It’s the highest placed former Yugoslav country in my 2022 rankings (though not quite the highest Balkan entry), it’s a very warm welcome back to Montenegro! One of Eurovision’s smallest countries in terms of population, Montenegro missed the 2021 contest but returns this year with the closest we have to a Balkan ballad for 2022 (albeit in English). Will Vladana‘s “Breathe” sweep up the votes of the many that love that genre?
It’s great to see Montenegro back after their short break and pleasing for me to place them so high in my own rankings for a change. They originally had plans for some form of national final but costs meant they fell back to having an internal selection. Vladana was their choice, a long established singer who had in fact competed in a couple of national selections before Montenegro became their own state when it was still Serbia and Montenegro. She is the cowriter of her English-language song “Breathe”; the other writer is Darko Dimitrov, writer of a dozen or so Eurovision songs, including jury winning “Proud“.
“Breathe” is a very personal song to Vladana, connected as it is to the pandemic and a family ordeal Vladana went through during it. Keeping the family connection even further, her son appears in the music video. The song itself is in the vein of the classic Balkan ballad, though it is in English and somewhat more modern sounding. I really like this – it’s emotive, dramatic, uplifting and very classy. I’m not usually a Balkan ballad aficionado, but this one has really chimed with me.
I’m really pleased Montenegro have entered something classy and quality, with a more experienced and mature singer. The song itself is not necessarily the most innovative, but I appreciate the meaning of the lyrics to Vladana, and how she emotes through the song. Her live vocal has not been always perfect, but I think she’s experienced enough to pull off great performances in Turin.
Montenegro are not the most successful country when it comes to qualifying in the contest and while this is among my favourites, I appreciate it’s a tough ask for this to qualify. I’m not sure it’s going to get enough love from the juries to counter what is likely to be a lower public vote score. Whatever the result, I hope it won’t discourage Montenegro from continuing to participate at the contest in future.
Montenegro in the Eurovision Song Contest
First entered: 2007
Appearances (excluding this year): 10
Best result: 13th in 2015
2019’s result: 16th in semi-final (did not qualify)