Croatia, “My Friend”, Jacques Houdek is Too Much

Someone needs to tell Croatia that you don't need to do all the things at once.

Jacques Houdek will represent Croatia at the 2017 Eurovision Song Contest (Photo: Jacques Houdek Facebook) Jacques Houdek will represent Croatia at the 2017 Eurovision Song Contest (Photo: Jacques Houdek Facebook)

After taking a few years off, Croatia had a decent return to the Eurovision stage last year with Nina Kraljić’s “Lighthouse”.  It was one of my favorites going into the competition, but Europe didn’t necessarily agree with me, barely qualifying to the final and giving it only 75 points total, finishing 23rd overall.  Croatia tends to play around with what I’d call “traditional” Eurovision styles, whether pulling from classical traditions in the country (see 2013’s “Mižerja”) to more traditional ballads like last year’s entry.

Unfortunately, they seem to be trying everything they’ve got all at once with this year’s entry, Jacques Houdek’s “My Friend”:

I gave this one a hot “NOPE” after the spoken word entry, but I’m glad I stayed on, because I found this entry entertaining for all the wrong reasons. Jacques Houdek clearly has the vocal range to make this either a smooth, modern ballad in English OR a deep-voiced Italian-sung number that pulls from more classical traditions in Croatia. Unfortunately, he’s doing both at once – I had to check for a performance video to make sure that there weren’t actually multiple singers doing the main melody line.  The (often sudden) back and forth between his head voice and his chest voice gives the song a schizophonic quality that doesn’t really impress me.

The other issue I have with this song are the lyrics – they’re generic to the point of parody, and that spoken word intro DOES. NOT. HELP.  This is about 20 years of Eurovision songs about love and friendship run through a blender to the point of becoming a mush.  I’m predicting a live performance for this one that’s static for the most part and leaves the heavy lifting to the camera.  Overall, my hopes aren’t high for this one.

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