Sunday, May 16, 2004

Thirteen Years and Twelve Points Later

Much to the shock and disgust of those who take pride in being called Croatian nationalists, voters of Croatia have given the maximum 12 points to Serbia-Monetengro representative on this year's Eurovision Song Contest. For them it is inconceivable that the people of Croatia would have such short memory and allow themselves to embrace the very nation responsible for destruction, rape, plunder and killing of Croatian men, women and children in 1991-95.

Then again, 12 Croatian points for Serbia weren't that surprising for all those willing to spot cultural trends in contemporary Balkans and Croatia.

Lane moje won Croatian favour by being the only song whose lyrics Croatian voters could understand. And the song in many ways belong to "turbo folk", musical style which is immensely popular in Croatia, especially among rural and people of right-wing persuasion.

How popular this music is, even when it comes from Serbia, is best illustrated by two concerts held in Split last year. First, held by Serbian rock star Momčilo Bajagić "Bajaga" (Momcilo Bajagic "Bajaga"), was interrupted by tear gas, apparently thrown by group of Croatian cultural vigilantes. The other concert, held some time later, feature Vesna Zmijanac, "turbo folk" star who had performed for Serbian soldiers besieging Vukovar in 1991. Common sense tells us that Zmijanac's concert should have been marked by even more controversy and incidents than Bajaga's. But common sense has little to do with sentiments and many in Split were too fond of "turbo folk" music to allow themselves to be distracted by ancient history.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Actually, there were a lot of interesting cross-currents in the voting. In addition to the usual stuff (like Greece and Cyprus always giving each other "12"), I mean.

Frex, Albania almost looked like another former Yugoslav republic -- they gave big points to Serbia, Bosnia, and Macedonia, and got (fewer) points from all of those in return. Very interesting.

Serbia got "12s" from Bosnia and from Slovenia as well as Croatia, BTW. And a "10" from Macedonia.

Of course, it's possible to read too much into this. Hey, Serbia got 12 points from Switzerland... but only one or two points each from Andorra, Estonia and Monaco. Undoubtedly Switzerland was responding to traditional close Serbo-Swiss connections, while those other countries hold strong historical resentments against Greater Serbia.

As to turbo-folk, it's hard for me to judge -- I can't understand the appeal until I understand the appeal, if you see what I mean. (Although we do like the Finnish group Varttina, which is sort of turbo folk-ish.)

Doug M. (not anonymous)

1:23 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Eurovision has always been notorious for biased voting. However, I found it quite interesting that Serbia & Montenegro got a fair number of votes from countries with no visible political motives. (Let's face it, what use can a country have out of pleasing such an economically insignificant little country). I think the song was quite nice actually and maybe other people did as well, hence its success.


2:27 AM  

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