It’s been a good long while since the Netherlands last hosted a contest (1980) and before their 2019 win, it had been over 40 years since their last win (1975). Jeangu Macrooy was internally selected as the host’s entry 2020 (and with an internally selected song). He was reselected for 2021, and another internally selected song. “Birth of a New Age” is quite different to last year’s song, “Grow”, which was a much slower song. “Birth of a New Age” is partially sung in Sranan Tongo, the lingua franca of Surinam – and (I think) the first time that language has been used at Eurovision.
Jeangu himself comes from Surinam, and moved to the Netherlands when he was 20 to further his music career. I much prefer this year’s song to last year’s – it’s far more uptempo soul, more interesting and it’s got some powerful lyrics (that clearly mean a lot to Jeangu) – they tell of defiance, authenticity and resistance and themes referred to are both relevant to the past and to the present day. Jeangu is also openly gay and has spoken about being a role model in Surinam where homosexuality is still a taboo subject.
With a guaranteed place in the final, and having drawn an excellent running order position, this could do better than some initially had expected. The initial live performance I thought could have been better but the studio/music video version really comes alive and I think for the big stage in Rotterdam, the live performance will improve hugely. Recent host entries have done rather poorly at the contest but I think this could buck the trend somewhat, especially if the juries get behind this.
The Netherlands in the Eurovision Song Contest
First entered: 1956
Appearances (excluding 2020 and this year): 61
Best result: Winner 1957, 1959, 1969, 1975, 2019
2019 result: Winner