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  • Writer's pictureSamuel Lee

Divine Daniel: Montenegro's star Eurovision artist for Yugoslavia

Photo courtesy of Sloboden Pecat

Today July 13 is Statehood Day in Montenegro. On this day in 1878 the Principality of Montenegro was declared the 27th independent state in the world at the Berlin Congress.

To commemorate this day, we at Aussievision have decided to take a look back at a Montenegrin who made a big impact on the Eurovision stage.

Montenegro made its debut at Eurovision in 2007 and they achieved their best ever result as an independent nation in 2015, when Knez reached 13th place. Although this is already an impressive result for a nation with just over 600,000 people, there have been some Montenegrins that have done even better. In 2005 the Montenegrin band No Name reached 7th place at the contest, representing Serbia and Montenegro.

But the most impressive Eurovision result by a Montegrin was Daniel in 1983. He placed fourth at the contest held in Munich, which at the time was the best ever placing a Yugoslav entry had achieved. Let's find out more about this talented artist.

Before Eurovision

Daniel was born Milan Popović in Titograd (now called Podgorica), Socialist Republic of Montenegro (part of Yugoslavia) on Octber 29, 1955. Although his father was Montengrin, his mother was actually Belgian. He grew up in Titograd before moving to Zagreb to pursue a pop music career in 1977.

In 1983 Daniel took part in the Yugoslav national final for Eurovision - Jugovizija. The favourite to win the selection was popular folk singer Lepa Brena. However, Daniel unexpectedly won with his song 'Džuli' which translates to Julie in English, and, like its title suggests, is a serenade to a woman of that name. Julie is based on Daniel's first love of a German girl who was visiting Yugoslavia with her parents. You can watch Daniel's national final performance below:

Eurovision 1983

If Daniel thought the competition at the Yugoslav national final was hard, Eurovision would prove even tougher. Twenty entries competed at the 1983 contest in Munich, a record at the time.

The bookies' favourite to win was Corinne Hermès from Luxembourg with the ballad 'Si la vie est cadeau', which translates to 'If life is a gift' in English. She had the added advantage of performing last in the running order. The United Kingdom's Sweet Dreams were considered the second favourite with Yugoslavia and Daniel third. Another notable performer was a sixteen year old Carola Häggkvist, who would later win Eurovision in 1991.

Daniel delivered a memorable performance on a night in a blue shirt and backed by two women dressed in yellow, who danced enthusiastically beside him. His performance received a strong reception in the cavernous Rudi-Sedlmayer-Halle arena.

In the early stages of the voting Yugoslavia, host country Germany and Sweden looked like they would threaten Luxembourg's lead. The latter ran away with the victory in the final juries, but still only managed a six point victory over runners-up Israel. Sweden came third, with Daniel and Yugoslavia fourth. At the time it was Yugoslavia's best ever result at Eurovision. The Balkan nation had also come in fourth in 1962 with Lola Novaković, but she had to share that position with the United Kingdom. Yugoslavia would finally win the contest in 1989.

After Eurovision

After his Eurovision success, Daniel overnight became the biggest pop star in Yugoslavia. 'Dzuli' proved to be a hit not just in Yugoslavia, but all over Europe. In an interview with a Croatian journalist, Daniel mentioned one of his proudest achievements was that at one point he was ahead of Michael Jackson in the Norwegian charts, and in front of David Bowie in the German one. He even turned down the opportunity to launch a career in America due to his fear of flying.

However, Daniel ultimately failed to capitalise on his Eurovision breakthrough. After several moderately successful hits in the early 1990s, Daniel's releases never gained traction in the charts thereafter.

Daniel did try to make several more appearances at Eurovision He competed at the Yugoslav national final in 1991 with 'Ma daj obuci levisice'. He finished second behind Bebi Dol who sang 'Brazil'. The latter finished second last at the Eurovision 1991 held in Rome.

In 2007 Daniel attempted to represent Croatia at Eurovision, by submitting a song to the nation's pre-selection Dora. It also featured his son Sebastian, daughter Isabella and another teenage singer Snježana Ivana Pandl. However the song was not selected to competed in the televised final.

Daniel however can be proud of the success he achieved for Yugoslavia and Montenegro at the Eurovision 1983. His song 'Dzuli' captured ears, and his good-looks many hearts. We wish him and all our Montenegrin readers and followers, a happy Statehood Day. For all you readers who don't understand Montenegrin or Serbo-Croat, enjoy this English version of Daniel's Eurovision entry.

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