My top 5 songs from…the Netherlands

The Netherlands has a long and rich history in Eurovision, being a founder member of the contest, and now a five-times winner. Having missed just four contests since 1956, there were a lot of songs to review before deciding upon my top 5… This top 5 has seen a few changes since my first Dutch Top 5 that I made in December 2016 – not least because they got their first Eurovision win in 44 years since then!

5. Maggie MacNeal “Amsterdam” (1980, 5th place, 93 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 (due to the dates clashing with Israel’s remembrance day) 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. 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.

3. Duncan Laurence “Arcade” (2019, winner, 498 points)

The Dutch had waited for 44 long years between Eurovision wins before they finally achieved their 5th victory in 2019 with Duncan Laurence’s haunting ballad. From the first listen, and still to this day, it never ceases to give me (involuntary) goosebumps and those opening and ending bars are truly beautiful. While it had been the favourite to win, there was understandable relief and jubilation when it did win – and a deserved Eurovision winner.

2. Teach-In “Ding-a-Dong” (1975, winner, 152 points)

The fourth of the now five 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 also very 90s pop – and my teenage years were in the 1990s. It 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…

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