The Dutch renaissance at Eurovision dates back to 2013 when they returned to the grand final after a decade long absence. Since then, they’ve carefully selected (mostly) serious grown-up songs and artists, achieving their fifth contest win in 2019, and having the confidence to send a Dutch-language song last year. That approach has continued this year with the selection of “Burning Daylight” and the duo of Mia Nicolai and Dion Cooper. Can they continue the Netherlands’ run of success?
The entry was, as has been the case since 2013, internally selected. Mia is a singer-songwriter with a couple of singles releases to her name; Dion is a singer-songwriter who has appeared on The Voice of Holland and released a couple of singles which were co-written by a singer he was the support act for. That singer is also a co-writer of “Burning Daylight” and the duo’s Eurovision mentor – it is of course, former winner Duncan Laurence. Duncan’s fiancé is also a co-writer as well as Mia and Dion. It’s another serious, reflective contemporary pop song that has become the staple of the Netherlands at Eurovision in recent year.
It took me a couple of gos before I really started to appreciate this but once I had, the chorus really stuck in. You can easily tell the Duncan Laurence influences, and while it doesn’t have quite the strong emotional tug of “Arcade”, it still feels powerful. Dion’s vocal in the studio version of the song is smooth like butter and overall I enjoy when they come together in the choruses and it’s just a thoroughly good contemporary song. This has slipped a couple of places in my top 37 as they’ve had a few issues with their live performances to date – but given they are both professional singers, there’s no reason why that can’t be turned round.
What’s been far more upsetting to see than a couple of rough live vocals is the way the Dutch media has gone for them in an almost feral-like way that I thought was unique to the British right wing press. There’s been dissent within the delegation (or at least the selection panel) and former artists criticising Duncan Laurence. It’s the sort of drama you’d expect of some Eurovision countries, but not the Netherlands. This is hardly ideal preparation and the duo have slipped into being non-qualifiers in the odds for semi-final 1. That may be a bit premature though – they are in one of the best qualifying spots, it’s a quality song, there is an experienced team. Don’t write the Dutch off just yet, no matter what their media might be saying.
Netherlands in the Eurovision Song Contest
First entered: 1956
Appearances (excluding this year): 63
Best result: Winner 1957, 1959, 1969, 1975, 2019
Last year’s result: 11th