Friday, May 11, 2007

The Morning After The Semi-Final Before

Among the eight 'eastern European' participants not to benefit from the apparent eastwards slant of the Eurovision semi-final was Croatia: in the same week as the death of the composer responsible for Croatia's first Eurovision entry as an independent state in 1993, Croatia missed out on an appearance in the final for the first time since then.

While Serbia's Marija ҆erifović enters the final as joint favourite with a ballad not so unlike Croatia's own entries from the mid-1990s, Dragonfly and Dado Topić didn't stand out from other straightforward rock entries (Iceland and the Czech Republic), none of which made it through.

Several readers' comments on the relevant Jutarnji list article seem to have it in for HTV head of entertainment Aleksandar Kostadinov, who strongly associated himself with the uncharacteristic Dora winner from the outset. Eurovision's importance to HTV - dating from the days when taking part offered a symbolic confirmation of Croatian statehood - is such that not qualifying for the final is the entertainment equivalent of the Croatian (or the English) football team not making it into an international tournament: should anyone be held responsible, the chances are it would be Kostadinov himself.

HTV's head of contact (interactive) programming Mario Sedmak might be among the favourites to replace his current line manager Kostadinov, now that the Strictly Come Dancing and Just The Two Of Us imports have given him two successful music shows to his department's credit. Web portal Index's solution is simpler: bring back Tonči Huljić, the populist pop producer responsible for three (or maybe four) of Croatia's six top ten finishes (and whose pan-pipe-inflected song for Jelena Rozga was widely supposed to be the Dora favourite this time).

Yet despite Eurovision's current affinity for folk-pop, when it comes to Croatia it seems you're still damned if you do and even if you don't: glancing over the ten qualifiers, there are at least two which Croatia could have matched while keeping its cultural values reasonably intact. If Bulgaria's ethno-techno percussion is qualification material, so too might be Mojmir Novaković's work with Legen and Kries, and if Georgia can incorporate sword dancing into a Eurovision performance, could anything be done with Korčula's renowned MoreŇ°ka? Ultimately, however, it depends on national folk-music establishments: Bulgarian percussionist Stoyan Yankoulov might be happy to co-operate, but Novaković, for instance, has been much more sceptical about folk music compromising with showbusiness.

Croatia is nonetheless tangentially represented in Saturday's final: Alenka Gotar's Slovenian entry Cvet z juga (Flower from the south) has been written by Croatian songwriter Andrej Babić...

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At 12:13 am, May 12, 2007, Blogger Chig said...

How has reaction been today to the failure of the craggy old man with the dull song? I bet Croatians wish they'd gone for Trio Fantasticus (or whatever they were called) now, don't they? At least people would be talking about them.

At 10:55 am, May 12, 2007, Blogger Catherine said...

I think they'd rather have failed with Dado Topić than failed with Trio Fantasticus... insignificance is probably better than ridicule.

(Which, of course, is nothing to be scared of...)


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