If Russia 1994 was an example of how to top everyone's expectations, then this is the close to perfect example of how to do the opposite of just that.
In the late 90's, Croatia was seen as an emerging nation in Eurovision - they sent in professional, well-produced and interesting little songs and seemed not to carry the burden of eurovision formula. Whatever they liked they sent in, regardless if it was a eurosong or not.
So the entire net-based fan community (consisting of precious few people back then) went into a buzz when HRT decided to send their local Spice Girls to Dublin in 1997.
The preview clip showed exactly what these girls were about: happy, happening, fashionable and upbeat, and as they swirled their way through life in sharp colours and a fast pace they also showed that their song was a fresh and lively pop number, more in tune with the current charts than the ballad-fest that the ESC had turned into.
E.N.I - Probudi me (Croatia 1997 preview)
Whatever happened on the way to Dublin might never be known to the rest of the world, but on the night of the final these confident girls were reduced to a bunch of shaky newcomers. Their live voices - strong and convincing in the national final - sounded weak and faint and the girl power never quite made it through the tv screens.
The Croatian entry crashed and burned in a pale 17th place and suddenly many of the online fans had a very brusque change of mind. Suddenly, nobody had ever believed in this song. Suddenly, nobody had never even really liked it. Odd, given how it resided very high in all prediction charts before the contest.
Fans can be fickle and this is the entry that made me fully realise this. But it still it is a bouncy, cheerful little piece of bubblegum pop. Very much a child of its time, but still charming.
Like a Spice Girls cover in Croatian. I could think of worse things.
E.N.I - Probudi me (Croatia 1997)