Wednesday 1st and Thursday 2nd March will see 32 acts compete for the chance to earn a spot in the final of Pesma za Evroviziju, Serbia‘s national final. Last year saw Konstrakta take her unforgettable song ‘In Corpore Sano’ to Turin, eventually placing 5th in the Grand Final of Eurovision 2022. Let’s meet the first 16 acts hoping to fill her shoes and represent Serbia in Liverpool this year! Only 8 will qualify to Saturday 4th March’s final, which will be decided by 50% jury and 50% televote.
Mattia Zanatta & Angela Kassiani – ‘Novi Svet’
Mattia Zanatta is an Italian singer and composer who works with the SIMONE Production Studio in Belgrade. The son of an Italian tenor, he has been singing and studying music all his life. Joining him onstage will be Angela Kassiani, a Serbian singer and teacher.
It wouldn’t be Eurovision without a bit of ‘popera’ and that’s exactly what you get with ‘Novi Svet’! Composed by Italian composer and friend of Mattia, Michele Bonivento, the song incorporates soaring operatic vocals, sweeping strings and even some dubstep elements. Zanatta initially composed the lyrics in English but, as Pesma za Evroviziju entries must be sung in one of the official languages of Serbia, Predrag Cvetković was also enlisted to help translate the song. It’s certainly going to open the show with a bang! You can listen to ‘Novi Svet’ below:
Adem Mehmedović – ‘Osmeh’
Adem Mehmedović is a musician and singer from Novi Pazar who has been playing the piano since the age of seven. He is a recent graduate of the prestigious music school Berklee Music College in Boston, Massachusetts, the largest independent college of contemporary music in the world. Adem managed to successfully crowdfund the astronomical tuition fees to study there.
With Adem’s gorgeous traditional vocal mixed with staccato drumbeats, ‘Osmeh’ has the flavours of a modern-day Balkan ballad. It’s the type of song Eurofans tend to respond well to but will Serbian audiences and jurors love it too? You can listen to ‘Osmeh’ below:
Nađa – ‘Moj prvi ožiljak na duši’
Nadja Ordagić, billed simply as Nađa, is just 17 years old and is currently studying at a music school in Serbia. She plays both piano and the acoustic guitar as well as singing. She attracted the attention of famous Serbian singer and composer, Kristina Kovač (who sang backing vocals for the 1991 Yugoslav entrant Bebi Dol), when Kristina hosted a Facebook contest for young, unestablished performers who would like to participate in Eurovision. Nađa sent Kristina a cover of an Olivia Rodrigo song and, being blown away by the young girl’s voice, Kristina immediately set to writing her a song alongside British composer Tim Gosden.
‘Moj prvi ožiljak na duši’ is a sweet, simple acoustic pop song that has been written to showcase Nađa’s beautiful voice and it isn’t difficult to spot the Olivia Rodrigo influence that Kristina first heard in the youngster’s voice. Could Nađa put her name on the map? You can listen to her song below:
Tijana Dapčević – ‘Mamim’
Tijana Dapčević is the daughter of a Macedonian father and a Bosnian-Serb mother and her younger sister Tamara will be very familiar to Eurofans, having represented North Macedonia in 2008 with ‘Let Me Love You’ and with ‘Proud’ in 2019, the latter of which placed seventh in the final. This is also not Tijana’s first time as a Eurovision entrant, having represented North Macedonia herself in 2014 with ‘To the Sky’, a song which unfortunately failed to progress beyond the semi-finals. She also participated in last year’s edition of Pesmz za Evroviziju, replacing Stefan Zdravković when he withdrew from the contest, placing 11th in the final.
Tijana’s song ‘Mamim’ is a funky electropop offering that could see her progress to the final again. An experienced performer, does Tijana have what it takes to represent Serbia in Liverpool? You can listen to her song below:
Princ – ‘Cvet sa Istoka’
Princ (the aforementioned Stefan Zdravković) is a Serbian singer who also sometimes performs under the pseudonym Prince of Vranje, so-called due to having been born there. He has played the lead role in a 2020 production of ‘Jesus Christ Superstar’, progressed to the semi-finals of The Voice Bulgaria in 2021 and has also performed in many music festivals around the world. Although he withdrew from last year’s Pesma za Evroviziju for undisclosed reasons, Princ was open about returning again someday, saying:
Yes, Beovizija (and Eurovision) is of course a great opportunity but it’s not the only one. The Eurovision Song Contest will also be there next year, I’m not giving up on it. Everything comes in its time.Stefan Zdravković, Instagram
That time has come sooner than we’d think! ‘Cvet sa Istoka’ starts out as a classic Balkan ballad before turning into something more poppy and laden with ethnic elements. Could this earn Princ a spot in Saturday’s final? Listen to it below and decide for yourself:
Filip Baloš – ‘Novi plan drugi san’
Filip Baloš is a 21 year old singer-songwriter and producer who has always been surrounded by art, growing up with his music producer father and teacher mother, who both also sing and run an acting school. Aside from his parents, Filip is also heavily inspired by Lady Gaga who he drew an incredible drawing of which you can see here.
His love of Lady Gaga also extends to the music he creates, including ‘Novi plan drugi san’, a club banger that we can totally imagine hearing all over Euroclub in May. The lyrics deal with a breakup and trying to move forward while wondering when the pain will end. Despite it’s somber lyrics, the beat is sure to have people dancing. Will it be enough to earn him a spot in the final? You can listen to Filip’s song below:
Filip Žmaher – ‘Čujemo se sutra’
Filip Žmaher is a pop-rock singer who will be best-known in Serbia as the lead vocalist of the progressive metal band Tornado, who have been active since 1998. Having spent a long time out of the music industry, including in Ukraine with his family, he emerged onto the music scene again in 2022 and is now trying his chances for Eurovision.
‘Čujemo se sutra’ is very different from what many might expect from Filip, leaning more towards an electro-dance sound than the metal music that characterises his earlier work. Could this shift in genre bring a new legion of fans? You can listen to his song below:
Luke Black – ‘Samo mi se spava’
Luke Black (real name Luka Ivanović) is a 30 year old singer-songwriter and producer who was born in Čačak. He released his debut EP ‘Thorns’ in 2014, followed by second EP ‘F23.8’ in 2021. In 2016, he was one of four artists shortlisted to represent Serbia at Eurovision with his song ‘Demons’ but the honour ultimately went to Sanja Vučić Zaa.
Seven years later, Luke Black is back to try and make his Eurovision dream a reality. ‘Samo mi se spava’ is characterised by the sparse electropop and synth sound typical of his other music. The song is already a big hit with Eurofans, being the current favourite on the My Eurovision Scoreboard app and in fan ratings on Eurovision World. With this in mind, could we be looking at not just a qualifier for the final but perhaps even Serbia’s Eurovision representative? You can listen to the song below:
Angellina – ‘Lanac’
Angellina (Anđela Vujović) is a pop singer from Belgrade who has been singing she was a young girl, even taking singing lessons from Madame Pijano who is a famous jazz and ethnic singer in Serbia. Eurofans will likely recognise Angellina from last years edition of Pesma za Evroviziju, where she placed fourth with her song ‘Origami’.
‘Lanac’ is a pop song with dance and ethnic elements. Could Angellina outdo her success last year with this song? You can listen to it below:
Empathy Soul Project – ‘Indigo’
Empathy Soul Project are an alternative rock group from Zrenjanin who have been playing together since 2011. They consist of Nenad Radakovic, Rade Radojcic (both of whom share guitar, bass and vocal duties) and Srdjan Kozarev (drums and vocals). They have played a number of music festivals and cite their preferred genres as being post-punk, psychedelia and shoegaze.
‘Indigo’ stays true to the indie, post-punk roots of the band and its lyrics deal with a breakup where the singer reiterates that things are not going well, to the dismay of the recipient. Eurovision 2023 is shaping up to be the battle of the bands so could Empathy Soul Project be joining the likes of Joker Out, Wild Youth and Piqued Jacks on the Liverpool stage? You can listen to their song below:
Stefan Shy – ‘Od jastuka do jastuka’
Stefan Shy (Stefan Maljković) is a 20 year old singer from Belgrade who was born into a musical family. He appeared in the IDJ Show in 2022, a new Serbian reality TV show where artists compete for one million euros to be invested into their career. Stefan would ultimately place third in the contest and become more widely known to Serbian viewers.
Stefan will be competing in Pesma za Evroviziju with the song ‘Od jastuka do jastuka’ which features elements of pop, R&B and traditional ethnic sounds. You can listen to his song below:
Hercenšlus – ‘Vremenska zona’
Hercenšlus are band from Novi Sad consisting of an array of musicians, most notably including Boban Dževerdanović, vocalist and guitarist in the well-known Serbian group Garavi Sokak and who also aimed to represent former Yugoslavia at Eurovision in both 1989 and 1990 with his old band Fotomodel. They have been playing together since 2018 and released their album ‘Čaj sa medom’ in 2021. They are keen to get across their culture in their music and often incorporate traditional instruments into their sound.
‘Vremenska zona’ is a traditional folk-pop number featuring close harmonies and prominent strings throughout. Could Boban finally be successful in performing at Eurovision? You can listen to Hercenšlus’ song below:
Savo Perović – ‘Presidente’
Savo Perović is a 32 year old singer who is of Montenegrin-Serbian descent, originally born in Podgorica in Montenegro but living and working in Belgrade. He has appeared in a number of reality TV shows, including the singing competition Zvezde Granda in 2015 and Zadruga in 2019, which is somewhat similar to Big Brother.
‘Presidente’ is a dance pop track with a thumping bassline, distinct horns and a catchy chorus. Towards the end of the song, it also includes elements of traditional ethnic folk. There’s a bit of something for everyone but will it be enough to earn a place in the final? You can listen to the song below:
Igor Stanojević – ‘Iza duge’
Igor Stonojević is an economist by trade but that doesn’t mean he is without musical experience, having performed in a number of bands as a vocalist. He is driven to go to Eurovision and speaks highly of the contest, telling news publication Srbia Danas that he sees it as “a colourful bouquet that brightens up all of our lives.”
‘Iza duge’ was composed by Vladimir Graić who famously wrote ‘Molitva’, Serbia’s only winning entry so far. Igor hopes that the song will have a “timeless” feel and make viewers feel that they are “in a movie and watching the “soundtrack” for some serious Hollywood spectacle.” With a winning songwriter behind him, could Igor secure a second victory for Serbia? You can listen to his song below:
Boris Subotić – ‘Nedostupan’
Boris Subotić is a musician who was born in Sremska Mitrovica. He has participated in a number of singing competitions and attempted to represent Serbia last year with his song ‘Vrati Mi’. Sadly, he failed to progress beyond his semi-final.
Fast forward a year and Boris is back with the song ‘Nedostupan’. It is a heartfelt ballad about someone who feels unable to give their everything to another person. Can Boris strike it second time lucky and progress to the final on Saturday? You can listen to his song below:
Chegi & Braća Bluz Band – ‘Svadba ili kavga’
Chegi are a family band consisting of Stefan, Dušan and Željko Čeganjac. They are joined by their orchestra Braća Blues Band, normally performing as a group of ten although appearing as six on Wednesday in order to adhere to Eurovision’s strict six person rule. The group competed in Pesma za Evroviziju last year with the song ‘Devojko sa plamenom u očima‘, placing tenth in the final.
‘Svadba ili kavga’ consists of traditional Balkan elements as well as jazz. In an interview with ESCBubble, the band described it as “probably the most unsual song we have recorded so far.” Can they close the show by standing out from the crowd and going to the final again? You can listen to their song below:
So now you have got to know the sixteen artists competing in the first semi-final, who do you hope will progress to the final? You can watch Pesma za Evroviziju on YouTube at 20:00 GMT/21:00 CET on Wednesday 1st, Thursday 2nd and Saturday 4th March.