You are currently viewing 🇭🇷 All About Let 3: Croatia’s 2023 Artist Preview
02.02.2023., Zagreb- Rock sastav iz Rijeke Let 3.
Photo credit: Sandra Simunovic

When Croatian rock band Let 3 won Dora 2023, many speculated whether this controversial act would even be allowed to progress further in the competition. However, as we edge closer to Eurovision it seems they will be an act viewers are unlikely to forget.

Read on to find out more about the band, their song and how they might fare in a televote-only semi-final.

Who Are Let 3?

Let 3 formed in 1987 in Rijeka, Croatia, consisting of Damir “Mrle” Martinović, Zoran “Prlja” Prodanović, Ivan Bojčić, Dražen Baljak and Matej Zec. Widely renowned as an epicentre for punk, indie and rock music, the band “fit in perfectly with their home city’s reputation for social disobedience”, according to Jonathan Bousfield in this article for Croatian publication Stray Satellite. Indeed, Let 3 have always spoken out against the status quo, vocally supporting the rights of women, ethnic minorities and the LGBTQ+ community while openly criticising homophobic views expressed by conservative politicians and prominent members of the Catholic church.

The band’s activism also extends to the music they produce; although the band produced a number of studio albums prior to their 1997 release ‘Nečuveno’ (translated into English as ‘Unheard Of’) it was this album that drew considerable attention – namely as it was a blank CD. Their 2000 follow-up ‘Jedina’ (in English, ‘The Only One’) was meant to exist as only one copy, not intended for distribution. When their record company attempted to flout this, Let 3 staged a fake suicide by firing squad in Ban Jelačić Square in Zagreb.

This is one of many examples of the band using shock value to get their message across and this has even landed them in a court of law! In 2006, the band were arrested for performing naked at an open-air concert in Varaždin. Their defence, that they were not truly nude due to the corks up their anuses, did not convince a judge who fined them 350 Croatian kuna each (around €46).

Dora 2023 and ‘Mama ŠČ!’

Renowned across the Balkan region for their lewd and crude antics, all eyes were on Let 3 to see what they would bring to Croatian national final Dora 2023. While the band kept their clothes on, they still made a striking impression. Dressed in neon parody of Soviet military garb and sequinned body stockings, the band appeared to be criticising the Russian government with their song ‘Mama ŠČ!’, particularly with their allusions to a ‘tractor’ (which some have speculated to refer to the tractor Putin received from Belarusian dictator Alexander Lukashenko) and a ‘crocodile psychopath’. The message was only hit home further when the band were joined onstage by Žanil Tataj-Žak (a fellow musician with roots in Rijeka through the band Jersey) who brandished two rockets with the word ‘Njinle’ on his forehead, translating to ‘Lenin’ in Šatrovački, a language developed amongst Serbo-Croatian subcultures.

When it came to the results of Dora 2023, Let 3 easily dominated both the jury and televote portions of the voting and would be going to Liverpool as a result. However, there was immediate speculation amongst Eurofans as to whether they would be forced to change their song due to the seemingly overt political nature of its lyrics and presentation. To read more about the lyrics of ‘Mama ŠČ!’ and the issues surrounding political lyrics in Eurovision, read our article here.

Let 3 themselves have been open about the meaning of the song, telling Croatian talk show Pressing:

Perhaps people recognised well that the song is about Putin. We want to send a message to those who think that the planet is their toy and manage everyone like puppets, and at the moment Putin is a prominent model of that style, so it was our turn to dedicate a song to him.

Let 3, Pressing

However, despite speculation the band would be asked to change their song, this does not appear to be the case with semi-final one less than a month away at the time of writing.

Let 3 and a Televote-Only Semi

Croatia have failed to qualify for the grand final of Eurovision since 2017, when Jacques Houdek finished 13th with his song ‘My Friend’. Although both 2021’s Albina and 2022’s Mia Dimšić came close to a spot in the final, scoring 11th in their semis, they did not accrue enough points with either jury or televote to progress to the final. Some have speculated that the changes to the voting system this year, with the semi-finals being televote-only, could benefit an act like Let 3 who will be memorable to viewers at home and will not have a jury present to give such a polarising act a low score. They are performing seventh in the first semi-final, which also signals the end of the first half of the show before a break. This could potentially benefit Let 3 further as they will not be followed by another act that could take attention away from them.

Ultimately, however, we will not know how Croatia will fare until Tuesday 9th May, when they perform on the Liverpool stage. What we do know is they’re certainly likely to generate discussion.

You can follow Let 3 on Instagram.

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