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A Different Kind Of Buzz: Croatia, Lorde, And Māori At Eurovision Written by on October 28, 2021 | 2 Comments

John Egan discusses the intriguing possibility of Croatia sending Lorde to the Eurovision Song Contest; the boundaries it could break down, the power Lorde could bring, and how it would light the way for other artists to enter.

There are several options for broadcasters with a large domestic population seeking to send a competitive entry to the Eurovision Song Contest.

You can run an extensive, multi-week National Selection that allows you to validate an internally selected range of songs against popular opinion and international jurors’ perspectives (“hej Sverige!”). Or your mostly local language cultural sphere can give artists a disproportionate number of opportunities to (learn how) to sing perform on television, which lends itself rather nicely to an internal artist selection (“hoi Nederlands!“).

Perhaps your large domestic music market produces artists who routinely spin out hits globally? Chances are you have, an established, fabulous national song contest that does very well as a de facto National Final (“Allora Italia!“).

But what if your domestic market is smaller – let’s say fewer than 10 million residents – and all those constraints? Further, what if your economy also leads to something of a brain drain amongst talented younger artists, some of whom might previously have been nurtured locally? In other words: what happens if your home-grown talent pool at times runs a bit dry?

Maybe go Greek?

The Diaspora

Since 2001, seven Greek Eurovision entries featured a diaspora artist. These have all qualified from their Semi Finals (when required). Helena Paparizou (born in Sweden) won in 2005 with ‘My Number One’, a few years after she led Antique to third with ‘Die For You’. Other artists like Sarbel (UK), Kalomira (USA), Antique (Sweden) and Stefania (Netherlands) have all finished in the Top Ten of a Grand Final. Overall, the diaspora has served Greece’s interests very well.

Other countries have drawn upon their diaspora with more mixed success. Of Armenia’s six diaspora acts, most have qualified from their Semi Finals, but only Eva Rivas (Russia) and Iveta Mukuchyan (Germany) made their Grand Final Top Ten. Although, to be fair, that’s a third of Armenia’s Top Ten results!

What if your diaspora also happens to have a current global superstar among its progeny? Croatia! Check your files! You might be on to a winner here!

Step forward Lorde.

Moje ime je Ella i ja sam Dalmatinka Hrvatica

While several countries that participate in the Song Contest have some form of citizenship by descent (Jus sanguinis) that runs multigenerationally, Croatia’s is a tad more complicated.

Lorde’s maternal grandparents emigrated from Dalmatia to Aotearoa New Zealand in the 1950s. Their New Zealand-born daughter Sonja Yelich (or Jeliç) became a Croatian citizen when she was born, because both her parents were already Croatian citizens.

However, Lorde’s dad is not. Thus Lorde needed to register for her Croatian citizenship before she turned 21 years old, in late 2017. Which she apparently did, despite claiming that Croatia “hooked me” with citizenship because of her achievements as a “fancy, famous Croatian”.  There are no issues with holding dual citizenship if you are a New Zealander and Croatian. Why does this matter? Because Croatians are especially keen to have their Eurovision artists to be Croatian. The rules for the most recent iteration of Dora required performers to be citizens of Croatia.

But let’s be real: no broadcaster with any common sense would expect someone like Lorde to compete in a national final against other artists. That would be dumb. Lorde isn’t dumb. Given the number of Croatian entries performed in English, one would assume that there would be no issue singing in English or a mix of English and Croatian. Though why stop there?

I’m a Kiwi  No Aotearoa ahau

Six weeks after releasing her most recent album, Lorde released ‘Te Ao Marama’ (“The World Of Light“). Te Ao Marama’ is an EP from ‘Solar Power’ with five songs reworked into te reo Māori, the indigenous language of Aotearoa.

This was not a transliteration process; instead Lorde collaborated with key cultural figures to craft lyrics that were substantively Māori. It took a lot of mahi (work) and a lot of good will for this to happen. While some Māori have lauded the effort, others have not.

Lorde released the EP during the annual Te Wiki o te Reo Māori (Māori Language Week) and is donating all proceeds to charity.

None of the tracks on Te Ao Marama would be eligible for the 2022 Eurovision, due to their August 2021 release dates. But imagine Lorde performing an original song in te reo Māori—or, a mix of English, Croatian and te reo Māori—in a Eurovision Grand Final.

Tick Tock

Time would also be definitively on Lorde’s time. A quick review of her catalogue indicates the three minute rule wouldn’t trouble her too much artisticlaly:

  • Royals – 3:10
  • Team – 3:13
  • Tennis Court – 3:18
  • Homemade Dynamite – 3:09
  • Liability – 2:52
  • Solar Power – 3:13

Writing great songs that run around three minutes is kind of Lorde’s thing. So too is staging a performance interestingly for telly:

She also appreciates a frock:

And can nail a live vocal performing to a backing track with pre-recorded backing vocals:

In other words, Lorde is entirely Eurovision-ready… if HRT is ready for Lorde.

The Points

At first glance, one might assume selecting Lorde would be to land a massive televote score. ‘Royals’ was an enormous, global hit and her subsequent singles and albums have done reasonably well. So a huge televote score is entirely possible.

But merely having the profile at the level of Lorde’s is no guarantee that Eurovision viewers will vote for Croatia. In 2003, t.A.t.u. had scored a recent global hit with ‘All the Things She Said’. They did well–but they were third in a televote-only year.

However, jurors – especially professional musicians – might find a Lorde entry irresistible. Lorde’s won over professional bodies like the Brits, the Grammys, NME, MTV Europe, and the World Music Awards – and been nominated for other industry accolades globally. If anything, her profile in the music industry has tracked higher than her post-Royals sales. Although five million albums and 15 million singles (in global sales) is still rather massive.

Think about it: you are a juror who pines for your own broadcaster to send a top-tiered, contemporary artist to the Eurovision. Ensuring Lorde does well would support your argument: shredding her would undermine it.

Strategically, jurors would probably show Lorde a lot of love. And it’s always easier to convince 200 jurors than several million televoters.

The Reality

Of course this is not likely to happen. Aside from Patricia Kaas, only global artists from the Russosphere have recently entered the Eurovision. It’s still a massive risk for an established artist. They would be expected to win. A top 10 result might allow them to save face. Failing to qualifying out of a Semi Final would be humiliating. But I can dream.

But…

What if Lorde did, and she won? We know that it would be a Croatian victory. The following year ‘s Eurovision would be hosted in Croatia. Other delegations would subsequently be tempted to mine their diaspora for talent.

And a Kiwi winning the Eurovision Song Contest would irk the Aussies no end.

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2 responses to “A Different Kind Of Buzz: Croatia, Lorde, And Māori At Eurovision”

  1. Michelle Apostolides says:

    I love the last lime of this. But it’s all great.

  2. John Egan says:

    Thanks Michelle!

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