With Serbia’s first semi-final less than 24 hours old, we quickly move on to the second show to be held tonight. Which act did we think was the cream of the crop in the twelve Beovizija hopefuls tonight?

Sanja Rio – Ljubimo se

James – 1 – “What’s with those squelchy fart noises? And are they trying to blend funk with reggae and Balkan classical? This is a horrible cacophonous mess. There are way too many inputs into this song, and it sounds like it’s currently in a demo version as those inputs sound unrefined (the bass tone is way off, the synthesizers sound cheap). But it doesn’t matter as they’re bad inputs in a bad composition. There’s been some boring songs in the Serbian selection thus far, but this is the first headache inducing song.”

Sean – 7 – “This is a lot more modern than most of the songs in the first semi-final, so this is already a big positive for me. It’s catchy and Sanya has an intriguing colour to her vocal but it gets a bit repetitive towards the final minute and could turn Europe off quite quickly as a result.”

Total – 8

Majdan – Budim te

James – 5 – “Let’s play wheel of dated genres – Serbian edition. This spin takes us to that horrid blend of adult contemporary and alternative rock that plagued FM stations in the early 2000s, the sort of guitar driven rock where spiky haired fellows bellow their feelings to you in the most overwrought way possible. Google Translate says “budim te” means “wake you up.” I wonder if Google Translate got this wrong and it actually means the exact opposite, which would be closer to the truth.”

Sean – 5 – “Soft rock from Majdan, something that wouldn’t sound out of place in 1998. Unfortunately it’s a running theme in this selection, but having said that this is a pleasant listen and could have a bit more bite to it than first appearances suggest if performed well at Beovizija.”

Total – 10

Goga Stanić – Čudo

James – 4 – “There’s this terrible effect towards the end of each verse that sounds like a psychotic bird. And that’s only one of the effects that make this one a chore to listen to – the worst is right at the bridge and just before the requisite key change where they insert the rewinding tape noise. I wonder at what point that sound will be lost on kids, like the dial-up modem connection sound? On the plus side, at least this one is dipping its toe in the modern, if not quite successfully.”

Sean – 8 – “Finally, something a bit more musically interesting and upbeat! One of the few songs I’ve heard in Beovizija so far that actually sounds current. Despite not knowing Serbian this is an easy song to sing along to and could have a cool choreography to make this a memorable performance, fingers crossed that the performance can do it justice.”

Total – 12

Ana Popović – Lutaš

James – 7 – “Wait, there’s another Ana Popovic? This one doesn’t look or sound like the famous Serbian blues guitarist Ana Popovic. Okay, I’m over that and won’t compare the two. This is not a bad Serbian stab at rhythm and blues with some decent violins coming in. Nuevo Ana has a great set of pipes and a decent backing track. Just don’t compare her to her namesake.”

Sean – 6 – “A dramatic Balkan ballad with strings and emphatic guitars interspersed into the backdrop? Go on then! Ana Popovic brings us a well-structured build to a dramatic conclusion on her track, but again there is a certain special quality that seems to be missing from this. It teeters on the edge of losing control (in a good way), but never quite gets there.”

Total – 13

Lord – Radnički sin

James – 1 – “Is this Serbia’s novelty song this year? Either way, the beat during the chorus is horrible. And it clumsily blends electronic effects with trumpet and guitar. And for extra dated touches, this one goes back to the raves of 2010 and dubstep at the bridge (complete with those exaggerated child samples like Skrillex used to do). This is too headache inducing to be considered a good novelty track, and there’s not much to recommend if you don’t consider this a novelty.”

Sean – 9 – “YES! This is the kind of epicness that I want Serbia to bring to Eurovision, and they don’t do it often enough. It won’t be to everyone’s tastes but the pulsating beat and brass band make for a high octane turbofolk trip that is over sooner than it should be. With an imaginative and energetic performance I’m starting to see this as my choice for Serbia.”

Total – 10

Nevena Božović – Kruna

James – 8 – “Oh, we’ve got a Junior/Senior Eurovision returnee here (she represented Serbia in Junior Eurovision in 2007 and the adults in 2013 as the angel part of Moje 3)! I’ve been smacking on Serbia’s entries thus far, but this one is actually pretty good, even though it sounds nothing like Moje 3 (a good or bad thing depending on your view of this divisive song). “Kruna” is an acoustic guitar driven ballad with strings coming in at the choruses. No gimmicks, no extraneous fluff, just a simple and tightly executed ballad.”

Sean – 7 – “You can just tell that this one oozes quality, and I’m sure that many neutral would love this to be the Serbian entry. It’s nothing original in a Eurovision context, of course, but this touching, emotional Balkan ballad has all of the right ingredients to set it apart in Tel Aviv and win votes from across Europe. This could be a dark horse in the competition if there is a stage show to portray its message properly.”

Total – 15

Gipsykord – Boje

James – 8 – “This one teeters on the brink of collapse with all the instrumentation thrown in (strings, some sort of horn, an accordion) on top of a funky bass line. However, this works. There’s a great violin solo at the bridge, and after a brief lull, each instrument comes back in and then launches into an up-tempo finish. This will not be to everyone’s taste, and dare I say it again, it sounds dated in its world music meets club banger way, but this is fun. And after all the dourness this year, we could use some more fun.”

Sean – 9 – “Borrowing inspiration from Epic Sax Guy, the sexy saxophone really does make this entry. Without it, this would run the risk of being a generic Balkan pop entry, but instead this has a “late night dance party in a Mediterranean resort” feel to it. The vocals are good and complement the entry well too. Hell, I can groove to this.”

Total – 17

Jana Šušteršić – Viktorija

James – 5 – “This is a very simple piano ballad and a few things get thrown in here and there, but this song is not memorable at all. Even in a year of slow songs, this one is not memorable. There’s no real hook, and you’re left shrugging and moving on after listening to this.”

Sean – 5 – “I’m sorry, but this one is like a sleeping pill to me. At times I think it’s going to lean into the territory of haunting ballads we’ve come to expect from this part of Europe, but then Jana pulls back, as if not to unleash her full potential. This is disappointing, and the song peters out into an uneventful three minute duration as a result.”

Total – 10

Lana & Aldo – Pogledaj u nebo

James – 3 – “This sounds like a Christian cruise ship’s version of a 1970s soul-influenced disco band. The excessive “whoos” are annoying and all the singers don’t quite harmonize. I have no idea what Lana & Aldo are going for here, but whatever it is, it is not working. I do have to give credit for giving us something that stands out from the pack. It stands out for the wrong reasons, but you have to credit originality even if it flat out doesn’t work.”

Sean – 4 – “Aside from the randomly placed woo’s, this sounds like a strange ad-lib version of a Serbian theme song to Super Smash Brothers or the credits sequence to a 90s superhero drama. Don’t ask me how I came up with that description, but it works! Not my cup of tea unfortunately, and certainly not a song for Eurovision 2019.”

Total – 7

Dženan Lončarević – Nema suza

James – 8 – “Another old school Balkan ballad. This one, in contrast to some others, is finely balanced between vocals and instrumentation. It starts off slowly with piano, but slowly starts adding elements such as violins and at around 1:30, the snare drums kick in. Most people under 50 will roll their eyes at this one, but this is a beautifully executed ballad by a handsome mid-40s crooner the older set will go wild for.”

Sean – 6 – “It seems Dzenan is a popular singer in Serbia, so it may be a foregone conclusion of this qualifying. Does it deserve it? Well, apart from this sounding like a knock-off version of Regina’s “Bistra Voda”, possibly not. He has a nice soulful sound to his voice and the song certainly has a nice authentic feel, but that’s about it. Another of the many songs in this selection that fail to excite.”

Total – 14

Tina i Lola Amvon – Tvoje oči

James – 6 – “Guess what? This one’s retro, too. This sounds like a ‘80s Balkan orchestral ballad with two harmonizing female vocalists. They key change sounds totally unnecessary and forced as it was heading to its conclusion quite satisfactorily without it. If I am correct on this, this a mother and daughter combo, so they’re going to have to do something special with the staging to spell that out. Eurovision does love gimmicks like this (as they’ve been pointing out on Eurovision.tv with all the MyHeritage twins posts), and the song is pleasant, if pedestrian.”

Sean – 2 – “Gosh, it’s like every cliché in the book was thrown at this song, right down to the last notes that emulate a music box. There’s just nothing for me here I’m afraid – choir stylings normally aren’t my thing unless it’s epic gospel, and this just bobs along without doing anything extraordinary.”

Total – 8

Tamara Milanović – Reči nisu dovoljne

James – 9 – “For a country that produces so much that fits in the “World Music” or “Adult Contemporary” or “New Age” bins, I was wondering when we’d get to one here. But they saved the best for last. This one leads with the violin, adds some flutes, a couple contrasting percussive instruments, and has some nifty piano performing playing off Tamara’s vocals. My only criticism is that it ends in a whimper rather than the triumphant finish it was leading up to. Hands down, my favorite of the Serbian entries.”

Sean – 3 – “Another sleeping pill (perhaps I shouldn’t listen to these songs so late?). Unfortunately for Tamara et al there is nothing too memorable about this one, apart from the fact the vocals were decent and conveyed emotion more than some of the artists in this selection. Sadly, once the song is over, I’ve pretty much already forgotten it, which wouldn’t bode well with a potential 26 song field to compete in in Tel Aviv.”

Total – 12

So what did this mean for our combined rankings in tonight’s semi-final? Let’s take a look…

  1. Gipsykord – Boje – 17
  2. Nevena Božović – Kruna – 15
  3. Dženan Lončarević – Nema suza – 14
  4. Ana Popović – Lutaš – 13
  5. Goga Stanić – Čudo – 12
  6. Tamara Milanović – Reči nisu dovoljne – 12
  7. Majdan – Budim te – 10
  8. Lord – Radnički sin – 10
  9. Jana Šušteršić – Viktorija – 10
  10. Sanja Rio – Ljubimo se – 8
  11. Tina i Lola Amvon – Tvoje oči – 8
  12. Lana & Aldo – Pogledaj u nebo – 7

So it seems clear, with 17/20 points it is Gipsykord who takes our crown in this semi-final, with the unique jazzy, funky “Boje”. But will this qualify to Sunday’s final? Find out later this evening!

Who do #YOU want to represent Serbia in Eurovision 2019? Share your thoughts with us on our forum HERE or join the discussion below and on social media!

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