Croatia goes the traditional route with Roko’s ‘The Dream’
After four years of failing to make it into the final, Croatia decided to stay away from Eurovision in 2014 and 2015. They returned in 2016, making the final twice in a row, but Franka could not keep up this positive vibe when she crashed out in the semi’s with her song ‘Crazy’ last year. The Croatians are not going to give up that easily though! They organized their national final Dora and teenager Roko Blažević emerged as the winner with the song ‘The Dream’. Is he going to make the Croatian delegation’s dreams come true though?
‘The Dream’ was written by Jacques Houdek (Croatia’s 2017 representative (in)famous for performing a duet with himself), Andrea Ćurić and Charlie Mason (who co-wrote Conchita’s winning entry ‘Rise Like A Phoenix’). With so much Eurovision experience in the writing team, it should not come as a surprise that the song is full of Eurovision cliches. Now this is not necessarily a bad thing because we all love a few of those, but things do become problematic when it makes the song sound like it should have participated in 2004 instead of 2019. The English lyrics are predictable with too obvious rhyming, while the track does not really build up in terms of melody. Sure, there is a lot of big notes in the chorus, but they are repetitive, making it sound a bit montone. The instrumentation is nice enough, but again sounds like it would have worked better fifteen years ago. I personally don’t see what the bi-lingual identity of the song (towards the end there is a part in Croatian) necessarily adds.
The vocal performance however, is powerful! The young Roko has got an impressive set of pipes and hits all the big notes like nobody’s business. Visually however, a lot of work still has to be done. He is wearing massive angel wings which only distract from the performance as they don’t serve a clear purpose. If they manage to take away some of the kitch and make the performance a bit more heartfelt and believable, I would not rule this out for a spot in the final just yet. ‘The Dream’ could well be one of those entries that divides juries and televoters as well as the Western countries from Eastern Europe (like his mentor Jacques Houdek’s entry did). It definitely won’t be one of my personal favourites and I am pretty sure it won’t come close to winning, but there might still be a market for this in 2019!
Review on semi-final performance:
While a lot of the countries in this semi-final came up with quite contemporary pop productions, Croatia brings typical dramatic Eurovision kitsch with Roko’s ‘The Dream’. The massive angel wings are a choice and the whole staging is so camp, it almost distracts from Roko’s undeniably strong vocals. Of course we need performances like this in Eurovision, but in this semi-final, Roko’s ‘The Dream’ was not strong enough to qualify for the final. Maybe come back in a few years with a better song and a less distracting performance, because that voice is stunning! He finished 14th in his semi-final.
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