• Slovenian 2017 Eurovision artist Omar Naber (Eurovision)Source: Eurovision
Slovenia's artist with a punk rock style has been dismissive of Eurovision in the past, but is giving it his all as he competes for the second time at the song contest.
Ros Reines

31 Mar 2017 - 9:58 AM  UPDATED 31 Mar 2017 - 12:08 PM

Slovenia’s Eurovision hope, Omar Naber, 35 is a man of contradictions:

On one hand, he seems deliriously happy to have made it through to represent his country in Kiev, but on the other, he was less than impressed by his last Eurovision’ outing in 2005.

Back then, Naber told one journalist that the experience though pleasant was uninspiring, especially when he returned home and discovered that it was business as usual.

"Everyone quickly forgets about you and the show,’’ he moaned - adding that it was just not that important to his career as an artist.  Consider it to be a confection that takes some time to prepare, but is soon just a pleasant memory.

So what has changed to make him want to represent Slovenia in Kiev again?

It's possible that the punk rocker-styled Naber (some fans complain he hasn’t changed his image in years) feels compelled to enter and has been trying to return to the Eurovision stage for a decade. It’s his ultimate showcase.

Perhaps he’s also unfulfilled because he didn’t make it past the semi-finals in 2005 and wants to do so much more for his country. He wants to prove that they can make it on the world stage.

This year, Omar Naber entered the Slovenian national competition, EMA 2017, organised by broadcaster Radiotelevizija Slovenia. He won the grand final on February 24, gaining more judges points than any of the other contestants. He will perform what he hopes is the prophetic On My Way, an emotional ballad which he wrote and composed himself. He will perform in English.

"I’ve been saving this song for 12 or 13 years for the right occasion,’’ he said, after learning that he would be going to Kiev again. "And I feel that this is it.”

Being chosen for Eurovision this year is "just incredible”, he gushed. "To be returning to KIev after 12 years, I feel that a magician has put a spell on me - but in a positive way, of course. I’m forever grateful to the judges for voting me in.”

Exotic even by Slovenian standards, Naber has a Jordanian father and a Slovenian mother. He started playing music at 18 and has since released three solo albums, playing an impressive 900 dates in 27 countries.

However it’s his slightly bolshie attitude which may get him into trouble when it comes to getting the crowd behind him at Eurovision.

Consider this, despite his many attempts to return to the stage in the contest, he once said that he was not a 'fan' of Eurovision, but felt that it was his 'duty and obligation’ to watch it as it is the biggest music festival in Europe.

When he entered in 2005, it was with another one of his own compositions, Stop, which did not ignite the crowd. But, according Naber, up until then the music standard in the competition  was "not impressive”.

"I got the feeling that Eurovision is in fact a totally insignificant festival for the real world of European music,” he said. Oops.

Despite his attitude, what he does have going for him is a stellar voice, great confidence on stage, and real showmanship which he will no doubt bring to the first Eurovision semi-final on May 9.

And despite his misgivings about  Eurovision’s worthiness, the fact that he’s devoted so many years in trying to return, must put him in good stead because everyone loves a true battler. Omar Naber has a good story to tell and perhaps On My Way can go all the way for Slovenia.

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