EDITORIAL – This year Belgium will participate for the 58th time in Eurovision but still have won the contest only once with Sandra Kim and her song “J’aime la vie” back in 1986 in Norway. The goal of my editorial is to explain the reasons why Belgium did not yet bring back the trophy to Brussels and what maybe they should do for it.
How Belgium actually sees Eurovision?
First question coming in mind: does Belgium really care about Eurovision like some others countries do? The Eurovision Song Contest wasn’t so famous in the recent years in Belgium, especially as both channels VRT and RTBF were sending artists completely unknown in their own country. No one was really interested and even the press was not interested in the contest neither. Since a few years now and probably due to the arrival of programs, very appreciated by the audience, on TV panel , like “Belgium got talent”, “The Voice”, the Belgian broadcasters generally choose artists coming out of those TV shows. Those artists were generally followed during the months by the audience and so they are better known by the public. The best case actually was Loic Nottet and his wonderful performances during the TV show The Voice. Another sign of the possible interest of Belgium for Eurovision is that generally after all contests, songs are generally well ranked (even for a few weeks) in the Belgian charts. That was the case of Amir again this year, who’s song is still a very big hit in Belgium. Does Belgium really wants to win with the consequence to organize the contest the year after? Are they really ready for it? For that we should ask to the Head of Delegation.
Why Belgium can’t win then and what should they about it?
If we analyse more in details the last 10 participations of that country in the contest , we can see that they reached the final only 4 times in 2010, 2013,2015 and finally in 2016. On those 4 finals, they took the TOP 10, 3 times with Tom Dice (6) in 2010, Loïc (4) in 2015 and finally Laura (10) in 2016. Is that enough to say that Belgium have good results in Eurovision or should we consider that they are sit in a kind of roller coaster with their results?
First of all, Belgium is a country without “friends” around. Meanwhile countries like Sweden or Russia are sure to obtain points from their neighbours, Belgium don’t have this chance. The reason is simple, Belgium doesn’t export its music aboard. Off course they do have some artists that are famous in Europe, like for example Stromae or Selah Sue but if we take the case of Kate Ryan in 2006, she was also a famous pop star around Europe and was one of the hottest favorite to bring back the trophy in Belgium … we know all how that ended: no final for Kate …
Belgium is also divided in 2 parts. Wallonia, who doesn’t really have its own music market and get his musical influence mainly by France. Flemish part is more into music especially, dance music. Some of their artists are exported aboard but apparently it’s not enough.
Let’s take again some of the performers the last 10 years. As you know, Belgium has 2 TV channels in charge of the contest. One year, the channel from Wallonia (RTBF) organize the selection, the other year the flemish channel (VRT). They also have different ways to select their representatives. Sometimes with an internal selection, sometimes with a TV show. Apparently internal selection brings them more luck as Loïc who achieved 4 and Tom who ranked 6, were selected internally. Also, if we take another example more in the past, in 2003, Urban Trad who got the 2 place were also chosen internally by RTBF. The way to select the representative is then certainly not a good excuse of the “roller coaster” effect of Belgium.
What can help Belgium then to get better results and finally win the contest? My answer is … Make the difference! If we take the example of Austria , that country didn’t obtain good results neither in the contest. They won just one time in 1966 thanks to Udo Jürgens and his song “Merci Cherie”. But in 2014, they tried something different by sending Conchita Würst and they won the contest for the second time of their history. So does Belgium should try something different, something to catch the attention of the audience and the juries? Maybe yes, maybe no … we all know that trying the difference can be a good but also a bad option. Some countries have already paid this kind of choice and eliminated in the semi finals. In order to win, Belgium will need to innovate more, especially during the live performance. Remember, you have only 3 minutes to convince the audience and the juries!
So again the question? What Belgium should do the get better results? Here is my personal solution …
We know already that Belgium doesn’t have artists well known aboard but they do have some good options, especially now that newcomer artists coming out from TV programs like The Voice. This kind of artists have already tasted and tried to perform in front of an audience and during a TV show. They know how to manage the stress and how to catch the attention and perform correctly live. That was the case of Loic Nottet and Laura Tesoro, both candidates in the Voice Belgium. So I believe that the better option is to choose someone coming out from this kind of TV shows.
On that option they can off course give composers from aboard, the chance to propose their own compositions. Again, this option can work like it can’t. Remember, Kate Ryan song “Je t’adore” was written and composed by Swedish. That didn’t really help her! Or they can also ask the help or the advice of some famous Belgians who export already their music around Europe. Last year, Laura Tesoro song was originally written by Selah Sue. So why not this year ask to Stromae to give a hand on the Belgian project?
Finally, I believe that the 2 channels have to work together hand on hand, share their ideas, share their possibilities and their personal desires to win the contest. Together we are stronger!
What Will happen in 2017 then?
This year, like every odd year, it’s the turn of Wallonia and RTBF to take care of Eurovision song contest for Belgium. Following what press already talked about, an internal choice will be made again. The good news is that the 2 names that are out (for the moment) are from 2 artists coming out of the TV show, The Voice. They didn’t win the contest but both of them reached a good position in the final ranking. Following again the Belgian national press , Oliver Kaye , a young student of 23yo with a good experience of the stage (he has already sing with Anggun and Patrick Fiori) will be faced to Pierre Lizée, another young singer, 20 years old. They have both different style of music, the first one is more into pop electro music meanwhile the second is into british pop rock. The experience on stage will probably be decisive on who will be Laura Tesoro’s successor to represent Belgium in Ukraine.
The question now is how RTBF will manage to select?
My opinion is that they have to organise a special show, giving the opportunity to each artists to sing different songs, written by Belgian and international composers. They also have to use a professional juries and maybe also get the opinion of an international juries, like it’s already done in Sweden during the Melodifestivalen for example. Viewers have to also participate in the decision and give to the audience the right to express their opinions on who and with wich song they wanna be represented.
Let’s see what will happen in the coming months with the new season of Eurovision started already now…
special thanks to Geoff Fontignie Lozano (Belgium)