He is the bookies’ favourite to win the Eurovision Song Contest, giving the Dutch hope the contest might come home after 40 years. But now a video of Duncan Laurence from 2017 has surfaced in which he sings his Eurovision entry “Arcade”. Naturally that’s stoking controversy among Eurofans, as the song was performed well before the September 1, 2018 cutoff.
The video was posted on June 9th, 2017, but had only clocked 500 views at the time of writing this post. The video itself is 29 minutes long and features five other songs performed by him and two musicians. “Arcade” is the first song he performs. He does so on the piano. It’s full length and with the official and current lyrics.
Has the Netherlands broken the rules?
The contest rules are clear. No song is allowed to be “commercially released” before the 1st of September of 2018. As mentioned above, the video was published over a year prior to the deadline. The rules also include uploads on social networks and public performances during concerts. Rule 2.2.2 Songs states:
The compositions (lyrics and music) must not have been commercially released before 1 September 2018 (the Release Date). In case the composition has been made available to the public, for example, but not limited to, on online video platforms, social networks or (semi-) publicly accessible databanks and/or performed publicy, for example but not limited to during concerts, the Participating Broadcaster must inform the ESC Executive Supervisor, who shall have authority to evaluate whether the composition is eligible for participation in the Event. In particular, the ESC Executive Supervisor shall assess whether such disclosure prior to the Release Date is likely to give to the composition an advantage in the Event vis-à-vis the other compositions. The ESC Executive Supervisor shall authorise or deny participation of a composition which may have been available to the public as described above, subject to the prior approval of the Reference Group.
The question is: Does a video with under 500 views count as a “commercial” release? Clearly not. A video with so few views is not at an advantage in the competition itself. Additionally, the venue seems to be pretty small. According to the introduction this was part of a late-night student show. And anyway Dutch students can’t vote for the Netherlands at Eurovison!
Eurovision songs are often produced months or even years before the September deadline. For example, Germany’s song “Sister” was written during the Swiss songwriting-camp in 2018 and found it’s home a year later. Producing a song is a long process in which many different people are involved. There are many tweaks and false starts before you create a masterpiece.
The Dutch broadcaster has not yet commented.
A familiar issue
It seems like the issue of the release date is a reoccurring drama with many different artists involved in similar situations in recent years. In 2018 Alekseev from Belarus performed his entry “Forever” several months before the deadline during a concert in Stavropol.
In 2016 a petition circulated calling on the EBU to disqualify Jamala and “1944” after grainy video footage emerged showing her performing the song in May 2015.
“The purpose of the rule is to prevent wide distribution of any song that might give it an unfair advantage in the competition the following May,” the EBU wrote in response.
“In the past, songs that had been publicly available before the deadline, but had not been accessible by a wide audience, had been granted permission to compete in the Eurovision Song Contest by the Reference Group.”
“In the case of Jamala’s ‘1944’ the EBU’s attention has been drawn, after the 2016 Eurovision Song Contest, to a public performance of an earlier version of the song in May 2015.”
“The video of a small concert had only been viewed by a few hundred people before it was discovered in the past few days.”
“The EBU, based on previous decisions in the Reference Group, therefore has concluded that the published video did not give Jamala’s song any unfair advantage in the 2016 Eurovision Song Contest and the song was eligible to compete.”
In 2016 Danish broadcaster DR allowed Anja Nissen‘s song “Never Alone” to remain in Dansk Melodi Grand Prix, after earlier suggestions that it may be ineligible due to a previous live performance by co-writer Emmelie De Forest dating back to 2014.
The EBU confirmed in all three cases that no rule was violated.
What do you think? Will Duncan face problems with the video? Tell us in the comments below!