Today, we head off to the land of checker, King’s Landing and a museum of breakups. It’s Croatia!!!
Croatia first took part in the Eurovision Song Contest as an independent nation in 1993. This year will be their twenty-third participation. Prior to 1992, they took part as part of Yugoslavia and provided the only Yugoslav winner “Rock Me” by Riva in 1989. Their best result in the contest is fourth, which they have achieved twice, in 1996 with “Sveta ljubav” by Maja Blagdan and in 1999 with “Marija Magdalena” by Doris Dragović. Croatia has not reached the top 10 since 2001. Last year, they returned to the contest after an absence of two years. Nina Kraljić got Croatia to the final for the first time in seven years but only finished 23rd with “Lighthouse”.
The Croatian broadcaster, Croatian Radiotelevision (HRT), internally selected both the artist and song. Jacques Houdek was announced as this year’s Croatian representative.
Željko “Jacques” Houdek was born on April 14th 1981 in Velika Gorica, just outside Zagreb. He first came to public provenance when he participated in the Croatian national selection in 2002 with the song “Čarolija” (Magic). He also participated in the selections in 2003, 2004 and 2006. He was almost chosen to represent Croatia in 2011 but finished second in the selection. Since his debut, he has released 10 studio and 3 live albums. He was a coach on both seasons of The Voice – Najljepši glas Hrvatske and mentored the winner of the first season, last year’s Croatian representative, Nina Kraljić. His entry for Kyiv, “My Friend” was written by Ines Prajo, Arjana Kunštek, Fabrizio Laucella and Jacques himself. He also composed the song alongside Siniša Reljić and Tony Malm.
Who says you need two people to sing a duet when you can sing both parts by yourself? It is a stroke of genius! You have an inspirational pop song on one hand and a determined Italian opera singer on the other. Those two things shouldn’t go together but they surprisingly do. I’m curious as to how this will work out on stage because it can either make or break the song. We’ll see how it plays out in two weeks time.
What Could Have Been
A firm fan favourite among Croatian Eurofans, Franka Batelić is someone I would like to see at Eurovision. Her song “Ruža u kamenu” (Rose in the stone) won the OGAE Song Contest in 2008, a contest organised among the national Eurovision fanclubs in each country. She was approached by HRT to represent Croatia in 2013 was ultimately was not chosen. In 2013, she released the song “Ljubav je…” (Love Is…), in support of a same-sex marriage referendum. Keep your eyes peeled for when she does make it to the Eurovision stage.
Sretno za Hrvatsku!
Is Jacques your friend or your enemy? Leave your comments below. Stay tuned tomorrow for another Eurovision preview!
(Sources: eurovision.tv, HRT, YouTube)