The last three winners of Eurovision only got to the contest, after losing in a previous national final first. This year, many artists with a similar track record will try to follow in their footsteps. In this episode we highlight Jacques Houdek from Croatia.
Houdek gives us the most stuff to talk about. He tried to represent Croatia six (!) times before, but failed on all occasions.
Fifteen years ago a young Jacques Houdek, 21-years of age, took his first steps in the Eurovision Song Contest. In 2002 he debuted in the Croatian national final Dora with the song ‘Čarolija’, which means ‘Magic’. It placed 13th and would launch his career in Croatia and make him a familiar returning face on Dora in the years to come.
Houdek returned the following year with ‘Na Krilima Ljubavi’, which means ‘On the wings of love’. It scored much better and finished in fifth place.
The results were getting better and better in the first couple of attempts at Dora in Croatia for Jacques Houdek. The next song was ‘No reason’, or in Croatian ‘Nema Razloga’ and gave him his best result: a fourth place.
Houdek had the taste of it after his fifth and fourth place and finally wanted to win it all. He had high hopes with his song ‘Nepobjediva’, meaning ‘Unbeatable’. He was not unbeatable however, and got another 4th place.
The biggest disappointment came in his fifth attempt in a row. ‘Umrijeti s osmjehom’ only got an 15th place, his worst result so far. The original performance in Dora can not be found anymore…
Five years later, Jacques Houdek got over this big defeat and returned to Dora, which had a completely new format in 2011. He survived seven weeks of talent show elimination rounds, before ending up in the grand final. He and Daria Kinzer both performed the winning song ‘Lahor’. In the end, it was Daria who won the superfinal and took the song in the English version ‘Celebrate’ to Düsseldorf, where it did not qualify for the final.
Jacques Houdek at Eurovision
So, Jacques Houdek tried to represent Croatia six times, but failed on all occasions. He gave up on his dream and took a different path in the Croatian music industry. Being a coach at The Voice of Croatia, he helped Nina Kraljic. After her Eurovision participation, broadcaster HRT decided to select Houdek himself internal for Kiev, to make his dream finally come true.