Time for the smallest country in the contest (by some distance). I have so much time and love for San Marino at the contest – they can be totally bonkers, almost trolling the contest at time, but it’s all done firmly tongue in cheek and with a sense of fun. This year marks their 10th appearance in the contest and they have brought back a popular previous contestant for them – no, not Valentina Monetta! – but the much loved 2016 representative, Serhat. Can he get them to the final for only the second time?
For those of you who don’t know Serhat, he is 54 year old Turkish singer, though he is also well known as a TV presenter and producer. In 2016 he represented San Marino with the song “I Didn’t Know” – while originally a ballad, a disco version was released in the run up to the contest and a campaign from fandom persuaded them to perform that version (and in fact it ended up coming 12th in semis – not qualifying, but given San Marino has qualified but once, that is a good result.) That responsiveness to the fans was in evidence – he gave so much time to the fans, the blogs – and by all accounts was an absolute charm. So there was an outpouring of love from the fandom when it was announced he would be San Marino’s representative again.
The song Serhat has delivered hasn’t disappointed – “Say Na Na Na” is a big cheesy bop, full of positivity in its lyrics and the tempo of the song. Serhat co-wrote this with Mary S Applegate, who also wrote Belarus’ 2016 entry, and co-wrote Russia’s 2012 entry Party for Everybody as well as Jennifer Rush’s Power of Love and No Mercy’s “Please Don’t Go”. So I know this isn’t the most sophisticated of songs, but it’s just so much fun and brings such a smile to your face – the contest has to have songs like these.
While it is great to see Serhat back, it will be even better to see him reach the final – and the producers have given him best possible chance, as San Marino is closing the first semi. That is usually a sign of confidence by producers in the staging, and of course it’s a real upbeat number Songs closing semis qualify more often than not and this could stay in televoters’ minds even if the juries snub this. And of course, the Turkish diaspora could help with this – with no Turkey in the contest, this is their best opportunity to participate and make a difference. Annoyingly some of the biggest voters for Turkey are voting in the other semi-final (Germany, Azerbaijan, UK). Let’s keep our fingers crossed though!!
Official music video:
Live at Madrid pre-party:
My preview video:
San Marino in the Eurovision Song Contest
First entered: 2008
Appearances (excluding this year): 9
Best result: 24th in 2014
Last year’s result: 17th in semi-final (Did not qualify)