Editorials & Opinion

🇭🇷 Beyond Eurovision: Severina

We delve deeper into the career of one of Croatia's biggest stars

Over the summer, we are premiering a new series called ‘Beyond Eurovision’. Every week, we look at what happened to Eurovision stars since they took part in the contest. Next up in the series is Severina, who represented Croatia in the Eurovision Song Contest 2006 with the song “Moja Štikla”, finishing 12th. What many fans don’t know is that she went on to become even more of a regional icon after the contest…

Early career

A star was born in Split, [modern-day] Croatia in 1972, her name was Severina. Having performed in local theatre and won numerous local festivals, she moved to Zagreb in 1989 to start her national career. That year, she released her self-titled debut album. She made it big fresh out of the gate, with 6 of the 10 tracks becoming singles. A highlight being “Tvoja prva djevojka”, which has a Brat Pack 1980s teen movie vibe to it…but Balkan. Even at this stage in her career, her music is packed with impactful vocals, charm and the same cheekiness that made me fall in love with her watching Eurovision 2006 as a child. 

The road to Eurovision 

As much as I would love to take you on a detailed tour of her illustrious pre-Eurovision discography, I won’t. Between her 1989 debut and 2006, she released EIGHT studio albums, two live albums and an EP. But take my word for it, they’re all [mostly] great. 

In 2000, she entered DORA in a bid to represent Croatia at the Eurovision Song Contest. She ending up placing 8th with her song ”Daj mi, daj”, which, for the record, beat eventual winner Goran Karan in the televote. The song itself is, as you would expect, a raucous banger that would have certainly performed well at Eurovision that year:

Despite not winning, the turn of the century saw Severina’s star rise even further; her Virujen u te tour in 2002 saw her performing in cities across the Balkans, from Sarajevo to Ljubljana.

Bringing a Balkan banger to Athens

In 2006, Severina returned to DORA with turbo-folk banger “Moja štikla” (“My High-Heel”). She won the second semi-final and went on to finish overall. Despite finishing 11th the previous year, Croatia managed to sneak into the 10th automatic qualifying spot due to Serbia and Montenegro’s withdrawal.

In the Grand Final, Severina brought a dynamic, high-energy and colourful stage show to Athens. Performing 20th, she finished 12th in a field of 24 with 56 points. The song went on to become a top 10 hit in Croatia, and inspired a wide range of viral parodies. 

The song also proved divisive among the Croatian public, with some journalists claiming that the song used Serbian musical influences. However, others responded by citing the that the Dalmatian Zagora (Inner Dalmatia) influences, such as ganga, rere singing and lijerica instrumentation. Regardless, the song went on to become a top 10 hit in Croatia.

Dobrodošao u klub: A cultural reset

Severina released her first post-Eurovision album in 2008, titled Zdravo Marijo (Hail Mary). As you may have guessed, she did not shy away from the religious connotations, and instead leaned all-the-way in by serving a string of borderline-blasphamous looks during the era.

However, the ‘Imperial phase’ in her pop stardom came with the release of her 2012 album Dobrodošao u klub (“Welcome to the Club”), which is one of my favourite albums by a Eurovision artist ever. It spawned a number of hit singles, my favourite being “Uzbuna”:

Out of the album’s 12 tracks, seven of them were released as singles (Dua Lipa is shaking!). A number of these were viral hits, notably “Brad Pitt” and “Italiana”. The album is incredibly cohesive and consistent, showcasing Severina’s rich and distinctive vocal with her trademark playful delivery.

If you manage to take a road trip in this late summer, I urge you to just add the whole thing to your playlist. 

Still serving 

By this point, it’s clear that Severina has had a career many aspiring [and established] singers would only dream of. Perhaps most impressively, she has adapted seamlessly to the streaming-led internet era. In fact, she released her biggest hit to date back in 2014, “Uno momento” with Serbian band Ministarke, which to date has over 110 million views on YouTube. If you’re still searching for a summer bop for 2020, look no further:

But she ain’t done! She released her most recent album, Halo, just last year. Once again, the album spawned a number of hits, most notably the song “Otrove” with Bosnian rapper Jala Brat. A testament to her star power, the song racked up over 15 million views in its month of release, and currently stands at over 87 million views. Obviously, views aren’t everything, but they certainly serve as receipts that prove that Severina is still the queen of Croatian pop over 30 years into her career.

Did I convince you to join the ‘klub’? What’s your favourite poet-Eurovision Severina song? Let us know! Be sure to stay updated by following @ESCXTRA on Twitter@escxtra on Instagram and liking our Facebook page for the latest updates! Also, be sure to subscribe to our YouTube channel to see our reactions to the news in the upcoming months.

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