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?
Bonjour, peeps! It’s been a month since I last posted anything, and that last post did have a long intro justifying my lack of blog action up to that point, so I won’t bother doing another one. I’ll just blame tertiary education once again, and we can move on.
A quick life update from yours truly *clears throat*: two rather exciting things happened to me this week. I’m not going to tell you about the first one until I have photographic proof, but here’s a clue: it has nothing to do with Eurovision. Not just yet, anyway. Who knows what the future will bring for one of the contest’s most unsuccessful countries of late? On that basis, and on the basis that it is SO FREAKING EXCITING, I will be telling y’all about it very soon.
The second thing was that I had me a birthday. I had me a birthday yesterday, to be precise, and the greatest gift I received was the fact that I can now sing Taylor Swift’s 22 at karaoke nights and mean it (that and the doorstop I got that looks like an upside-down melting ice-cream cone. Stuff doesn’t get much cooler than that). In all seriousness, I now feel incredibly old and will be spending the next few weeks trawling eBay for a time-slowing device. But in the meantime, I thought I’d distract myself by looking back at the year Eurovision celebrated a special birthday (of sorts).
2005 brought us the 50th ESC, which I consider a birthday because there was probably a cake, streamers, and a bunch of drunk people involved at some point (and probably has been at every contest since). It was a year of hits and misses song-wise, as I discovered when I decided to continue my Retro Rankings with Year Kyiv, but there were some absolute gems. Read on to see how I rated the 39 songs from top to bottom – and as always, share your rankings with me down below. Please? Consider it a belated birthday gift.
A reminder of all the entries:
And now, my personal top 39:
- Serbia and Montenegro/ Zauvijek Moja by No Name – This marvellous creation came in at #9 in my all-time ESC 50 list, which was actually lower than another song from ’05. But it’s not against the law to have a change of mind, y’know. For the two years that Serbia and Montenegro were represented at the contest they were magical, so although Zauvijek doesn’t have the same spellbinding quality of Lane Moje (and No Name didn’t have the raw sexual magnetism of Željko Joksimović…or was that just me?) it still gets me all goosebumpy. Oh, how I love thee, Balkan drama!
- Romania/ Let Me Try by Luminita Anghel & Sistem
- Latvia/ The War Is Not Over by Walters & Kazha
- Slovenia/ Stop by Omar Naber
- Norway/ In My Dreams by Wig Wam – Hands up who likes glam rock? Me neither. But Eurovision has a way of making me like things I’d retch at if they came on the radio during everyday life. This song rocks, so to speak. It’s ridiculously catchy and anthemic, and compels me to wave a flag whenever I hear it (flag, pillowcase, sock, my cat…whatever’s lying around, really). If you can resist singing along with the chorus, then you are DEAD INSIDE. No offence.
- Albania/ Tomorrow I Go by Ledina Çelo
- Denmark/ Talking To You by Jakob Sveistrup
- Hungary/ Forogj Világ by NOX
- FYR Macedonia/ Make My Day by Martin Vucic
- Israel/ The Silence That Remains by Shiri Maimon – I think Shiri may have been my first girl crush. Even now I watch her performance and drool a little bit over that dress and that perfect face and those gravity-defying…false eyelashes. But her song was every bit as beautiful as she was (and, I assume, still is). I love a non-cheesy mixed-language ballad, so it ticked all my boxes.
- Moldova/ Boonika Bate Doba by Zdob şi Zdub
- Malta/ Angel by Chiara
- Andorra/ La Mirada Interior by Marian van der Wal
- Bulgaria/ Lorraine by Kaffe – Someone sound the guilty pleasure alarm, quick! Yes, this entry is sleazy – like, B-grade porno sleazy – and the rhyming couldn’t be more unimaginative (Lorraine/rain/pain…who would have seen that coming?) but it’s the kind of cruisy, café-style muzak that I apparently go for. I’m not saying that Bulgaria should have qualified or anything, so you can stop typing that abusive comment now. I just kinda sorta like this. Don’t tell anyone.
- Sweden/ Las Vegas by Martin Stenmarck
- Greece/ My Number One by Helena Paparizou
- Spain/ Brujeria by Sun de Sol
- Bosnia and Herzegovina/ Call Me by Feminnem – B & H brought a birthday anthem to Kyiv with this up-tempo funfest that wouldn’t have sounded out of place at Melodifestivalen. It wasn’t a great effort, and was by no means Feminnem’s best ESC outing (I still shed tears for Lako Je Sve) but it’s harmless bubblegum pop. Hating it would be like hating a puppy, and nobody hates puppies.
- France/ Chacun Pense A Soi by Ortal
- Portugal/ Amar by 2B
- Croatia/ Vukovi Umiru Sami by Boris Novkovic & Lado Members
- Ukraine/ Razom Nas Bahato by Greenjolly
- Germany/ Run and Hide by Gracia – I know what you’re thinking. ‘#23? Does this girl actually have functioning ears?’. Well yes, I do, and whilst I don’t approve of the dodgy goings-on that made Germany then what Belarus are now, I reserve the right to think that Run and Hide is not as heinous as the majority of other people. I like its style, and I’m not annoyed at all by those ‘ahh-iy-aaaii’ bits that make up 85% of the song. Unless I have a headache, that is.
- Switzerland/ Cool Vibes by Vanilla Ninja
- Belgium/ Le Grand Soir by Nuno Resende
- Turkey/ Rimi Rimi Ley by Gülseren
- Lithuania/ Little By Little by Laura & The Lovers – As a former English major, what I most appreciate about this is the alliteration. There are more Ls there than you could poke Helena Paparizou’s baton at. Still, the song has its charms, outside of it being a cliché and everyone knowing exactly where it’s headed because it’s made up of a tried-and-tested Swedish formula.
- Estonia/ Let’s Get Loud by Suntribe
- Austria/ Y Asi by Global Kryner
- Cyprus/ Ela Ela by Constantinos Christoforou
- United Kingdom/ Touch My Fire by Javine – When you consider that then-pregnant glamour model Jordan could have been gyrating around in pink pleather in Javine’s place, Touch My Fire starts to sound and look pretty good. But that aside, 2005 was another fail for the UK. This song would have done better as a radio track than a Eurovision one.
- Monaco/ Tout De Moi by Lise Darly
- Finland/ Why? by Geir Ronning
- Poland/ Czarna Dziewczyna by Ivan & Delfin
- Iceland/ If I Had Your Love by Selma – IMO, Selma was suffering from a severe case of Shouldn’t Have Returned-itis when she took to the stage in Kyiv. This song is clearly inferior to her runner-up of 1999 (although the costuming did improve) and I don’t see how she could have thought otherwise. It’s like three different but equally average songs rolled into one, and the result is a total non-event. I guess she really was all out of luck.
- Netherlands/ My Impossible Dream by Glennis Grace
- Belarus/ Love Me Tonight by Angelica Agurbash
- Russia/ Nobody Hurt No One by Natalia Podolskaya
- Ireland/ Love? by Donna & Joe – Love? Not if I can help it. Hands down my least favourite song of the year, this makes Dustin the Turkey’s offering sound like the stuff Grammy winners are made of. It’s just terrible in every way! The performance was super cheesy, the outfits were bad even for 2005, and the song is dire. Ireland did redeem themselves the following year with Every Song Is A Cry For Love, but I have to correct Brian Kennedy. Donna & Joe’s entry was less of a cry for love than a cry for competent songwriters.
I’ve showed you mine…show me yours? How would you rank the Class of ’05? How right or wrong are my rankings?
154. It’s not the number of times Azerbaijan has borrowed a Swedish song to send to Eurovision and done ridiculously well with it; nor is it the amount of occasions on which Valentina Monetta will eventually represent San Marino (at least, we all hope not). It’s actually the number of songs that have competed in the semi-finals since 2004, only to lose out to ten “better” entries. That’s 154 non-qualifiers over ten years, according to my haphazard calculations. Yikes.
Among all those losers could-have-beens are some gems – and sometimes it’s hard to get over the fact that they didn’t make the final. I thought we should take some time to celebrate the awesomeness of what was left behind…whilst simultaneously re-traumatising ourselves by asking ‘WHY, EUROVISION GODS, WHY DIDN’T THEY MAKE IT?’. So here, in reverse to keep you in suspense, are my top ten non-qualifiers, accompanied by some reasons for their non-qualifying. Let me know below which have been your favourites to date, and why you think they failed to make the cut.
Horehronie by Kristina (Slovakia 2010)
Slovakia = not a country with a long and successful contest history. But you should still consider it a big deal when I say that Horehronie is their best-ever entry by my standards. It has everything I love in an ethno-pop song – it’s mystical, catchy, and makes me want to do some weird hypnotic dance whilst covered in foliage.
What went wrong: This was the type of song I expected to qualify, or if not, to be on the cusp. So second-last in its semi came as a surprise to moi. Can we blame the early draw and/or Kristina’s inadequate vocal performance? We can? Great. Done.
Follow My Heart by Ich Troje (Poland 2006)
It didn’t quite live up to Ich Troje’s majestic/heart-warming Keine Grenzen, which did so well at Eurovision 2003, but this song floats my boat for no other reason than IT JUST DOES, OKAY?!? It’s a song you wouldn’t expect to hear anywhere except at the ESC (or in a random national final) and every time I watch it or hear it, I’m all like, *Euroswoon*. Then I think about how narrowly it missed the final and I’m all like, *Eurobreakdown*.
What went wrong: Not a whole lot, when you see how close it was to qualification. Poland were beaten to last-qualifying 10th place by FYR Macedonia, so I’m going to go out on a (scantily clad) limb and say that there wasn’t enough flesh on display.
Complice by Miodio (San Marino 2008)
You (and the entire European continent) say bland, I say bellissimo, because this is an Italian-language ballad with a haunting piano intro and I’m attracted to that sort of thing (in fact, the piano intro doesn’t even have to be haunting). I have no idea what Mr. Miodio is singing about besides the odd word, but that just adds to the mysterious appeal.
What went wrong: Possibly the fact that the only fan of this song was sitting on her couch in a faraway land called Australia at the time, and couldn’t text her little heart out to save it. Not that she (I’m referring to me, guys…in case you didn’t get that) could have made much difference.
Cipela by Marko Kon & Milaan (Serbia 2009)
Oh, Serbia. You never disappoint me song-wise, and I’m always crushed on the rare occasions you don’t qualify…even if it’s your own fault for dressing your representatives in leftover materials from a circus tent-manufacturing factory. That was not the case in Moscow, when your costumes were fine and your song was quirkily awesome. Who else could make a song about a shoe sound this good? Besides Croatia, of course.
What went wrong: The system failed Cipela. Literally. That pesky rule wherein the top nine as per the televote plus one wildcard jury pick would qualify put paid to Marko and Milaan’s (and my) hopes of Serbia making it to the final. It was 13th-placed Croatia that the jury chose to go through.
Igranka by Who See (Montenegro 2013)
I majorly dislike the dubstep breaks that get shoved into every second song to be released these days – seemingly just for the heck of it – but I can get on board with the consistency of 100% dubstep. It took a while, but I LOVE this example now, and it makes me sad that not even something so unique and current could get Montenegro to the final for the first time.
What went wrong: Igranka was probably too left-of-centre (particularly by Eurovision standards) to win over enough televoters who were hearing it/seeing it for the first time. Still, from what I can understand of the highly confusing split results, it seems that the juries were more to blame for holding Montenegro back. Who would’ve guessed.
Firefly by Christina Metaxa (Cyprus 2009)
Cyprus has been unfairly overlooked more than once in recent times, IMO. I don’t expect anyone to agree with me, but I think 2009 was one of those times. Firefly is still one of my favourites from Year Moscow, just for being so pretty, and starting off very simply before building up to something with more depth. I was a fan of the stage presentation too.
What went wrong: It isn’t the most dynamic of songs. Some would probably call it vanilla. Plus, it’s a tricky song to sing (I imagine…I’ve definitely never attempted my own version in the shower) and unfortunately, some of those high notes got the better of Christina.
San Aggelos S’agapisa by Christos Mylordos (Cyprus 2011)
Well fancy that, it’s Cyprus again! And again, I think they brought it to Düsseldorf and got sent packing in spite of that. The staging of this was like, Azerbaijan-level good, and I think the song worked really well in the live arena setting. Speaking of the actual song, I love the ethnicity of it, the way the Greek sounds, and even the drastic mood swing from piano ballad to rock-with-screaming-lady.
What went wrong: It just wasn’t popular enough, I guess. Cyprus has never qualified with a song in Greek, having done so in English on both sides of 2011, so there must be something too inaccessible about their more traditional choices. That’s a little bit sad.
Lako Je Sve by Feminnem (Croatia 2010)
2010 was a year of casualties, but the loss of Feminnem was particularly painful because it was so unexpected. With this uh-mayzing ballad, I had visions of Zagreb 2011, or at least a top 10 finish. Qualification was never an issue in my mind. Three years and one DNQ later, I’m still shocked, but I listen to Lako Je Sve all the time and wonder what could have been.
What went wrong: There was polish lacking in the performance, which didn’t suit the sophistication of the song. The vocals weren’t quite right at times, the ‘bare’ look the girls were sporting lacked effort, and there was the small matter of that tacky red love-heart at the end. A dodgy performance can ruin a great song, as Blue can attest to.
Stop by Omar Naber (Slovenia 2005)
This didn’t grab my attention at all the first time I saw the Kiev contest. I was still a relative ESC virgin and there were a s#%!load of songs to contend with, so I guess it slipped under the radar. For like, five years. It was the studio version that eventually made me fall in love with it, and appreciate it for being a testosterone-filled ballad with no cheese.
What went wrong: I’m not blaming this, per se, but Omar’s choice of costume was more appropriate for a Friday night at the pub, with the lads, watching some kind of ball sport, than for performing on live TV with millions of people across the planet watching on. I also suspect the screaming lady (not the same one who graced the stage with Christos Mylordos) put some people off/gave them nightmares.
This Is My Life by Anna Bergendahl (Sweden 2010)
Hello there, one of my favourite Eurovision songs of all time! How you doin’? Not so good because you got left behind in your semi final? Fair enough. This song has always sounded like a winner to me, and it did beat some brilliant stuff (from the likes of Timoteij, Darin and Eric Saade) to win Melodifestivalen, so I feel as if it should have coasted into the final.
What went wrong: The crowd in the Telenor Arena was not amused when Sweden didn’t come out of any of the magic envelopes. It was another near miss, which makes me wonder about Anna’s nervous-sounding vocal. But then, wondering is a bit pointless when it was so close. Maybe nothing went wrong in this case. Things just went better for ten of the others.
Honourable Mentions: La Mirada Interior by Marian van de Wal (Andorra 2005); Era Stupendo by Paolo Meneguzzi (Switzerland 2008); Vrag Naj Vzame by Rebeka Dremelj (Slovenia 2008); Angel Si Ti by Miro (Bulgaria 2010); Love Unlimited by Sofi Marinova (Bulgaria 2012); Mižerja by Klapa s Mora (Croatia 2013).
I’ve shown you mine…now show me yours? Which entries of ’04 to ’13 brought a tear to your eye when they DNQ?
Semi finalist that should have made the final
Mr. Nobody by Anžej Dežan (Slovenia 2006)
Follow My Heart by Ich Troje (Poland 2006)
Complice by Miodio (San Marino 2008)
Era Stupendo by Paolo Meneguzzi (Switzerland 2008)
Cipela by Marko Kon & Milan (Serbia 2009)
Lako Je Sve by Feminnem (Croatia 2010)
San Angelos S’Agapisa by Christos Mylordos (Cyprus 2011)
But the ultimate is:
Stop by Omar Naber (Slovenia 2005)
If the scary lady in the lipstick is what stopped this from qualifying…well, I can sort of understand. Whatever the reason, it would have deserved a place in the final, in my eyes. Mystic-rock at its best.
Favourite song from a national final (that should have gone to Eurovision)
Cara Mia by Måns Zelmerlow (Sweden 2007)
Zavet by Beauty Queens (Serbia 2008)
La Histeria by Marquess (Germany 2008)
Razborka by The Nicole (Sweden 2008)
Breathing by Bryan Rice (Denmark 2010)
You’re Out of My Life by Darin (Sweden 2010)
Or by Chen Aharoni (Israel 2011)
But my favourite is:
Nada Es Comparable A Ti by Mirela (Spain 2009)
So her live vocal is a bit off. So what? The song itself is amazing, and wouldn’t have had to work hard to improve on Soraya’s result (her vocals, may I say, were not exactly worth writing home about). The studio version is one of the most listened to/spine-tingling moment tracks on my iPod. Mucho amor!
Listen to the studio version: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2ODdQ2A_l1Q&feature=related