Features

🇧🇪 Xtra Insider 2020: We Review Belgium!

Welcome to Xtra Insider, our new series which will give you an insight into how well each country was statistically likely to do this year, as well as what the team at ESCXTRA think of your favourite entries into (what would have been) this year’s contest! Today, we analyse and review Belgium.

Yes, this year’s contest has been cancelled…but that doesn’t mean we can’t love the songs! In this series, we’ll review each and every entry that would have taken part in this year’s Eurovision. On top of this, we’re introducing a new analysis section in which we take a look into each country’s history and how likely they would have been to do well this year. Our honest and brutal reviews and analysis will keep you entertained throughout what would’ve been the Eurovision season! We will also each give points using the usual Eurovision points system (12, 10, then 8 down to 1), and create an ESCXTRA leaderboard of the entries!

Today, we’ll be giving analysis and reviews of the Belgian entry, ‘Release Me’ by Hooverphonic, from Dominik, Lisa, Nick, Rigmo, Rodrigo and Sami. Let’s get started!

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Belgium’s history at Eurovision

Belgium are Eurovision stalwarts. They have participated in 61 editions of our beloved contest. Only 3 countries (Germany, France and the United Kingdom) have been in more editions. In fact they would have participated in most editions of all the countries if they had not been relegated out of the contest in the 1994, 1997 and 2001 contests. This makes them the longest serving non Big Five country in the contest. Their participation is governed by their Dutch speaking broadcaster, VRT and their French speaking broadcaster, RTBF in alternating years. Belgium have only had one win in 61 contests with Sandra Kim’s “J’aime la vie” winning the 1986 contest with 176 points. The low nation has on the other hand finished last on eight occasions, the last one coming in 2000.

This year’s entry

This year in 2020 was the responsibility of the Dutch speaking broadcaster VRT to select their entry. Just like in 2018 that selected Sennek and “A matter of time” they opted for an internal selection. On 1st October 2019, this meant that they were the first act to be announced in the 2020 National Final calendar. Despite being the first act to be announced, it wasn’t until 17th February 2020 when VRT and the band announced that the song “Release Me” would represent them.

How does this kind of song tend to do in the contest?

“Release Me” is a down tempo orchestral song, that could be classified as a “Bond” theme. The last entry that VRT put forward to Eurovision was Sennek’s “A Matter Of Time”. Although in the latter the orchestration was far more pronounced in the song. This achieved 91 points in its Semi-Final which translated to a 12th place finish. This meant that it did not qualify for the final. In fact Hooverphonic continue Belgium’s trend in sending minimalistic or down tempo songs. Since 2010 Belgium have sent down tempo or minimalistic songs on 8 in 11 occasions and qualifying times in that period with songs of that genre. Belgium are more successful when the arrangement of the song is more modern and electro sounding. This is highlighted in 2015 and 2017 with “Rhythm Inside” and “City Lights” both came 4th in their respective years.

The Reviews

Dominik

I love her voice and even though the song kinda stays the same with a small build up during the chorus, I like the variety it still shows. It’s a nice song and you can see how talented they are, but it’s not a song I’d have on replay.

Lisa

I was hopeful when Hooverphonic were announced. I liked a lot of their past music. However this is three minutes of waiting for something to happen…but it just doesn’t? I need rises and falls in a melody and interesting production elements to keep me engaged. A melancholic vocal won’t cut it with me and my need for energy. Much like Poland it’s another attempt at a James Bond theme song. This one trying to be a moody version of ‘Skyfall’.

Nick

Hooverphonic are just what the Eurovision Song Contest needed this year. They came up with this lovely, atmospheric ballad. Just a really beautiful piece of music. Luka’s voice suits the song well and the lyrics really manage to deliver. However, there’s a giant but. Because, it is really a shame to see that many other countries also had the idea of a ballad like this (wonder where it came from…), dooming Belgium for eternity.

Rigmo

When I first heard HOOVERphonic was representing Belgium, I thought they were going to SUCK, but this is just lovely. I have never seen a country actively begging to get out of their Eurovision contract with the song they are sending. Well, I say NO! NO YOU WILL NOT BE RELEASED! Not when you keep giving me songs like this.

Rodrigo

From the smooth way in which Luka’s voice blends with the melody, to the music itself, to the magnificent lyrics, there is just one word to describe this: perfection. Belgium strikes again with an entry that is not Eurovision-by-the-numbers but something you would easily hear “in real life”. ‘Release Me’ has an authenticity that makes it one of the best entries of the year.

Sami

Luka is very convincing, I really feel like she wants to be released and be anywhere else than singing this song at Eurovision. This is so lazy attempt to be something dramatic and very easily forgotten.

Scores

Costa6Nick12Tim7
Dominik6Riccardo7Tom O10
Isaac4Rigmo10Tom R2
Lisa1Rodrigo12Vincent3
Luke7Sami2Wiv2
Matt8Sean6
Nathan P2Simon2

Therefore, Belgium receives 109 points in total!

Leaderboard

Belgium is our new favourite for the time being with a score of 109.

  1. Belgium – 109
  2. San Marino – 97
  3. Poland – 76

Tomorrow, it will be the turn of Ukraine to be reviewed. For now, take another listen to Belgium’s entry below!

Do you agree with our reviews of Belgium? What are your thoughts on Release Me?

Let us know in the comments below and on social media @ESCXTRA

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Luke Malam

I've watched Eurovision for as long as I can remember, but my interest really built in 2008, after I decided to watch the semifinals online, out of boredom, before the final...I was blown away by the quality of the show and have been hooked ever since! I'm a competitive trampolinist and I love baking. I've also just completed a master's degree in Research Methods in Psychology at University College London.

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