Category Archives: Croatia

Second Heat in Croatia’s "Dora 2011"

The second heat of Croatia’s preselection, “Dora” was this weekend, and we’ve got six more names moving on to the next round of competition.

Qualifying from last week’s round of performers via viewer televote was Tina Vukov.

Making it through to the next heat from this weekend’s round are Doris Teur, Mirko Švenda, Katica Marinović, Ana Eškinja, and Saša Lozar.  We’ll get another name next week, when the results of the long-term public vote wrap up, and from those Top Twelve, only six will proceed on to the following round.  From those six, the top four will compete, and the contestant-whittling will continue until we have our Croatian winner on March 5th!

The Weekend Update, 1/23

Another day, another update…Semifinals have continued this weekend in Finland, Iceland, and Norway, and Croatia’s preselection has kicked off, as well.  There are also further updates from Azerbaijan, Portugal, Moldova, and Malta!  And away we go…

Finland:
Three more acts have moved on to the Finnish Final after this Friday’s semi.  After a public vote, this week’s winners are:
Paradise Oskar – “Da Da Dam” (Reminds me a bit of Belgium’s Tom Dice from last year, don’t you think?  If Tom were a member of Greenpeace Suomi, this might have been the result.)
Milana Misic – “Sydämeni kaksi maata (Two Countries of my Heart)” (Milana is the daughter of a Croatian father and a Finnish mother who actually represented her nation fifty years ago in Finland’s debut ESC entry.)
Father McKenzie – “Good Enough” (Yes, they’re named for the character in “Eleanor Rigby”!)

Knocked out at this round of the competition were Jimi Constantine’s “Party to Party” and Soma Manuchar’s “Strong“.  An interesting point of trivia, courtesy of reader Stefanos in Finland: Soma’s outfit was designed by Mert Otsamo, a finalist on the first season of “Muodin huipulle”, the Finnish version of “Project Runway”.  According to Stefanos, “I liked his work on Muodin Huipulle more than I did Soma’s outfit.”  I haven’t seen any of Otsamo’s work, but after seeing Soma’s outfit, I’d be hard-pressed to imagine I’d disagree.

Next, we move on to Iceland:
It’s been a week of highs and lows for Iceland this week.  On Tuesday, we heard the sad and sudden news of the passing of Sigurjón Brink at the age of only 36.  He was supposed to sing in the third semifinal next week, and it has been decided by both the network and his family that his entry, “Aftur Heim (Back Home)” would be performed as a tribute by a group of his friends and fellow musicians, and will therefore remain in the competition.  Next week’s semifinal heat is sure to be an emotional one.

In the second semifinal, which aired last night, we had five songs competing for two slots in the final.  The victorious tunes were:
Yohanna – “Nótt (Night)” (As I mentioned last week, Yohanna came in second place back in the 2009 competition with “Is It True?”  I try to stay as neutral and impartial as I can, especially during the preselection phase of the Eurovision year, but I honestly think that Yohanna might, in fact, be the personification of a Disney princess.)
Matthías Matthíasson & Erla Björg Káradóttir – “Eldgos (Eruption) (I speak no Icelandic, but I’m pretty sure I recognized the word “Eyjafjallajökull” at the start of the song…is this a tribute to the epic volcano that covered half of Europe in ash last year?  Any Icelandic readers wish to comment?)

We’ve got more news after the break!

Norway:
From Florø, the westernmost town in Scandinavia, we had this week’s semifinal for the Melodi Grand Prix.  Qualifying directly to the final are:
Babel Fish – “You Can Depend on Me” and
Hanne Sørvaag – “You’re Like a Melody” (Hanne is no stranger to Eurovision.  She’s composed three songs for the competition: “Disappear” for Germany in 2008, “My Heart is Yours” for Norway 2010, and “Shine” for Georgia, also in 2010)

Moving on to the Second Chance round will be:
Endre – “Oh, Oh (Puppy Love)” and
Mimi Blix – “Allergic”

Croatia:
The first round of this year’s Dora Festival happened this weekend, and unlike what we’ve seen in the Nordic countries I’ve just mentioned, singers in Dora do not sing their proposed Eurovision songs until the final round of competition.  Instead, they choose a song freely, and hope that televoters will look favorably on them.  (This is actually a similar format to what Germany did last year.  It worked for Lena Meyer-Landrut!)  Out of twelve singers in this heat, five have already been chosen to continue on.  The sixth will be announced next week.
Confirmed for the next round are: Miro Tomic, Jelena Vanjek, Dora Benc, Sabrina Hebiri, and Jacques Houdek (who was the evening’s ultimate winner).  We’ll see another round of twelve next week.

Azerbaijan:
After seven weeks of preliminary heats and one semifinal, the top 5 singers in Azerbaijan’s preselection have been picked.  Like in Croatia, they have been singing covers, and we won’t hear their proposed entries until the final round (or, knowing Azerbaijan, possibly even after the winning singer has been selected).  They’ll go up against each other on February 2th.  And they are:
İlhamə Qasımova
Eldar Qasımov
Aynişan Quliyeva 
Nigar Jamal
İlqarə İbrahimova

(For the record, I had been rooting for Çingiz Mustafayev, a participant on Yeni Ulduz, the Azeri version of the “Idol” franchise.  Not only was he a strong singer and a confident performer, but he is also a trained classical Flamenco guitarist fluent in Azeri, Turkish, English, and Spanish.  Sadly, he was knocked out of competition in the semifinal round.  If he had been sent to Düsseldorf, and had his talents put to good use, Azerbaijan could have possibly gotten some valuable votes from Spain, who will be voting in their semifinal.  Çingiz, if you’re reading this, please keep trying!)

Finally, lists of competing songs have been released in Moldova (although out of the 92, songs listed on the official Moldovan broadcaster’s website, only these songs are continuing on to the next round) Portugal, and Malta.  Portugal will select their song on March 5th, Malta on February 12th, and Moldova on February 26th.

Phew!  After all of that, I don’t know about you, but I need a nap.  I’ll keep you all posted on more news as it comes in!

Congratulations and Condolences…

I’ve only got a quick moment to write, but I just wanted to cover two quick points…

1) On November 20, the 2010 Junior Eurovision Song Contest was held in Minsk, Belarus.  I mentioned the JESC briefly in the past, but for those of you who are unfamiliar with it, it’s a smaller-scale contest for performers under the age of 16 (the minimum age to compete in the full Eurovision).  This year, 14 songs were submitted, mostly from Eastern Europe.  Despite all indications that Georgia’s Mariam Kakhelishvili would with with her Lady Gaga-inspired “Mari Dari“(which, in my opinion, toes the line between cute and terrifying), the eventual winner was Armenia’s Vladimir Arzumanyan with “Mama”, beating Russia’s “Boy and Girl” by a single point.  Here’s the winning performance:

This is Armenia’s first victory in any of the EBU-sanctioned competitions (the ESC, JESC, or Eurovision Dance Contest), and while I was personally rooting for Belgium, Lithuania, or Sweden, I can’t deny that 12-year-old Vladimir really worked it out on stage, and while many might grumble about political votes or diaspora support, I do think that the little guy from Stepanakert earned his victory.

2) On the more solemn side of things, however, I’m saddened to report the passing of Ladislav “Laci” Demeterffy, better known to the ESC world as “75 Cents”.  In 2008, he performed alongside Croatian representatives Kraljevi Ulice with their song “Romanca”.  The elderly Laci (who picked his pseudonym as a reference to his age at the time) waxed poetic, flirted, and even did a bit of scratching on an old gramophone while on stage, and he holds the record for the oldest Eurovision contestant ever.  He passed away peacefully on November 19th in Zagreb at the age of 77.  This was one of my favorite performances of that year, due in no small part to Laci’s contribution.  May he rest in peace, and may his loved ones be comforted by the fact that he made so many people happy with his most famous performance (seen below).

Until next time!

ESC 2010 Reviews: Croatia

Croatia, like Bosnia & Herzegovina, entered the Eurovision Song Contest for the first time as an independent nation back in 1993.  Just like “Sva Bol Svieta”, Croatia’s entry “Don’t Ever Cry” quietly alluded to the then-ongoing conflict in the Balkans.  Out of the three debuting countries in Millstreet that night, Croatia scored the highest, beating out Bosnia & Herzegovina and neighbor Slovenia.  Since that night, Croatia has generally scored fairly well, although their only victory came back in 1989, when the Croatian broadcaster bore the flag for a then-unified Yugoslavia and Riva’s “Rock Me” took the crown to Zagreb.

Two of my favorite Croatian entries were from back-to-back years.  In 1998, Danijela Martinović opened the show with the wistful, almost lullabye-esque “Neka Mi Ne Svane” (“May Dawn Never Rise”), and finished in fifth place in the first ESC to feature audience voting alongside a jury ballot.  The next year, Doris Dragović came in 4th place in Jerusalem with the more uptempo “Marija Magdalena“.  (Incidentally, these two songs are my personal nominees for “Best Mid-Song Costume Change“, next to the United Kingdom in 1981, Latvia in 2002, and Georgia in 2008.  Just saying!)

However, it looks like this year’s entry might be joining Danijela and Doris as my favorite entry from Zagreb ever!  As per usual, Croatian broadcaster HRT held their traditional national selection “Dora”, and the winner, chosen via a public and jury vote, was Feminnem with “Lako Je Sve” (“Everything is Easy”).  Now, as I mentioned in the Bosnia & Herzegovina article, Feminnem are no strangers to the ESC.  Their song “Call Me” won 14th place in 2005, and they’re ready to better their score with this powerful and beautiful ballad, which dips back and forth between sweet and heartbreaking.

http://vimeo.com/moogaloop.swf?clip_id=10304790&server=vimeo.com&show_title=1&show_byline=1&show_portrait=0&color=&fullscreen=1
Feminnem: Lako je sve – The official video from Eurofest Croatia on Vimeo.

My prediction for the ladies from Feminnem?  Well, they’ll be performing in the difficult Second Semifinal, but if they pass, then they’ll have the benefit of a beautiful song, performers who are no strangers to the Eurovision Stage, and the fact that they’re a member of the often-advantageous Balkan voting bloc.  If they make the finals, and they put together a good staged performance, you can expect a Top Ten, if not a Top Five position.  It’s definitely one of my favorites this year.