Croatia, Jacques Houdek, 2 [ELIMINATED]

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

What do you think of this song? Share your own score and review below!

See our current Eurovision 2017 reviews and rankings

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CroFan of ESC
Guest
CroFan of ESC

Hello, I am from Croatia and I was slightly disappointed when I heard ‘My friend’. The thing is that Jacques is an amazing vocalist and he wanted to show the Europe that he can sing opera as well as he sings pop songs like we all know. Song has a strong message but I think a little bit cliche. Hope that performance in Kyiv will be minimalistic but powerful and that he will qualify just like Nina last year who had, in my opinion, way better song than this year.
Also watch my top 10 songs of the ESC 2017:
https://youtu.be/hc4D4uqsNlQ

Pablo Nava
Member

*cringe* Holy cow this is pure cringe. Heavy handed corniness that leaves a bad aftertaste. The good thing (which may be bad too) is that literally no one else has done this kind of entry, the bad is… how in your face it is. It’s very blunt, as if it was him shouting BE MY FRIEND to a room full of strangers; awkward, loud and no one would take you seriously. He hasn’t performed live yet, so he has a lot of expectation to excel. Overall, Croatia… why? P.S: I got an Italian friend that tells me the lyrics make… Read more »

avaavatar
Guest
avaavatar

The italian lyrics were written by an italian…

Probabile
Guest
Probabile

Pablo, probably your friend should study a bit more italian. Tell him that if he wants i can explain it to him. 😉

Erasmus
Guest
Erasmus

I just don’t like it overrall it isn’t bad, but I really really don’t like it. It’s just to strange and cringy at the times… for me a 3,5/10.

Alon Israel
Guest
Alon Israel

In my opinion, one of the best songs this year! i like the voice changing, the text, everything… this song is so underrated!

Jacques dawg from music vid
Guest
Jacques dawg from music vid

If it was two people everybody would love it, but when its one and its so much more impressive suddenly nobody likes it…

Briekimchi
Guest
Briekimchi

I have NO idea how this will do. Honestly, I like to listen to it but I am still incredibly confused by it. It is either genius or awful. Might just be interesting enough to qualify. No doubt about it though, Jacques is a talented vocalist who has wanted to go to Eurovision for a long time. Maybe he wanted to be remembered? I have a feeling he will be!

Hada
Guest
Hada

This song would be taken more seriously if Jacques came out and said “this is a children’s song”.

I don’t think the song itself is bad, but I can’t imagine a staging that doesn’t make this look cringy.

Lukewarm
Guest
Lukewarm

Aaaaand that completes my bottom 10 for this year. Cool concept, Jacque is a great singer, but the song just falls flat. 01 | 02 Norway | 03 | 04 United Kingdom | *05 Austria* 06 Albania | 07 | 08 Bulgaria | 09 | 10 11 Serbia | 12 Sweden | 13 | 14 Denmark | 15 Moldova 16 Poland | 17 | 18 Latvia | 19 Cyprus | 20 Iceland 21 | 22 | 23 Greece | 24 Czechia | 25 Armenia 26 Netherlands | 27 Belarus | 28 | 29 Finland | 30 31 | 32 |… Read more »

Zolipop
Guest
Zolipop

I like this, very original entry! I think it should’ve got at least 6 points…

Joe
Guest
Joe

4/10.
Good Italian though.

Digital Style
Guest
Digital Style

I’m as split on this song as Jacques is, honestly. I don’t think it sounds like two different songs, but the dual voices sound abrupt when listened to for the first time. Jacques is a great singer but I don’t think this song is really suited for his overall style.

cheesecake
Guest
cheesecake

Ugh, I don’t have anything nice to say about this. I think this will be even more cringe-worthy on stage, when we actually see him switch voices.
2/10

Johnny
Guest
Johnny

@Sami, you have to think twice before you say sth. Your statement:”I feel sorry for the Croatian people — I am sure they are not happy to have this representing them.”
tells a lot about you! Disrespectfull and ignorant.

BTW. Croatian people support Jacques because he is quite popular here.

AngieP
Guest
AngieP

When I listen to this song, at the end I forget what I heard. I can easily forget it after a couple of minutes. So that’s probably not a good sign! I am not a fan of the speaking part at the beginning, but when Jacques starts singing, I kinda like it. His voice is so beautiful. And then I suddenly hear some italian with a different voice! That was unexpected! It’s not a bad song. But he changes the language from English to Italian so often in 3 min, that at the end I’m lost. It’s confusing. Maybe, he… Read more »

bis
Guest
bis

A great voice wasted on a pretentious and annoying song. 2/10

Coryn
Guest
Coryn

The song should have started in the one voice and in the middle switch to the other voice. He would have still show off his skills and the song would have made its point. But this mix is awkward and not pleasant to ear. It goes up and down rather as a broken record.

Purple Mask
Guest
Purple Mask

This song begins with a light piano & string introduction in F major, while we hear an Einstein quote in spoken word over the top of it. This is very corny, unoriginal and ill-advised as a way to start a song. I really wish this to be cut from the live version. Then the vocal begins in an F major verse, which then cleverly switches to the dominant (C major) for the first voice change – this emphasizes the difference despite the fact it’s actually the same voice being used. We then go back to the first voice and switch… Read more »

Lemoni
Guest
Lemoni

This year we have so many genres = pop(NL,GRE), scandi-pop(SWE), asian(ARM), rock(UKR), opera(CRO), ballads(many), summer day(ISR), summer afternoon(SPA), yodel, rap(ROM), gothic(FIN), roma(HUN), edm(FYROM, MON), alternative(LTV,AZJ), old hollywood(POR), jazz(CZE), traditional(BLR)…..human dancing like a monkey…=…the ultimate ‘celebrate diversity’

anonymous91
Guest
anonymous91

well said, but old hollywood lol, 1950’s the portuguese judy garland

AngieP
Guest
AngieP

True! Literally “celebrate diversity”!

Sash Animenkos
Guest
Sash Animenkos

i was literally LOL when read ‘…balads(many)…”

Abc
Guest
Abc

I think this song is better than most of the unoriginal songs this year. Yeah, lyrics may be cheesy, but not every song is meant to have deep lyrics that you need to think about for hours. This song focuses on uplifting melody and his vocal abilities and lyrics are just positive motives that are following those factors. Also, if you think about any other anthem (like your countrys) you can hear that they have cheesy lyrics too, and that on every sports events only instrumental is played. Thats because the melody is what’s important and what is meant to… Read more »

Leo M
Guest
Leo M

He has a good singing voice but I don’t like the opera parts the song The song itself is not very memorable either. Semi final 2 is a very open semi but right now, I don’t think this will qualifiy

dyna
Guest
dyna

Croatia 2017 is like a joke entry that doesn’t realise anyone’s laughing at it and takes itself way too seriously.

Racal
Guest
Racal

Popular opinion: without the Italian “Il Divo-esque” part, it would be acceptable. I feel like he added that part probably thinking “Everybody is going to be amazed by my vocal capabilities and will think “Waow, that guy can switch voices!””, but the truth is it just sounds like a circus act… It’s too bad because he is obviously a good vocalist.

I doubt this will qualify, Eurovision is tough for a country like Croatia (kinda ironic when you think that it was Croatia who won the ESC for Yugoslavia back in 1989).

Racal
Guest
Racal

Btw, it’s 42nd out of 43 countries in my personal ranking (I had worked on my ranking before Russia withdrew, so I still have 43 countries on it).

Llobera4Ever
Guest
Llobera4Ever

Also, I read that he got named one of the biggest homophobes … But couldn’t understand what it is that he said. Any Croatian in the room?

Colin
Guest
Colin

I am Croatian. Jacques was misquoted and a victim of a malicious slander. He allegedly said that same sex cohabitation is not natural, but it’s not true. He clarified it many times since, but seams like many people still hold on to it. We have quite a few homophobes here, but Jacques ain’t one of them. He expressed his endorsement to same sex marriage and his gay fans.

Aria
Guest
Aria

In few countries law it falls under unnatural sex : Anal sex even between man and lady.

Colin
Guest
Colin

Even I at first thought he actually said that, only retracted later and turned over, but apparently he never said it in the first place. Journalists can be really wicked sometimes.

Llobera 4 Ever
Guest
Llobera 4 Ever

Thanks for the answer Colin! Yes, I thought it was strange any homophobe taking part in Eurovision (Aram MP3 aside). And when I first saw his pic, I actually pegged him as looking very gay tbh.

Llobera4Ever
Guest
Llobera4Ever

I will neve admit to others that I like this song xD but I can’t get over the “Let it go” from Frozen “uncanny” resemblance

(J)ESC Fanatic
Guest
(J)ESC Fanatic

I feel like this could be epic, but it’s not. I love the English parts, but the Italian opera parts ruin it. It’s a very confusing song and I don’t see it going far. It’s Norway 2016 all over again, but the difference is that “Icebreaker” was an amazing song.

6/10

Polegend Godgarina
Guest
Polegend Godgarina

By the way Sami, I don’t think you should “feel sorry for the Croatian people”. Many Croatians love this song, so saying something like that is just as nice as me telling you I “feel sorry for your hearing”.

khm
Guest
khm

I don’t know where you got this “many Croatians love the song”, but it isn’t true at all. First, Jacques deleted all the bad comments on the song (both on YT and FB). Second, many Croatians don’t even like Jacques because of his diva attitude.

Colin
Guest
Colin

“It’s not a guilty pleasure. It’s just a pleasure.” – Thank you William (and thank you Deban and all who rated it high). I get it – this song is risky and gets a lot of mixed reviews. Personally, I totally love the studio version. It harmonizes really well and has a grandiose opera feeling about it. At first I was like ”What?” and then I found myself liking it a lot. The problem is – how to do it live without being cheesy or out of tune? Jacques is a professional and I am sure he will do it… Read more »

Polegend Godgarina
Guest
Polegend Godgarina

I pray y’all see the light and find your way tbh

Zebb
Guest
Zebb

How to put good ingredients altogether and make a hectic mess – that’s what happens to me with this song. I didn’t dig italian translation, as I dislike english part and the way it sung here. However, last part is really good and strings are utterly amazing. I just don’t wanna skip first 2/3 of the song to appreciate it.
Last year ‘Lighthouse’ was in my top 3 (before it was killed with staging), this year I doubt vice versa may turn to me with this entry.

Polegend Godgarina
Guest
Polegend Godgarina

Wow, all this hate for this great song is not cute. At least my good sis Marek knows how to appreciate talent and quality <3

"My Friend" perfectly shows how versatile Jacques is. The refrain is catchy enough, the classical style also has hints of modern, and his Italian pronunciation is perfect. Very professional song.

Aria
Guest
Aria

Why you call guys your sister?

Purple Mask
Guest
Purple Mask

He’s using an American dialect that is apparently becoming popular through the US TV seies “RuPaul’s Drag Race.” Personally, I strongly dislike it. :/

Purple Mask
Guest
Purple Mask

Typo: “seies” should be “series.”

Lemoni
Guest
Lemoni

I bet many like Italian song, but blame Jacques for patronizing us.

Eve
Guest
Eve

Very bad, my friend, very bad.. Appreciate the voice, maybe the best male vocalist this year, but the song.. Unsuccessful attempt to sound original and interesting, turns out to be confusing and ridiculous.. And can’t stand those cliche motivational phrases!
3/10

Lemoni
Guest
Lemoni

I see nothing wrong with this song. Since when a duet is so confusing? (even when is one person) Pavarotti had those shows ‘Pavarotti and friends’ and it was like that all the time.

Tiago S
Guest
Tiago S

I don’t like this song at all, but for different reasons, so I’ll add my two cents. I really can’t stand songs or adverts that preach to us on how we should live our lives. As if the person saying all these clichés about happiness is more enlightened than us mere mortals. Nothing against his musical abilities, all against his paternalism.

Tiago S
Guest
Tiago S

Don’t want to say he is the only one doing it, though. To be fair, I think it’s actually a very common trend in the Eurovision and something that has always pulled me off from this competition. Georgia’s song this year is another that comes to mind, amongst others.

jowncarlo
Guest

I think you need a friend or two.

jowncarlo
Guest

Oh, lol. The comment I replied to with this is gone.

Josh
Guest
Josh

A lot has been made of songs this year containing contrasting styles: Romania’s yodelling – rap combo to name but one!
But while Romania works, for me, Croatia doesn’t. It all sounds too messy. This song sung throughout in one style (probably the pop voice) would actually be quite sweet. But I’m afraid I’m not getting the current mix. It’s a shame – he seems like a nice guy.

anonymous91
Guest
anonymous91

Jacques is actually a homophobe i’ve heard that from other people

and yeah i agree with your explanation 🙂

Polegend Godgarina
Guest
Polegend Godgarina

Wow, your source is “I’ve heard that from people”? Jacques is NOT a homophobe. He was the victim of malignities from a Croatian tabloid. He has expressed his bitterness towards these fake allegiations (in 2011), and his team has taken legal action.

Colin
Guest
Colin

< What Polegend said is true!

anonymous91
Guest
anonymous91

very very annoying for me, he sings it with too many voices, juries will definitely not like that, confusion is never good at eurovision

but also Jacques doesn’t seem very likeable to me

i really genuinely hope this will not qualify, 1.0/10

azaad
Guest
azaad

As a token white girl from a slap stick comedy would say: “I can’t even…” love that Kristin!

One fairly good song (the English part) and another very good one (the Italian part) are combined to make a song that’s at best okay, if not a dichromatic mess. I could see this becoming an ESC novelty in years to come. And to be honest, I’d rather this qualify than Romania or San Marino.

Darius
Guest
Darius

Croatia will qualify instead of Romania? When pigs will fly, perhaps…

anonymous91
Guest
anonymous91

exactly 🙂

CookyMonzta
Guest
CookyMonzta

Like someone said, he’s trying to do too much. If this were graded on a comedic scale, he’d qualify; but it could just as easily go the way of Axel Hirsoux’s “Mother” (Belgium 2014).

Dorinda
Guest
Dorinda

This is not a good song. He is trying to prove too much…. He’s got a good voice but this whole duet of one is rather confusing…. Many will see this a gimmick act and won’t get many votes.

Mufasa
Guest
Mufasa

Such an underrated song!! I give this a 9,5/10! Waiting for the staging to give this a 10/10. what’s wrong with you haters? Its a beautiful message!!! Sadly I can’t vote from turkey. We love that song here

M_K
Guest
M_K

Personal rating: This just not for me. The only thing I enjoy about this song is the way that Jacques bursts into the first line of the chorus. I don’t like the verses, I don’t like the Italian lyrics, I don’t like the preachy English lyrics (“I’ll pray you see the light”) and I don’t like the mashup of two vocal styles. I REALLY don’t like the spoken word intro. However, I do have respect for the obvious amount of effort that Coratia have put in their entry this year. But the outcome is just… ugh. 2/10 Prediction: From what… Read more »

Melissa
Guest
Melissa

This song is confusing… I don’t see going far in Eurovision, it won’t qualify…

esc now
Guest
esc now

If the Italian part did not exist then this would be a top-5 entry

avaavatar
Guest
avaavatar

Jacques has in numerous interviews said the performance won’t be a circus – it will be a minimalistic staging with black, white and silver, a violin and a cello on stage (the guys from the music video) and his own outfit designed by the main designer from Hugo Boss.

Eve
Guest
Eve

@ avaavatar- Nice, love that idea.. circus would just destroy the song even more, ugh..