A battle of the Balkan titans is set to play out on stage in Baku, as the presence of pan-Balkan singing star Kaliopi representing FYRO Macedonia in Saturday’s Eurovision Song Contest Final could split the valuable Balkan vote and deny Serbia’s major artist Željko Joksimović his long-awaited chance of victory, according to Eurovision historian John Kennedy O’Connor.
It could come down to the size of each star’s fan base rather than the strength of their performance on the night, said the author and go-to man on all things Eurovision. “I’m told the Balkan votes will all be behind Kaliopi and not Željko, so he will be denied the win,’ said John. “Kaliopi is the biggest star from the Balkans in the contest and I’m sure her fans pushed her effortlessly through. But for my taste, this is one of the worst songs in the final. I would never have put it through. It grates on me and her voice is too harsh for my ears.”
Serbian singing star Željko Joksimović is confident of success at this week’s Eurovision Song Contest. Speaking to W!LDRooSTeR on the eve of Tuesday’s first semi final, Željko said the support that he has received from international media and Eurovision fans has been tremendously encouraging: “Every second of our time in Baku I am more confident of how many followers Serbia and the song ‘Nije ljubav stvar’ have in Europe.”
“It is so good to know how popular we are here. I believe that people would enjoy coming to Belgrade once again for the Eurovision Song Contest, next year.”
Of course, if Serbia is to host next year’s contest, Željko first needs to bring home the trophy. Željko has been here before and he knows better than most that he cannot afford to feel complacent.
Travel enhances life, broadens perspectives and extends horizons. The benefits should be the same, whether on a visit to an undiscovered region in your own country or a long haul trip to an exotic far-flung destination. Travel heightens life. While it is good to discover exciting new places, learn about different people and cultures, there is also great comfort in returning to places and people that have left a lasting impression. That feeling can be like coming home. For me, Belgrade is such a place.
Belgrade is a cityenjoyed by those who live there and by the increasing visitors who are discovering its many qualities. Be it just hours, a few days or even some years, time spent in Belgrade can be rewarding, largely down to the people who keep this city alive. Vibrant, openhearted and slightly enigmatic, Belgradians are made of the same infectious stuff that beats through the city itself.
The race to the Eurovision finish line has got underway. Serbia’s foremost singing star Željko Joksimović has joined other contestants in Baku and is preparing for his first Song Contest rehearsal, on Tuesday. Željko was all smiles as he flew out from Belgrade’s Nikola Tesla airport, happily accepting the best wishes of fans and fellow travellers before he boarded the plane to Baku with his band of musicians. Of course, this game is not anything new for Željko, who has taken part both as a performer and songwriter. So far, though, he has not brought home the trophy – something he intends to change this time round, as he told me recently.
“I feel deeply that I did not finish what I truly want,’ he said. “The Eurovision Song Contestgave me a lot and I believe that I will give something back. I hope to win, but we shall see what happens in Baku. Did I find the right magic this time? You never know.”