Croatia‘s broadcaster HRT has opened entries for the upcoming edition of its national final, DORA 2021. And there are some changes to the contest rules. This season, HRT is taking its cue from the new rules of Eurovision 2021 and will not allow live backing singers to be used in a DORA performance.

The rules for DORA 2021 come with a number of changes that are mostly a reaction to the Covid-19 pandemic.

HRT has made it clear that live backing vocals will not be allowed in a DORA performance. This is inspired by the rule change to Eurovision 2021, which allows competing acts to use pre-recorded backing vocals if they wish. HRT is taking it one step further and making recorded backing vocals compulsory for DORA acts — and for the winning act who ends up going to Eurovision.

However, up to five people are still allowed to be on stage at DORA as part of the performance. This is one fewer than the six that are allowed in a Eurovision performance.

As well, this year’s contest will involve 14 competing acts, two down from the 16 that competed in the grand final of DORA 2020. There will also be four reserves in case any acts need to be replaced. The competing acts will be selected by an expert jury.

While DORA is still only open to Croatian citizens, performers can now sing in any European language. Previously lyrics were restricted to Croatian, English, Italian, German and French. But singers can belt out their tune in Icelandic, Ukrainian, Luxembourgish,Greek or indeed any other language of Europe.

“A quality and interesting Dora 2021”

DORA’s Project Manager Uršula Tolj also says that in future editions, HRT is aiming to open submissions earlier, at the beginning of October. The aim is to give artists a little more time to prepare their DORA entries.

But she was also confident at getting a good response to this season’s edition, saying, “I believe that the musicians will respond in large numbers and that we will have a quality and interesting Dora 2021.”

DORA 2021 is due to take place on 13 February 2021 in the Croatian seaside resort town of Opatija. HRT is also formulating different scenarios that should allow DORA to go ahead no matter what the Covid situation is when the national final is due to take place.

The 2020 winner Damir Kedžo has not been given an automatic place in the contest, but HRT has said he is welcome to enter again.

Entries for DORA 2021 are now open and will close on 10 December 2020. Applications can be made via HRT.

What do you think? Will DORA be the same with no live backing vocals? Who would you like to see represent Croatia in Rotterdam? Tell us your thoughts below!

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ESC SSS
ESC SSS
26 days ago

My wishlist: Lana Jurcevic (La Lana)

Veta
Veta
26 days ago

Nina Kraljic is possibly coming back this year. She has just announced this on her Facebook, in a post about Cuvaj me. So it may even be that we’ve already heard the song too.

Veta
Veta
19 days ago
Reply to  Veta

Update: Nina has just teased her Dora 2021 song on her Instagram stories 8 hours ago. No, it’s not a song heard before, it’s a one she is still working on in the studio.

TheDr Mistery
TheDr Mistery
28 days ago

It all comes back to 1999 and Doris using prerecording vocals on her backing track. Time rounds in circle apparently.

Denis
Denis
28 days ago

My wishlist would be Marko Kutlic. It is perhaps unexpected but I think he is a very promising talented artist. Plus he has a god rock sound which I think would be a great step for Croatia as well as for the region in ESC. A step away from the middle of road ballads Croatia usually sends. Not to mentio that rock as a genre is underused in EX-Yu entries..

NextTimeAfter2009
NextTimeAfter2009
28 days ago
Reply to  Denis

Some rock Music would be great indeed

Hrvatska
Hrvatska
28 days ago
Reply to  Denis

Marko is the perfect candidate you are right, only a song has to be similar to Kreni to show his rock voice

ESC8
ESC8
28 days ago

Of course I am ok with the prerecorded vocals ( I mean Melfest does it, a lot of other national finals do it, why not Dora?), but I really don’t think it’s a precaution from covid-19, come on. And why on earth reduce the people on stage from 6 to 5? If there are 5 people on stage, it’s a covid-free event, but if they add one more person then corona will be spread everywhere??

Azaad
Azaad
28 days ago
Reply to  ESC8

Maybe it has to do with the stage HRT uses itself, or Zagreb’s (I’m assuming the final will be hosted there) own Covid requirements, independent of ESC? Laying down exact guidelines is hard for a novel pandemic, so some rules may seem arbitrary.

Colin
Colin
28 days ago
Reply to  Azaad

Dora isn’t held in Zagreb, but in Opatija. It’s a small seaside town, mostly famous for summer tourism, nice hotels and beaches.

Azaad
Azaad
28 days ago
Reply to  Colin

Thanks for the clarification! My bad.

Whisker
Whisker
28 days ago

About ESC mainly, not Dora: I think that in the spirit of fairness it would be good to have the BVs situation clearly stated on the screen during the show, when they introduce the entry (country, artist, composer, running number). Something like BV on-stage, BVs off-stage, BV recording. ESC is not a voice competition, it’s the package, but you can’t really do without solid vocals, period end of sentence. Otherwise it’s so disrespectful towards artists that can actually sing. For example Azerbaijan in ESC had a few quite exquisite vocalists, I am thinking Aisel, Sabina, Chingiz. Romania had an exceptional… Read more »

ESC8
ESC8
28 days ago
Reply to  Whisker

You’re right, there should be something that indicates if the backing vocals are live or pre-recorded. However, imo a good singer will be a good singer not matter what happens with the bcaking vocals. I mean, in melfest, the backing vocals are prerecorded but you can tell if a singer can sing or not. On the contrary, it is unfortunate when the singer is good but the backing vocalists are not. I have two examples in mind. the one is from Supernova 2015. the backing vocalists of Aminata were not good, but Aminata was perfect. The other example is Denmark… Read more »

Whisker
Whisker
27 days ago
Reply to  ESC8

Thanks for sharing the videos. I wasn’t aware of Lithuania 2015, but I remember feeling so appalled with the Denmark 2017 BVs situation. The BVs also destroyed Italy 2017.

Una
Una
28 days ago
Reply to  Whisker

Also Albania 2018 and 2019 had exceptional singers – Eugent and Jonida. With their backings on stage – and Jonida had one that sounded amazing at a short “solo” part. Let’s not forget Georgia 2018 part of whom were backings on stage in 2019. The list can go on almost forever. I think that most main singers are very good – which is to be expected because Eurovision is the best platform one can get – and it’s a live competition so vocal capabilities and talent *are* important. There are fewer artists with weaker vocals or compete with a cold… Read more »

Last edited 28 days ago by Una
Jofty
Jofty
28 days ago
Reply to  Una

Some of these people are stars in their own right for example Anne Bushnell who provided many years’ service for Ireland. I know that Ira Losco is a fine performer but I think the “hiding” of the powerhouse backing vocalists made the performance of Walk On Water look a little odd. Maybe it’s just me!

Una
Una
28 days ago
Reply to  Jofty

I had no idea about Ira’s backing vocalists. Who were they? To be honest, I’ve never liked her 2016 song and I missed her performance. But I remember talks about a huge amount of money for Malta 2016? A hugely ridiculous figure. And that they were expecting to win that year.

Jofty
Jofty
28 days ago
Reply to  Una

The usual talented Maltese locals who keep trying to represent Malta themselves. That’s why I hope pre-recorded backing is a temporary measure and why we should keep lobbying for these people not to be “hidden”. I thought they had a chance of winning, but, not for the first time, the Televote put paid to that. Admittedly they did not win Jury vote either. Maybe Destiny will reverse that trend it would not surprise me if she is slogging it out with Iceland next year.

Azaad
Azaad
28 days ago
Reply to  Una

One of them was Molly Petersson Hammar IMRIC.

Christian
Christian
27 days ago
Reply to  Azaad

I think, 2016 features some backing singers that went for more than one country

Erasmus
Erasmus
28 days ago

we need either Mia or Nina to be back. And than Vlaho and Filip Rudan… please Croatia the last competitive entry of yours was back in 2016..

Colin
Colin
28 days ago
Reply to  Erasmus

The issue aren’t performers, but the songs. I assure you that the majority of Dora participants of 2019 and 2020 are capable singers, but most of the songs are far below their talent. We could get Mia, Nina or Filip with something generic and bland and still fail to qualify.
2020 edition was still a huge upgrade over the 2019 one and at least I saw some songs tried to stand out.

Azaad
Azaad
28 days ago
Reply to  Colin

I highly doubt Nina would come back with a generic song. She could maybe have a terrible one, but she doesn’t seem like an artist who would be comfortable with a generic entry. Otherwise she’d have had better staging and styling in Stockholm!

Veta
Veta
26 days ago
Reply to  Erasmus

Nina has just hinted on her Facebook that she is probably coming back. And it may even be that we’ve already heard the song (?uvaj me, it’s less than 3 minutes long).

Last edited 26 days ago by Veta
Azaad
Azaad
28 days ago

I really hope the songs are released before the final

Hrvatska
Hrvatska
28 days ago

since Ursula became head of the delegation, these are the changes and it’s good she wants Croatia to finally change its approach to Eurovision, I hope a good artist will submit a song and it would be good to choose a song that reflects the Croatian music market rather than a song which the artist has never sung in his career.

Hyunwoo
Hyunwoo
29 days ago

Wishlist: I would like to see Nina Kraljic or Mia Negovetic

Last edited 29 days ago by Hyunwoo
Colin
Colin
29 days ago

I like that Dora entries are already shaped to fit the ESC guidelines, so no major revamps will be needed. I also like how more languages are now allowed, even if I expect to hear only Croatian and English. I can see why they enforced the pre-recorded vocals rule, but I’d prefer if it was optional. Based on last two Doras and participants from before that, I expect a lot of A-listers. Probably also several acts who tried out at some point. The one thing that hasn’t been tackled at all is releasing the songs. I really, really hope they… Read more »

Una
Una
29 days ago

I think the live backing vocals are important as long as the backings have a significant performance on stage. If the performance includes them offstage – then they can be as well recorded.
I am not a fan of “hidden” backings because some acts have used them in the past whilst the main singer on stage did not have a strong enough voice but was helped significantly by 4-5 backings that we could not see. Which I find a bit unfair. Quite unfair to be honest.

Azaad
Azaad
29 days ago
Reply to  Una

That’s true. That’s why I hope that in 2022, not only do we return to 100% live backing vocals, but also enforce a new rule that necessitates that all vocalists are on stage.

Colin
Colin
29 days ago
Reply to  Una

In my opinion, it really depends on the song. In some songs, backing vocals have a significant part and without them, the stage might feel empty. In some, they are more subtle and don’t have to be seen. Still, I hope many countries do decide to keep them on stage. At times, they add to the show itself. Samanta Tina’s back vocals for Still Breathing are ”characters” in that story. The good aspect of pre-recording might be adding more voices. For example, songs like Oculis videre and Beautiful lie might be able to add the whole chorus.

Azaad
Azaad
28 days ago
Reply to  Colin

I think prerecorded backing vocals are fine if it’s the singer’s own vocals, so the effect is more akin to a loop. The unethical thing is to pretend your lead singer is doing all the heavy lifting whilst an uncredited vocalist is doing all the work offstage

Colin
Colin
28 days ago
Reply to  Azaad

Yes, I agree. Backing vocals definitely shouldn’t overlap with the main singer and pretend they are coming from the same person, when in fact they are not. Some rule should be preventing that from happening.

If that happens, it might as well become a pre-recorded video contest. If only choreography is actually live, there’s no point in pretending it’s a performance contest.

Last edited 28 days ago by Colin
Jofty
Jofty
28 days ago
Reply to  Colin

For example UK 2018??

Una
Una
28 days ago
Reply to  Jofty

Are you talking about the stage incident? Surie was such a sport considering the circumstances.

Jofty
Jofty
28 days ago
Reply to  Una

No Una, I mean when SuRie was forced to stop yet the vocal kept going courtesy of the hidden backing singer. Joe Public thought she had been miming. Granted it was frightening but I think the song should have been performed again (per Spain 2010) as a courtesy to the British public.

Una
Una
28 days ago
Reply to  Jofty

Well she didn’t want to stop – she was made to by that bad guy. But she came back with so much strength. I am pretty sure she was offered to repeat and she/they (the delegation) said “no”.

Jofty
Jofty
28 days ago
Reply to  Una

Luckily there was a hidden backing singer, who sounded exactly like SuRie, to keep the show going! Wonder why she/they said No (unlike Spain in 2010 and Sweden in 1991!).

Una
Una
28 days ago
Reply to  Jofty

SuRie talked about not doing the repeat in an interview with the BBC. I can’t remember what she said. Interview should be available on youtube.

Una
Una
29 days ago

“There will also be four reserves in case any acts need to be replaced.” WOW!!!! I’ve thought about the possibility (how likely or unlikely – I don’t know!!!!!) that one or more Eurovision acts – already confirmed now thinking about April-May 2021 – gets sick. Do EBU and the broadcasters think about that possibility? Question: big contest is taking place in Rotterdam. Main singer from COUNTRY is confirmed being with c..v..d. thus cannot perform on stage. What happens then? I *do not* consider that COUNTRY should withdraw. What do the rules say?? I think that the country – any country… Read more »

Last edited 29 days ago by Una
Dragoš
Dragoš
29 days ago

Given that the backing singers are a thing of tradition in Croatia, this must have been a tough decision to make.