Eurovision 2017 Entry: Croatia — Jacques Houdek — My Friend

How on Earth is Croatia's Jacques Houdek going to perform "My Friend" on the live Eurovision stage?

Jacques Houdek will represent Croatia at the 2017 Eurovision Song Contest in Kyiv, Ukraine (Photo: Damian Fiket) Jacques Houdek will represent Croatia at the 2017 Eurovision Song Contest in Kyiv, Ukraine (Photo: Damian Fiket)

Country: Croatia
Song Title: “My Friend”
Artist: Jacques Houdek
Second Semi-Final: Position #12
Last year’s entry: “Lighthouse” – Nina Kraljic (23rd Place)

After a lengthy hiatus–preceded by an even lengthier drought in qualifying for the Grand Final–Croatia returned to the Eurovision Song Contest last year with the perfectly pleasant “Lighthouse.” That song managed to sneak into the top 10 of its semi-final but didn’t quite catch on in the full field, ending up in 23rd place. Has Croatia learned what works and what doesn’t over the last several years?

… Croatia, honey, let’s chat.

I think I understand what Croatia is trying to do here. They’re using the runner-up from their last national final, though that was back in 2011.1 “My Friend” is verrrrrry Eurovision-y, with its message of “Love Love Peace Peace” and a swelling arrangement. None of this is objectionable, it just isn’t very interesting.

What is interesting are the vocal choices. Switching between English and Italian seems like an exercise in racking up technical points in a competition with a different scoring mechanism than the Contest.

What I am most concerned about: how on Earth is this going to be staged? As you hear at the end of the track, the English and Italian are overlapping. Presumably part of that will be delegated to a backing singer, but won’t that lose some of the intended effect? Also, how will Jacques Houdek switch between both parts? Not just vocally–which is enough of a challenge–but visually? So far our theories include:

  • Taking glasses on and off, a la Clark Kent/Superman
  • Dressing like one of those street performers that’s wearing half of a tuxedo and half of a wedding dress
  • Those awful hologram teleporter images Romania used in 2014 and Iceland used last year

As for how Croatia will do at Eurovision this year… it’s gonna be tough. The video is one of the least-viewed of this year’s contestants, though the new video that dropped this week gave viewership a bump. The track isn’t all that radio-friendly, either. Croatia is sandwiched between the kitschy and catchy entry from San Marino and potential SF2 frontrunner Norway, which is not going to help “My Friend”.

Success is going to come down to performance. Clever execution is required, and if Jacques Houdek can deliver, Croatia could be a surprise at Eurovision.

Eurovision Song Contest Second Semi-Final
May 11, 2017

AustriaBelarusBulgariaCroatiaDenmark • Estonia
FYR Macedonia • Hungary • IrelandIsraelLithuaniaMalta • Netherlands
NorwayRomaniaRussia • San Marino •  Serbia • Switzerland

  1. For the record, I still think Jacques Houdek should have won, though Daria Kinser did what she could with “Celebrate”.  

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