Wiwi Jury: Croatia’s Jacques Houdek with “My Friend”

Zdravo Hrvatska! The Wiwi Jury — our in-house panel of music unprofessionals — has landed in Dubrovnik, where we’re taking in the beautiful Adriatic while sampling lobster from Dalmatia and white truffles from Istria. While taking this culinary tour of the country, we’re also reacting to Jacques Houdek and his Eurovision 2017 song “My Friend”. Do we want to strike up a relationship with him? Read on to find out…

Jacques Houdek – “My Friend”

About Jacques Houdek

Jacques Houdek began his professional music career in 2000, performing covers in Zagreb clubs. A graduate of the prestigious Berklee College of Music in Boston, he has recorded songs in nine different languages and has been something of a staple in Croatia’s Eurovision selection shows, having competed six times between 2002 and 2011. Currently Jacques is one of the mentors in the Croatian version of The Voice. He also mentored Nina Kraljic, who won the competition and represented Croatia at Eurovision 2016.

“My Friend” reviews

Deban: Andrea Bocelli meets Darren Hayes in this kitch-perfect Disney-esque freak-show. Purrfect! There is nothing subtle about Jacques Houdek, and with this in mind, he serves authenticity, doubles it up and then some. This entry is fundamentally bipolar, and although he reminds you to “#BeMyFriend”, the reactions to his offer remains divisive. Houdek attracts love and repulsion in almost equal measure, but no one will ever doubt his vocal power. I applaud his vision, tenacity and his drive to dare.

Score: 8/10

Josh: Croatia went from a credible entry in 2016 to this. It’s such a missed opportunity for Croatia and Jacques, as his vocal range is so powerful and awe-inspiring. Instead, we’ve opted for a gimmicky song that will surely have gimmicky staging to match. The thing I love about modern Eurovision is that it’s fresh and current and artists see it as a platform to launch their careers outside of their home countries. This song sets the contest back ten years. I thought we were past the joke entries. Apparently not.

Score: 2.5/10

Robyn: Here’s my take on the song. Jacques is in the role of a guy who doesn’t have any real-life friends, so he’s created a BFF persona — a cool, successful Italian opera singer, someone who is everything he isn’t. So while he can perform a duet with his operatic bestie, the two of them can never sing in harmony. With that in mind, the song is genius. But if it’s just Jacques being a showoff, it’s less impressive. We’ve not yet seen this performed live — it will be interesting to see how the pop-to-opera transition is handled from a technical perspective.

Score: 5.5/10

Sami: Meh. I don’t like opera to begin with, but this makes me dislike it even more. The whole concept is just confusing and weird and I don’t know how someone came up with an idea like this. Can this even work on the stage without it being extremely cringe? I feel sorry for the Croatian people — I am sure they are not happy to have this representing them.

Score: 1.5/10

William: It takes a risk to send a duet for one that spans extreme registers and musical eras. But Jacques Houdek does exactly that with his torch-song-meets-popera-ballad. The opening is schmaltzy, cheesy and dated. Yet when he hits the first chorus I’m filled with so much hope and joy that I forget I should hate this. From the exhilarating string transition to the Phantom of the Opera baritone sections, this is stereotypically Eurovision in the best possible way. It’s not a guilty pleasure. It’s just a pleasure.

Score: 8/10

Chris: “My Friend” feels like a misguided attempt to emulate the likes of Cezar in 2013: become a fan favourite by being so over the top. The issue is that, in Cezar’s case, that all came together almost by accident. “My Friend” feels too forced and therefore doesn’t come across as real. This is clearly Jacques’ dream, but novelty acts can so easily go wrong. Why would you take that risk, when he could have gone with something more polished and had real success?

Score: 4.5/10

Jovana: I am not quite sure where Jacques wanted to go with this song. I can’t say it’s bad; I think that “confusing” would be a more appropriate word. “My Friend” switches from a sugary Blue song and to operatic pop in Italian. I respect Jacques’ attempt to present something different and actually celebrate diversity, but this effort is just not enough.

Score: 5/10

Kristin: I pray for the instrumental version again, for this one just scares the living daylights out of me. Granted, Jacques is an amazing vocalist, but this is just too much all over the place and instead of alluring the listener, it’s just plain confusing. As a token white girl from a slap stick comedy would say: “I can’t even…”

Score: 3/10

In our Wiwi Jury, we have 38 jurors but only room for eight reviews. The rest of our scores can be found below:

Anastas: 1.5/10

Andy: 5/10

Angus: 2/10

Anthony: 4.5/10

Antony: 6/10

Antranig: 5.5/10

Bernardo: 3.5/10

Bogdan: 5/10

Dayana: 3/10

Edd: 7/10

Erdi: 2/10

Forrest: 3/10

George: 3.5/10

Jacob: 8/10

Jason: 3/10

Jordi: 5/10

Luis: 2.5/10

Marek: 9/10

Matt: 8/10

Mikhail: 2/10

Natalie: 4/10

Padraig: 4.5/10

Patrick: 2.5/10

Renske: 6/10

Rezo: 5/10

Sinan: 6/10

Stanislav: 7.5/10

Steinunn: 2.5/10

Tobias: 1/10

Zakaria: 1.5/10
















Before calculating the average score, the highest and lowest scores are dropped. This is to remove outliers and reduce potential bias. We have removed a low of 1 and a high of 9.

Wiwi Jury verdict: 4.39/10

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See our current Eurovision 2017 reviews and rankings