they’ll do with that on stage. In general though, this is decent and acceptable.

Score: 5.5/10

Nathan: Oh well this is certainly interesting. It’s trying about four different things at once when only two and a half of them stick! I do not dislike it though, it stands out somewhat. The vocal line is very appealing to me and I like the instrumentation.

Score: 7/10

Danijel Pavlović – “Ruža sudbine” (The Rose Of Desinty)

Tim: You’ll know a Balkan ballad, when you hear an intro like this, I like how emotive the song is and how cohesive everything is within the song.

Score:8/10

Miki: Danijel goes for an emotional ballad and showcases his vocal abilities perfectly. I just wish the song was more memorable. Not that it’s a bad tune, It’s just rather bland and it feels longer than 3 minutes (which is never a good thing).

Score: 6/10

Nick: A good old Balkan ballad, with a bit of added drums near the end. Serbia in a nutshell, Beovizija in three minutes. Might be a dark horse?

Score: 6.5/10

Nathan: Oh the obtuse keychange, totally ruining the moment made from the first verse and chorus combination. Danijel has a strong and semi-unique vocal however, would I choose to listen to this song twice? No. Not for me but the production levels are excellent and the depth reached in the three minutes really allows the emotion to shine through. It fills the three minutes perfectly for me.

Score: 6.5/10

BASS – “Umoran” (Tired)

Tim: Spoken word song in Eurovision? this is definitely unique in its own right. I have no other ways to describe this song other than if it goes to Eurovision, it will be interesting to see where this will place.

Score: 4/10

Miki: Raybass is trying to be the cool kid in the lineup but it somehow isn’t working for them. I don’t think this is offensive I just don’t think it will work live.

Score: 5/10

Nick: Spoken word should be forbidden. This is creepy. Only air this after children have gone to bed.

Score: 1/10

Nathan: I really like the instrumentation to this one and I think the spoken word fits this and it certainly tells a story, set to music. If this was being performed in a stage show, it would be applauded for the musical production and the way the story is told. I am so very intrigued to see how this is staged live and if it works amongst everything else. This entry is so different that it stands out. The final minute contains the use of vocals and builds it to a climax. Very odd that it only requires 2 minutes and 37 seconds though.

Score: 5.5/10

Osmi Vazduh and Friends – “Probudi Se” (Wake Up)

Tim: A lot of songs in this NF carry some sort of message,  with this song, like any other songs with a message, it is uplifting and nice to listen to.

Score: 6/10

Miki: “Probudi se” is something I can see myself listening to cause it’s kinda catchy, interesting and in a strange way – nostalgic. I don’t think that it’s the next Serbian representative at Eurovision, but It will be fun to see them perform this live.

Score: 7/10

Nick: Is this the theme song to Dora the Explorer or have I lost my mind? What even is this? I went into hysterical laughter after ten seconds and haven’t stopped yet. My God, what do they want? Sure wakes me up, but not in a good way. Put me back to sleep.

Score: 2/10

Nathan: As soon as this started, I really liked it. Then they started singing and I didn’t enjoy it any further. It didn’t go anywhere really either.

Score: 3/10

Biber and DJ Niko Bravo – “Justros (Svatovi)” (This Morning (Wedding Guests)

Tim: Where country and EDM meets in one track, and it stays within its roots, I am loving it now she just needs to deliver killer vocals and a good staging and it is ready to go.

Score: 7/10

Miki: Brilliant, modern yet traditional.  I’m just going to award my score right away.

Score: 10/10

Nick: I think I like this. It is modern, yet also traditional. I would have preferred some heavy vocals, not this light whistling voice they’ve added.

Score: 7.5/10

Nathan: This is actually everything I wanted from Serbia. The mix of the traditional folk styles with the modern EDM and also 80s inspired synth elements has me blown away. I am a huge fan of both EDM and 80s synth pop, so this ticks every box of mine. The instrumental after the first chorus is sensational. It just keeps growing into this multi-layered piece of music which brings traditional styles into play with global pop music. It is surprising that it doesn’t use the full three minutes and if chosen as the Serbian representative for Lisbon, I’d expect a little tweaking to be done.

Score: 9/10

What do we want?

The XTRA Jury, this time consisting of Tim, Miki, Nick and Nathan, has spoken. Below you can see the average each song achieved. Their favorite for tonight’s show is !

  1. Biber and DJ Niko Bravo – Jutros (Svatovi): 8.4
  2. Saška Janković – Pesma za tebe: 7.9
  3. Sanja Ilić and Balkanika – Naša deca: 7.8
  4. Danijel Pavlović – Ruža sudbine: 6.8
  5. Igor Lazarević – Beži od mene: 6.7
  6. Maja Nikolić – Zemlja čuda: 6.7
  7. Boris Režak – Vila: 6.5
  8. Dušan Svilar – Pod krošnjom bagrema: 6.1
  9. Srđan Marijanović – Bar da znam: 6
  10. Koktel Balkan – Zato: 5.3
  11. Lord –  Samo nek se okreće: 5.1
  12. Rambo Amadeus and Beti Đorđević – Nema te: 4.8
  13. Osmi Vazduh and Friends – Wake Up Probudi se: 4.5
  14. Ivan Kurtić – Ni sunca, ni meseca: 4.1
  15. SevdahBABY –  Hajde da igramo sada: 4
  16. BASS – Umoran: 3.9
  17. Lana and Aldo – Jača sam od svih: 3.5

Below, you can find a playlist featuring all the competing acts in this years Beovizija.

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