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Meet the ESCXTRA team! Marko

Marko Milanović

Hi everyone! My name’s Marko, I’m 30 years old, from Belgrade, Serbia, currently living in sunny Barcelona. I’m a full time software engineer (see: prediction.escxtra.com). Much more importantly, I’m a full time Eurofan (obviously), lifelong member of the Britney army, passionate Little Mixer, part-time Swiftie, all around pop culture enthusiast.

If you’re, for whatever reason, interested to learn more, feel free to follow me on Instagram, my handle is @milmarko92.

Your first Eurovision memory?

The year was 2003. 11 year-old Marko was supposed to be sleeping, but was browsing the TV channels and stumbled onto this strange program with countries and flags and a scoreboard which drew his attention. I noticed t.A.T.u were there, and they were getting some points, but not winning! How rude. “That Turkish song was quite awesome though”, I thought and went to bed. A year later, Serbia and Montenegro was participating in this thing called Eurovision and halfway through the broadcast I connected the dots and realized I actually knew what it was. Little did I know it would turn to a huge part of my personality, and also my yearly budget.

Your Eurovision journey?

It all started off subtle, in 2003/2004, escalated a bit in 2005 when I (again, completely accidentally) stopped on a Greek TV channel we had on this brand new “cable TV” thing in my home. There were some songs sung by the same person. I didn’t understand a word, but this time I connected the dots sooner and realized what they were doing, and thought “This ‘My Number One’ song slaps, it’s gonna win Eurovision, I’m sure”. Then I used the trusty dial-up modem to download it, and some more songs and see what else is out there. From there, I followed the Serbia and Montenegro scandals throughout the years, and over time became the go-to person in school to talk to about all this. Got to actually see the contest IRL in 2008, which was mind-blowing. Then I discovered different forums and got more immersed into the fandom. Started watching all the NFs while in high school. It all kept growing until university when real life kicked in and Eurovision took a backseat to a bit of self discovery and education, and later work. Not to mention the whole “quality” standard that showed up after Loreen won wasn’t up my (very 00s specific) alley. And then 2018 happened, I saw the lineup for the first semi, and thought to myself “this is too good and I have a job now… I should see this live”. I went to EIC, then attended the live shows in Lisbon, and just like that, my life started revolving around Eurovision so much more again.

Why is Eurovision special to you?

Eurovision IS special, period. There are the basic things like a variety of music, a fun competitive spirit, a touch of drama and camp, and flags, ALL of the flags. And then there’s the sense of community that happens with any fandom, but quite amplified with ESC. There’s something so beautiful about meeting people of all backgrounds who are passionate about the same things as you, who share your values, who will fight to the bone for their favorite entry, and tear your fav apart if it doesn’t fit into their fantasy, and do it all with such joy and vigor that’s unique to this group of people. I love pop music, I love geography, I love vexillology, I’m fascinated by geopolitics, and ESC just lies right in the crossroads of all of these things, and brings me so much joy (and a plethora of other emotions, depending on the results).

What attracted you to ESCXTRA?

It was the people! I was lucky enough to connect to many members (both current and former) of the Xtra team during the pandemic, and made some amazing friends. I’ve done a bit of writing on pop music in the past, and really enjoy doing so, and one day the lovely XTRA folks extended an invitation to come join them. I gave them a hand in developing a new way of playing ESCXtra prediction in 2022, and now I’m here to spice things up a bit with a Balkan+Spanish point of view.

And finally, your top 5 Eurovision songs of all time?

A statistics nerd like me has been preparing for this moment for years! All of the ESC entries since 2003 have been scored a few years ago in a regularly updated spreadsheet and a ranking for the top 27 (that got the highest scores) is ready, so I’m happy to present it to all of you!

#5 Sertab Erener – Everyway That I Can (Turkey 2003)

The one that started it all for me, and the one that changed the game, and set the tone for the rest of the 2000s.

#4 Greta Salome & Jonsi – Never Forget (Iceland 2012)

Magical. Controversially, I might even prefer it in English.

#3 Sirusho – Qele Qele (Armenia 2008)

The one that was my ringtone for a year and a half.

#2 Loreen – Euphoria (Sweden 2012)

The “best” one, the one that changed the game and set the tone for the rest of the 2010s.

#1 Eleni Foureira – Fuego (Cyprus 2018)

The actual best one. The one that caught me on first listen and had me fighting the rest of the fandom for months, until that rehearsal footage came out. To think that people saw this as “just another average song” makes me rage to this day. It’s powerful, it’s well produced, it’s got an ethnic balkan touch, it’s everything I want from a song. I know it’s every other casual viewer’s favorite, but it’s for a reason, it’s my favorite song of all time.

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