If you look at the recent history of Eurovision, the Netherlands stands out when it comes to dedication and persistence. It was one of the seven original countries that competed at ESC in 1956 and, in ensuing decades, won the contest four times. But in 2005 the nation began its long descent into a dark and unpleasant place: relegation from the finals. Glennis, Treble, Edsilia, Hind, De Toppers, Sieneke, 3JS, and Joan Franka—these Dutch artists failed to qualify for the final eight years in a row.

But even when not qualifying, the nation—and its diehard fans—never backed down. Unlike so many fans and officials and politicians in other Western nations, the Dutchies never cast blame on anyone other than themselves. They swallowed defeat every time, only to come back with a smile, and, most of the time, another awful song. The Netherlands became the laughing stock of Europe. It began to resemble the orphan you feel sad for, one you would hold in your arms while whispering, ‘It will all be alright, some day’.

And indeed, that day has come. On May 14, 2013, someone answered Dutch Eurovision prayers. BeNeLux superstar Anouk went against the will of 17 million Dutchies, choosing a simple, but honest song staged with subtlety and darkness. There was no exploding stage. There was no barely-there dress. There was just a woman with a beautiful song and an intoxicating voice. She came, she sang, she won the Wiwi Jury. She also placed ninth in the contest, proving her critics wrong.

A year later, the Netherlands once again went for subtle instead of over-the-top with the Common Linnets and their song “Calm After the Storm.” The Nashville number is slightly dark and puts wistfulness and longing at its centre. The smooth and intimate staging made the massive venue feel like a local bar, with the artists connecting with each and every person in the room. The song is also a bit sneaky. The quietly feisty number attaches itself to you like a parasite. Before you know it the bug is already growing inside of you. It’s there to stay.

The Netherlands finally found what she has to offer Europe. The Netherlands can’t produce pop songs like Sweden can. And she doesn’t have what it takes to produce loads of power ballads, like Israel or Iceland used to do. She doesn’t have any typical folk or indigenous musical heritage, like Russia, Ireland or Bulgaria.

But there is one thing that she has proven she can do, better than any European or non-European country: hypnotize us with dreamy, simple and honest songs, enhanced with small staging and an intimate show.

To the Netherlands: We expect nothing less from you from now on. Keep it small, keep it simple and keep it real.

Daphne Dee contributed this report from Belgium. Follow her on Twitter @JacinthaD1. You can also keep up-to-date with the latest Eurovision news and gossip by following the team on Twitter @wiwibloggs and by liking our Facebook page

Pictures: EBU (Dennis Stichel/Thomas Hansens)

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Thea
Thea
5 years ago

I wonder of some of your opinions to Calm After The Storm. Europe loves this song, I love this song. Now The Netherlands send a song which isn’t like 2013 and 2014. It isn’t that simple, calm and maybe the performance is not going to have only the focus on the song. It is very catchy. I don’t know what to say about it. Calm After The Storm was a grower and I don’t think that Walk Along is one but I don’t know. I’m excited to see a live performance of it at the voice tomorrow. I don’t want… Read more »

Pejn
Pejn
6 years ago

Almost no one believed in The Common Linnets before the semifinals. They would probably never have come near the top without the perfect staging, where it looked as if they were standing on a dark road. It’s all about the staging!

JulianaESC
JulianaESC
6 years ago

My ideal Dutch winner would be Sharon den Adel. Her voice is almost literally perfection, Within Temptation is popular world wide, she can sing live, and they know how to put on a performance (I’ve seen them live I know). But, she’s said she’d never do it, and they have a theatre tour during Eurovision next year. I honestly think the best choice for the Netherlands is Ralf Mackenbach. Yes he’s pop but he’s young, talented, and he may win over some appeal. I don’t think Holland should look to win, I think they should look for a Top 10… Read more »

Vladimir
Vladimir
6 years ago

The Dutch song this year is not my cup of tea, but I can understand why it appealed to so many people and am happy for The Netherlands. Good luck next year!

Alex
Alex
6 years ago

The past two years the Netherlands have sent absolutely phenomenal vocalists, and songs with a lingering subtlety that really convey a lot of human feeling.

This year, I think the visual aspect really contributed a lot to the entry. The staging was just perfect, including Ilse and Waylon’s getups and the way they were facing and interacting with other on stage. But this would mean nothing by itself, if it weren’t for the wonderful musicianship underlying it all.

bavarson
bavarson
6 years ago

Quite different performances and results. Duo with guitars is not woman with birds in background.

Il pleut
Il pleut
6 years ago

Still wonder, how this song came second…….:o

joey
joey
6 years ago

Oh no no no!!!! I just love love love this year’s Dutch song. A total departure from that BIRD-POOP of a song last year!!! I really fell in love with their song this year!!! So for sure, they are going to be THE ONES TO LOOK OUT FOR NEXT YEAR!!!

Way to go THE NETHERLANDS!!! You are now stellar!!!

Timselvision
Timselvision
6 years ago

Our Dutch “ESC expert” wants to do national finals again next year. Well, what about no?

If we won’t, it will be Amsterdam 2016! XD

Robyn
Robyn
6 years ago

I wasn’t too fussed the first time I heard “Calm After the Storm”, but it’s really grown on me. I love what the Netherlands are doing. “Birds” was my favourite song last year and both it and this year’s song really stand out. Simple, strong songs with equally good staging.

Maybe the Netherlands’ model is something that Ireland could look to for 2015, putting a really good song at the heart of the performance and forgetting about a distracting sideshow.

Grifit
Grifit
6 years ago

I loved it once I I listened to the video, the first time, the acoustic sounded bad, but I guess they didn’t clean the performance, then it was gold, it was in my top10 from the beguinning and it got higher and higer to the second place, this was a good year for me because my favorites ended in the top5: Armenia, Netherlands and Austria

Aufrechtgehn
6 years ago

I think it’s not so much about a winning formula which they may or may not have found. It’s about an attitude. I always liked their song, at first only a little, but more on each hearing. But I didn’t rate its chances of even passing to the final: a country song, a dark and moody one without a classic hookline and an intime staging – it went against every Eurovision rule. It wasn’t a Eurovision song in the first place, just a track taken from an album – an album that, according to Waylon, was much more important to… Read more »

Thiefo
Thiefo
6 years ago

Calm after the Storm is not for everyone I guess, I’m one of those who even after watching the performance and even with the excellent results it got, my opinion about it still hasn’t changed, I still don’t like it and I didn’t see it getting in the top 5, not to mention being the runner up! But anyway, congrats to The Netherlands nonetheless! I just hope The Netherlands won’t start sending acts with the same “winning formula” every time from now on. Sure Birds was awesome and despite my opinion about Calm after the Storm, it proved to be… Read more »

David Thielen
6 years ago

I also really came to like this song over the week. It does sneak up and grab you.

nauportus90
nauportus90
6 years ago

I agree with Leon: Anouk’s song was awesome even though it wasn’t a typical eurovison melody. But this year’s song is bland, cliched and forgettable. The only reason people and the juries liked it is that the performance was so simple and made a nice change of pace after all the parachutes, trampolines and butter churning. But for me even The Toppers were more fun to watch!

Pixy
Pixy
6 years ago

‘They swallowed defeat every time..’ yes, and then they were vomiting it all out in their esc forums, in the pre esc tv program ‘Underway to Eurovision’ and during the show itself! The commenters are nothing less than bitter losers who were hardly able to hide their bitterness and anger. The tv program i’ve mentioned was kind a mockery, there were laughing everyone out. Each and every year they say the same cliche, stupid and political things about East block, Russia, about Armenia and its ‘mighty’ diaspora, which according to them still does the miracles helping Armenia to get in… Read more »

JoyceS
JoyceS
6 years ago

Ilse would not have a personallity according Anouk…she has a verry beautiful personality, she was real the hole time, she was knowing what she was doing. She stayed commit to here feelings about this song,from day 1 she knows how it must look like, she was always saying…people should feel this song, like I do, thats the most important thing for me.
Ilse is very real…love her for that!

Leon
Leon
6 years ago

I loved Anouk’s song, but absolutely didn’t like the Dutch song this year. How it finished second is beyond me.

NKN
NKN
6 years ago

It’s interesting that you write about Anouk winning the WiwiJury but you don’t say anything by giving The Common Linnets a 4.4 for their song. More interesting is that you ranked higher some crappy pop/dance songs that you listen in every disco club.

florent
6 years ago

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CWC2HO6oTTc
cover of undo 🙂 like it

florent
6 years ago

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CWC2HO6oTTc
cover of undo 🙂 like it

Ryan in NL
Ryan in NL
6 years ago

I really hope that Caro Emerald is willing to participate. Otherwise a nice pop song from Miss Montreal or a nice mix of Armin van Buuren and Sharon den Adel would do. Please make it worthwhile and don’t fall back into the darkness we are crawling out of.

Darren
Darren
6 years ago

Shocked with how much the Netherlands have improved in Eurovision! Well done to them!! I have a strong feeling, just like Ireland that another victory is due sometime soon, within this decade anyway. They improve every year, I wouldnt be surprised if they actually win next year! the Nethrlands and Ireland are two traditional eurovision countries that should be watched, they will make an extraordinary come back soon! Guaranteed.

Dar
Dar
6 years ago

Very excited who will tros select for 2015 .. Probably be announced in October / November ..
They want to win and can do it ..
I always make a prediction for the following year and believe that the winner will be from either

Netherlands
Ireland
Italy
Hungary

I was close this year as I predicted this time last year that Netherlands would win in 2014

Alex
Alex
6 years ago

Anouk is the reason why Eurovision is once again a massive show in the Netherlands breaking viewing rates records for a second year in a row. TROS should be very careful for their choice next year because they should not disappoint fans and select an inferior act for next year’s contest.

I truly believe that Caro Emerald would be the best possible choice for the Netherlands. She is already famous in big markets like UK, Belgium, Germany and her music is extremely catchy and high quality. Juries and televoters will love it. Cmon TROS, ask Caro!!

DJ
DJ
6 years ago

What a very sad excuse Willy Lee Adams. Repeatedly it has been stated that the Wiki Jury bases on first impression. In the case of this song, the sound has not changed at all. Just admit you got this one wrong, and in future try to broaden your musical appreciation.

Inge
Inge
6 years ago

The thing is, I don’t know many more famous singers from here who could represent us that well and would want to do it. Also, Glennis Grace, Edsilia Rombley, the 3JS and Hind are pretty well known here – and they failed to make the final.

Diane
Diane
6 years ago

What I saw from The Netherlands in the last 2 years is that they gave us the variety of music. They gave us this kind of music which other countries would not sent to Eurovision, and they did it in a very professional way. Both songs in 2013 and 2014 are very worth to enter the charts and certainly have the life after Eurovision, and I hope they will continue this trend.

William Lee Adams
Admin
6 years ago

Yes, timelines require us to rate songs BEFORE seeing the staging (it would be impossible for us to have our 20 jurors rate 37 songs at ESC, while also publishing posts). In any case, the staging was transformative and stunning. Well done!

Sam
Sam
6 years ago

It looks like you changed your mind about this year’s entry (30th Wiwi jury)