Country profile: The Netherlands at the Eurovision Song Contest since 2008


The Netherlands has set all kinds of records at the Eurovision Song Contest. The country performed the very first Eurovision song at the very first contest in 1956. And it became the first country to win the contest for a second time in 1959 (following its earlier success in 1957). Sadly it’s also known for one less illustrious record. With eight non-qualifications in a row between 2005 and 2012, it holds the record for the most consecutive eliminations in the semi-finals. Ouch.

Thankfully the country has emerged from that drought to show consistency and strength. So let’s celebrate the good times — and look back on the bad — by reviewing The Netherlands’ last ten participations.

The Netherlands at the Eurovision Song Contest

Over the past ten years The Netherlands has occupied all manner of places on the Eurovision scoreboard. It’s gone from dead last — 43 out of 43 in 2011 — to runner-up in 2014. From sad singalong songs to onstage hurdy-gurdy, The Netherlands has brought it all.

In 2008 and 2009 Dutch broadcaster NOS oversaw the Dutch representative. Sadly after both Hind and The Toppers failed to reach the final, the broadcaster decided to sever ties with the show after 50 years of participation. Luckily TROS (since 2014 AVROTROS) took the reigns.

The broadcaster’s first attempt marked a new low for the country. A national final resulted in the selection of Sieneke for Eurovision 2010. Her performance of “Ik Ben Verliefd (Sha-la-lie)” was incredibly old school and included two living dolls on stage. (Eliminated Swedish act Anna Bergendahl compared it to a circus show). The two following years were not much better, as the Netherlands finished last in its semi with the Volendam boyband 3Js and the year after with Joan Franka, whose feathered headdress offended Native Americans and whose vocal performance offended fans of in-tune music. Insert your favourite distress emojis here.

But in 2013 salvation came in the form of Anouk, who took an immense interest in the contest — and in doing things her way. Countless people told her she was crazy for throwing her famous name into a contest where the Dutchies were repeatedly ignored. She shocked everyone by reaching the final and finishing in the top ten. The year after The Common Linnets — led by Anouk’s frenemy Ilse DeLange — went even better, finishing as runner-up behind Conchita Wurst.

A final bump in the road came when Trijntje Oosterhuis failed to reach the final in 2015. We still ask ourselves why-aie-aie-aie. But usually the reply is “somewhat empty staging that failed to make an impact” and “questionable costume”.

Thankfully the country appears to be back in form. Both Douwe Bob and O’G3NE reached the final — and with their very different sounds. Coincidentally they both finished in 11th place.

Recent history

2017 – O’G3NE with “Lights And Shadows”, 11th place in the final with 150 points

2016 – Douwe Bob with “Slow Down”, 11th place in the final with 153 points

2015 – Trijntje Oosterhuis with “Walk Along”, 14th place in the semi final with 33 points

2014 – The Common Linnets with “Calm After The Storm”, 2nd in the final with 238 points

2013 – Anouk with “Birds”, 9th in the final with 114 points

2012 – Joan Franka with “You And Me”, 15th in the semi final with 35 points

2011 – 3JS with “Never Alone”, 19th (last) in the semi final with 13 points

2010 – Sieneke with “Ik Ben Verliefd (Shalalie)”, 14th in the semi final with 29 points

2009 – The Toppers with “Shine”, 17th in the semi final with 11 points

2008 – Hind with “Your Heart Belongs To Me”, 13th in the semi final with 27 points

Fun facts

The Toppers use the word “shine” twenty times in their Eurovision song.

Sieneke traveled to six different destinations in her Eurovision song: Lisbon, Paris, Oslo, Trinidad, Berlin and Moscow.

“Calm After The Storm” from The Common Linnets only has eight camera shots on stage.

Of the four times The Netherlands qualified to the final in the last decade, they were the ninth or tenth country to be revealed as finalists three times. Nail-biter!

The Netherlands’ best scoring entry

The Common Linnets with “Calm After The Storm”, 2nd in the final with 238 points

When The Common Linnets revealed their Eurovision song to Dutch audiences, there was a wave of disappointment. How could they have chosen this after Anouk last year? Based on the studio version and a live performance on a Dutch TV show, the Wiwi Jury ranked the song 30th in a field of 37.

But staging can break — or in this case make — a song. Following the semi-final The Netherlands started shooting up the odds table. In the end only Conchita finished higher. Ilse later said that she regretted how the duo first presented the song. But no matter. Their actual Eurovision performance set a standard for romantic, atmospheric performances.

Most memorable lyrics: “Driving in the fast lane counting mile marker signs. The empty seat beside me keeps you on my mind.”

The Netherlands’ worst scoring entry

3JS with “Never Alone”, 19th in the semi final with 13 points

It was the year after Sieneke, so basically everyone thought it could not go any worse in Düsseldorf. When the 3JS performed their song in Dutch it actually made sense and, even though it was not excellent, it still sounded okay. Unfortunately the English version was incredibly flat. Making matters worse, they did literally nothing with the massive stage, which made the song seem so small and forgettable. The Netherlands had the lowest total points of all participants in competition.

Most memorable lyrics: “Though the road is long, there are golden gardens at the sweet end of your trail.”

What some of our other bloggers think

Denise: If you would have asked me this question years ago, I would have said that I was so dissapointed in The Netherlands and that no on takes it seriously anymore. But now — on the other side of our recent history — I can say the exact opposite. The Netherlands is going for quality. They look past typical Eurovision songs with ‘ok’ singers and they actually consider staging and storytelling. Now there’s a plan and the plan is paying of every single year. A win for the NL in the next decade? I see this happening.

Jordi: The Netherlands has always been refreshing and surprising for me. People don’t have high expectations for the country, and that makes it dangerous and competitive. Following a two-year-streak of strong results, more people are starting to pay attention. And as they do they find variety — country to pop to ballads. Let’s hope they can keep exceeding expectations.

Kristin: I have always been rather fond of The Netherlands at Eurovision. They’ve had their swings and misses, but most of the time I find the country to be severely underrated. After a very bleak decade they’ve finally found their mojo again, and not a moment to soon. No one should frown upon a country that has sent us masterpieces like “Shangri La”, “Rechtop In De Wind”, “Hemel En Aarde” and — never forget — “Calm After The Storm”. Welcome back to The Netherlands. How I have missed you!

Mikhail I have loved the Netherlands since their return to the final! They send quality entries, charismatic performers and know how to turn a trick with staging (just exclude that moaning Teletubby in 2015). Victory is coming. Europe, beware!

Renske The Netherlands has such a rich history at Eurovision. We have had years where our scores weren’t that good and decades where we scored high every year with some songs becoming evergreens. We basically live and breath Eurovision in May. People say they don’t care, but when it comes to Eurovision week, the average Dutch family stocks up on crisps and nuts, while tuning in to NPO1. It’s a people’s party and we love to do well. I hope AVROTROS keeps sending great acts. Watch this space…

Read more Netherlands Eurovision news

Poll: What is The Netherlands’ best Eurovision entry since its 2013 turnaround?