The week before last (on my birthday, of all days…c’est tragique!) we Eurovisionaries received the horrendous news that Croatia will not be competing in Copenhagen next year. Apparently they’re experiencing a cash flow problem, which rumour had it was also affecting Serbia. Thankfully that’s no longer an issue, because if Serbia withdrew it would send me right over the edge. And now I don’t feel compelled to wire the contents of my savings account to the Serbian head of delegation.
Anyway, as things stand, the loss of Croatia is sad enough. But instead of trying to ease the pain by eating our own weight in ćevapčići, why don’t we make like Daria Kinzer and celebrate Croatia’s time spent in the ESC? We don’t even have to don any of her hideous dresses.
Is that a yes? Well, I’m going to go ahead and celebrate whether you want to or not, and I’m doing it by presenting my top 10 Croatian entries of all time.
WARNING: This list does NOT feature Neka Mi Ne Svane by Danijela, which will mystify and enrage many people, I’m sure. I like the track, but it’s a bit too national anthem-like to squeeze into my top 10. Haters gon’ hate, but that’s how I feel.
So, here are the ten songs that did make the cut…
1997 | Probudi Me by ENI
I was a child of the 90s, and a stereotypically girly one at that – so naturally, I freaking LOVED the Spice Girls (I had their movie on VHS and the Impulse body spray and everything). I say that because ENI are the closest thing to a Croatian version of the Spice Girls that I’ve ever come across, and so my childhood obsession with Ginger, Scary, Sporty, Posh and Baby probably explains my attraction to their Eurovision entry. It wouldn’t win any awards for musical or lyrical depth (or costume design..yeuch!) and it didn’t do very well in the contest (coming in 17th) but I like it. These girls wanted to be woken up in the morning with love, not with breakfast, and I totally get that. Although…can I get the breakfast too?
2000 | Kad Zaspu Anđeli by Goran Karan
This song is one of the few from Stockholm that could enter Eurovision today and not sound like it came from 2000, mainly because it actually sounds like it came from 1993. What I’m saying is that it’s vintage, but timeless at the same time. I love the guitar, which makes the song a ballad that wouldn’t be out of place in the background of a movie scene where Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie do a sexy dance. I also think the Croatian sounds particularly pretty in it, which is high praise coming from someone who would marry the Croatian language if that were at all possible. My love for KZA has waned to a strong like over the last few years, but I still reckon it was an honourable Hrvatski effort.
2013 | Mižerja by Klapa s Mora
Now, for a song that is less ‘Brangelina’ and more ‘Come visit Croatia – it’s majestic!’. You probably don’t need me to mention how much the country’s most recent entry belongs in a tourist campaign, accompanied by sweeping shots of clifftops and beaches and ruins. What we got at Eurovision was six dudes in ornate outfits performing it pitch-perfectly and with a lot of passion, and that was good enough. Despite the title, this is an uplifting and beautifully ethnic three minutes, and it has a strange ability to make my eyes all moist. It’s not emotion. I must just have something stuck in them. Every time.
2003 | Više Nisam Tvoja by Claudia Beni
From the country that brought us the Balkan Spice Girls came the Balkan Britney Spears. Let’s face it, this is Hit Me Baby…One More Time 2.0, only without the school uniforms. And that, folks, is why I love it. There’s always room for tear-inducing ethnic ballads at Eurovision, but if a country decides to send trashy 90s pop instead, this fan ain’t gonna complain about it. This example of said trash pop is so catchy, and takes me back to many a primary school dance during which my friends and I would fiddle with our hair chopsticks and pretend to ignore the boys we thought were cute. A.k.a. very good times.
2005 | Vukovi Umiru Sami by Boris Novković
I’ll admit, I didn’t “get” this at first. I watched the 2005 contest shortly after I discovered the ESC, and it kind of flew under my radar amongst the Moldovas and Greeces and Norways that year. But since then I’ve developed a fondness for it. It is very Croatian – you certainly wouldn’t mistake it as an entry from outside of former Yugoslavia, and I like that, because a lot of the songs entered these days could be from anywhere (or in Azerbaijan’s case, are usually from Sweden). It’s also sing-along friendly despite not being up-tempo, which gives it an edge.
2007 | Vjerujem U Ljubav by Dragonfly feat. Dado Topić
You may or may not know that I am a little obsessed with Helsinki’s Eurovision, because it was the first one I watched as a semi-knowledgeable fan. I wouldn’t say that every single entry that year was as amazing as the stage, the postcards, the interval acts and the hosts (Jaana and Mikko have not been out-awesomed yet, IMO) so I’m not just being biased when I say that I really love what Croatia sent to Finland. Vjerujem is cruisy pop-rock with a great chorus and some lovely guitar work, which I know didn’t endear it to a whole lot of people, but it works for yours truly. Keep the abuse of my musical taste to a minimum, please.
1999 | Marija Magdalena by Doris Dragović
If you didn’t just start singing ‘Marija Magdaleennna, ah-ah-ah-ah-ahah-ahhhhhhhhhhhh!’, trying your best to imitate the sound of Doris + Gregorian choir, then shame on you. Of course, it was that Gregorian choir that got Croatia stripped of a whole bunch of points in ’99, but that didn’t really end up being a punishment – Doris still came fourth and her country didn’t have to sit the 2000 contest out. And what a deserved fourth this song was! I’d say it’s Croatia’s most epic entry to date. DD owned the stage and belted out the dramatic, up-tempo number in a way that didn’t require oversized props or flashy backing graphics. That was handy, since this was just prior to when those added extras became a real part of the contest.
2012 | Nebo by Nina Badrić
I professed love for this entry a little while ago, and surprisingly had more than one person (i.e. my entire blog readership) agree that it was, if not THE bomb, then pretty darn close. Aside from the fact that Nina thought wearing a garbage bag on stage would be a good idea, I genuinely love Nebo. It’s my second favourite Nebo of all Eurovision time, actually (you can’t beat a scarily talented ten-year-old doing dubstep). I love the structure, the music, the bells, the melody…just insert every musical term imaginable here, and you can guarantee I rate it. That may be because it reminds me of one of my most-loved non-ESC songs – Wonderful Life by Hurts (who’d better rep the UK in the near future) – but who cares? Love is love.
2006 | Moja Štikla by Severina
Songs that mention shoes are usually awesome, but this one takes the cake…and the stiletto. It combines everything I love in a Eurovision song: ethnicity, fun, quirkiness, and a costume reveal. As a result, seven years after Athens (!!!) it has stood the test of time. Severina is a great performer, and in Greece she brought a song that sounds brilliant in studio anyway to another level. Whether I’m watching her performance or just listening to it, I can’t help dancing (which gets embarrassing if I’m in public, but YOLO, right?) and that’s the mark of a good ethno-pop/turbo-folk song, in my mind.
2010 | Lako Je Sve by Feminnem
Having said that, it’s a ballad that outranks the rest of Croatia’s entries as far as I’m concerned. And not just any ballad; this is one that will haunt me for the rest of eternity as a song that should have qualified to the final. Feminnem came back to the ESC with a vengeance (and a different member) after an average showing five years earlier for Bosnia and Herzegovina. They’d tried to return before, but it was the stunning Lako Je Sve that did it and had me thinking ‘we are sooo going to Zagreb in 2011.’ Sadly, it wasn’t to be, with a slightly off-kilter performance and a tacky love heart getting them only as far as 13th in their semi. But I still believe the song was strong enough and should have pushed through. It’s a beautiful ballad that builds, but not predictably, and combines piano with electronic elements which is an excellent combo. But you knew that. I’m just trying to show my ljubav here, for everything the song is. Damn you, Europe, for letting it go.
Will you miss Croatia when Copenhagen rolls around? What have been your highlights of their time in the ESC?