Sunday, 28 April 2019

Turn this war into a hopeful work of art

Image result for croatia eurovision heartCroatia
Roko
The Dream

Those were the days. Back in the noughties bookies still regularly placed the UK in the top 5, and we were still completely baffled when phone voters around the living rooms of Europe failed to vote for whatever tuneless noise we'd spat into the content that year. "The UK was robbed!", we'd say, like we say when we lose at every international competition involving a level of competitive skill ever except the Darts. And even that bloke off the Darts is dead now.

But try being Croatia. Amazing Spice Girls knock off act ENI obviously deserved to win with this work of almost complete genius, but only came 17th in 1997. Or take Doris Dragovic's haunting "Maria Magdalena" which only scraped fourth two years later. For a good 18 months this solid gold classic was my ringtone, my alarm clock and my start up sound on Windows XP.

So in a way it's lovely to have the Croatians back after a few years off in the 10s - but then again in a more accurate way it's an absolute nightmare, because they keep entering awful songs that have no chance of making to the Saturday final. 

RokoIn 2017 they managed to send Croatia's "homophobe of the year" Jacques Houdek, and this year he's back as a co-writer of "The Dream". Here it comes. "Eurovision is a show that I do not watch for many years, but in childhood I followed it, at a time when it was a must-be, window into the world". This is promising. Dum Tek Tek? Copycat? The Danish Ronan Keating?

"When I was ten years old", he says, "I was standing in front of our TV set, holding a remote control instead of a microphone, singing the lyrics of Igor Cukrov''s Lijepa Tena from the Eurovision 1999". Christ. This was a song, lest we forget, that contains the line "Tears in cotton are transforming, tired eyes resting, yawning" which is certainly one way of putting it.
Until now I had thought that Croatia 2009 was the worst piece of music I'd heard since Croatia took two baffled pensioners to Belgrade in 2008 to sing and rap about how the internet was invented by "monkeys" while a flamenco dancer played a xylophone made out of bottles of their own blood - but I think Roko's topped it. 

"Performing at Eurovision has been my dream for many years, so it was nautrel for my song to be called The Dream". Ah yes. That dream - of packing up your plastic hen-do wings and checking out of the Tel-Aviv Novotel on Wednesday morning, having come last in your semi because your song was impossibly dated and breathtakingly derivative. That one.

My all time favourite Croatian entry was Severina's "Moja ┼átikla" from 2006, the first year me and Mrs D went to see the contest live in Athens. The costumes! The dancing! The Eukulele! The bit where she sings "Shits, Shits"! As Justin "difficult recovery from alcoholism" Hawkins said on our 2007 national final, they don't make them like they used to.