Yesterday the Wiwi Jury — our in-house panel of music unprofessionals — travelled to Croatia and took in the seaside delights of Dubrovnik. As we explored the city walls, we discussed Nina Kraljic‘s song “Lighthouse”. Did it light our way? Or did it leave us in the dark?
Nina Kraljic – “Lighthouse”
Chris: I had very high hopes when Nina Kraljic was announced as Croatia’s representative, and “Lighthouse” does not disappoint at all. This is the song that could lift Croatia back to their late ’90s heights, then maybe even more. It’s an incredibly accessible song whilst also sounding native to Nina’s own style. Unlike some Eurovision winners, it feels genuine. It might just be my favourite song of the year, which I most certainly was not expecting.
Deban: “Lighthouse” is a hidden treasure. Unassuming at first, this entry easily morphs into an ear worm. Nina Kraljic’s voice bears strong resemblance to the British heavyweights – Foxes, Ellie Goulding, Marina and the Diamonds. There are great gains to be had with familiarity, especially when these three pop princesses have been radio staple continent-wide for several years. However, what really grips me is the fragility of Nina’s voice, and the overall mood captured in the track’s instrumentation. Subtle, yet magical.
Robyn: Nina’s voice is gorgeous, so crystal clear and able to deliver delicate notes with strength and power. I’m not fully convinced by “Lighthouse”, though I’m really loving the romantic nautical themes. The lyrics are a bit troublesome, with the near/fear/disappear/steer/pier/tear rhyming-dictionary extravaganza in the second verse, and that key change just ends up being a distraction rather than a climax. But still, it’s one of this year’s strongest entries, and it should get Croatia into the final for the first time since 2009.
Angus: “Lighthouse” moves me, but the studio version feels like a dull spark waiting to burst into a shining star. Nina’s vocal is amazing, and the addition of the traditional Balkan elements through the pop ballad make it stand out from the crowd, but it still needs a real raw live vocal lift to put it in contention for the top 5. Croatia is still lacking some oomph behind the track to knock it out of the park.
Kristin: The first time I heard “Lighthouse” I was less than impressed. I thought it sounded bland and generic. But luckily, it quickly started to grow on me, and I think that after some very bleak years, Croatia will FINALLY take their place in the finals and reach top ten. Nina is nothing short of amazing and will definitely charm Europe senseless. Croatia is totally back, and they mean serious business this time!
Bogdan: Croatia is dubbed as one of the main contenders this year and rightly so. The beautifully flowing melody, combined with the Ellie Goulding-esque quality of Nina’s voice, make for a very strong entry. Add a chorus that you can’t get out of your head plus a spectacular key change and the success of “Lighthouse” is guaranteed. Now the only thing Croatia has to be concerned with is the staging, and the Globe Arena stage offers amazing potential.
Denise: Wow, they’re really upping their game. It’s giving me Ellie Goulding vibes, but Nina is way better live. I’m glad to see Croatia doing so well in the betting odds and I hope it stays the same after the first rehearsals. The song is mysterious and her biggest competition will be Iceland with another magical song. I know which song I prefer.
William: There is a light and her name is Nina Kraljic! She may sound like Ellie Goulding, but she dirties that up with plenty of attitude and edge. Her voice is a total contradiction — it’s ethereal and light, yet still manages to pack a punch. The song itself is intoxicating. It’s completely modern and yet the drums and wailing give this a very subtle ethnic edge. I love it. My only concern is that when the song goes off I don’t remember it.
Diego: Be careful with this dark horse, ladies and gentlemen, because we might have a potential top 10 entry here. Nina Kraljic really nails the song with her soft and sweet voice amongst the instrumental sea with a strong balkan flavour that always reminds us where we are. Her live performance will either place this song high on the Eurovision heaven or doom Croatia to not qualify for the fifth time in a row.
Forrest: I love a good Balkan ballad and “Lighthouse” offers a modern entry into the genre. It feels fresh, due in part to Nina’s crisp vocals, while still nodding to the instrumental tones that make a song immediately recognizable as Balkan. “Lighthouse” has earned its key change — it bursts through the stormy verses much like a lighthouse. The studio version is strong, but there is a fragility to her voice; reminiscent of María Ólafs from Iceland in 2015. There are some spectacular notes she is going to need to hit live. If she delivers, I believe we’re going to Zagreb in 2017. If not, I don’t expect “Lighthouse” to make it out of its semi-final.
Padraig: Visually and vocally, Nina seems like an artist who belongs on the alternative end of the pop scale. So more’s the pity that she’s been lumbered with the anodyne “Lighthouse”. Just as actual lighthouses are becoming outdated, the track sounds like a relic from a bygone era… or at least a reject from Iceland’s national final. Nonetheless, Nina’s voice maintains a mystique that should push this entry to a higher position than it deserves.
Sami: For the first time in years, Croatia is sending a song what could actually win the whole contest. Nina’s voice is something really sweet, it’s powerful in its own way and I’m sure she can nail the live performance as well. The song could be from Emmelie de Forest’s album, but still has that Balkan sound. It will be a crime if Croatia doesn’t reach the final.
In the Wiwi Jury we have 40 jurors but only have room for 12 reviews. The remaining 28 scores are below.
William C: 10/10
The highest and lowest scores are dropped prior to calculating the average score. This is to remove outliers and reduce potential bias. We have removed a low of 4 and a high of 10.