Monty’s Eurovision Countdown 2023 Part 7 – Croatia

Mama ŠČ! by Let 3.

Well!

On the surface Mama ŠČ! seems to follow a Eurovision blueprint for the “joke” entry. A troop of middle-aged men in long military-style coats, or even full drag, make up and fake moustaches is certainly an unusual presentation. The display, with echoes of Soviet war propaganda and dictators, unnerved some viewers, although the sight of all the other finalists gleefully singing along during the winning reprise was a clue this might not quite be what it seemed.

Let 3 is a band known for its provocative performance, pretty much performance art at times. Qualms about whether they might really be a bit, well, fascist, were quashed when a learned friend familiar with the region (where they are widely known) happily informed my WhatsApp group that right-wing Balkan Twitter was up in arms about their selection, while half of queer Balkan Twitter has already been to see them in concert. They seem supportive of LGBTQ+ rights and challenge authority, and authoritarianism, through their work.

The song requires a bit of effort. There’s a nursery rhyme quality to parts of it with repeating melodies, simplistic phrases, and even a rudimentary dance routine, coupled with all-out anarchy and a sort-of glorious cacophonous chaos. Its anti-war message stops just short of being an obvious attack on leaders like Putin and Lukashenko (the reference to a tractor seemingly a nod to this once being a gift from the Belarussian leader to the Russian) but openly lampoons the kind of psychopathic leader that has graduated to dictatorship in a more general way, just about steering inside the lines of acceptability as Eurovision fodder.

The anti-war credential is hammered home by the words Voyna Njet at the end of the video: no to war, in language similar enough to Russian that will be understood across the Slavic world.

The internet is awash with fables (and photos, if you’re brave enough) of the band performing in various stages of undress, including naked save for some caged contraptions holding in – but not obscuring – their genitalia. The buttocks – bare save for a transparent garment – that we saw at the Croatian final once the trench coats had come off seem tame in comparison. I’m sure Croatian TV and the EBU will have drilled the band into within an inch of their lives about what is and isn’t crossing the line on the live broadcasts, but they look like they have just enough of the old-school punkish attitude to give precisely zero fucks. This is one to watch, even if you don’t much care for the song.

My marks: 5 points

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