Rather than delving into the archives, I’ve opted to confess my new-found adoration for one of the 41 ill-fated Eurovision 2020 entries. In my defence, the last seven months have felt like a decade, haven’t they?
Firstly, full disclosure, when I was assigned the Netherlands on our site’s Slideback Superstars spreadsheet, my immediate feeling was dread. Officially my 29th favourite Eurovision country, there are only a handful of Dutch entries that I could muster a whole article about. Well, actually, only one, and that’s already been done.
However, upon seeing some…lukewarm Twitter drama around some choice opinions about Jeangu Macrooy’s “Grow”, I saw an opportunity to redeem myself for my prior ambivalence to it.
Look, we all make mistakes. Unfortunately for anyone who puts out content on the internet (even if you are in no way famous), your mistakes are publicly-accessible. This concept relates to Grow on a number of levels. In my Xtra Insider review, I gave the song a mediocre 5 out of 10 and gave the following reason:
I can’t deny that I’m disappointed that Jeangu hasn’t put forward something…more than this. Vocally, “Grow” is gorgeous and moving, but I can’t help but feel that Bulgaria and Switzerland have delivered similar styles of ballad with more structure and memorability. The lack of a refrain or hook means that this gets lost in the shuffle for me. However, in a competitive contest with a late draw, this could surprise.My former, tasteless self
Truly a grower
Trust my basic self to latch onto the song’s lack of hook and use that to discredit it. Well, let me tell you, I have grown since then. At this point, the only thing in my review that I stand by is my praise of the vocals. As evidenced by this incredible live performance, Jeangu is one of the strongest vocalists of the class of 2020. I cannot watch that performance back without getting chills.
I no longer think Grow is comparable to neither “Tears Getting Sober”, nor “Répondez Moi”. Though there are some thematic similarities about growth and acceptance in VICTORIA’s entry, the story Jeangu is telling is distinct. He is giving an alarmingly honest take on the complexities of ageing. Although I’m only 22, the concept of looking back at your life so far and realising that you’re not at all where you thought you would be is very relatable in 2020, of all years.
Although this remains an unconventional Eurovision entry, I now feel that it would have been capable of creating a vote-grabbing ‘moment’, which other introspective entries like Portugal’s “O Jardim” and Austria’s “Limits” seemingly did not. Of course, we will not and cannot ever know for sure…
What do the others think?
When I heard about the Dutch representative, it sounded very promising so I had quite high expectations from the host country. Few months later when the song was released I felt a kind of “numbness” when first hearing it. The song is harmless, but it passes you by, it just goes on and on, and never really reaches any peak, it lacks of a clear chorus or a memorable melody. It eventually ends sometime (if you can bear listening to it in full) and then leaves you with nothing.
I gave it several chances listening to “Grow” again, hoping it would be an actual grower, but nope, it ended up at my #41 of ESC 2020.
I’ve hard for these kind of non songs, pretending to be cool or “qualitative” when they in fact are lacking of a melody. The only positive thing I have to say about “Grow” and the Dutch choice for Eurovision 2020 is Jeangu Macrooy’s voice, and speaking of his voice, it’s my only hope for the Netherlands Next year, since Jeangu will one again be the Dutch representative. Let’s hope who ever he will cooperate with for his 2021 entry, that they’ll put some effort to actually write a SONG.
The first time I heard Grow, I wasn’t sure what to think. Jeangu is incredibly talented, and I was hoping for something more upbeat like other songs from his repertoire. However, the title is prophetic. It really grows on you; it took about a week, but ever since I have been in love with this entry. Grow feels so personal that it almost feels invasive listening to it, and Jeangu has a beautiful way of describing feelings everyone experiences in life. Like life, the song starts small but builds up into something big, until reaching a sudden end. It is authentic in its autobiography, which combined with Jeangu’s smooth vocals creates a wonderful host entry. The last minute with the choir joining is magical, whenever I listen to it I can’t help but close my eyes and experience all the emotions that Jeangu sings. It wouldn’t have won, but that doesn’t matter. It tells a story so intimate, yet it deserves to get shared with the rest of the world.
I will be first to admit that I am a fan of loud, brash and interesting entries (which admittedly don’t always translate into landing in first place, nor even in the final). However, with no live performances and ordering to take into account for 2020 entries, it’s hard to gauge how Grow would have done. What we do have is the YouTube video and the Spotify single to go by, which is an entirely different experience, one in which a slow song would more easily find its moment to shine. And that it does: Jeangu Macrooy gently invites us through a personal journey, showcasing beautiful vocals and raw emotion that we might not have enjoyed to the fullest among all the other entries on the Eurovision stage. It was not in my top rankings at all, but proved a great lockdown tune, as I found myself going back to it time and time again. Maybe in a nicer world, I could have shrugged and said, ‘while this is a beautiful song, it can struggle to stand out among flashier, more exciting entries”. However, it now carries a poignancy and melancholy that I only hope is unique to Eurovision 2020.
I consider “Grow” as a masterpiece that would unfortunately not succeed in Eurovision. Jeangu’s vocals go straight to the bottom of my heart and I feel overwhelmed with emotions while listening to this song. The only thing I am not happy about is that this song is only 3mins long, because it ends at the peak and I would love to get at least one more minute to finish this on the right foot. But this song is not for masses after all and I thing this possibly could have achieved something similar like Israel 2019 or Portugal 2018. I’m extremely happy to see Jeangu returning next year!
What do you think of “Grow”? Are you excited to hear these songs? What kind of entry would you like to see Eden perform in Rotterdam? Let us know! Be sure to stay updated by following @ESCXTRA on Twitter, @escxtra on Instagram and liking our Facebook page for the latest updates! Also, be sure to subscribe to our YouTube channel to see our reactions to the over the coming months.