It’s been a hot minute since we’ve seen a Serbian national final as extensive as this year’s competition, with no less than 17 artists performing in the final. Emerging as the winner was Sanja Ilić & Balkanika, an expected winner as the group has grown in popularity around the country previous to their national final performance. They may be popular in Serbia, but will Europe and Australia get on board with this song?
Coming back from a non-qualification last year, the pressure is on to return to the final, and I think Serbia is putting their best foot forward with their entry, Nova Deca. They went the radio friendly pop route last year, and although we loved their 2017 entry, there’s nothing nicer than a Balkan tune. It’s part retro electronic, part Balkan ballad, and mixed together I wasn’t quite sure if it was working as a cohesive song…
Well, it’s taken quite a few listens to reach this point, but I finally think I like this song. There’s no doubt that the beginning of the song is impressive, as it starts as any good Balkan ballad does – strong vocals and instrumentation. Their vocals are absolutely out of this world, and it’s hard not to pay attention. The male vocalist of the group adds a nice contrast to the angelic vocals of the girls, but it’s when that basic electronic beat comes in that I get slightly confused with what the song is trying to be. The female vocals clash a bit with that beat after the first chorus, and that’s the most disorienting part of the three minutes.
I know the aim of the group is to mix the traditional with the modern, but there are ways to mix the two seamlessly, and I don’t know that this song is the best example. Although this song has grown on me immensely since it was chosen, I can still very clearly hear the clear distinction between the traditional and modern, where I think it perhaps it could have been a bit more integrated.
Despite that, I think people will get on board with this song based on the vocals and the return of their Balkan style of song. I can’t see anything too cutting edge being used on stage, but I’m happy to be surprised. I find their national final performance to be quite rigid, and at times as a viewer it’s a bit uncomfortable, so it would be good to see them a bit floatier on stage, well, not literally… or maybe literally, who knows.
All Aboard… the Balkan fusion train!
It’s certainly an interesting fusion of styles that I think some people will naturally gravitate towards since it’s not quite ballad and it’s not quite pop. Others, especially first time listeners might feel that same confusion I felt when listening to the song for the first time, and I think that’s the main danger with this song.
Saying that, it’s nice to hear a song in Serbian, since it’s been a while, and this might also help the song stand out among the other semi-finalists. Also being in semi-final two, I think this has a fair chance of reaching the final, and I actually would be surprised not to see it in the final.
Our rating: 7.5/10
If you support Serbia at Eurovision, make sure to vote for Sanja Ilić & Balkanika in our poll! Watch their official video below, and follow our Eurovision 2018 playlist on Spotify.