It’s the country that was formerly known as the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and as you will see from my updated top 5, the name change has coincided with the Balkan country’s best ever result at the contest. Nine of their 19 appearances have seen them reach the grand final, with a top 10 result finally achieved in 2019. Unlike some countries who have been in the contest a relatively short time, I didn’t struggle to find songs for this top 5 (and even left out one of my favourites from 2018!)
5. Jana Burceska “Dance Alone” (2017, 15th place in semi-final, 69 points)
Ah the song that held such promise for Macedonia after several years of disappointment. A wonderful electropop song with high production values, and a really clever and classy music video. It just didn’t translate as well as it deserved to the live Eurovision stage – maybe it is just one of those songs that will always be better in its radio/club version than live. All that said, Jana gave it her all in the live performance, but it wasn’t rewarded with a good result. (As an aside, 2018 also held huge promise and was one of my favourites but tragically turned into a bit of a hot mess on the stage).
4. Karolina “Mojot svet” (2007, 14th place, 73 points)
This was Karolina’s second time at the contest, and having achieved a respectable 19th in 2002, improved on that result with this ethnopop/rock song, and is currently North Macedonia’s fourth best result.
3. Elena Risteska “Ninanajna” (2006, 12th place, 56 points)
Another ethnopop banger, until 2019 this was North Macedonia’s best result at the contest and it’s a great example of mid-Noughties Eurovision ethnopop (brought up to date recently by Eleni Foureira of course) which I still love. Could have been even higher in my top 5 potentially if her live vocal had been a bit more solid in the contest performance.
2. Kaliopi “Crno i belo” (2012, 13th place, 71 points)
You could never doubt the quality of this lady’s live vocal – never less than impressive and powerful! Kaliopi is a modern Eurovision icon and favourite, having entertained us twice at the London Eurovision Preview Party. At the 2012 party, she joined the fans on the dancefloor after the all the acts had performed and I remember her dancing with me and my friends for a couple of songs! So it was great to see her qualify for the final with this – a powerful rock ballad – and finish a very respectable 13th, Macedonia’s third best result, and only one of two appearances in the final since 2007.
1. Tamara Todevska “Proud” (2019, 7th place, 305 points)
What a number one we have here and what a way to mark their first appearance at the contest with their new official country name. Not only is this North Macedonia’s best result by far, they only went and won the jury vote in the grand final (despite a points announcement cock up that meant that TV viewers saw Sweden winning the jury vote when they were actually second). Tamara was a Eurovision veteran from 2008 when as part of a trio she missed out on the grand final by the narrowest of margins. What a way to make a return though!
A truly powerful ballad that was released to coincide with International Women’s Day, Tamara has said that as well as being a feminist anthem, the song was for “everyone that has been told to put their head down, to follow society’s rules”. And it’s perhaps no surprise that Tamara headlined North Macedonia’s first ever Pride event in Skopje in the summer of 2019.
I think we all knew beforehand that this was a quality song, but this time, they got the staging and production just right, and Tamara’s live performance was spellbinding. With little North Macedonia beating all those much bigger and successful Eurovision countries, Tamara did herself, her country and everyone “Proud”.