Belgium are one of Eurovision’s founder members, and only three countries can boast more appearances at the contest. They’ve had a tougher time in modern Eurovision, but underwent a bit of renaissance a few years ago with three top 10 results in a row. Two non-qualifications then came, but they’ve had two further grand final appearances in the last two years, albeit solid not spectacular results. Gustaph won the Belgian national final this year, their first public selection since 2015. Can he carry that success through to a semi-final qualification?
Gustaph (real name Stef Caers) has had a career as a singer, though in recent years he’s focused more on songwriting and producing, acting as a vocal coach and a backing singer as well as as teaching at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Ghent. I think winning the national final came perhaps as big a surprise to him as everyone else! “Because of You” is very firmly a callback to 1990s house – even the video is an homage to the styles and music videos of that time. It’s also very pro-LGBT, and perhaps no surprise given Gustaph himself is gay.
I suppose given I am only a couple of years older than Gustaph, and am gay, this song and genre is both familiar and evocative to me, bringing up memories of my younger self. It’s also the type of music I liked – I enjoyed dance and house (with vocals) and this has all those elements you’d want – catchy, uptempo and has a great vocalist. The fandom was a little taken aback by this winning and it’s taken a while for more people to come round to this, but his performances at the pre-parties have won some more fans.
It’s not the most complex of songs, it’s true, so it needs a real conviction behind its performance, and I think Gustaph will amply supply. He always looks like he’s living his best life and gives an enthusiastic performance, with solid vocals. I think with the right backing singers and its positive message, this could appeal quite widely. He’s got Eurovision experience as he was backing vocalist to Belgium’s entries in 2018 and 2021. Running order has been kind to him as well – he’s in the first half of the more open second semi-final, and “Because of You” is one of the few upbeat, uptempo songs in that first half so may be remembered better. I think could still be 50/50 on qualification, but it’s looking better for Gustaph than it did back when he won Eurosong (one of the first national finals this year).
Belgium in the Eurovision Song Contest
First entered: 1956
Appearances (excluding this year): 63
Best result: Winner 1986
Last year’s result: 19th