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A neat trick, if you can do it. Croatia’s 2017 Eurovision Entry.

May 7, 2017


Imagine if Justin Bieber did a duet with Pavarotti?  Weird eh?  Now imagine if Justin Bieber and Pavarotti were THE SAME PERSON.  Say hello to Jacques Houdek from Zagreb.  He has two voices.  He offers the voices of a boyband frontman and an operatic baritone all in the same song, offering some fairly vacuous sentiment first in English and then in Italian.  Needless to say it sounds better in Italian.

As gimmicks go, this is rather impressive.  There’s an energetic string section that kicks in as Jacques prepares himself to switch between voices.   Jacques strides through Croatian landscapes and city-scapes  offering the uplifting if unoriginal sentiment that people should be nice to one another and try to feel good about themselves and others.  But you’ve never heard this notion dressed up quite like this.  In fact, it’s one of the more musically interesting things you’ll here at Eurovision this year.

Here’s the video, which is pleasantly meaningless:

We’ve got dancers dancing and children playing and a walk through wheat fields that will remind you of somewhat of the dreamy transition from life to death sequences in Ridley Scott’s Gladiator and there’s also  a mountain top sense of exultation that cribs a bit from Caspar Friedrich’s Wanderer above a Sea of Fog:



You  can read interviews with Jacques, and he seems pleasant and effusive enough.  He talks much of God, but these days professes an unjudgemental, liberal and accommodating sort of a God.  The strange and impressive thing that he can do with his voices is, thinks Jacques, a gift from God, and a gift which he is spiritually obligated to showcase.

Fair enough.  Except that just a few years ago, he was declared the most homophobic celebrity in Croatia on the basis of some truly horrific Old Testament rhetoric which Jacques reportedly regarded as urgent and relevant.  The smiley God Jacques now endorses, not so long ago, was a far more bitter and vicious abstraction, primed to take violent retribution on Croatians who happened to fall in love with people of the same sex.

So when Jacques makes gay-friendly statements these days, it’s to smother the memory of a previous, more hateful Jacques.   Well, I for one believe in repentance and transformation, though I’m not sure I have adequate evidence that his current gay-friendly persona involves an adequate confession and repudiation of his former hatefulness.

I’m also therefore hoping that along with Justin Bieber and Pavarotti, there aren’t too many other voices in his head telling him to do things.

Meanwhile, here are a few other Eurovision songs to ponder…

Here’s Ma and Pa in San Marino:

For youthful angst – Ireland:

Ireland’s entry is, I think, more emotionally involving than Denmark’s:

Right now I prefer cultural nationalism when it isn’t Hungarian:

The Netherlands offers something altogether safer:

Utterly (winningly?) different is Romania:

Less immediately exciting is Malta:

So you might prefer Macedonia:

Or you can “Climb Every Mountain” with Nathan from Austria:

Serbia offers a big ballad about rising and falling and falling and rising:

Meanwhile, here is Sweden:

Here, meanwhile, is Omar belting it out for Slovenia:

Portugal offers something just a bit more special:

Anyhow, Portugal’s offering is infinitely more palatable than Poland’s:

A man who needs a deal of personal space is this guy from Montenegro:

Equally sexualised is the Moldovan entry:

Latvia offers a more techno-trance version of minimalism:

Iceland’s entry isn’t really a Eurovision song either:

Georgia’s offering is undoubtedly a bigger if not bolder initiative:

Frankly, I prefer Finland:

I’ll be sorely vexed if Finland doesn’t do better than Cyprus

Frankly I’d rather the Czech Republic won – though they won’t…

Belgium looks like a better bet:

But if it isn’t, maybe it will go to Azerbaijan with this…

Armenia’s Entry is nowhere near as scary:

In the meantime here are my thoughts on the Australian entry:

And here’s Albania…



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