Initial Review: “Guilty Pleasure” by Mia Dimšić (Croatia)

Croatia regularly sends in songs that have a strong local flavour, and there were plenty of these kinds of tracks on offer in this year’s Dora (and I don’t just mean those sung in Croatian). However, the winning entry was probably the most universal of the selection. “Guilty Pleasure” has strong echoes of Taylor Swift’s songwriting on her Folklore and Evermore albums. We’ve had a Swift-esque song at the contest before: Slovenia’s ManuElla tried it in 2016 with “Blue and Red” (clearly influenced by Swift’s Red album). It didn’t go so well, with the song finishing 14th in its semi-final, but I don’t think the same fate necessarily awaits singer Mia Dimšić. Firstly, the folksiness of “Guilty Pleasure” is more Eurovision-friendly than the country-pop of “Blue and Red”, and the staging is surprisingly effective: Dimšić is mostly seated as a male dancer provides the flow and movement.

Surely Dimšić gets points for a set of lyrics with an unusual theme: she elegantly lays out the awkwardness of finding yourself fantasising about someone else whilst in a committed relationship. And as I said in my brief review, the sweetness in her voice and the song’s gentle tone serve to soften this message and take off its edges. It helps that her character seems to recommit herself to her husband in the end, although the staging still leaves some room for ambiguity, given that the dancer is meant to represent her fantasy, and they finish the song with lips almost touching.

Despite my earlier optimism, this one’s still a bit tricky to judge. I think this would be a good addition to the final, but I’m not sure where the points are coming from. The jury might find it lacking in big vocal moments (which is true) and musical originality (also a fair point). So it will probably be up to the televote to be enchanted by Dimšić’s uncomplicated presentation of an uncomplicated song with a rather complicated theme. It’s this paradox that makes the song so appealing, but it’s also in the first semi-final, which already has some big televote draws. I’ll be pleasantly surprised if this goes through, but at this stage I fear it might be heartbreak for Croatia again.