It comes somewhat as a surprise (to myself) to find Croatia placed so high up in my top 39. In my previous 2019 and 2020 countdowns, I had the Croatian entries placed near the bottom. I think then that this is my biggest “glow up” between this year and last year, going from 35 last year to 7 this year. Both 2020 and 2021 entries were decided by a national final (Dora) but 2020’s winner, Damir Kedžo, decided not to re-enter (having not been internally reselected). Albina triumphed in the 2021 final, fending off competition from previous Eurovision entry (2016), Nina Kraljić, winning both the jury vote and, by a landslide, the televote as well.
Last year’s song, Divlji vjetre, was a classic Balkan ballad, and while not a bad song, just not my cup of tea. Tick-Tock though is a full on bop, with big brass instrumentals, catchy as hell, a sassy and confident singer, underpinned by some 80s sounds (and staging) and even throws in a few lines of Croatian amidst the otherwise English lyrics, which works really well. All in all, it’s a stomping and very enjoyable dance pop track.
Albina Grčić is, like many Eurovision entries these days, an alumna of TV reality singing contest. In this case, The Voice Hrvatska, where she placed third in 2019. Her live vocals certainly seem to be OK as she showed in the Croatian national final. Her debut single last year almost reached the Croatian top 10, and “Tick-Tock” has now topped the Croatian charts – a sign of its public popularity, and repudiates some complaints and smears made by Nina Kraljić after the national final. Nina subsequently deleted her social media accounts shortly after as there was no real case for it – Albina won a very clear victory.
In what is becoming a theme for the songs in my personal top 10, somewhat unfathomably, is seen as a borderline qualifier for the grand final. I guess that is a product of being in the very tough first semi-final and the concern that this may not be the sort of song that juries go heavily for. I’m hoping that some neighbouring countries might provide a televote boost and enough other countries’ publics also enjoy this as much as I do.
Croatia hasn’t been in the grand final too often in recent years, and I really think this deserves to be there and would be well received by the Saturday night public. And with no disrespect to Serbia, if I had to choose between this and Hurricane to be in the final as the Balkan bop flag carrier, this would win hands down.
Croatia in the Eurovision Song Contest
First entered: 1993
Appearances (excluding 2020 and this year): 25
Best result: 4th in 1996 and 1999
Last year’s result: 14th in semi-final (did not qualify)