The Netherlands in Eurovision: A rollercoaster of a journey

May 8, 2021

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As we are getting ready for the rehearsals to begin at the Ahoy Arena, lets take a look back at The Netherlands Eurovision history, and their journey that brought us to Rotterdam today.

The Netherlands made a strong start to their Eurovision journey, with two second places coming before their first win in 1957. The 1958 contest came to Hilversum, hosted by Hannie Lips. Corry Brokken was back to the contest for a third consecutive year, and was there to defend her winning title, but unfortunately, it was not meant to be and she scored The Netherlands their first last place.

The Netherlands second win came soon after in 1959, but their second hosting wouldn’t come until 1970. Declining to host the contest so soon after hosting it in 1958, the honours went to the second placed country in 1959, the United Kingdom. Their second win came right before a bit of a dry spell for the country, which saw them languishing near the bottom of the scoreboard, and even finishing last on 3 occasions. After 9 years, the rains had fallen and their dry spell was over, when Lenny Kuhr was of the joint winners of the 1969 contest, giving The Netherlands their 3rd win so far, and bringing the 1970 contest to Amsterdam for the first time.

The next few years saw The Netherlands doing consistently well. They achieved third place in 1974 with Dutch duo Mouth and MacNeal, who had great success not only in The Netherlands, but also in the US and the UK. Their successors, Teach-In, gave The Netherlands their 4th win, and highest score (to date) with “Ding-A-Dong” that became a hit all across Europe. 1976 saw the return of Corry Brokken to Eurovision, but this time as a host, when the contest came to Congresgebouw in The Hague for the first time.
Up until their win in 1975, The Netherlands had enjoyed a few years of success, but as they say, all good things must come to an end, and in the words of Sandra Reemer in 1976, “The Party’s Over”. The party was over indeed, and The Netherlands once again found themselves struggling to reach the dizzy heights of top 5, or even top 10. 

But despite them not doing very well, there were still some gems to be found; Maggie McNeal had gone solo, and achieved 5th place in 1980 with the Dutch classic “Amsterdam”, an ode to the capital city. Marcha got The Netherlands another 5th place in 1987 along with a handful of top 10 finishes, including the popular “Vrede” by Dutch legend Ruth Jacott, in 1993.

The early to mid 1990s were very hit and miss with The Netherlands, and they even found themselves at risk of being relegated. But in 1998, that all changed as The Netherlands found themselves as contenders for the trophy once again. Their hopes were pinned on 20 year old Edsilia Rombley, a relative newcomer to the music scene, who has since gone on to become one of The Netherlands most popular and successful singers, and who will co-host this years contest live from Rotterdam.

The turn of the century didn’t bring The Netherlands very much luck. With low placings and non-qualifications, things were not looking good for The Netherlands. The dry spell was back once again as they struggled to qualify from the semi finals on no less than eight occasions. After trying many different selection methods, ranging from national finals to internal selections, The Netherlands just couldn’t seem to crack the code. But then came Anouk.

In 2013, after many years of national finals which didn’t bring The Netherlands very much success in Eurovision, the Dutch broadcaster decided to go for a completely internal selection, and to select one of their biggest and most popular singers, Anouk. Not only did she get The Netherlands back in to the final for the first time since 2004, she also got her home country back in the top 10 for the first time since 1999. The party was no longer over, and in fact, it was only just beginning.

Riding high on their new found success, The Netherlands were on a roll! They had finally cracked the code, and were qualifying for the Eurovision final (almost) year after year like there was no tomorrow. They even ended up as the dark horse to win the contest in 2014, but unfortunatley, it wasn’t meant to be as they were pipped to the post by the one and only Conchita Wurst.

But that wasn’t going to deter them. The Netherlands proved that they have what it takes to get themselves back to the top of the scoreboard, and maybe even win Eurovision again. All they needed was the right song, and the right singer… or more specifically, a small town boy in a big arcade. After releasing “Arcade” in March of 2019, Duncan Laurence instantly became a big favourite for the win, something that stuck with him right up until the grand final of Eurovision 2019, when The Netherlands were crowned the winners of the 64th Eurovision Song Contest.

After missing the contest in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, The Netherlands and Rotterdam are proud to be Opening Up to 39 delegations from across Europe and Australia this year. Following on from Duncan’s victory is Surinamese-born Jeangu Macrooy, who will be bringing the Sranan language to the contest for the first time in Eurovision history. Could Jeangu give The Netherlands their sixth Eurovision win? Well, I guess we’ll have to tune in on Saturday May 22nd to find out!

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