Eurovision 2023 top 37 countdown: #5 SERBIA – Luke Black – Samo mi se spava

Eurovision rehearsals are well under way, which means both the live shows and the end of this countdown are in sight. Serbia is not a country I often have in the upper echelons of my countdown, though I respected last year’s entry and really enjoyed what Konstrakta brought to stage, some genuine quirky art pop – and it did very well finishing fifth in the final. Luke Black is Serbia’s entry this year, and with his song “Samo mi se spava”, Serbia are once again giving us something different, quirky and arty. Can Luke replicate Konstrakta’s success?

Luke Black (or Luka Ivanović to give him his actual name) is a singer-songwriter who had been active in the music industry between 2015 and 2018. He then took a break from music until releasing a single in 2021. In the meantime, he’s spent the last few years living in London, studying at a music school and then obtaining a master’s degree in music production from the British and Irish Modern Music Institute. He now works as a graphic designer for a record label. He’s also openly gay – not so unusual of course for Eurovision artists now, but it’s still good to see. He won the very competitive Serbian national final by coming second with both the juries and the televote.

“Samo mi se spava” is another really distinctive and quirky entry from Serbia. It’s dark pop, with a lot of sounds associated with computer games music/soundtracks, and to me it reminds me of some of the dark electronic, often dissonant sounds of 1980s dark fantasy or science fiction. It’s a thoroughly modern message though – both a description and a warning about how we choose to sleep (the song title means “I just want to sleep”) and either deliberately ignore the many realities and bad situation of the world – or that we become asleep to them – and it is the digital world where we escape to – be that gaming (and there so many gaming references in this song and staging) or just generally lost to our phones and the digital world. It’s a dark, dystopian warning of a song to us all.

This is such a clever track and so well thought through in its detail and execution and all the references and inspirations it draws on. The dramatic music, the almost off note reverberating 80s electro chords, the post-apocalyptic industrial staging, the allegorical nature of the song, and the ethereal performance by Luke Black, and some great choreography all make this stand out. And we haven’t even mentioned the lobster! It’s great to see Serbia continuing with these very avant-garde and daring entries. If you’re a gamer as well, there should be a lot of Easter eggs I think in the stage show.

Luke has been given exactly the same slot in the running order of the semi-final as Konstrakta got – third. Historically the worst slot for qualifying, perhaps the producers don’t feel this will be disadvantaged. It certainly should be memorable, and as well as people just enjoying this performance, it will appeal to specific demographics as well I should think. Konstrakta’s votes came primarily from televoters and of course it is they who will decide the semis this year. I’m confident this will qualify and while I’m not sure it will quite repeat the voting success of “In corpore sano”, it will be a great and worthy addition to the grand final.

Serbia in the Eurovision Song Contest

First entered: 2007

Appearances (excluding this year): 14

Best result: Winner 2007

Last year’s result: 5th

Flag of Serbia

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