Montenegro’s Eurovision 2018 Entry

Winter is coming to Lisbon. (See, because “Inje” translates as “Hoarfrost.”)

Vanja Radovanović is a singer-songwriter who has released a number of albums both as a solo artist and as a member of the band VIII2. He won an award for best debut at the 2004 Music Festivalu Budva, and his album Pričaj Dodirom is one of the biggest selling albums in Montenegro’s history. He seems very serious, but when he mentions his love of “Pokusaj” and lists Charles Bukowski as one of his interests on his Facebook page, we suddenly find him quite endearing.

On paper, Montenegro’s entry has potential. Vanja is a charismatic singer and “Inje” is a more grounded, solid entry than this year’s other Balkan ballad, Serbia’s meandering entry “Nova deca.” And it feels as grand in scope as any of the Balkan ballads that have previously graced the Eurovision stage.

Yet, we have trouble generating a lot of enthusiasm for it. We don’t seem to be alone on this either: Montenegro sits at the bottom of the betting odds as of this writing. Why is that? Maybe because it is merely a solid example of its genre. It’s not exciting to us. Perhaps, like the dying relationship Vanja sings about, we have been made numb by “worn routine.”

As they think about staging, Montenegro should take a close look at Knez’s performance and staging at the 2015 Song Contest. We had similar feelings about “Adio” when it first came out, but Knez brought the drama and qualified for the Grand Final. For this to similarly succeed, Vanja needs to make us feel something.