ESC 2023 Song Review: “Mama ŠČ” by Let 3 (Croatia)

1) The Result

For a second year running, Croatia suffered the heartbreak of finishing 11th in their semi-final, with Mia Dimšić’s “Guilty Pleasure”. They haven’t qualified for the final since 2017.

2) The Process

After returning from hiatus in 2019 Dora, the Croatian national final, is settling in to become one of the regulars of national selection season. This year saw an expanded number of entries, up from 14 to 18, but the overall process remained the same. Let 3 won in a landslide, placing first with both the jury and the public.

3) The Artist

With ten studios albums to their name, the band Let 3 have been around since 1987 (albeit with many changes to their line-up), which is longer than many of their fellow contestants have been alive. They are notorious for their controversial songs and performances, which push against socially conservative attitudes and in favour of left-liberal causes in Croatia.

4) The Song

In one word: chaos. The first time I heard this I felt like I’d been thrown on a wild rollercoaster, and had to immediately press repeat to get a better grasp on what I’d just experienced. The music throws you around from rock to operatic chants to an avant-garde whirlwind recitation of the alphabet. The Croatian lyrics of this song are dense with references to the Russian invasion of Ukraine, as thinly-veiled as possible without breaching the EBU’s guidelines on political content.

5) The Verdict

There’s usually a couple of songs each year which fiercely divide people, and this is certainly one of them. Fans have tended to react very strongly to “Mama ŠČ” — more often than not in a negative direction. Words like “disgusting” and “vile” have been thrown around a fair bit. Part of this is probably in response to the staging, in which Let 3 dress like dictators in drag. Having read up on their history, you could hardly expect anything different from them.

Outside of Eurovision I listen to a fairly wide range of musical genres, and this sits at the harder, more challenging end of what I enjoy. I had to look up the translation of the lyrics and get an understanding of what the band were about before I could fully embrace this song. I appreciate what the band are doing with this entry and I think it is even somewhat necessary. Casual viewers won’t have done the research of course, so they’ll either love the chaotic elements (which is what some people tune in hoping to see), or decide that it’s all too much. Despite the general consensus that the first semi-final is the tougher one, I think this stands out enough for it to qualify.

My ranking: 10th