Jacques Houdek to finally represent Croatia at Eurovision
2017 is a year in which a few acts who have tried to represent their country in Eurovision for years now, finally get their chance to shine on the big stage. Malta’s Claudia Faniello participated in a long string of national finals and finally won this year, while Estonian Laura tried solo several times after she went to Eurovision as part of girl band Suntribe and grabbed the ticket to Ukraine together with Koit Toome. Croatian singer Jacques Houdek participated in six national finals in his country, but never came close to winning. This year however, he managed to convince Croatian broadcaster HRT to select him internally. He will sing his song ‘My Friend’ on stage in Kiev!
First of all, Jacques Houdek’s vocal talent is absolutely undeniable. The singer who already released 13 albums in his home country has a powerful and versatile voice. The problem at the same time is that his entry ‘My Friend’, which he co-wrote himself, seems solely designed to show off his pipes, which results in chaos. He starts the track with a cringey spoken bit, then plays the part of an ‘aspiring singer’. Suddenly we hear a male opera voice, which of course is also Houdek, who sings back in Italian. He is basically singing a duet with himself and as if that wasn’t awkward enough, this duet is filled with cliche lyrics and an awful lot of kitsch in the violins, the production and looking at the rehearsals, the whole presentation. Admitted, the melody line of the chorus is quite catchy, but that is not nearly enough for me to be able to enjoy ‘My Friend’.
Of course it is impressive what he does with his voice, but it is a shame he did not manage to bring us a song that showed off his talent with even the slightest bit of subtlety or restraint. If the juries and televoters look past the vocal thunderstorm, Croatia won’t make it to the final this year.
UPDATE – Review on semi final performance:
To be fair, what Jacques Houdek does on stage vocally, is impressive to say the least, but if only he had selected a better song to show off his vocals. The spoken part of the intro is absolutely cringeworthy and the rest of the performance isn’t much better. The changing between the opera voice and the high pitched pop part is not exactly pleasant, the lyrics are incredibly cliche and the song itself goes nowhere and is merely used to show off his vocals. Yes, Jacques Houdek is a great vocalist, but in a song contest this shouldn’t have gone anywhere near the final if you ask me.
UPDATE – Review on final performance and result (13th):
Croatia delivers one of my least favourite performances in the Eurovision final this year. Yes, Jacques Houdek has a powerful and versatile voice, but the kitsch song ‘My Friend’ is definitely not the best way to show this to Europe. The duet with himself does not work for me in the slighthest, but at least the people at home in Europe seemed to have enjoyed it. I have to admit I’m glad he did not make it into the top 10.
Check all Eurovision 2017 reviews: Albania – Armenia – Australia – Austria – Azerbaijan – Belarus – Belgium – Bulgaria – Croatia – Cyprus – Czech Republic – Denmark – Estonia – Finland – France – FYR Macedonia – Georgia – Germany – Greece – Hungary – Iceland – Ireland – Israel – Italy – Latvia – Lithuania – Malta – Moldova – Montenegro – The Netherlands – Norway – Poland – Portugal – Romania – San Marino – Serbia – Slovenia – Spain – Sweden – Switzerland – Ukraine – United Kingdom