Eurodance and positive power ballads normally run the show at Eurovision. But this year Europe has shown she can appreciate the dark and meloncholy by voting Anouk’s sombre song “Birds” into the final, thereby ending Holland’s eight-year absence. Anouk brought the people of The Netherlands the salvation they had been waiting, praying and hoping for. But that hasn’t stopped former Dutch ESC contestants Gordon and Gerard Joling from shoving “Birds”—and Anouk—in the dirt.
Ahead of the semi-finals, “Veronica Magazine” asked Gordon, who participated in Eurovision in 2009 with his group The Toppers, to review all the Eurovision songs from 2013. ‘Birds’ received a serious beating. He predicted that “Europe will be going for a cup of coffee during ‘Birds’”, suggesting the song was way too boring for viewers. He added to that “it just isn’t a good song”. He claimed that the song made him depressed and that The Netherlands wouldn’t qualify. For the ninth time in a row. The Dutch press soon poo-pooed his statements (putting Gordon in a difficult position seeing his own results at ESC). But he persisted with his comments. Neither the Dutch press nor Dutch ESC fans were amused.
After Anouk reached a very respectable ninth place in the final Dutch fans slipped into an on-going state of Euphoria. But Gerard Joling felt the need to temper their enthusiasm. In an interview on Dutch radio channel Radio 538 last week, he made it clear that he felt all the attention on Anouk was completely out of proportion—and that he feared she wouldn’t even qualify. He had serious doubts, mostly because of the simplicity of the song and because Anouk is “not really a glamourdiva”. “We don’t have to exaggerate,” he later said of her ninth place finish. “People in the Netherlands act like she is the angel who have saved us all. As far as I know, ESC is in Denmark next year and not in the Netherlands”.
Neither Gordon nor Gerard can look back on a successful ESC career of their own. Gordon never made it to the finals of ESC. He finished 17th in the semi-final of 2009, earning just 11 points (with the Toppers, singing ‘Shine’). The Netherlands afterwards did all she could to prevent Gordon from representing the Dutchies again, which made him decide to enter the 2013 national final in Switzerland. He didn’t entertain the Swiss either: LA The Voices wasn’t even selected for the national final. As for Gerard, he finished ninth in 1988 (with “Shangri-la”), earning 70 points. Gerard’s final statement was to point out that he and Anouk have one thing in common: “We both finished ninth”. That much is true.
Just to give you an idea: in 1988, 21 countries participated. Semi-finals, diaspora and bloc-voting had yet to enter the frame. This year Anouk had to endure a tough semi-final, facing 39 countries and feeling the pressure of being Hollands’ last and final hope.
Photo: Top: Sander Hesterman (EBU), Bottom: Eurovision.tv