Now that the National Finals season is finished and all songs for Eurovision 2016 have been selected we now have a period of around 2 weeks where we wait for the rehearsals to begin in Stockholm. What better way to fill the time than to look back over the 60 years of Eurovision at some of the best and worst entries that countries have sent to the Eurovision stage. There are 43 countries going to Stockholm to take part in the 2016 edition of our favourite musical extravaganza and we continue our journey with Croatia who have never won the contest and have finished in the top 10 six times with their best place 4th. They have never finished last and have failed to qualify from the Semi Finals five times with their lowest Semi Final finish 16th and Final finish 21st. This has all been achieved in 21 participations. You can check out the previous articles in the best and worst series for Ireland HERE ,Spain HERE, Austria HERE, Bosnia & Herzegovina HERE, Iceland HERE, Belarus HERE, Denmark HERE, Georgia HERE, Germany HERE, Cyprus HERE, Finland HERE, Belgium HERE, Hungary HERE, Switzerland HERE, Ukraine HERE,Moldova HERE, Estonia HERE, Norway HERE, Italy HERE, Slovenia HERE,The Netherlands HERE, Armenia HERE, Azerbaijan HERE, San Marino HERE, Israel HERE,Albania HERE, Poland HERE,Serbia HERE,France HERE, Romania HERE and Russia HERE.
So this year Croatia are represented by Nina Kraljić with the song ‘Lighthouse ‘. We will have to wait and see if it turns out to be more of a best or worst song for Croatia but the overall reaction is fairly positive so far. You can catch up on our recent article on our thoughts on the song HERE and our article on Croatia yet to be winners HERE.
So my selections for best and worst entries are based on a combination of actual results and personal taste. Now Croatia have twenty one entries to choose from making the task a lot easier. There are some great songs from Croatia over the years but I am struggling to pick out the three best. So I will highlight more good Croatian entries after I have picked three good and bad ones.
We only have to go back over 15 years to find our first song that is one of the best for Croatia. The year was 1999 and we were in Jerusalem to see Doris Dragovic singing the song ‘Marija Magdalena’.
Now this was a dramatic appearance, she appeared dressed in a white gown and cloak. She was accompanied on stage by one female backing singer dressed in black. At the start of the second verse, she removed the cloak, to reveal a tight bodice. It emerged that Dragović used offstage accompaniment (i.e. vocals by a male voice choir not on stage), Croatia was penalised by removal of one third of its marks average. It was too late to dock points from that night’s score. Now Doris is a popular singer song writer in Croatia as well as the former Yugoslavia. She represented Yugoslavia at Eurovision in 1986 placing 11th. The song finished in a respectable 4th place with 118 points therefore equalling the highest finish for Croatia.
So moving along we look at one of the worst entries for Croatia. We were in Dublin in 1997 to see E.N.I. perform the song ‘Probudi me’.
Now the song was a throwback from the Spice Girls era. Sung in Croatian the song is an up-tempo number, with the girls singing about the best way to wake them up in the morning – with love, rather than coffee. The girls all wore differently garish coloured outfits and it was certainly lively enough. ENI are a pop band from Rijeka and continue to have a presence in the Croatian music scene long after Eurovision. Sadly despite the performance it faired badly in the voting finishing in 17th place with 24 points.
So now we move back to look at another best of entry for Croatia. We were in Birmingham in 1998 and the performer was Danijela Martinović with the song ‘Neka Mi Ne Svane’.
Now the song was sung in Croatian and performed first on the night. The song is a dramatic ballad, often described as the archetypal “Balkan Ballad” by fans, with Danijela wishing that she will “cease to exist” rather than live another day without her lover. The song begins quietly, with only Danijela’s voice heard, but swells to a climax with backing vocals and light instrumentation. Memorable in her performance is when Danijela removes the black cape she wears to reveal the white evening dress beneath it and the audience starts to applaud. Danijela started singing from an early age and in 1991 joined the group Magazin which boosted her standing as it was already an established act. She represented Croatia with them at Eurovision in 1995 placing 6th. The song went on to finish in 5th place with 131 points.
Our next song that has to be considered one of the worst was in the year 2008 and we were in Belgrade to witness Kraljevi ulice & 75 Cents singing ‘Romanca’.
This was a song that was a combination od serious singing interspersed with humorous rapping. The song has a slight touch of humour, as the spoken introduction says that there is no difference between this song of romance and all the others. 75 Cents is rapping about how “monkeys” created the internet, however it was old people who invented music and united the world and therefore old people are not so useless as people like to think. In the live performance towards the end, he can be seen doing modern DJ trickery on a (replica) old gramophone. The were joined on stage by Mia Lisak dancing wearing a red dress and playing percussion with glass bottles towards the end of the song, Mia is barefoot for the performance. 75 Cents was the stage name of Croatian singer Ladislav Demeterffy aka Laci and he was dubbed “75 Cents”, a reference to his age at the time. The song qualified for the Final in 4th place and then finished the Final in 21st place with 44 points.
So onto our next song that was one of Croatia’s best. It was in 2004 and Istanbul was witness to seeing Ivan Mikulic perform with the song ‘You Are The Only One’.
Now starting with the song it was performed in English. The song itself is a power ballad, with the singer declaring that his lover is “a part of me, who lives for me, who would die for me”. Pre-Contest publicity had focused on Mikulić’s vocal range, which was generally agreed to be at least four octaves. The song was performed in a very simple manner, with Mikulić largely alone on stage. Ivan was born in what is now part of Bosnia & Herzegovina and has taken part in many music festivals in both his country of birth and in Croatia. The song came 9th in the Semi Final then finished 12th with 50 points.
We now arrive at another song for Croatia and it’s another of the worst ones. In 2011 we saw Daria Kinzer in Dusseldorf with the song ‘Celebrate’.
It was a song that was a dance track sung in English which had its title changed to Celebrate from the original ‘Break a Leg’. Daria was born in West Germany to a German father and Croatian mother and was raised in Austria. The performance was noted for a magician and a guy at a DJ decks. The backing singer were very casual in jeans and jackets and tops while Daria wore a tight black dress with gold trim. It failed to qualify for the Final in 15th place with 41 points.
So I have mentioned 3 best of songs above but also have to mention the following songs as all great entries too.
1993 Put with the song ‘Don’t Ever Cry’ which was the debut entry for Croatia.
1995 Magazin & Lidija Horvat-Dunjko with the song ‘Nostalgija’.
2000 Goran Karan with the song ‘Kad zaspu anđeli’.
2005 Boris Novković feat. Lado with the song ‘Vukovi umiru sami ‘.
1996 Maja Blagdan with the song ‘Sveta ljubav’ which came 4th.
2006 Severina with the song ‘Moja štikla’.
So there we have it folks, my little delve into Croatian Eurovision history and some of the best and worst moments over the years. Do you agree with all or even any of my choices? Feel free to comment below.
This series will continue with another look at songs over the years for each and every country competing in Eurovision 2016 so keep coming back for more reflections of the best and worst that Eurovision has had to offer us.
Author: Andrew Main
Source: Eurovision Ireland