Following Loïc Nottet’s success in Vienna last May, the pressure is on for Belgium to deliver once again. Flemish broadcaster VRT has already revealed details of a scaled back Eurosong — five acts for 2016 compared to 16 in 2014. Despite the changes, the expert panel element will remain intact. And according to Songfestival.be, Christer Björkman and Hadise will sit on it.
Eurosong 2016 host Peter van de Veire broke the news in an interview with the site. Unlike before, the experts will not act as jurors. They will offer tips to the competitors and guide viewers at home. A number of different musical professionals will critique the acts, with the Turkey Eurovision 2009 singer and Melodifestivalen impresario joining the panel on 17 January, the night of the final. The names of the other judges are yet to be announced.
Hadise is perhaps the most famous Belgian of Turkish descent. Since singing “Düm Tek Tek” at Eurovision 2009, she has gone on to become a superstar in Turkey. She’s released a slew of hit singles and is a coach on the country’s version of The Voice. In November, she became only the second Eurovision singer ever to reach 100 million views on a single YouTube video.
Meanwhile, Christer Björkman is the mastermind behind Sweden’s hugely successful Melodifestivalen selection for Eurovision. He’s held the role of supervisor since 2002. Before that, he sang for Sweden at Eurovision 1992, where he placed second from bottom. This won’t be his first foray abroad. In 2015, he appeared on Cyprus’ Eurovision Song Project.
Five acts will compete in Belgium’s 2016 selection. They are Laura Tesoro, Amaryllis Uitterlinden, Adil Aarab, Astrid Destuyver and Tom Frantzis. There will be three shows, but no eliminations until the final. On 3 January, the acts will demonstrate their performance ability (presumedly by singing a cover). On 10 January they’ll finally present their song for Eurovision. The 17 January final will see a winner chosen by a Melfest-style international jury and a traditional public vote.