Category Archives: Croatia

Croatia: Klapa s Mora reveals “Mižerja”

Following a few difficult years on the Eurovision scoreboard, Croatian broadcaster HRT decided to return the country to its musical roots for ESC 2013 by sending a classic “klapa”, or traditional male harmonic group, to Malmö.  Six of the most talented klapa singers were brought together to form a so-called “Super Klapa” (now officially called “Klapa s Mora“).  Today, their song “Mižerja (Misery)” was revealed to the public. Read the rest of this entry

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Croatia: Nina Badrić releases “Nebo”

As announced back in January, Croatia’s traditional National Final, Dora was cancelled in favor of an Internal Selection.  Veteran performer Nina Badrić was selected by broadcaster HRT, but it was unclear which song she would take to Baku.  That question was answered this weekend on a special aired by the network, where an edited version of the title track of Nina’s most recent album, “Nebo (Heaven)”, was unveiled. Read the rest of this entry

It’s Nina Badrić for Croatia!

After a general lack of news from Croatia, followed by a strong rumor that Colonia would be competing to represent the nation in Eurovision this year, we got word yesterday that veteran singer Nina Badrić had been internally selected by broadcaster HRT.  The traditional national final format has been scrapped for the year in favor of a two-night event in early March.  Night One will be a retrospective of DORAs past, and Night Two will focus on Nina and her song for Baku.  After some strong showings in the mid-to-late ’90s, Croatia’s Eurovision fortunes have waned somewhat in recent years…will Nina bring them back to the Top Ten for the first time since 2001? Read the rest of this entry

Eurovision 2011: The Best of the Rest (Part 2)

Continuing on through our tour of the 2011 Preselections, we move straight on from Bulgaria to…

Croatia: Few people who were in the Press Center in Düsseldorf will soon be able to forget Daria Kinzer’s “Celebrate“, complete with two costume changes and a special appearance by a creepy Willy Wonka impersonator.  But only the most hardcore of ESC fans remembers that the lovely Daria had some serious competition in this year’s Dora: Jacques Houdek.  Daria and Jacques went head-to-head on three songs, with a public televote and jury vote selecting the best option for each singer.  The interesting thing about this, however, was that the scores were tied after the jury and televote was added together during the song selection, with the public favoring “Stotinama Godina (A Hundred Years)” for both Daria and Jacques (by a landslide), and the jury selecting “Lahor/Break a Leg/Celebrate” for the two.  Most national finals used the public vote as the prevailing factor, but Croatia deferred to the jury.   The uptempo number seemed better-suited for the lovely Daria, and so Jacques’ fate as runner-up was sealed.  But we were tantalizingly close to having this, instead:

“Stotinama Godina” reminds me of the classic Croatian ballads of years past: songs like “Neka Mi Ne Svane“, or “Nek’ ti bude ljubav sva” (which, interestingly enough, Jacques performed during the national selection process).  It’s hard to say if this would have made it into the Final (I’m sure that some would have argued that it sounded “dated”), but I personally preferred it to “Celebrate”.  As for Jacques, I wouldn’t count him out.  In a commercial for this year’s UK version of “X-Factor”, eagle-eyed viewers can catch a quick glimpse of Houdek auditioning for the show that introduced the world to Jedward.  Brace yourselves, my friends.
Skipping Cyprus, which chose its song internally, we move on to:

Denmark: “New Tomorrow” by A Friend in London brought the Danes their second consecutive Top Five placement, and may have given Jedward and Poli Genova a bit of competition in the “Best Spiky Blonde Hair” category this year.  But the runner-up at this year’s Dansk Melodi Grand Prix was no slouch, either.

Anne Noa’s “Sleepless” felt like a breezy blend of Taylor Swift and Selena Gomez, and could have easily been a worthy follow-up to the youthful puppy-love of Lena’s “Satellite”.

Estonia: Once again, some of the best songs this year came to us from Eestilaul, and it’s really tough to pinpoint an absolute favorite.  Getter Jaani’s “Rockefeller Street” was a fun, bouncy, vaguely surrealistic number that people in the press center either lauded or loathed, but there were definitely a handful of songs that could have gone to Germany in its place.  Fans of “Oida Taunz!” might have gone for the Argentinian-born Elmayonesa’s “Kes Ei Tantsi On Politsei (Whoever Doesn’t Dance is a Policeman)”, while on the opposite side of the musical spectrum, we have Marilyn Jurman’s sweet “Veel on Aega (There is Still Time)”.  This year’s runner-up, “I Wanna Meet Bob Dylan” by Outloudz, is a wonderfully wistful track that I am predisposed to love (both as a resident of Dylan’s home state of Minnesota as well as a fan of 80’s-style New Wave), but my personal favorite still remains 2011’s fifth-place finisher, Ithaka Maria’s “Hopa’pa-Rei!”:

How can you argue with those cellos, that attitude…that YODEL?  It’s exceedingly difficult to not sing in English at Eurovision, yet still have everybody singing along with your hook (just ask Magdalena Tul)…but I’m pretty sure that Ithaka Maria would have had Ruslana fans (and many others, for that matter) absolutely eating out of her hand.

Finland: Paradise Oskar may have “Da Da Dam“ed his way to Düsseldorf, but he had to defeat a fairytale princess and a former monster to get to the top of the heap.  Finland’s runner-up this year was Saara Aalto’s saccharine-sweet “Blessed with Love” (if Eurovision’s rules had allowed animals on stage, I’m pretty sure we would have seen Bambi, Thumper, and Tweety Bird singing backup…but then again, with the LED screen, I’m sure anything would have been possible).  If sweetness isn’t quite your thing, how about the glam-rock of Stala and So.’s “Pamela”?

Lead singer Sampsa Astala is the former drummer for Lordi, who famously took the Eurovision crown to Finland for the first time back in 2006.

Next up: Georgia, Germany, Greece, and Iceland!

New Videos from Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Latvia (plus, new versions for France and Croatia!)

Over the past week, a number of new videos have been released for this year’s Eurovision hopefuls.  Let’s have a look, shall we?

First up, Armenia has revealed the official clip for Emmy’s “Boom Boom”, featuring German-Armenian boxer Arthur Abraham:

Well, at least the Armenians are probably realizing just how kitschy their song is…having Emmy and her pals dance around in a ring, wearing bedazzled boxing gloves and randomly turning into comic book characters is a pretty decent sign that they’re taking “Boom Boom” with a grain of salt (and I, for one, could use a margarita after watching it.  Oy…)

Next up, we’ve got Armenia’s cross-Caucasus neighbors (and perpetual rivals) Azerbaijan, who released a second clip for Eldar and Nigar’s “Running Scared”:

Compared to previous years’ entries from Baku, “Running Scared” is elegant, subtle, and sweet.  The video is visually beautiful (not only because of the landscapes, but also for the copious shots of Eldar and Nigar!).  I’m not quite sure why Azerbaijan insisted on recording a second video for “Running Scared”, as their first version was definitely not unpleasant, but considering the country’s penchant for Eurovision excess, they probably just figured that any money spent was money well spent.
We’ve also seen the premiere of Latvia’s “Angel in Disguise”, by pop duo Musiqq:

Another simple, straightforward song with an equally straightforward video.  My only concern is that by putting the chorus’s lyrics right up on screen, the fact that Musiqq is singing in so-called “Eurovision English” is put front and center.  It’s not grammatically perfect, and it becomes more noticeable when lyrics like “stare me with candy eyes” are repeatedly displayed.  Marats and Emīls are definitely easy on the eyes, though, and “Angel in Disguise” is the only ESC entry this year where I actually like the random rap-break.

Croatia’s Daria Kinzer has just released translations of “Celebrate” in Russian, French, and German, bringing the number of versions released to this point up to six (including the original Croatian and the first English rendition, “Break a Leg”).  I’m personally still waiting on Esperanto, Swahili and Hawaiian, but maybe that’s just me…

Finally, French tenor Amaury Vassili has recently re-released his second album “Canterò” with “Sognu” added to the track listing, as well as a new, English-language version of this year’s Eurovision entry, entitled “I Would Dream About Her“.  I personally prefer the original Corsican version, but as Amaury will not be using this new translation on stage in Düsseldorf, it’s a bit of a moot point.

More new versions and videos released!

As expected, Albania has revamped their entry for Düsseldorf.  What was once Aurela Gaçe’s “Kënga Ime” is now “Feel the Passion”:

I feel like I’m in the minority here, but I loved Aurela’s song the first time I heard it, and this revamp only solidifies my position.  Aurela is this year’s diva, and whether she wins or not, she is making this her show.  (It’s funny, though; I was talking with my friend Slavi yesterday before we saw the new video or heard the translation, and I told him how I imagined that the clip would somehow involve Aurela standing on top of a mountain or other high point, a wind machine fluttering around some epic dress, and an eagle soaring.  I should have placed money on it!)


On the other end of the Eurovision world (geographically speaking), the Icelandic representatives have released the English-language version of “Aftur Heim“, “Coming Home”.

It seems that “Aftur Heim” was, in fact, originally written with English lyrics, with the text eventually refined by the wife of the late Sigurjón Brink.  The song was performed in Icelandic for the National Final, as per the network’s rules, but the door was always open to have it performed in English.  We all know the story of Sigurjón and his tragic passing by now, but hearing this song in a language that I can understand just makes the whole thing even more powerful.  “Coming Home” is performed admirably, and is truly a celebration of Sjónni’s life and work.

Also releasing an official video clip is San Marino’s Senit, with her ballad “Stand By”:

(Sharp-eyed ESC fans might recognize some of the same landscapes and landmarks as seen in MiOdio’s video for “Complice“.  Then again, considering that San Marino is only about 24 square miles (61 sq km), that’s not too difficult.)

Only slightly bigger, at 121 square miles (316 sq km), is Malta, which coincidentally also released their official preview video today for Glen Vella’s “One Life”:

(It appears that half of Malta’s population took part in this year’s National Selection, and the other half appears in Glen’s video!)

Finally, Croatia’s new preview video has been released: Daria Kinzer’s “Lahor” “Break a Leg” “Celebrate”!

I’m sure more videos are coming down the pipeline within the next few days, as the official “Heads of Delegation” meeting is happening now in Düsseldorf.  We’ll also have the official draw for the running order tomorrow afternoon (or, for me, morning!).  Even though Preselection Season is officially over, there’s still lots to do before the First Semifinal on May 10th!

Updates and Videos and Translations, oh my!

Not sure what’s in the water in Europe today, but today we’re not only officially hearing the songs from the UK and San Marino (although the British song “I Can” was leaked yesterday, I’ll wait until after their official performance on “The Graham Norton Show” to post the clip), but revamped songs from Croatia and Georgia, a translated Dutch song, and the videos from Ireland, Spain, and Italy have all been released!

From Croatia, we have Daria Kinzer’s “Celebrate”, the former “Lahor” and “Break a Leg”:

We have Georgia’s new video with the updated version of “One More Day”, now with Eldrine’s new lead singer Sopho Toroshelidze:

From the Netherlands, the 3J’s “Je vecht nooit alleen” has become the English-language “Never Alone”:

From Ireland, we’ve got the official video from Jedward’s “Lipstick”:

Spain’s “Que me quiten lo bailao” by Lucía Pérez has gotten a minor revamp (with added instrumentation) and a brand new video, filmed in the resort town of Sitges during Carnival:

And finally, Italy’s Raphael Gualazzi has released a new version of “Follia d’Amore”, a bilingual track called “Madness of Love”:

More to come later today, with the official unveiling of Senit’s song for San Marino and Blue’s “I Can” for the UK!

Daria Kinzer for Croatia: "Break a Leg"

Croatia’s Dora 2011 finally drew to a close this weekend, after weeks of semifinal heats where 24 singers belted out covers of Croatian and international hits in order to reach the finals, where the top two performers would each get to sing the three candidate songs for Eurovision.  A combined jury/audience vote decided which song each singer would present, and then those top two performances were compared against each other to determine the ultimate winner.

The final two singers were the German-born newcomer Daria Kinzer and Dora veteran Jacques Houdek, with the song “Lahor (Breeze)” selected for both, even though the audience overwhelmingly favored ballad “Stotinama godina (Hundreds of Years)” for both Jacques and Daria.  After a second vote, Daria was selected as the winner, although Jacques rendition of “Lahor” was nothing to sneeze at, either!

I am a bit disappointed in the final result of Dora 2011.  While Daria is a completely capable singer and performer, I almost feel like she’s just another pretty face.  During the interview portions of the program, Jacques seemed more personable and animated, and he also has a larger following both in Croatia and the greater Balkan region.  Considering that a lovely performance from Feminnem wasn’t enough to get them out of the semifinals last year, Croatia needed something that would set them apart, and I just don’t think “Lahor” is the song to do it.  Even if they plan on singing it in English (with the less-than-elegant title of “Break a Leg”, an idiom that might not translate easily for non-English speakers), they will need an absolutely unforgettable stage show to really boost them back into the high results that they enjoyed back in the mid-to-late 1990s.

Update!: It seems that the song will be revamped, including a much-needed name change.  What once was “Lahor” and then “Break a Leg”, will now simply be called “Celebrate”.

The Weekend Preview, 2/10

We’ve got another busy weekend ahead of us, so let’s dive right into what we can expect from all over the Eurovision world over the next few days!

On Friday, Azerbaijan will finally make their decision on who they’ll send to Germany this year.  Their preselection process started back in mid-November with 77 candidates, and they’ve finally been narrowed down to five final performers: Aynishan Qulieva, Ilgara Ibrahimova, Eldar Gasimov, Ilhama Gasimova, and Nigar Camal.  It’s still a bit unclear how the song will be selected; last year, the top three candidates sang three different songs, and while the winning performer was selected the night of the finals, the winning song wasn’t confirmed until over two weeks later.  Considering Azerbaijan’s penchant for flexibility on their preselection processes (their dates have been moved around many times, for example), who knows what answers we may find tomorrow night, or what questions will remain!

Also on Friday, Ireland will pick the artist and song that they hope will bring the nation to the top of the Eurovision heap for an eight year.  Brief snippets of the songs were released last week, but they were heard in their entirety for the first time just today.

Don Mescall – Talking with Jennifer (written by Ronan Hardiman, Don Mescall)
Nikki Kavanaugh – Falling (written by Christina Schilling, Camilla Gottschalck, Jonas Gladnikoff, and Hanif Sabzevari)
Bling – Shine On (written by Patrick Mahoney)
The Vard Sisters – Send Me an Angel (written by Liam Lawton)
Jedward – Lipstick (written by Dan Priddy, Lars Jensen, and Martin Larson)

Ironically, “Lipstick” is the only song that has been removed from YouTube for copyright reasons.  Why ironically?  Well, first, as its considered the frontrunner in tomorrow’s competition, and second, as a portion of the song was “accidentally” released on Amazon.com too early, prompting RTÉ to make the decision only one third in the hands of the audience’s vote, rather than fifty percent.  The remaining part of the decision will be in the hands of regional juries throughout Ireland.


Malta will hold their semifinal on Friday and their final on Saturday.  On Friday, the 24 candidate songs will be trimmed down to 16 by a 75/25 jury/audience vote decision.  On Saturday, those remaining songs will compete, and the winner will be decided by a 60/40 jury/audience split.  All the songs can be previewed, in their entirety, here.  For Malta fans, there are many familiar faces competing this weekend: Fabrizio Faniello made it to Eurovision in 2001 and 2006, and his younger sister Claudia has tried many times to make it to the event, but often falling just short of the ESC goal.  We also see the return of Wayne Micallef, who presented one of my favorite preselection songs from last year, “Save a Life“.  In fact, out of the twenty-three singers in this weekend’s competition, eighteen have attempted, at some point, to represent Malta in either Eurovision or Junior Eurovision in past years!  Will the victory go to a veteran, or to a new talent?  We shall see…

On Saturday, we’ll see what Belgium has to offer the growing Eurovision field.  In light of the difficult economic times, Walloon broadcaster RTBF came up with an interesting twist on an open call for songs.  Belgians were allowed to submit their songs (in French or English), and the public would be able to pledge money to the entries of their choice.  When a song received €20,000, they would be qualified to go on to the next round (all money donated to non-qualifying songs would be reimbursed).  That money would then go to the further production and refinement of their entry.  Thirty songs ended up making the monetary benchmark, and that was later pared down to fourteen final entries.  A 50/50 jury/televote split will decide the eventual winner.

We will also see Finals in Iceland, Norway, and Finland, continued semifinals in Spain, Lithuania, Latvia, Croatia, and Sweden, and the first semifinal in Estonia‘s Eestilaul.  Of course, I’ll try to bring you updates as often as I can!

Have a great weekend, Eurofans!

The Weekend Update, 2/6

Another weekend has come and gone, with tons of Eurovision news to report!

Norway:
The Second Chance round, or “Siste Sjansen”, has wrapped up, with eight songs battling against each other in a series of tournament-style knockout rounds.  After all of the carnage subsided, we were left with two songs standing, and going to the finals next week.  And they are…
Sie Gubba – “Alt Du Vil Ha” and
The Lucky Bullets – “Fire Below”
Next week is the Norwegian Final…who are your favorites?

Croatia:
Yesterday, the top twelve contestants (including Daria Kinzer, selected as last week’s Wild Card) returned to the stage, fighting for six places in the next round.  Five of those placements were decided last night, while the sixth will be announced on next week’s show. Daria Kinzer, Mirko Švenda, Jacques Houdek, Katica Marinović, and Ana Eškinja.  Next week, those Top 6 performers will try to make it to the Top 4.

Lithuania:
The first round of Eurovizija 2011 kicked off this weekend in Lithuania.  A total of fourteen songs vied for only three spots in the final, and here are the victors:
Monika – Days go By
The Independent – 7th Bus
Sasha Song – The Slogan of Our Nation  (Eurofans might recognize Sasha from his beautiful, yet undervalued 2009 ESC entry, “Love“)

Latvia:
The past few years have not been easy for Latvia in Eurovision…they came in last place in their semifinal in 2009 and 2010, and haven’t made it into the Top Ten since 2005.  Let’s hope that Eirodziesma 2011 puts them back on the right track.  Out of ten contestants last night three were voted through to the finals by the television audience, while two others made it through with the jury’s blessing.
The audience’s picks:
Evija Sloka – Don’t Stop The Dance
Pieneņu vīns (Dandelion Wine) – You Are
Blitze – Hop

And the Jury’s favorites:
Jānis Stībelis – Let It Be Me
D-Family – Daylight

Sweden:
For many people, Sweden’s Melodifestivalen is the absolute ultimate.  Some even feel that it’s become more stereotypically “Eurovision” than Eurovision itself has!  This is the country that’s brought us ABBA, Carola, the Herreys, and Charlotte Nilsson-Perrelli…schlager in all of its glory!  However, over the past few years, Sweden has fallen further and further down the rankings, and they even missed the final last year for the first time since the 1970s.  This year, I think viewers can expect a mix of the classic Swedish style (glitz, key changes, choreography and wind machines) and more current styles (rock, hip-hop, etc).  We’ll see what lands a spot in Stockholm’s Globen Theater, and eventually, what makes its way to Germany.

Unfortunately, due to the Swedish broadcaster’s rules, once a song has made it through to the next round (or to the Second Chance round, like what we’ve just seen in Norway), those semifinal videos are made unavailable to the public, in order to keep songs that qualified early from having a significant advantage over those songs selected in later rounds.  While irritating for bloggers like myself, I understand where SVT is coming from.  What I can tell you, however, is that the two songs that qualified directly to March’s final are:
Daniel Saucedo – “In the Club” and SwingFly – “Me and My Drum”.

Moving on to the Second Chance round (Andra Chansen, in Swedish) are:
Jenny Silver – “Something in your Eyes” and Pernilla Andersson – “Desperados”

I don’t know about you, but I think I need a weekend to recover from this weekend!