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Croatian broadcaster reveals 16 acts for national Dora selection 2019

Croatian broadcaster reveals 16 acts for national Dora selection 2019

Jacques Houdek

A bunch of well known Eurovision names such as Jacques Houdek, Tonči Huljić and Charlie Mason will take part in this year’s Dora as songwriters or composers. The 16 acts that will compete to represent Croatia at 2019 Eurovision Song Contest have been revealed today by Croatian National Broadcaster, HRT (Hrvatska Radiotelevizija).

HRT has recieved a total of 170 entries during the submission period. A special jury consisting of Vanna, Zlatko Turkalj, Igor Geržina, Ante Pecotić, Zlatko Gall, Antonija Šola and Željen Klešterka selected the following 16 acts for the national final Dora:

  • Elis Lovrić – All I Really Want (E. Lovrić – E. Lovrić – E. Lovrić/O.Dešić)
  • Luka Nižetić – Amorero Brutarero (B. Mihaljević – M. Mihaljević – B. Mihaljević)
  • Gelato Sisters – Back To The Swing (T. Hrelec – T. Hrelec – T. Hrelec)
  • 4 tenora – Brod Bez Imena (E. Botrić/M. Šimac – M. Šimac – E. Botrić)
  • Beta Sudar – Don’t Give Up (P. Martinjak – P. Martinjak/M. Johansson – P. Martinjak)
  • Bernarda Bruno – I Believe In True Love (D. Rapotec Ute – T. Bon/B. Brunović – D. Rapotec Ute)
  • Domenika – Indigo (T. Huljić – V. Huljić – L. Škaro/T. Huljić)
  • Manntra – In The Shadows (M. Matijević Sekul/M. Kolarić/B. Kolarić – M. Kolarić/M. Matijević Sekul/B. Kolarić – M. Matijević Sekul)
  • Jure Brkljača – Ne Postojim Kad Nisi Tu (M.D. Rus – M.D. Rus – M.D. Rus/M. Blum)
  • Ema Gagro – Redemption (A. Björkman/A. Pupavac/K. Persson/E. Gagro – A. Pupavac – A. Björkman/A. Pupavac/K. Persson/E. Gagro)
  • Lea Mijatović – Tebi Pripadam (I. Ivanović/M. Vojvodić – I. Ivanović/M. Vojvodić – I. Ivanović/M. Vojvodić)
  • Lidija Bačić Lille – Tek Je Počelo (D. Dumančić – Fayo – B. Đurđević)
  • Jelena Bosančić – Tell Me (J. Bosančić – J. Bosančić – J. Bosančić/A. Devčić/H. Domazet)
  • Lorena Bućan – Tower of Babylon (T. Huljić – V. Huljić/I. Huljić –L. Škaro/T. Huljić)
  • Roko Blažević – The Dream (J. Houdek – J. Houdek/C. Mason/A. Čubrić – I. Škunca/F. Gjud)
  • Bojan Jambrošić i Danijela Pintarić – Vrijeme Predaje (A.T. Eterović – L. Čeči Baksa – A.T. Eterović)

The results of the final will be determined by a 50/50 combination of votes from a professional jury and public televoting. 

The twentieth edition of the Croatian national selection will be held on February 16th in Opatija. This is first time since 2011 that Croatia won’t choose their entry internally. 


Croatia debuted in the contest back in 1993. They achieved their best result – fourth place – on two occasions: in 1996, when Maja Blagdan performed SvetaLjubav and in 1999, when Doris Dragović performed MarijaMagdalena.

Last year the country failed to qualify to the grand final, placing 17th in the first semi-final with the song Crazy performed by Franka. In the link below you can watch Jacques Houdek’s Eurovision performance from 2017 – this time in a special Full Stage View article:

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Eliot Vassamillet to represent Belgium in Tel Aviv

Eliot Vassamillet to represent Belgium in Tel Aviv

Eliot Vassamillet

Belgian broadcaster, RTBF, have internally picked Eliot Vassamillet to represent Belgium at Eurovision Song Contest 2019 in Tel Aviv. After failing to qualify last year, can Eliot put Belgium back in the game and earn them another top 10 place?

RTBF have officially announced the name of the Belgian representative who will compete at the Eurovision Song Contest in Tel Aviv.

Eliot Vassamillet is an 18 year old student who has previously participated in The Voice Belgique, the Walloon edition of The Voice . Though he get through to the live shows he was eliminated in the first show.

Eliot’s song for Eurovision 2019 will be written by Pierre Dumoulin from the Roscoe group, who also wrote Blanche’s City Lights. Further details about the song will be released in February. Speaking about Eliot, composer Pierre Dumoulin, said “As soon as I saw Eliot’s performance at his Blind audition, I felt he had ‘that extra stuff that I’m looking for in an artist, that sensitivity and crack that’s needed to convey the emotions”.

Since 2010 Belgium have done well at the contest earning 4 top ten places. However, last year, Sennek became the first contestant from Belgium not to qualify in 4 years. Can Eliot put Belgium back on the Eurovision map?

You can relive last year’s entry by watching our video of Sennek performing A Matter Of Time at Eurovision In Concert 2018.

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Eurovision Insight News Podcast: A Very Superstitious Song Contest

Eurovision Insight News Podcast: A Very Superstitious Song Contest

As well as the weekend’s National Final results, the latest news, and what’s happening on ESC Insight, this week’s podcast also features our first ‘Eurovision Thoughts‘, as Samantha Ross talks about the great Eurovision superstitions.

Eurovision Insight News Podcast: A Very Superstitious Song Contest

An Ice Age star for Sanremo, San Marino goes to the CIA Answer Book, and Samantha Ross thinks about superstitions. Ewan Spence and the Insight team cover the latest news from the world of the Eurovision Song Contest 2019..

Find out more about Ne Party Pas Sans Moi at ne-party-pas.com, and find out more about Sanremo with #sanremowikipeddy on Facebook.

Eurovision’s National Final season is picking up more speed. Remember you can stay up to date with all the Song Contest news by listening to the ESC Insight podcast. You’ll find the show in iTunes, Google Podcasts, and Spotify. A direct RSS feed is  available. We also have a regular email newsletter which you can sign up to here.

Categories: ESC Insight


Who is Rodrigo Alves aka Human Ken Doll and why does he stir up so much attention?

Who is Rodrigo Alves aka Human Ken Doll and why does he stir up so much attention?

Rodrigo Alves aka Human Ken Doll

Eurovision fans have been discussing him for weeks. San Marino’s broadcaster remain silent, but Rodrigo Alves keeps hinting that he is the “international artist” who will represent the country in Tel Aviv, Israel. Fans are not pleased with the Human Ken Doll.

What on earth is going on in San Marino, and more precise with the broadcaster SMTV, that’s what many have been asking themselves the past few weeks. First, the San Marino broadcaster said that they had chosen “an international” artist to represent the small country at this year’s Eurovision Song Contest. Then, Human Ken Doll Rodrigo Alves hinted that he might be that “international” artist. Facebook groups have been floaded with posts quoting him for saying “It’s a dream coming true” and using a photo of the Eurovision 2019 artwork with San Marino’s flag, people drew the conclusion themselves.

But is he really to represent San Marino in Tel Aviv in May, or is it all fake news caused by a desire to get attention? We don’t know. The broadcaster hasn’t said anything, but they are expected to announce their participant on Monday the 21st of January. All we know for sure is that he has now publicly more than hinted, he is one.

Judging from the many reactions in various fan forums online, one can also conclude that a possible participation from him is, to put it mildly, met with scepticism. But who is he and why does he attract so much attention?

Rodrigo Alves is born in Brazil with a British father, and at the age of 19, he moved to Europe. He is often referred to as Human Ken Doll and is mentioned to have been through at least 100 cosmetic procedures, of which more than half should be direct surgery. Six years ago, he was diagnosed with “body dysmorphia”, which is a mental health condition which causes a person to worry obsessively much about their own body image. Rodrigo tells that he was bullied as a child for having breasts and a big nose, and he continued: “Growing up I felt alone as nobody wanted to be friends with me. Because of my body image and the fact that I was shy, I avoided social situations“. He had his first operation at the age of 17, and since then, he hasn’t been able to stop, despite that it has been close to causing him his life, at least once.

Possible sex change?

Among the latest cosmetic changes to Rodrigo’s body, we find ribs removals in order to gain a more feminine waist. That is a preparation for the future sex change, he is planning: “I am very happy to be a man for now but I don’t want to be an old saggy man,” he says“.

I will do what Caitlyn Jenner did. When I reach my late 50s, I would rather be a sexy old lady than a saggy old man“.

In August 2018, Mr Alves appeared on Big Brother in the UK, but was thrown out by the producers after several incidents of misbehaving and using racial expressions. Before he left, he told his housemates the following about the choices he made in life:

I don’t recommend for anyone to follow my journey when it comes to that. There have been complications and it has been a long journey. But you do empower people. In life you have the decision to be whoever you want to be and do whatever you want to do, as long as you don’t cause harm to other people. I did what was right for me“.

Is it the 35 year old Rodrigo Alves who will represent San Marino at the 2019 Eurovision Song Contest? We simply don’t know. It could be seen as a bit stretched to refer to him as an “international artist”, but how does the broadcaster see that phrase? Many fans took it to mean a singer known internationally, but could it just mean a TV personality born in one country, living in another? Time will tell, but for now he is the hot topic, which many fans seems to disapprove of as a Eurovision participant. Before we judge however, we need to remember that it is a song contest, and we don’t known the song or the extent of his singing capabilities.

San Marino at the Eurovision Song Contest

No matter who ends up representing the small country in Tel Aviv, Israel this year, him or her won’t be under a lot of pressure despite poor resent results. San Marino simply performed so badly on the Eurovision stage that no one, sadly, expects anything from them anymore.

The country joined the contest in 2008 with the Italian-San Marinese band Miodio. The failed to reach the final, and the following two years, San Marino didn’t take part. Since 2011, they have however been present at every contest, although with poor results.

Only once, did San Marino reach the final of the Eurovision Song Contest. That was in 2014, the third out of four participations from Valentina Monetta. With the song Maybe, she qualified as the last act from her semi-final and with just 14 points, finished second to last in the final.

Five of the 9 entries from San Marino has been written by German veteran Eurovision songwriter Ralph Siegel. In the video below, remind yourself of these five entries.

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Newsletter: Results, National Final Picks, And Our New Eurovision 2019 Logo

Newsletter: Results, National Final Picks, And Our New Eurovision 2019 Logo

Also in this week’s newsletter, a frontrunner emerges in France, one of Eurovision’s biggest breakout stars of recent years returns to the Contest and Czech Republic set their national selection into motion. You can read the newsletter in full here, or subscribe for a regular dose of Eurovision insight and analysis delivered direct to your email inbox.

ESC Insight National Selection Playlist

Czech Republic | Lake Malawi – Friend of a Friend

One of the clear standouts in the Czech selection is this instantly hummable number from alternative-pop collective Lake Malawi. The heavily accented spoken-word sections sit right on the line between charming and irritating, but the chorus is a total earworm. With a confident stage show, this could really stand out from the crowd in Tel Aviv.

Roi‘ (King) by Bilal Hassani (France)

Easily topping the leaderboard in the first semi final of Destination Eurovision and clocking up 3 million views of the lyric video in lass than two weeks, Bilal Hassani’s Roi can now be considered the clear frontrunner to represent France in Tel Aviv. A genderqueer YouTube sensation with a massive following in his home country, Bilal seems primed to be one of the big media stories of this year’s Contest – which rarely hurts when it comes to the scoreboard…

‘Cherry Absinthe’ by Edgars Kreilis (Latvia)

You can always count on the Latvians to throw up a quirky gem or two in their national selection. With its oddball lyrics recounting a night out on the hard stuff, Cherry Absinthe could inspire drinking games across the continent if Edgars Kreilis wins the ticket to Tel Aviv. Please drink responsibly!

‘Blind Bird’ by MaNNaz (Lithuania)

Lithuania’s epic national selection „Eurovizijos“ dainų konkurso nacionalinė atranka 2019 kicked off last week. It’s a long, long road until they finally decide on a winner, but this atmospheric electro mid-tempo topped the scoreboard in the first heat, so it should be considered a contender. It’s no Get Frighten, but then again, what is?

‘Army of Love’ by Bella Santiago (Romania)

Since finishing fourth in Romania’s national selection for 2018, Bella Santiago’s career has gone from strength to strength – including victory in X Factor Romania just last month. So it’s little surprise to see her granted a Wildcard spot for this year’s selection. Army of Love is a powerful ethnic pop number that pays tribute to the singers Filipino roots with a section in Tagalog – a possible Eurovision first should she win.

You can stay up to date with all of the latest Eurovision news and analysis right here on ESC Insight. You can also follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

Categories: ESC Insight


France: Destination Eurovision 2019 – First four qualifiers

France: Destination Eurovision 2019 – First four qualifiers

Bilal Hassani

Tonight saw the start of France’s National Eurovision Selection, Destination Eurovision. This is the second year in a row that French Broadcaster, France2 have decided to go with a National Final format.

France, Eurovision’s original powerhouse, has experience somewhat of a renaissance at the contest in recent years. After 2015 fan favourite Lisa Angell failed to set the scoreboard alight in Vienna, the gallic nation took a long hard look at what the future had in store for them at the contest. After employing the expertise of Edoardo Grassi, France came back to the contest in 2016 as a hot favourite with Amir’s Pop banger J’ai Cherche. Since this France has always been a hotly anticipated country when choosing their artist and has always become a fan favourite, with 2018’s Madame Monsieur hotly tipped to win the contest, in Lisbon.

The Show

Destination Eurovision is split into three shows, two Semi-Finals on January 12 & 19 with the Grand Final taking place on January 26. Unlike last years shows, all three shows are being broadcast live.

One noticeable difference will be the aforementioned, now previous, Head of Delegation Edoardo Grassi. As an influential figure in France’s resurgence over the last 4 years, Grassi was key in securing the participation of Amir and Alma in the contest and also it was his desire to have a national final. He can feel a sense of satisfaction as he was able to achieve this in 2018 and that it is being picked up again in 2019. Unfortunately for the external employee, France2 brought the contest preparation ‘in house’ and Grassi parted ways with the broadcaster in late 2018.

Similar to last year’s format, the 18 acts are split into two groups of 9, competing over the 2 semi finals, with 4 songs qualifying from each round and moving on to the final.

Voting is split into two parts, Jury (50%) and Televoting (50%). The jury is made up of 5 international members of the Eurovision community who have different experiences of the contest, they include Producer of Israel Calling Tali Eshkoli (Israel), “Dr Eurovision” Paul Jordan (UK) and 2016 Serbian representative Sanja Vucic (Serbia).

The biggest change this year is that the Francophone jury made up of Christophe Willem, Andre Manoukian and Vitaa have no voting power and are there to critique the performances.

Each performer sang two songs, their potential Eurovision entry and a song of their choice, we got to hear some French classics, modern chart music and a French Eurovision entry from recent years.


Naestro – Le Brasier

First he performed a short version of his chosen song, Ed Sheeran and Andrea Bocelli’s Perfect. He received a great reaction for his version, where he also showed off his Operatic talents.

He then performed his potential entry, a song co-wrote by 2017 representative Alma. Naestro starts the performance in an almost blacked out stage, while he sings a gentle slow piano ballad. The song then kicks into a dubstep-lite ballad and we then seen Naestro was joined by backing singers on a raised plinth. The song was well received with the audience, a good show opener and the panel seemed to enjoy the performance.

Florina – In The Shadow

Starting with Edith Piaf’s ‘Lhymne a l’amour’, she received a great response from the audience, and then its time for her entry.

Dressed in a shimmery black dress, Florina stands completely alone on stage surrounded by smoke with an LED screen behind her completely white with a black shadow moving about in rhythm to the R ‘n’ B style ballad. Florina’s voice is fragile and works beautifully with this modern ballad, she did hit a bum note near the end of the song but finished strong.

After the first two songs we took a break and talked to the Israeli juror, Tali Eshkoli. Asked how preparations for the upcoming Eurovision Song Contest, she replies “We are not sleeping”, but in great spirits.

Chimene Badi – La-Haut

Another Edith Piaf song, Chimene tackles probably the most well known Piaf song, at least for non-French speaking audiences, ‘Je ne regrette rien’.  Again a great reaction from the audience and Vitaa seemed to particularly enjoy the performance.

Immediately getting vibes of Christabelle’s MESC 2018 staging  Chimene was in a box where hues of pink, purple and white swirl around her on projection screens. Chimene is a confident performer and this was apparent from start to finish with her rich vocals and professional stage presence. Vocals were on point and the performance was engaging, the panel seemed to really enjoy this performance.

We then meet Portuguese juror, Carla Bugalho Trindade, she was asked what she thought of the French 2018 entry, to which she gave her democratic answer.

Battista Acquaviva – Passio

Battista covered Italian singer and former Eurovision participant, Gianni Morandi (Italy, 1970), with the song Parla Piu Piano. Her voice sounded very fragile during the rendition, and it seemed to hypnotise Christophe Willem.

Dressed in all white on an all white stage, Battista is on the top of what can only be described as a multi staircase surrounded by half naked men. The song is very angelic, almost Enya inspired and the men are dancing expressively around her. The bridge of the song introduces a snow shower as she finishes on a high.  Her fragile voice works well with the style of the song and it was praised for its originality.  I personally felt the performance was just a little too sleepy to do well at Eurovision.

A short interval and cut away to the green room.

Slivan Areg – Le Petit Nicholas

Now there is no question as to where this style of music is from. Quintessentially French in sound Silvan sang Claudio Capeo’s ‘Un Homme Debout’.

Slivan’s entry is very much in the vein of his previous performances song. It is typically French in it’s style, with a very inventive staging. Silvan is quite literally La Petite Nicholas. A lively performance, Silvan is on stage and with some clever camera angles and tricks is found in a black and white 2D animated world surrounded by trees, on top of bridges and standing among the greatest landmarks in the world.  The staging elevates this song completely and makes the entry a talking point. This would be interesting to see if it could be replicated in Tel Aviv, but it was not a completely polished performance and would need some tweaks.

We then had a recap of the first five songs and a chat with Serbian juror Sanja Vucic. She was asked her favourite French Song, she choose the Edith Piaf classic sang by Chimene earlier in the stage and Sanja gave her rendition of it.

Bilal Hassani – Roi

A modern performer from the first song, Bilal is most well known in France for participating on The Voice Kids. In drag he is a striking performer and gave a great rendition of Stromae’s Hit Carmen.

Starting in the audience for their Eurovision entry, Bilal walks on to stage to join four female dancers for the rest of the sog. Roi is co-wrote by last years Destination Eurovision winners  Madame Monsieur. It is a good performance of this  R ‘n’ B ballad.  It is a little clinical and almost over-performed, it is apparent though that a large section of the audience is Bilal fans and they made their voices heard during the song. Comments from the panel were constructive, although some murmuring from the audience showed that this wasn’t as well received as previous entries.

We then chatted to Armenia’s juror David Tseruyan who told us what Eurovision meant to him.

Aysat – Comme Une Grande

Well we start with probably the most famous and popular 70s pop song, ABBAs Dancing Queen, Aysat decided to sing an updated version and gave it more of a reggae arrangement, she had the audience dancing along although we all know it’s the song that will always get us on our feet.

The song started off with some tropical drums and then Aysat racks up the dancing with the first real upbeat song of the competition. Some great dancing and attitude made this an enjoyable performance and her vocals were for the most part were good. Personally this is the first song I could see on the Eurovision stage. Well received by the panel and the audience.

Lautner – J’ai Pas Le Temps

Lautner are the first group/duo in the competition to perform and they gave us a rendition of Amir’s 2016 Eurovision entry J’ai Cherche.  It was a slower version of the pop song, it was maybe not as good as it could be as the vocals seemed a little weak in parts of the song.

We get some violin playing, which of course is now a Eurovision cliché. Lautner are competent performers and seemed to enjoy themselves on stage. The vocals were just not good and it was hard to hear them at times.  The song could do well, but it wasn’t helped by this performance.

We then met “Dr Eurovision” UK juror Paul Jordan. Asked about what the recipe to a good Eurovision song is, he said there was no recipe for success.

Mazy – Oulala

Mazy is a striking performer, and her performance of Calogero’s hit Si Seulement Je Pouvais Lui Manquer even had Vitaa singing along lovingly.

Mazy stands on top of a pink plinth as she sings this tropical dance-ballad, behind her is the name of the song flashing in Neon pink and blue. The break down in the song sees Mazy beating a wooden box and she seem comfortable on stage, was a nice finish to the semi final songs.


Chimene Badi224466Qualified
Battista Acquaviva22931
Silvan Areg382159Qualified
Bilal Hassani5857115Qualified

Did your favourites make it to the final tonight, or was there a performance you thought was more deserving?

Let us know in the comments.

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