The Eurovision Song Contest is a mountain to climb.

We start each season in the foothills, gradually ascend to the summit and by the end only one act is left standing.

Until now Duncan Laurence has had a seamless ascent, but it was almost inevitable that at The Netherlands first rehearsal for Eurovision 2019 he would hit some bumps in the road.

The market leader always has unrealistic expectations to grapple with.

Before people run off in the comments, this is not to say that this performance does not have winning potential.

It teems with beautiful moments.

In the first run through there was a backlit shot where Duncan looked down the camera and caused an earthquake of emotions. That was swapped out for lasers in the second run. But at the third it returned and so much for the better.

the problem here is two-fold: camera angles are too wide and we don’t get enough eye contact from Duncan.

“Arcade” needs emotional intensity, which you get from tight closeups and eye contact down the camera, both of which were lacking today.

In sum The Netherlands still has the ingredients it needs to pull of a win, but at the moment it has not balanced them effectively. But when Duncan looks down the camera and is lit from the back in the climax it is sheer magic.

Duncan Laurence — “Arcade”: Reviews and Reactions

The Netherlands: First rehearsal at Eurovision 2019

The Netherlands: First press conference 2019

Read all of our Eurovision rehearsal reviews

Photo Credit: EBU

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Niels
Guest
Niels

Am I the only one who thinks this is on purpose, for not giving away to much? I mean for example the ugly keyboard will be changed for a real piano and that bowl of light hanging there will give some amazing visuals or somekind of magic feeling??

Stephanie
Guest

I agree with you, I don’t think his team wants to give away too much before it’s time. It’s a clever strategy, and at least now we know why the piano is present in the performance

Matija
Guest
Matija

I am so dissapointed with this rehearsal, sorry.

Just me
Guest
Just me

Duncan sits at the piano and sings the song. A country that has remembered it is a song contest, not a visuals contest. The song and the lyrics are incredible. The stage is all blue. The only effects are one simple light and white clouds with a blue background. Perfection.

Nicky91
Guest
Nicky91

im dutch but our entry this year will be my personal bathroom break

so boring, and unappealing him sitting so lazy behind that piano

it is a song contest i know, but he could’ve done more while standing, getting audience to clap along near the end for example, now he can’t because he’s stuck behind that piano

Willem van Altena
Guest
Willem van Altena

The song sells it, no matter what happens on stage. Salvador Sobral also won by just standing there, with his eyes closed half of the time. A great song -and a great voice- does not need anything else. Whether Duncan sits or stands, he’s not going to burst out into dance moves anyway because the song doesn’t ask for that.

Niya
Guest
Niya

Honestly you can’t judge a whole performance by just 30 seconds and this is also only the first rehearsal so everyone should take it with a grain of salt – and that goes for all performances.
However, anything but a top 3 position for this song in the final would be blasphemous. I’m not blown away by the staging as of yet but I have no doubt it’s going to do great.

Purple Mask
Guest
Purple Mask

With or without the piano (about which I don’t mind either way), the key to this one is for the cameras to pick up Duncan’s visual performance; specifically his face.
But I don’t agree with everything that Angus Quinn writes in his review, for example: “The market leader always has unrealistic expectations to grapple with.” – No it doesn’t. A more popular song does not raise the expectations for staging beyond the possible. It is never unrealistic to provide some kind of innovative staging for any of the entries – that is simply a matter of creativity. Dare to create. 🙂

MaggieMayhem
Guest
MaggieMayhem

This is my favorite entry, but I’m not sure how I feel about the staging. The 30 sec clip only gave us an audience perspective and I think some of the visuals didn’t match the music played. The piano is ok I guess…. I love how he’s like awkwardly sitting behind it – that’s just typically him. Though, I think I prefer him standing. I just love his beautiful hand gestures and intensity when he’s standing behind the mic. Also, I’m not liking the colors and backdrop I’ve seen so far. I think the blue is way too dark. I… Read more »

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

Honestly? This is pretty close to what I imagined it would be.

All blue with him sitting at a piano.

Since it seems simple and he’s not doing or moving much, I’d say that his facial expressions are going to be CRUCIAL and the thing he needs to work and focus on the most.

People think his song is emotional so he needs to sell his emotions for all that they are worth.

Felix
Guest
Felix

I think the lowering odds might be good for Duncan’s chances. During the run up to the final in 2017, Salvador was on top of the odds, until he was pipped to the first position by Kristian before (I believe it was the Friday?). Anyway, unless we look at 2012-14, nobody really wants to vote for a dead cert winner. People will feel as though their vote would be better placed somewhere else. The staging is what it needs to be – by the sounds of it the improvements are largely cinematographical.

Felix
Guest
Felix

I thought that they’d go for an Oscar Zia ‘Human’ style staging – I have faith that this’ll work as well though!

bastian
Guest
bastian

Okay i didnt see the piano coming and I DONT LIKE IT. All he had to do was just stand on stage with beautiful lights patterns. Anyway, i dont think he’s out of the game now. The song is key. Vocals are on point. I hope the camerawork will be better though.

Jo.
Guest
Jo.

i would prefer without the piano

EscFan2008
Guest
EscFan2008

At first I was a bit sceptical about the piano but now I am glad it is there because now it has its ‘own’ type of staging if he just stood there I think it would have been more ‘salvador sobral’ nothing wrong but with this it will more stand out

Nicky91
Guest
Nicky91

stand out LOL it will make people fall asleep, and north Macedonia performing after this, Tamara has pure emotion, passion and a solid good song, definitely will hurt NL their chances to qualify

Gert (Songfestivalwerk)
Guest

I have to work, even during these frantic Eurovision rehearsal days. But tonight I found time to write my outsider-perspective impression about Duncan’s first rehearsal. Am I optimistic for a win? I think I am fairly realistic. I don’t expect a win, and I mirrored that feeling most of the time on here. Anyway, curious what you think of it :-):

https://songfestivalwerk.wordpress.com/2019/05/07/tel-aviv-2019-duncans-first-set-of-rehearsals/

Chris Mo
Guest
Chris Mo

Read your piece. It is actually pretty good. I appreciate your observations. He is indeed going for a “concert setting”

Mark
Guest
Mark

I don’t know why but this reminds me Bulgaria 2017. I think he will get second place.

cent
Guest
cent

UGLY UGLY UGLY !
how boring! my deceased grandmother would have sung her better with more emphasis

Bigger
Guest
Bigger

You must have an ugly personality in real life to actually write something so disrespectful…and to bring your deceased grandmother in it…

Famelos
Guest
Famelos

Hello all…..it looks like Oscars performance of L.Gaga or am I wrong?

Jaxie
Guest
Jaxie

Thats what i thought!

Sabrina
Guest
Sabrina

And now I’m imagining Bradley Cooper breathing on Duncan’s neck.

Berco
Guest
Berco

Why do people think it is gonna be a non-winning material because of the simple staging? Salvador Sobral didn’t break the all time record by bungee-jumping into the flames. Anyway, good luck for all potential winners!

Bob
Guest
Bob

Sobral won because he had charisma. Duncan has a wonderful voice and is extremely talented, but I am not sure he can go through the screen. The song is amazing though, but it was a long time since ESC was a contest simply about music.

Mario
Guest
Mario

Jurij Veklenko will represent Lithuania in the second Semi-Final of the Eurovision 2019 Song Contest on May 16. We invite you for a #RunWithTheLions! http://bit.do/eRMbw
#Vote

Dudee
Guest
Dudee

People wanted to keep it simple
Now he keeps it simple some people are saying its too simple??
But anyway if its mostly camera angels it could easily be fixed… lets hope he is better in handling critics than Waylon ??

Rainer1
Guest
Rainer1

This song is so booooring and the performance is more boooooooooring. Top10? Not sure

IVANOV
Guest
IVANOV

100% agree.

Jason
Guest
Jason

Top 10? 100% sure.

Bob
Guest
Bob

There is no guarantee he will be top 10 with televoters. However, the jury is going to eat this up and give him a top 3 placing, that’s for sure!

Nicky91
Guest
Nicky91

agree, a shame and wasted potential what could’ve done more to this song, also maybe a smoother flow of water in backdrop, instead of those lasers which belong more to upbeat dance music, and not a ballad

Daphne
Guest
Daphne

He’s too stiff. This performance rather dull imo. I think ITALY will take the trophy home at this point

Mitchel van Eijk
Guest

Very reliable based on 30 seconds

Bigger
Guest
Bigger

How are you so sure that Italy will easily win this though. Italy always sends great songs with quality, but the staging is always meh. This years Soldi is fantastic, but I’m afraid that there wont be a thoughful staging like in San Remo. And i don’t know what kind of staging will fit that song, that would in any way blow the viewers away. But we will see Friday.

T.J.
Guest
T.J.

as I thought – the hype is just about the nakedness in the video. As a stage performer he might be good, but he’s not a winner entry.

Whisker
Guest
Whisker

Great strategy the video. And I agree with you.

T.J.
Guest
T.J.

vote me down as you like – but it’s the truth. Duncan will not win this. And don’t get me wrong: I like both the video and the song.

IVANOV
Guest
IVANOV

He simply has noot the charima of Sergey so he couldn’t be standing in front of the audience and chose to sit on a cheap keyboard – sorry not a piano – with artificial gimmicks to hide his weakness.
Would have been even worse without the keyboard believe me.

All Wei
Guest
All Wei

At least he doesn’t need 7 mirrors, seeing his ego multi reflected on stage as your beloved Sergej does!!

Susane
Guest
Susane

God…some Russians get more and more annoying with their endless hype of Sergey and even more annoying with trashing artists who have a real chances to win…
If Duncan is so ‘weak’ why you even care? Ugh!

Stephanie
Guest

I just watched the video of his press conference, and someone asked why the piano. Duncan replied that it reminded him of when he first wrote the song (sitting behind a piano) and wanted to translate that moment to the big stage

Nicky91
Guest
Nicky91

hopefully a shock NQ for Netherlands, cause i’ve heard better in semi 2

Moldova most underrated, sand art only used once before by Ukraine in 2011, so what about that, it is interesting and i like sand drawings myself

and Anna’s live vocals are also quite good, spot on right amount of emotion, feeling, passion, and a good love song

Sabrina
Guest
Sabrina

I like it. It wouldn’t make sense to give this entry an explosive staging, it would undermine its strenghts. So they kept things simple, ellegant and intimate. The lasers give it some modern touch and I bet the camerawork will make a huge difference on our final perception. The thing is that there’s always a cruel pressure on the shoulders of the frontrunner (ask Gabbani or even Netta), so this keeps the door open for the competition. I would get rid of the piano, but maybe it makes Duncan more comfortable, so he should have the final word.

allex
Guest
allex

Beautiful rehearsal, this now has a 90 percent chance of winning IMO . Amazing vocals, perfect staging, the lasers. Its Just EXQUISITE

Nicky91
Guest
Nicky91

LMAO, lasers don’t belong in a ballad, more in upbeat dance music

this song belongs in 90’s not 2019

Otto
Guest
Otto

The power is in the song and his voice, it doesn’t need any crazy distracting staging. They just need to nail the camera angles. This snippet doesn’t say much obviously.

Anna
Guest
Anna

The ”king” is….naked. Bye bye Duncan…

Xristos
Guest
Xristos

The Netherlands are my winner . What do you think about Greece; can we believe in a top 10 finish;

Rimig
Guest
Rimig

Definitely, Xristos. I think a top 10 is almost assured. Hopefully even a top 5. Greece is my number 2, actually, though closely followed by Iceland.

Anna
Guest
Anna

If she sings perfect and the tv direction is perfect…yes. ESC 2019 is widely open…for almost everybody to win !!!

L'oiseau
Guest
L'oiseau

The video is not very revealing, but I highly appreciate that they kept it simple and intimate. This is what we need as a winner this year (other good winner would be Italy…). My only concern is the fact that he is sitting on the piano. Although I personally love it (also because it is reminescent of other male winning singer songwriters) I am not sure if in our day and age this works well in Eurovision for victory… But my hopes are very high.

Stian F
Guest
Stian F

This could have been done so much better…. Just standing there and emotionally delivering the song with some nice subtle backdrop would have been way better.. But his voice sounds great.

ESCFan2009
Guest
ESCFan2009

The Netherlands invited their neighbours: This is Blanche’s ball from her musicvideo (Belgium 2017). NOTE: No hate comment, just a comparison for fun 🙂

Skiwalko
Guest
Skiwalko

Nah, I think they borowed it from Valentina.

Bigger
Guest
Bigger

Lol or the ball in Vienna (opening ceremony)

Tonton Fée
Guest
Tonton Fée

The winner of the eurovision song contest 2019 !
Simply, stronger and pure.
Netherlands 12 points !!!

Riri
Guest
Riri

I’m so glad that they kept the staging simple. But I have to say I would’ve liled it more if he was standing and there was no piano.
But still my favorite song and I’m hoping it wins.

Héctor
Guest
Héctor

I don’t get why The Netherlands has its odds drifting. I mean, what were people expecting? A copy like Moldova or maybe a pretentious and pompous staging like Russia? This entry doesn’t need much more, just tweak some camera angles to create atmosphere. That was enough for Salvador Sobral.

Sylvia
Guest
Sylvia

Are we sure that Salvador only won because his song was good? Because in my opinion he didn’t. Don’t get me wrong, I’m happy he is healthy now but I think he overused his then sickness to create drama around him. Regarding the dutch song, I don’t like the piano, I find it too old fashioned. Maybe he wants the older people from the critics to vote for him. The song is good.

Bella
Guest
Bella

Omg, the things people come up with… 1) No one knew about Salvador’s illness at the time (all we knew is that he couldn’t make it to rehearsals, and no details were provided). It was only revealed several days after the contest was done. What “overuse” and “drama” are you even referring to?! Please post the links. 2) 99% of the audience only tunes in the night of the final and doesn’t read ESC news. 3) Let’s even assume that everyone knew, you don’t get 758 points and critical acclaim from both juries and televote “just” because you have some… Read more »

Whisker
Guest
Whisker

That’s incorrect. I followed all the pre-contest developments starting with the national and internal selections, pre-parties, the whole spiel. It was known that Salvador was suffering from a severe heart health related issue. It was also said that during the semi and the grand final shows, several national broadcaster commentators made reference to the problem.

Bella
Guest
Bella

Please post the links. I was also following the pre-contest development and don’t remember reading a single line about it (and certainly not “overuse” and “drama”). All the hype was around Italy that year, as Gabbani was leading all the odds and opinion polls until very shortly before the final. Portugal was not talked about before the contest, even less so for that.

Please post the links you’re referring to. If there was such a “drama”, should be very easy to find.

Sylvia
Guest
Kieran Adams
Guest
Kieran Adams

That is time stamped the 16th of may 2017, the contest in 2017 was held before then, specifically the dates for the 2017 contest were 9th may 2017 – 13th may 2017, your article is dated 16th may 2017

Sylvia
Guest
Sylvia

Are you trolling us now? It is April the 16th, it says it in the article and if you had read the article you would see it talks about the rehearsals. The rehearsals can’t be after the contest. Please don’t make me waste my time if you ask for links and you don’t even open them.

Sylvia
Guest
Sylvia

I do remember that he was not there for a rehearsal which his sister did. So much for drama. When a singer is not there for the rehearsal, people start asking questions and articles are written about it. I do remember also that the national commentator of my country talked about his condition. So when you see a young person singing and you hear he has a heart condition, I think it makes it easier for you to just send a couple of votes his way.

Anna
Guest
Anna

esc can’t have a second Salvador in 3 years….maybe one per 10 year !!!

MikolasFan
Guest
MikolasFan

The weight of bookies and fans favorite is hard to bear, no wonder people feel disappointed, Duncan probably must fly or burn on the stage to impress skeptics lol
For me the song is magical, he sounds perfect, the lights fits the atmosphere ,add to this a nice camera angles and we have a winner 🙂

though Mahmood is still my king 😛

Laura
Guest
Laura

Yes Mahmood remains the king ! but now I’m worried about the staging… for me duncan was very good and instead all complaining… for that mahmood said it’s always better don’t be the favourite. He’s very anxious, too much pressure doesn’t help

Eurovisions
Guest
Eurovisions

I thought live instruments are not allowed in stage? It says but in the Eurovision rules.

just a fan
Guest
just a fan

I don’t think that’s true. The Netherlands did it again back in 2014, Greece in 2015 and in 2010 (to name a few) Netta used her weird yet smart gadget last year. Austria had a burning piano in 2015, Alexander Ryback his epic violin in 2009 and 2018 and the list goes on… What rule exactly?

Whisker
Guest
Whisker

Those were props for the “show”.
Slovenia had a flute in 2014, that was a nice entry. Ireland had a piano last year, Romania had some kind of drums in 2012.

Whisker
Guest
Whisker

How could I forget!!!! The Romanian entry in 2010 with the double piano! That one was amazing!

Una
Guest
Una

Piano is not live. Just pretending to play it. Like Tinkara with her flute.

Whisker
Guest
Whisker

You are right, live instruments are not allowed. The piano is just a prop.

Sylvia
Guest
Sylvia

I think it’s not allowed to only have live music. It has to be playback.

allex
Guest
allex

You must be new, hes not really playing the piano it more used as prop just like the Netherlands did in Copenhagen 2014.

Whisker
Guest
Whisker

That jogged my memory alright. Austria had a piano in 2015.

Nicolas
Guest
Nicolas

This could have worked last year with the simplified no led stage but this year where leds, technology and visual effects are in the game I’m having doubts at least on the televote side. Only juries can save the Netherlands win now.

Rimig
Guest
Rimig

Why? Because it is the Eurovision Led Contest?…

Bigger
Guest
Bigger

First I was a little disappointed because I only heard the comments from the real-time commentators. It was about a ball(?) which was weird. But then I saw the footage and it was actually nice, and the ball made sense. If they have some fog and light it could look like a moon during a cloudy midnight. I think it was disappointing because the staging looked static and boring. But after thinking for a while now I understand it. It is of course designed for the TV-audience and not for the arena-audience. When you move the view point of the… Read more »

Bigger
Guest
Bigger

Also adding that Ilse probably is aware of all these things, it might be a clever plan. When you look back at the rehearsals of 2014 (Common Linnets) (the one with the static viewpoint) it also looked quite boring with some circling camera crew. But when you watch it on TV suddenly the magic appears. It’s all about perspectives I guess

MiskyDisky
Guest
MiskyDisky

The biggest problem is the costume. If he wears what he wore in the video, I would vote for it a million times over.

Charles
Guest
Charles

And the traditinal gay shallow attempt of comedy opinion strikes again for no reason at all …

Denis
Guest
Denis

It’s good but was the only one expecting something more explosive?
Will do great though as be should

Bigger
Guest
Bigger

On the one hand yes (as in impactful laser show) but on the other hand, this is maybe something what I already expected. Duncan and his team made clear throughout the entire phase from release to now that it should all be about the song and the message, not about the lights and background 🙂

Denis
Guest
Denis

Good point, but I keep thinking the chorus part could have used more oompah. I wasn’t expecting fireworks either, just more power.

Trh
Guest
Trh

Like what – more Ikea candy with feces in it like you do in your miserable acts? Can you not appreciate simplicity?… I guess not with all your plastic food, furniture and clothes, you cannot appreciate authenticity. What a moron….

Joop
Guest
Joop

First rehearsal. Not much to see. But o so good. Wait until the semi final, and everyone will be blown away. And as far as polls: arcade still strong on top, while sream has gone down. And I wonder how people can change their opinion by seeing just a very small part. Grow up!

Stephanie
Guest

There’s also the second rehearsal on Saturday, he laid down a foundation today that he can build on going forward. I’m sure it will look amazing on TV next week

Janet
Guest
Janet

For me: Netherlands, Slovenia, Switzerland, Russia, Italy. No matter who wins, I will love all these songs. <3

Sylvia
Guest
Sylvia

Exactly the same for me! 🙂

Irina
Guest
Irina

I feel a little disappointed. I am not getting winner vibes here, even tho i really like the song, but something’s missing. If he was competing in 2018, which was a super strong year, i am sure he wouldn’t win. He can win this year tho, just because 2019 is not a strong year at all.

rrjym
Guest
rrjym

It is quite simple:

– people that liked Arcade before will be relieved with this pure staging
– people that disliked Arcade before, will hate hate its simplicity

Basically, I don’t think the odds will drastically change 🙂

Sebas
Guest
Sebas

Exactly that, odds are somewhat drifting now, but he won’t be overtaken I think.
Oh well we’ll see whats gonna happen, altho I don’t like the piano I rather have him standing.

Dani
Guest
Dani

I’m getting some Coldplay vibes from this! I’m imagining the audience also lit up during some of the wider shots, which will look fantastic. All of you who are disappointed, wait until the live show… this is just a 30 sec. FIRST rehearsal snippet.

Dario
Guest
Dario

Is this the same piano 2017 ?

Judith
Guest

If bringing the emotion by looking in the camera more often, is the only problem.. it’s still a winning game.

Kieran Adams
Guest
Kieran Adams

But if we remember Salvador in 2017, it was so beautifully shot, he rarely made that eye contact, it was about him, and his connection with the song. I think what Duncan needs is a more intimate setting. I feel like the colour scheme works really well, it keeps the colours from the music video in mind, his voice is stunning, the only thing missing at this point for me is intimacy, and i feel like that is easily fixed. A very minimalist staging is what the song needs, and what will work well with it is Duncan interacting with… Read more »

Sam
Guest
Sam

Last year Israel also disappointed a bit in the first rehearsal and it finally turned out to be the winner, so it is never possible to guess what will happen. What is sure is that we should not criticise that much and let the show start to see what the outcome is.

Paul
Guest
Paul

The youtube comment section doesn’t think this is a winning game for the Netherlands anymore.

Eurovision2019
Guest
Eurovision2019

That’s not true at all. Maybe you should buy some GLASSES.

Matija
Guest
Matija

Agree, so disppointed.

Vincent
Guest
Vincent

The Youtube comment section is usually a bloodbath of terrible angry Youtube fans 😉
I think every entry at some point gets a gigantic load of hate, especially if you’re the top favourite and even when you’re in the bottom in the odds.

All Wei
Guest
All Wei

it isnt a great bloodbath on YT in the Wiwi posts. Of coz the haters always have to find something targetting their hate comments on

All Wei
Guest
All Wei

i think you must have read a diff act??: snippet: wiwi YT reactions on Arcade- Thijmen Wind 3 uur geleden I am sad he is behind a keyboard, I really didn’t expect that. Still my number 1, but I hope they will change the staging? Joris van Veen 3 uur geleden I think it would be better to have a cleaner PIANO, not a keyboard. Still love it.. man I hope it wins!!? Mucrush 3 uur geleden I 100% agree with your thoughts. The staging is not the best? Julia Ortiz Molina 2 uur geleden Netherlands not that good staging???… Read more »

Andy
Guest
Andy

Probably a bit too toned down however it might look very good with the audience having the lights on their phones etc. as there were loads of audience angles apparently.

Also, every other staging at the top-10-15 so far, has loads going on so maybe this stands out for its simplicity.