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.”
After just a few hours in Azerbaijan, Željko and his troupe of musicians took to the Eurovision stage for their first rehearsal. For his Željko’s fourth attempt at winning the Eurovision Song Contest, the stage setting is dark and atmospheric and the performance is quite captivating. As ever, Željko is very strong vocally and performed well in rehearsal. He is joined on stage by four musicians, including a drummer, pianist and flautist, plus two girls on violin, one of whom, Ksenija Milošević, was part of the 2007 winning Serbian team with Molitva. “We’re pretty tired but everything is fine and the atmosphere is very good,’ Željko told Eurovision.tv prior to his first rehearsal.
The Serbian team has been busy promoting its entry Nije ljubav stvar, including a new video with sign language. Željko explained “It was a pleasure working with Nenad on the video, and we have had a very good reaction from all over Europe.”
Bookies and Eurovision fans seem to be quite taken by Željko’s magic, placing his song Nije ljubav stvar among the top rankers. All of this support should be helped by the impressive marketing campaign being undertaken by Željko, wih the song released in various languages, versions and formats. A special iPhone app has also been developed, allowing fans to stay on top of what is new in the Joksimović camp.
Željko will perform first in the second semi-final of the Eurovision Song Contest, on 24 May. He will need to attract sufficient votes to see him through to the Final on Saturday, 26 May. Nothing is certain in this life, though. Prepare to vote.