Celebrating Knez and his Eurovision journey on Montenegro's Statehood Day
Today, July 13, Montenegro commemorates Statehood Day, the date in 1878 on which the Berlin Congress recognised Montenegro as an independent state. This is not to be confused with Independence Day, which is celebrated on May 21 as the anniversary of the 2006 Independence Referendum.
To join in the festivities, we are going to celebrate Knez, who represented Montenegro at Eurovision 2015, and to this day has achieved the best result for the country!
Who is Knez?
Nenad Knežević, aka Knez, was born in 1967 in Titograd, which is now known as Podgorica, the capital of Montenegro. There was no messing around for Knez; at just six years of age, he performed the song “"Bio jednom jedan lav" on the Naša Radost Festival in Titograd.
While in high school, he formed the band Visoka Frekvencija (English: High Frequency) with guitarist Leo Đokaj. During his time with the band, he wrote “Da l' si ikada mene voljela" (Have You Ever Loved Me), which would turn out to be his best hit. Knez also was a part of other bands in his time named Milan i Luna, The Moon Band, and Montenegro Band, which he formed with his father, Milija.
Knez went solo in 1992 and has been releasing music ever since. He has recorded nine studio albums, of which Automatic, released in 1997, was the most successful. In addition, Knez has released three compilation albums.
Attempts at Eurovision
Knez twice attempted to go to Eurovision, both with no success. In 2004, he competed in Evropesma, to select a song for Serbia and Montenegro. His song was titled ‘Navika’, and placed in 17th, losing out to ‘Lane Moje’, which finished in second place at the whole Contest.
His second attempt came in 2008 for Montenegro. The National Final was called MontenegroSong, but despite the name, the selection was mainly for an artist, so out of the six competing acts, five sang covers. Knez gave his rendition of ‘Balerina’ by Makadam and ended up in a respectable third place.
Finally Got The Nod!
In December 2014, Montenegrin broadcaster RTCG announced that Knez would travel to Vienna to represent his country at Eurovision 2015. After two attempts Knez finally got his shot at the big time!
His song ‘Adio’ was released on March 17, 2015, and was composed by none other than Eurovision legend Željko Joksimović, who funnily enough was the one who beat out Knez to go to Eurovision in 2004, but Joksimović competed twice, once for Serbia and Montenegro in 2004, and once for Serbia in 2012, and placed second and third, respectively.
Knez qualified through to the Grand Final in 2015 and finished in 13th place – the best for any Montenegrin song to this day. He finished with 44 points, including receiving 12 points from Serbia and 10 from Armenia.
The staging for the song fits perfectly. The LED is filled with mountains and the Adriatic sea, and Knez and his dancers perform traditional Montenegrin dances, to create a special final product that really stood out on the night.
Apart from delivering Montenegro its best result, Knez has popped up a bit after his Eurovision success.
In 2019, he appeared at the Serbian National Final, Beovizija, as an interval performer. He sang his own Eurovision entry ‘Adio’, as well as teaming up with past ESC entrants Bojana Stamenov (Serbia 2015), Jaques Houdek (Croatia 2017) and Sanja Vučić (Serbia 2016, 2020, 2021) to perform Serbia’s winning song ‘Molitva’.
Knez has a connection to the 2020 and 2021 Contests as well; his daughter, Ksenija, who was one of his backing vocalists and dancers in 2015, is one part of Hurricane, who represented Serbia in 2020 and 2021. Ksenija and Hurricane placed 15th in the Eurovision 2021 Grand Final.
Ksenija (middle) with the girls from Hurricane
Since 2019, after a string of non-qualifications, Montenegro stopped participating at Eurovision.
As we celebrate their best ever result in Knez on their Statehood Day, let’s hope that they can return bigger and better for the 2022 Contest in Italy, and who knows, a Balkan ballad or a Balkan banger might just do Knez one better.