Country: FYR Macedonia
Song Title: “Autumn Leaves”
Artist: Daniel Kajmakoski
Semi-Final: First, Position #8
Last year’s entry: “To The Sky” – Tijana (DNQ – 13th Place, SF2)
FYR Macedonia was the first country to pick their selection for this year’s contest, way back in early November.1 When WEIO last checked in, this song needed a lot of help. It was primarily a piano-driven tune, and the lyrics were in Macedonian. I personally love it when countries perform in a language other than English, but as Mike pointed out, that hasn’t been a recipe for success in recent contests. So, have the Macedonians used the last four months wisely?
Much like Israel’s entry, “Autumn Leaves” incorporates multiple stylistic approaches. It’s a ballad and an anthem, electronic and orchestral. Where Israel smashes these styles into one another and makes a song out of the pieces,2 FYR Macedonia integrates them much more smoothly. It reminds me of last year’s Armenian entry, which I also really enjoyed, and which landed in the top five. My point is: songs like this can work really well at Eurovision, if they play their cards right. And indeed, Macedonia has taken advantage of the extra time to make this song better. They’ve switched the lyrics to English (which will help more of the audience connect with the song), added the electronic elements, and made this a more energetic and uplifting song.
That said, this entry still has a couple of hurdles to overcome. An autumnal theme might have been perfect for the Macedonia national selection, but probably will be less welcome in May as Europe looks forward to summer. They also have the worst Eurovision track record of any country in their semifinal; Macedonia’s best finish was 12th place, and that was almost ten years ago. I’m also concerned as to how they’ll stage this; as we keep saying, it’s one thing to just stand and sing in a national selection, and quite another to try to fill the Eurovision stage.
Overall, I like this song, placing it comfortably in my top ten for the first semifinal. I’ll be surprised if it doesn’t make the finals, but beyond that don’t have much hope that it will set a new national standard at Eurovision. It’s catchy and easy to sing along with, but ultimately doesn’t have that distinguishable something that will keep Europeans singing along for an entire six months.