The only ex-Yugoslav country to have hosted the contest while still part of Yugoslavia, it was a Croatian band, Riva, that achieved Yugoslavia’s sole win in 1989. I’ve made one small update to this top 5 following the 2018 contest…Initially the most successful of the Balkan countries with several top 5 and top 10 appearances in their first years as an independent country in the contest, they have struggled more recently but have had a couple of qualifications in 2016 and 2017. I will be honest, Croatia is for me, one of my least well known Eurovision countries and there were a lot of Balkan ballads to go through when finding my top 5 – but a top 5 I did find and decide upon – and update following the 2018 contest!
5. Maja Blagdan “Sveta ljubav” (1996, 4th place, 98 points)
One of Croatia’s two entries that reached 4th place (their highest placing in the contest), this entry also has the distinction of containing the highest ever note sung in a Eurovision song. You can hardly miss it when it’s wheeled out in force towards end of the song…
4. Magazin & Lidija “Nostalgija” (1995, 6th place, 91 points)
Another new discovery for me during my research of all Croatia’s songs, I rather enjoyed this entry, performed by the band Magazin and the soprano singer, Lidija. It feels very Adriatic in its sound without being as generic as the dozens of Balkan ballads we’ve heard at Eurovision – no doubt helped by the inclusion of a soprano in there!
3. Franka “Crazy” (2018, 17th in semi-final, 63 points)
Croatia’s 2018 entry found favour with me and pre-contest was in my personal top 20 of this year’s crop. I didn’t expect it to qualify, and I was proved right, but it remains a classy song, just perhaps overshadowed in the very competitive contest.
2. Doris Dragovic “Marija Magdalena” (1999, 4th place, 118 points)
The second of Croatia’s joint best-placed results, this uptempo dance number did generate some controversy at the time as it turned out that they used offstage accompaniment (i.e. vocals by a male voice choir not on stage) which was against the rules… Nevertheless it’s one of Croatia’s best and more memorable entries.
1. Severina “Moja štikla” (2006, 12th place, 56 points)
I love this one! I think it can best be described as turbo-folk and is performed with some enthusiasm and vigour by Severina – one of Croatia’s most well-known pop singers and celebrities. The actual song’s title translates as “My high-heel” (!) and tells the story of local men attempting to chat up Severina. Brave souls!
So I will admit this wasn’t packed full of well-known songs for me – but have I overlooked some Croatian gems while doing my research? Let me know!