Waylon showed up at his first rehearsal at Eurovision 2018 ready to rock out. The country star slipped into a leopard print jacket and definitely cut the image of a rebel as he performed his song “Outlaw in ‘Em”. Comfortable in small clubs and on grand stages, the Dutchie was completely unfazed by all the lights and cameras around him. As ever he delivered the song effortlessly, reminding Eurovision fans why he placed second at Eurovision back in 2014.

And while there’s little reason to criticise Waylon, his staging is another matter entirely. He’s accompanied by a series of backing dancers, all of whom are black. This has caused a bit of a stir as it’s been interpreted as a deliberate move that hints at blacksploitation. This takes on a particularly unsavoury connotation given that the song, on its surface, is about outlaws. That the performance comes in the wake of the Black Lives Matter phenomenon only adds more question marks. Despite his harmless intentions, optics do matter — and the optics here don’t look good.

Putting race to the side, Waylon also seems to have betrayed his country roots. He’s known as a Nashville performer. And Nashville concerts don’t normally include breakdancing or krumping, if that’s what the choreography can be called. Waylon’s backing dancers perform more of a broken break dance involving lots of violent shakes. It’s as if they’ve got the tremors.

Waylon’s Eurovision in Concert performance would have qualified him for the grand final easily. He doesn’t need any sort of narrative — let alone a controversial one — around him to make an impact. Sadly his current performance, which is chaotic at best and a total disaster at worst, won’t do him or The Netherlands any favours.

Waylon — “Outlaw in ‘Em”: Reviews and Reactions

The Netherlands: First rehearsal at Eurovision 2018

The Netherlands: First press conference 2018

Read all of our Eurovision rehearsal reviews

Read all of our Netherlands Eurovision news here

Footage & Photos: EBU & RTP

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Jayce
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Jayce

If ever there’s a person who can’ t digest, it’s Willem (Waylon). After the contest he answered jijsome journalists; ‘what can you do when a woman who impersonates a chicken and a woman with a beard (Tom Neuwirth as Conchita) win…. And than I thougt to myself, he can’t deal with it. It would have been right to congratulate Israel and let it be. Believe it or not: Willem is a jury member at ‘The Voice of Holland Kids’. I found him just as annoying as one of the Dutch voice overs, Dutch singer Jan Smit, just burning several countries… Read more »

Remmie Buis
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Remmie Buis

I think that William Lee Adams must be a sick and troublesome racist. For him everything seems to be racial, so he thinks racial. And if you think racial, than you are a racist. Case closed.

Lady Vulvamort
Guest
Lady Vulvamort

Just FYI, the dancers are KRUMPING , which played a big part in black culture and history . I don’t see why there is an issue here with the dancers being all black. Let’s say the dancers were all white males. If that was the case, I am pretty sure that Waylon would have been accused of cultural appropriation. ” … Nashville concerts don’t normally include breakdancing or krumping, if that’s what the choreography can be called…” – William, this is not your ordinary Miranda Lambart, Tim Mcgraw, Luke Bryan, and Carrie Underwood country music . This is NOT the… Read more »

Hater
Guest
Hater

If it didn’t look rasist, why change it? Be a man Waylon, show us ur first idea in full glory!
Btw, how does it feel Waylon, how does it….feel;) 😉 😉

Chevy
Guest
Chevy

Get a life plz.

trackback

[…] The dancing didn’t quite gel with the song (do outlaws do acrobatics?) but while others have accused Waylon of blacksploitation in that he’s supported by four men of colour, I assumed the exact opposite. My key issue with Eurovision is that it’s incredibly white. I […]

Buddhi Dev
Guest
Buddhi Dev

There are 4 dancers on the stage and it doesn’t matter what skin color they have – all men, all women, all white, all black, all Asian, all gay, all str8, fat, slim, or mixed, and so on. It’s about the performance, not the skin color. William, you should know this better than many persons, and I think you should focus in depth about the song , choreography and staging, more than putting your attention to the skin color. I usually enjoyed your channel and blog but this time you made me disappointed, a lot. Waylon is honest to what… Read more »

NumoQuest®
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NumoQuest®

Editor in chief? Ha! Miserable and useless…. By the way, if you don’t have any fathom of the intention of act and singers, you really think someone will give a toss you raising your eyebrows? Questionable choreography? In your dreams you’ll never come that close to what these (colored) guys achieve. By the way …. Michael Jacksons and Beyonce’s dance crews sole has existed out of black privileged dancers no doubt. Kid, do yourself a favor before you embarrass yourself to the ground down, get your facts straight first. Rule number one in journalism still is : ‘Always verify, never… Read more »

trackback

[…] schreef die William Lee Adams over […]

Job
Guest
Job

An outstanding singer with a nice song. Not European at all; that’s probably the problem. The dancers are very good as well; a very good stage act

When I look at the first semi-final: al lot of trash, with bas copies of Shakirah (the same every year), bad songs, singing out of key. But thats is what the averages want. No feeling for quality. The same when you look at the second semi-final.

Ihateracism
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Ihateracism

Why Black dancers only ? To me Its very racist.

NumoQuest®
Guest
NumoQuest®

It’s racist even to suggest such but let me help you out here. Biologically and scientifically there is only one human race called ‘Homo Sapiens’ Therefor in fact, ‘Racism’ is acting against…. the kind you are part of as well. Now how dumb and ignorant is that?

PiT
Guest
PiT

Didn’t hear you about the chicken song and act from Israel?! That is not a weird thing?!
First I didn’t understand Waylon’s act either but i’m sure things will be okay later on. And he does make a statement that you don’t seem to understand.
Even worse… you’re talking about racism is a bigger thing and just shows your lack of integrity… BIG, BIG MISTAKE!!!

Andrew
Guest
Andrew

First of all… it is really weird to go and bash a performance and staging based on a single camera point view that won’t be the final cut. Second of all … there is absolutely nothing racist about this performance and like Waylon said in an interview: people who get this out of the performance should be ashamed. The idea behind the concept is that the musicians feel the music and become outlaws , the final directors performance will be the one where this idea has to work. I love your site but the reviews about first rehearsals are a… Read more »

Maria
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Maria

Very underrated. It is top 5 material.

Lady Gaga
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Lady Gaga

I like this song, as well as Waylon as a seasoned performer. The staging looks like a mess now, so they better do some editing quick! I felt like I just saw a parody of a Waylon performance/staging. If they lock that, together with Waylon’s unique voice & charisma, this will sail through

My2Cents
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My2Cents

I don’t like the staging that much either but … blacksploitation? wtf you drama queen… what does it matter what color these people are? Rolling my eyes

Ally
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Ally

Only controversial here is his horendous jacket

AngieP
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AngieP

I was surprised a little because he said he would be alone and at the end there were more people. It doesn’t bother me, the stage doesn’t feel that empty. But the overall performance and the choreography were a bit strange. Not a fan of his coat also. Better be awsome next time!

Frau Loch
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Frau Loch

If William still stands for what he said yesterday about blackspoiltation I expect a negative review for another country too today. MonteNEGRO.??

Ally
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Ally

WTF is controversial in this?!

Escphbelgium
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Escphbelgium

I know I did not raise a wrist
I know I know I did not capture it
It came, it went, it conquered quick
I was there and then I quit.
[Repeat 5 times]

Davve
Guest
Davve

Change the outfit

Amaya
Guest
Amaya

Honestly, after having seen and thought about all of this, it seems to me like an exaggeration. It is true, the staging is a bit messy and the moves are weird. However, I do not see the so called ‘blacksploitation’ anywhere! William, honey are you raising all this drama to ensure a place for your beloved pop divas in the final (e.g. Moldova)? It’s no secret who gets all the coverage from you (Cyprus, Australia or Finland), while Norway, Denmark and the Netherlands gets slipped away from your attention.

Ally
Guest
Ally

True dat, esc fans don’t like rock, they like AWS only because of cute boys and don’t give a f about metal.

Amaya
Guest
Amaya

exactly, what makes me angry is that William and his team in Wiwibloggs are not being equal as broadcasters when they are so obviously bringing all the attention to many nobody-but-them-like-songs- like Malta, Slovenia, Moldova, Croatia, Romania, Azerbaijan, Hungary etc. just because they are either radio-friendly pop divas or cute rockers. Same with other songs that are OK but not the best, like Finland, Australia or Cyprus. At the same time they are trying to bring shade to other songs of much more quality such as Denmark, the Netherlands or Greece, just because they dont fit in their “diva” standards.… Read more »

Let us wait
Guest
Let us wait

Waylon is probably one of the best singers on stage during ESC and I simply cannot imagine he will spoil it all by this staging….. I wonder (and so does Dutch press) whether this was a joke and the real thing will be different from this. He mentions in DWDD (the program that also revealed all the songs previously) that he wanted to feel the stage, atmosphere etc. Meanwhile earlier, in that same program, he had anounced to be alone on stage and that the staging will be completely different and unexpected…. This however is not alone and although different… Read more »

Let us wait
Guest
Let us wait

Brainwave, help me here.
As the 4 dancers hardly move the first part, can this be recorded and layered over? Thus keep them playing their instruments and have them experience an out of body expierence (outlaw in them)?

Andrew
Guest
Andrew

Now that would be awesome… Who knows….

Jim
Guest
Jim

I just can ‘t understand why everyone keeps saying it is too american for eurovision whilst australia keeps coming every year. Thats just BS
That said i am 100% sure that waylon is gonna wow europe with his song/act. This is going to look great on tv! Just wait and see

Andrew
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Andrew

Haha exactly. People are so full of crap.

Hada
Guest
Hada

Or maybe they were the best for the job.

I agree the krumping looks out of place with the song, but the guys themselves don’t and as long as Waylon/Pancake guy change things to keep it country there shouldn’t be a problem.

Marcos
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Marcos

Some people says there’s a problem with The Netherlands trying too hard with country style. I disagree. Any style can win Eurovision like Lordi with their hard rock or Salvador with her jazzy-bossa nova.

It’s about executing a composition to perfection. Every style has a place for masterpieces (rock, metal, ballad, whatever) but you have to find it.

I fear this song is far away from a masterpiece.

Katerina
Guest
Katerina

I don’t see any “blacksploitation”. To be honest the only weird thing is the clothes he is wearing. I would prefer the simple cool look he had at the national final. Vocals are good though.

Purple Mask
Guest
Purple Mask

This song’s lyrics are already controversial enough on their own. For example: “But it don’t matter who you are when it’s time to lock and load.” Also: “Everybody’s got a couple scarred up knuckles Blood on their boots and their back-off buckle.” Firstly, “everybody” DOESN’T have these things, unless the song is for those living a lawless state or is being sung in a prison. (Think about it.) Secondly, to show four young men on a stage behaving like they are having seizures to the song is not fun entertainment; it is drama. (Again, think about it.) My point is,… Read more »

Frau Loch
Guest
Frau Loch

Why be disqualified? It is a rehearsal, they can do what they want. France should then be disqualified too for brining a political message to the contest. Let’s wait and see what happens. If Waylon is serious about this the jury’s and televote will prove him wrong or right.

esc1234
Guest
esc1234

I get he likes country and rock music, but this is so american that it becomes unlikeable. Honey, its europe…

Maaike
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Maaike

Since when is Israel in Europe. Or Australia? Honey not every genre should stay in its own country nowadays you can mix things up. America loves Hardwell and Armin van Buuren and Martin gerrix so…

TheBoysOnTheRock
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TheBoysOnTheRock

William Lee Adams in particular and Wiwibloggs in general: As a ‘colored’ or dark skin person I’ve just read the most appalling and hateful post I’ve ever seen on this site! This report incite hatred based on personal assumptions and is only meant to put people up against each other. Who are you to use the word ‘blacksploitation’ in order to judge a performance of an artist? I hope readers here or even Waylon and his crew consider to report this to the authorities for defamation. If Wiwibloggs wants to be seen as a serious medium an official apology and… Read more »

Yaa
Guest
Yaa

Don’t be so jumpy, we are not racist here, calm down, it was just ridiculous, that’s all ! And much too American to our taste, that’s for sure! This is Eurovision let’s not forget!

TheBoysOnTheRock
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TheBoysOnTheRock

‘This is Eurovision let’s not forget!’ Tell that to William Lee Adams.. True Eurovision fans know that there’s no place for racism and politics in Eurovision..

Frau Loch
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Frau Loch

Hear hear,. William is great at what he does but he got out if line with this review and an acknowledgement would be appreciated.

James
Guest
James

“Much too American” when a large portion of modern American music these days are done by Europeans.

Fuego 2018
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Fuego 2018

You don’t understand that @TheBoysOnTheRock is not accusing anyone of racism, all contrary, is accusing wiwi for seeing racism where it is not.
And about tastes, this will decide the people who will vote on May 10. Are you accusing Netta for wearing a kimono? Is not European either.

James Oswald
Guest
James Oswald

FFS… NOTHING to do with racism. Read it again! Jesus Christ, some people gets offended by everything. Please leave…

Elm
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Elm

Yes the staging is…weird. But SERIOUSLY!? Pulling the racist card!?? Jesus Christ….

Rimig
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Rimig

Me and many others here are really claiming for an answer/retraction/apology from you, Wiwibloggs (William). That “blacksploitation” comment was totally unnecessary and out of place. As others have claimed here, do not Amercanize the ESC!

poe-tay-toe-chips
Guest
poe-tay-toe-chips

Something tells me Waylon might’ve had the freedom to choose how he wanted his staging taking away from him

He DID say before that he originally planned to be up there alone

Anyway, FIRE Pancake! And also burn that coat while you’re at it. That red leather jacket he wore earlier would be much better with the rest of that outfit

poe-tay-toe-chips
Guest
poe-tay-toe-chips

*taken

Frau Loch
Guest
Frau Loch

Pannecoucke is not to blame, he is responsible for the execution NOT the idea. If this goes flat on its face the once who really are to blame are the broadcasters for allowing a long proces to have this as a final result.

brennan
Guest
brennan

“in the wake of the Black Lives Matter phenomenon” girl, what? the Black Lives Matter movement is far from over and won’t be over until police brutality ceases in the US, although I guess it’s easy for people to forget about it as long as it isn’t in the headlines. How does this exclusively American thing relate to like… three guys being part of a team for a singing competition in the Netherlands Regardless! Having black dancers on your team is far from ‘blacksploitation’… would you have said the same thing about Anouk’s singers in 2013? I have to wonder… Read more »

Vrede
Guest
Vrede

Ok so, Hans Pannecoucke needs to be fired from all eurovision duties. Yes, he was behind the brilliant Calm after The Storm staging. But everything else he’s done has been awful. And this year he’s messing up two potentially great acts.
#firepancake
#firepancake
#firepancake

Sabrina
Guest
Sabrina

It’s hard to understand how the same brain behind something so classy, ellegant and timeless like that “Calm After the Storm” performance is the one responsible for what the Netherlands brough to the rehearsals today.

Vrede
Guest
Vrede

Well, general consensus in the Netherlands is that it’s actually Ilse who was the real brains behind that stellar performance. I mean, he also did Trijntje’s horrible Walk Along staging, Douwe’s lacklustre Slow Down (the 10 seconds of silence was Hans’ idea) and last year’s Spanish disaster. Although that horrendous song probably couldn’t have been saved anyway…

poe-tay-toe-chips
Guest
poe-tay-toe-chips

I personally thought Douwe’s staging worked pretty well for him. But i’ll agree on the rest and say everything else he does tends to suck

Rory
Guest
Rory

STOP AMERICANIZING THE ESC!
And I am NOT thinking about the music here, Wiwibloggs.

Miguel Lupi
Guest
Miguel Lupi

I m sorry wiwiblogs but are you on drugs? First waylon explained in the press conference why they are there. Second, this beguins as country but ends as rock. To me is neither one entirely, and this being eurovision, why the hell cant he mix genres or try new things? Third you should be ashamed of that blackspoitation mention. The dancers are representing themselves, its not waylon or White people. For the life of me I cant understand William here, he is usually so reasonable.

Yaa
Guest
Yaa

It’s crap, when I see crap I can recognize it!

CharlieChan
Guest
CharlieChan

Sooo you just called yourself crap-detector.

Yaa
Guest
Yaa

Fair enough

Frau Loch
Guest
Frau Loch

He grabbed the media by the pussy and they fell for it big time. Momentum is created so let’s wait for the next stage…..

Sabrina
Guest
Sabrina

My comment is awaiting moderation for some reason.

Sabrina
Guest
Sabrina

This is my favorite song on this semi and a top 5 overall, but the staging looks terrible. Waylon is such a good performer, though it’s like they’re trying to harm his authenticity and ruin his reputation with people from Nasvhille. The outfit and the choreography may look American, but they’re definitely not country. I’m with William on this one, it made me feel uncomfortable. Not offended, but uncomfortable.

Jennings
Guest
Jennings

His stagins is so unfitting and so nunexpected (as he said/lied that he would be on his own on stage to the Dutch press earlier), that i’d be not surprised if Waylon is fooling with us again, and he’ll come up with something completely different on the second rehearsal

Rimig
Guest
Rimig

That is actually something that is being discussed in the Dutch media. I hope they/you are right

Sabrina
Guest
Sabrina

I really hope that’s the case.

My2Cents
Guest
My2Cents

why would he bring these people on stage just to pull off a stunt? wtf

Héctor
Guest
Héctor

I want to see this live with the production and camera angles before making further statements. I didn’t know the staging was going to be related with the “Black Lives Matter” motto. I don’t see it that bad, though the dancing moves are certainly strange. However, I agree with you, he doesn’t need all of this show to stand out. I was imagine something more like Georgia 2016 with a lot of camera cuts and effects like the first official video.

Marcelo
Guest
Marcelo

It seems like, although Waylon must be a proud Dutch, he definitely wanted to just go full “American” this time at Eurovision. I mean the country song, the Western concept, the cringey leopard jacket, the breakdance stunts, the Elvis complex, the SJW unnecessary discussions about race. I mean it’s all pretty “American” to me, and it’s not very pleasant regardless of the song qualities. Honestly, I have to say that as for now, I really miss The Common Linnets.

Digital Style
Guest

I think it is a stretch to call this a race issue, though I understand why people are concerned. However, this choreography does not suit the song at all. It looks severely messy and misplaced.

Anita
Guest
Anita

Semifinal 2 is so disappointing. When I maybe must face Albania not qualifying it makes me really angry.
The only comfort I have is that Slovenia will qualify now and Hungary will be an outstanding performance.
At least I won’t give any points to The Neverlands.

Anita
Guest
Anita

Ukraine is one of my faves too. And after today Moldova will get points from me as well.

Marcelo
Guest
Marcelo

I don’t know if it just me but after today I could see a Trintje situation happening to Waylon. The thing is, that, if the Netherlands doesn’t make the cut who will replace them in the final? Slovenia? Latvia? Hungary? Romania?

Yaa
Guest
Yaa

Any of them will do! I’m not choosy!

Passarinho
Guest
Passarinho

I must ask, who are coming with these controversies and where?
Is it happening in some forum? On twitter?
People in the comments here seems not to about race

To be honest, I find it weird seeing people talking and thinking that way, it’s a very USA way o speaking that isn’t very common in Europe. Last sunday there was the “cultural appropriation” issue with the israeli staging and now this

Rory
Guest
Rory

This.

We, in Europe, don’t overthink stuffs and don’t get offended so easily as the people across the pond.

Whoever it is, stop Americanizing the ESC and Europe in general. We already have a rich culture for millenias to come, we don’t need fabricated American stupidities.

Anita
Guest
Anita

This looks and is terrible – the entry is ruined with this. I loved it before that.

Anita
Guest
Anita

This is terrible – they ruined it. I loved this entry before this.

Efraim
Guest
Efraim

I don’t really get the ‘blacksploitation’ (I don’t even know if that’s the correct spelling) controversy, but that choreography is an ill fit for the song, so it must go.

BettyB
Guest

Ow god… this is a hotmess….
but i makes me wonder…would there be a racial issue if he had 3 black backing vocalists like Anouk did…

Denis
Guest
Denis

Get rid of the dancers and you will have a good performance!