Belgium have had something of a Eurovision renaissance in the past decade, with some classy tracks scoring highly in a number of contests (as well as a few flops!). They have internally selected for the past few years, and did so again in 2020, with Hooverphonic announced as the act and were reselected for 2021. The three piece band formed all the way back in 1995, and while the (female) lead singer has changed a few times over the years, Alex Callier and Raymond Geerts have been with the band the entire time. Between 2020 and 2021, the lead singer has changed, with Geike Arnaert replacing Luka Cruysberghs (Geike having been in the band previously from 1998 to 2009).
While most artists who enter Eurovision are often at the start of their careers, or have had a low key musical career, and/or inevitably come from a TV reality singing contest show, Hooverphonic have been around a long time – 26 years to be precise. They’ve had multiple albums and singles and their music has even been used in quite a number of TV shows, including UK ones.
Their music style is rooted in 90s indie pop, trip hop and electronica though they’ve moved with the times and expanded their sounds. The 90s trip hop element was very much in evidence with their 2020 entry “Release Me” – there was a definitely feel of Portishead to it.
“The Wrong Place”
“The Wrong Place” continues that 90s feel but also still feels modern and fresh. It’s a faster tempo than their entry last year, but it maintains that dark pop feel, with the downbeat/darker lyrics and feel of the song. The style and subject of the song suits Geike’s more mature vocals than they would have done Luka’s and she’s an excellent live performer. The music video matches the song perfectly, with Geike looking like a murderous Miss Havisham.
I really like this entry a lot – I was in my teens/early 20s in the 90s so perhaps it’s not surprising I enjoy this genre of music (but it’s not a dated song). The whole piece seems to come together so well – the production, the instrumentation, the vocals, the lyrics and the storytelling. It’s a much deeper, more complex and sophisticated song than most entries you find at the contest.
What does that mean for its qualification chances though? Belgium have had some quality songs recently that didn’t qualify, though that was mostly due to poor staging choices or less than stellar live performances. Hooverphonic certainly don’t have those issues – they are accomplished and experienced live performers. Their staging (as I have seen their first rehearsal) is sombre, simple, classy and effective.
They are sandwiched among a lot of big brash songs – either in tempo or staging or both and I fear that may overshadow this far subtler entry. What I would hope is that at least the juries go big for this song and that there is enough of a televote to carry it through.
Belgium in the Eurovision Song Contest
First entered: 1956
Appearances (excluding 2020 and this year): 61
Best result: Winner 1986
2019’s result: 13th in the semi-final (did not qualify)