The last point on the compass in this first sweep around the Eurovision map is west. The Netherlands has a long and rich history in Eurovision, being a founder member of the contest, and a four-times winner. With 57 entries, there were a lot of songs to review before deciding upon my top 5!
They’ve had some lean times in recent years with an entire decade failing to qualify from the semi-finals but they’ve done well in three of the last four years, not only qualifying for the final but getting good results too. Some surprises in my top 5 I am sure and maybe a couple of songs you might have expected to see here haven’t made it. As ever, please do leave a comment on what you think of my choice and/or what you would have chosen!
5. Maggie MacNeal “Amsterdam” (1980, 5th place, 53 points)
Kicking off with this song that was performed in a contest hosted in the Netherlands, but not in Amsterdam itself! Israel had won in 1979 but withdrew from 1980’s contest so the Dutch stepped in. The Hague was the setting for Maggie’s second shot at Eurovision glory (she’d come third in 1974 as part of the duet “Mouth and MacNeal).
4. Douwe Bob “Slow Down” (2016, 11th place, 153 points)
Last year’s Dutch entry exceeded expectations in how well it did and it was one that really grew on me. Also it’s not hindered be being sung by a charismatic, good looking bisexual guy :).
3. Anouk “Birds” (2013, 9th place, 114 points)
The artist and song that finally saw the Netherlands qualify for the final after over a decade of semi-final failures. The crowd went wild when they announced the qualifiers and it got a great reception in the final – both from the crowd and in the voting. Unusual and very distinctive, Anouk did the Dutch proud.
2. Teach-In “Ding-a-Dong” (1975, winner, 152 points)
The last of four Dutch wins was back in 1975 with a classic Eurovision song title in “Ding-a-Dong”. Great song, and I don’t know if you catch a hint of the old Grandstand theme in parts of this (or is that my imagination?) Some trivia: this was the year that the familiar scoring system of 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 10 and the famous douze points was introduced.
1. Edsilia Rombley “Hemel en aarde” (1998, 4th place, 150 points)
Maybe not that well known now, but I think is a terrific song and was the Netherlands’ last top 5 finish until the Common Linnets took second place in 2014 (and not in my top 5 you may have noticed). There’s something Bond-esque about this and as you’ll hear from the video, this was one of the late, great Sir Terry’s favourites that year – the same year he also presented the contest as 1998 was the last time the United Kingdom hosted…