The Croatian entry for the 2023 Eurovision Song Contest is already splitting fandom between those who think it punk genius, and those who just don’t like having to see ‘ugly old men’ on prime time television.
There’s also a question of their song possibly flying close to the line on breaching Eurovision rules that forbid political propaganda and political content in participating songs.
“Mama Šč!” by Let 3 (Croatian for “Flight 3”) stormed to victory at the 2023 Dora – a competition pick Croatia’s Eurovision entry. The second placed entry – Nevera (Lei, Lei) by Harmonija Disonance – received a combined total of 155 points, while Let 3 picked up 174 points from the public alone.
Let 3 has a dedicated following both in Croatia and other former Yugoslav republics. Wikipedia notes: “Their songs often contain provocative and vulgar lyrics and the band is known for shocking live performances with much nudity.” Let3 target conservative politics and the church, and the band members support women’s rights and the LGBT community.
Their album Nečuveno (translated as either “Outrageous” or “Unheard of”) was a blank CD – though sold 350 copies. In late 2000, the band unveiled a four-metre-high bronze statue depicting a ‘grandmother’ with a one-meter long penis. The video for a 2005 single featured extras dressed in Serbian and Albanian national costumes masturbating.
Ugly old men
The Internet of fandom wasn’t happy to see a group they consider to be less than easy on the eye. ‘This hurt my ears and eyes!’ said one Wiwibloggs follower. Others labelled it ‘disgusting’. Over on Twitter, brickbats were less subtle: “I pray for LET3 getting disqualified, we don’t need them this year,” said one ‘fan’ speaking for everyone else. And from Spain:
“Mama Šč!” may yet fall foul of Eurovision rules. When broadcasters meet in Liverpool in mid-March to submit songs, the organisers consider whether any entries may ‘bring the Contest into disrepute’.
Last year, Noel Curran the Director-General of the European Broadcasting Union (EBU) told pan-European news website Euractiv: “It is not always possible for any cultural institution, broadcaster, or sports federation to pretend politics is not happening around you. To think that everybody is completely separated from what is happening in the world is naive.”
Despite this, the official website notes:” The ESC is a non-political event. All Participating Broadcasters, including the Host Broadcaster, shall be responsible to ensure that all necessary measures are undertaken within in their respective Delegations and teams to safeguard the interests and the integrity of the ESC and to make sure that the ESC shall in no case be politicised and/or instrumentalized and/or otherwise brought into disrepute in any way. ”
At a post-Dora press conference, nether broadcaster nor band commented on whether the song might breach Contest rules, feeling this remains a matter for the EBU.
“Mama Šč!” opens with the line ‘Mama bought a tractor – assuming this to be a reference to a birthday gift from Belarusian dictator Lukashenko to Russian dictator Putin. Given allies of the country refer to it as Mama Russia, there’s an implication Putin bought his own gift. The song goes on to say ‘Mama loved a moron’, ‘Mama I’m going to war’ and talks about ‘that little psychopath’.
Judging from comments on YouTube, the song has picked up many fans in Ukraine. The Dora23 performance topped one million views within the first 24 hours of being picked for Eurovision. It’s gone on today to be the most viewed Eurovision song ever on the HRT YouTube channel.
What do you reckon? Punk or prank? Genius or trolliness?