The nicest thing I have to say about Croatia’s entry is that Roko is a very strong singer. ‘The Dream’, written by Croatia’s 2017 entrant Jacques Houdeck, won the Dora selection show. That 2017 entry was by no means perfect but was a lot of fun and qualified quite easily. I can’t say the same about ‘The Dream’. It is a Eurovision ballad by numbers, with extremely clichéd lyrics and a cheesy key change. The part where the lyrics switch to the native language is actually the most interesting to me. You would hope that this dated, generic ballad won’t end up qualifying, but Roko’s excellent vocals will probably have people wondering whether it will make the final. I pray that the staging in Tel Aviv will end up being more than a tacky pair of stuck-on angel wings.
There’s something about Slovenia this year. On first listen, I was disappointed to discover another low-key song that doesn’t go anywhere. But something kept bringing me back. ‘Sebi’ is a very risky, avant-garde song that won the EMA national final. On closer inspection, it actually has a very modern and stylish production. The instrumentation has a hypnotic mood to it, and this is aided by the nonchalant performance by electropop duo Zala Kralj & Gapšer Šantl. It currently feels difficult to predict how this one might fare. It could completely pass people by and do an ‘O Jardim’, or it could stand out as an artistic, unique entry and end up doing quite well. I am reminded of 2013’s ‘Kedvesem’ which was another pretentious, hipster-type entry that ended up surprising by finishing in tenth place. At the moment, I’m saying that Slovenia will probably be going back to the final.