Eurovision 2018 Review: Serbia – Sanja Ilic & Balkanika – Nova Deca


Serbia brings a mix of the modern and traditional to Eurovision
When Serbia started participating in Eurovision, their qualification for the final was hardly ever in doubt, but in recent memory, the country has struggled to reach the levels of their previous success. Last year Tijana Bogevic missed the final by a few points with her song ‘In Too Deep’. The Serbian delegation must be determined to not let that happen again. They organised a national final which was won by veteran in the music industry Sanja Ilic. Together with his band Balkanika he will perform the song ‘Nova Deca’, which means ‘New Generation’.

Sanja Ilic was the founding father of Balkanika and his goal seems to be to mix elements of older folk music with contemporary pop. ‘Nova Deca’ starts out with the female vocalists of the group belting out. After a minute or so, the drums kick in and the song properly gets going. This build up might be a disadvantage at Eurovision where the viewers might already lose attention when they don’t enjoy the first half minute. Even when the track is on full steam, it is not particularly memorable or engaging. Maybe I don’t fully ‘understand’ the song as I am not from the Balkan, but if I am honest the whole performance leaves me cold. In order to do well at Eurovision you have to convince the countries with different cultural backgrounds than your own as well and I am not convinced that ‘Nova Deca’ will be able to pull this off. That is why I don’t expect Serbia to qualify for the final this year.

Review of semi final performance:
Serbia delivered the first surprise of the night in the result show of the second semi final. Bookmakers did not think Sanja Ilic and his band Balkanika stood a chance to qualify, but they proved us all wrong. Vocally it sure was one of the strongest performances of the evening and visually they went for a simple staging. The song ‘Nova Deca’ is a traditional folk and pop crossover and although it will not end up anywhere near my Spotify playlists after the contest, there is obviously a market for this type of track out there. Interestingly enough, during the second semi final they were saved by televoting, after the juries gave them the 11th spot.

Review of Final performance:
Serbia was one of the surprise qualifiers during the second semi final and I think it was clear from the beginning that their performance would mostly receive points from other Balkan countries, because of the specific mix of folk and contemporary elements. Vocally they delivered another strong performance, but for me personally it was one of the least interesting ones. Televoting awarded them a 12th position, while juries placed them 20th, which resulted in a 19th place on the scoreboard.


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