Early Monday morning, they released their eagerly anticipated song for Belgium at Eurovision 2020. But within hours of “Release Me” debuting, social media was up in arms over some comments attributed to Hooverphonic’s front man Alex Callier.

The fuss arose from an online article, published by VRT, originally entitled “In the circus of bad taste, there is also place for a pearl”. The piece quickly gained traction with many reading the out-of-context comments as an arrogant declaration.

However, wiwibloggs has reached out to VRT for comment. In an exclusive statement, originally sent to us in Flemish, the Belgian broadcaster confirms that it’s all a big misunderstanding.

Hooverphonic’s “Circus Of Bad Taste” Comments — VRT Statement

“This quote has been taken out of context. A lot of people in the surroundings of Alex ask him ‘why do you do this?!’. And those people are calling it ‘a fest of bad taste’. Something Alex and co don’t agree with at all! They love Eurovision. There is indeed a big show element in the contest with bells and whistles.

Hooverphonic will not be part of this, because Hooverphonic is just Hooverphonic and they want to stay close to their DNA. So, if people interpret Eurovision as a cirsus of bad taste, then let them do that. Alex, Luka and Raymond are enormously looking forward to it!”

One of our team, who attended Monday’s song launch explains that it was most likely a sarcastic answer from Alex. Many have been attacking the group’s participation, and they are the ones branding Eurovision a “circus of bad taste”. Playing the haters at their own game, Alex is saying that if that’s the case, the group is a pearl.

Callier is a lifetime Eurovision fan. Speaking to wiwibloggs in January he spoke of his love of song contest classics from France Gall and Viky Leandros right up to Salvador Sobral and Lake Malawi.

Follow all of our Belgium Eurovision 2020 news.

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jfox_80
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jfox_80

It’s interesting to read some of the negative comments that project a sense of knowing Alex. I’ve known Alex and Raymond for over over two decades, and some of you are so far off the mark. I can confirm unequivocally that he and Raymond enjoy the Eurovision contest. If you think that they will perform this song exaaaaactly like the video version, you’ll be sadly mistaken (or delighted). As for staging, will it be bombastic…no. Will it be the same as the video, no. They work with international stage personnel whose creativity can also be experienced with other international bands/artists.… Read more »

Tim
Guest
Tim

A small reminder to 2015, when Mans got trashed in advance for alleged homophobic statements…same with Waylon who was being served of as being arrogant and snobbish in 2014…stop being hysterical yall….Yes, Alex may be stuck up and full off what he does….We, as fans, do not run nore determine the contest! Hell, we’re about 2% of the complete voting/watching audience, most of them only see the songs for the first time on the night of the semis… The fact that this song/man generates so much fuss with cons and pros says more than actually ignoring it completely…which would do… Read more »

Anita Mann
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Anita Mann

You lost all credibility when you said “yall”…

Tim
Guest
Tim

don’t need any, especially not validated by you Anita 😉

Una
Guest
Una

A true fan of Eurovision stays put for the semis and especially the GF. One date. One evening in a whole year. Why watch the contest in the loo? Really? It doesn’t show how much you like the show. *not relatable*

Mia
Guest
Mia

I mean really.. LOL
He thinks that statement is actually positive?
Get a grip, man, OPEN UP 😀

Una
Guest
Una

There must be many toilets in Belgium. Way to go. Keep the toilet occupied in order to watch Eurovision. Why in *the toilet*? Why not somewhere but the toilet. Watching something while hidden in the toilet implies shame and/or guilt. So much for loving Eurovision.

Roo
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Roo

After the marathon running time of last years Eurovision one must make a quick dash through

Mia
Guest
Mia

Hoover-up ! 😀

Joe
Guest
Joe

A true fan of Eurovision enjoys Eurovision. Normally I agree with you, Una, but I can’t say I do here. We mustn’t be gatekeepers. If you want to sincerely appreciate Eurovision, just watch it. Maybe only watching the final isn’t the full experience, but it’s better than not watching at all.

Una
Guest
Una

OK Joe, I take your point. I was a bit over the board with my statement.

Joe
Guest
Joe

It’s OK! We all go a bit overboard sometimes.

Jonas
Guest
Jonas

There’s no such thing as a “true” Eurovision fan. If there was, I’m not sure a “true” fan would be so unwelcoming to an entrant who has repeatedly spoken highly of the contest, demonstrated an understanding of it, and shown enough enthusiasm to enter twice.

Una
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Una

@Jonas – I agree with about half of what you’ve said. So I will give you that only because it’s fair. /end

Jonas
Guest
Jonas

Sometimes I read back what I wrote and it sounds much harsher than how I heard it in my head. Like somebody said, tone is hard to convey sometimes. The same with Alex. No grudges…

Matt
Guest
Matt

Another drama … There are dramas every year, it gets tiring. It’s just an excuse for people to hate certain artists. Personally I don’t like Arilena Ara at all but that’s not why I’m going to destroy her reputation … Can’t we just enjoy the contest as it should be?

supercalifragilistic
Guest
supercalifragilistic

People who say esc is circus, are those who seem to not want staging (Salvador, Hooverphonics). Sorry, we keep our stagings and our fireworks. You can go and sing in a dark basement.

Anita Mann
Guest
Anita Mann

Goodlord LOL… so he was at a party, and spent three hours on the toilet watching Eurovision “secretly” on his cellphone. Puuurrrr-leeeez, who really is the clown here?

hebbuzz
Guest
hebbuzz

Sarcasm is dangerous in Social media where people cant hear the tone of voice.

Frisian esc
Guest
Frisian esc

It’s a part of toxic drama culture some people are into

xohxoh
Guest
xohxoh

Damage control. They said what they said, except they’re the actual clowns here. We don’t need this pretentious clownery in the contest.

Craigeemac
Guest
Craigeemac

I loved Badaboum when they had Emily Statt (one half of Madame Monsiuer) singing along. Amazing song! Release Me is not really my style of music, but at least this song is something they would release, Eurovision or not, so I respect them being true to themsleves. I think we will see more bands/artists in the future wanting creative control of their entry, especially if they are asked to particiapate by the broadcaster.

SannylovesOnfire
Guest
SannylovesOnfire

I dont care what they said. I want them to flop bc the song is 1 big pile of pretentious cr*p.

Haute Galore
Guest
Haute Galore

Imagine calling yourself ‘a pearl among bad taste’ and then singing Release Me… ouch!

Whisker
Guest
Whisker

And imagine being an artist competing in semi-finals, final selections in your country, wanting so bad to be on that stage, and then these people get their participation handed to them.

Jonas
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Jonas

They earned it by building up a lasting career with an international fanbase, I wouldn’t say they’ve had it handed to them out of nowhere.

Whisker
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Whisker

Except it was handed to them.

Jonas
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Jonas

Okay. Internal selections are nothing new. Hooverphonic have repeatedly said they value the contest and eagerly anticipate their participation. That’s enough for me.

Monika
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Monika

Shame on them, they won’t even qualify with this circus of a dated song…

Anders
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Anders

He’s a fan of salvador sobral….enough said…

GLBhmn
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GLBhmn

Its a grower for me! But for most on the night it will be their first time hearing this so yeeah

Bob
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Bob

Well their song belongs in a circus of bad taste, so they must be happy to take part 🙂

Escf
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Escf

Too late for love, damage is done, hahaha

Bigger
Guest
Bigger

Some context is very important; I remember the first interview after it was reveiled that they were going to represent Belgium. Alex, contrarily to what many people believe by this misunderstanding, is actually a big Eurovision fan. He said that he watched each year and at a party even went to the toilet several times to watch it secretly, as others didn’t care about it. What he meant with “circus” is that the general population (Belgium, UK, Netherlands, probably every country) still thinks that Eurovision is still like the early crazy 2000s. In the same interview he said that Eurovision,… Read more »

Joe
Guest
Joe

Agreed on all counts. People just look for excuses to hate things.

Joe
Guest
Joe

Can more people read this comment and burn it into their brains before they go slagging off on Alex again? No comment he made before these supposed remarks ever even gave the hint that he looked at the contest as a silly circus and these should make it clear that he’s never had that opinion.

Kung Frederick 90
Guest
Kung Frederick 90

Not all Eurovision is a circus of bad taste! Salvador Sobral, Duncan Lawrence, Loreen, Jamala, Conchita, Emmelie de Forest , Måns Zermerlow they won without showing trash . But I agree with Alex that many stuff here in the game are extremely trash, Take a look at many entries of the end of the 90’s and the beginning of the 00’s.

emeej
Guest
emeej

Salvador, Jamala and Conchita is trash and a circus of bad taste

emeej
Guest
emeej

I take that as a compliment coming from someone with ESCfan in their username

Ashton Schier
Guest
Ashton Schier

why are u even on this website emeej if u think that being an ESCfan is something to be ashamed of. go away, we as Eurovision fans are sick of toxic people like you.

Kris
Guest
Kris

They are amongst the most divisive winners

In the sense that many people including me didn’t have them in the Top 20 , or in some case Top 32 even but then many people had them as their most favourite song .

Joe
Guest
Joe

BTW, if the rumor mill is to be believed (particularly the Twitter of Ireland’s OGAE head), Lesley Roy may be the Irish representative. Other folks are saying it may be a band called ELM, but their concert schedule overlaps with Eurovision rehearsals and they’ve already played the alleged entry live, which might be verboten.

Whisker
Guest
Whisker

Thanks for the update.

Joe
Guest
Joe

Bigger update: ALL of Lake Malawi will be competing in the Polish final, and Lucy is their song.

Whisker
Guest
Whisker

Hilarious. Hopefully the background is a sky with diamonds, I mean, stars.

Una
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Una

In the Norwegian wood!

Whisker
Guest
Whisker

LOL!

Joe
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Joe

The Polish voters just have to let them into their hearts. Then they can start to make it better!

Joe
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Joe

(Yo I didn’t realize the joke was specifically about “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds” and thought it was just about how he competed in the Beatles semi-final. It works on multiple levels!)

Whisker
Guest
Whisker

LOL, I am glad you figured it out! I love the Hey Jude reference.

Denis
Guest
Denis

You can be a fan and still think it’s a circus, bad taste. But there is nothing wrong with thinking that, or love it. At least fans doesn’t pretend it’s something it’s not, like many participants seem to think.

Kosey
Guest
Kosey

“There is a big show element in the contest with bells and whistles”

Er, what exactly do they mean with that?

I hate the snobbery to be honest – there is nothing worse than artists thinking their art is more worthy than other people’s art.

Jonas
Guest
Jonas

If they’re all equal, then wouldn’t that defeat the purpose of a contest?

Kosey
Guest
Kosey

Keiino?

Jonas
Guest
Jonas

This is not a big deal, and I believe Hooverphonic only have positive feelings toward the contest. Why else would they enter? I hope nobody holds a grudge against them for this, because that would just be silly.

Una
Guest
Una

I like the glam and even the kitsch sometimes in Eurovision. We have talent shows and music shows in most of our countries every single year. Eurovision is different and it is special for many and like someone said, a safe space for LGBT artists to showcase their talent and music. Gimme the fireworks every single time. I don’t care if people that don’t like Eurovision participate in it but I would find it quite hypocritical to take part in the biggest music show ever and not appreciate it. And all the experience that comes with it pre-season and with… Read more »

Jonas
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Jonas

That’s the point. The contest is for everyone. It seems any amount of gay is “too gay” for some people. That’s their problem.

Dawid
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Dawid

If you’re getting “special treatment” for being gay then it’s anything but equal

Kris
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Kris

I have to agree , the point of the contest is not to make people discuss sexuality. We’re being truly inclusive of LGBT community when people wouldn’t need to point it out to people that they are a member. That’s inclusivity .

This ‘I am Gay ‘ sounds good only when you have three weaker songs competing in semi 5 in Norway , otherwise it’s the opposite of inclusiveness if you have to specifically point it out everywhere you go

Una
Guest
Una

Thanks very much, MusicIstheKey. I respect your point of view too :). And yes, I stand by my point. I never said it is only for LGBT artists. It *is* a safe place for LGBT artists because if you look at music or the entertainment industry in general, you will find it is mostly shown and viewed in binary terms. Even some countries that I shall not name here have either withdrawn from the contest or made big noise in opposition to sexual diversity. Or made cuts in their broadcast to avoid showing to their public certain act. ESC is… Read more »

Alex
Guest
Alex

What I don’t understand is why some broadcasters are always going year after year with the same songwriters, stage directors, etc.
This goes for Belgium but it happens to a lot of countries. Also in NF. It’s like they dont’t even make the effort. They just go with the safe/easy way.
I’m sure there are so many talented people out there

Una
Guest
Una

You’re right. Easier is not safer. Look at Belgium 2017 (top 4) and 2019 (NQ) with the same composer and artists with no experience. Now 2020 is Hoverphonic, 2018 was Hooverphonic related and another NQ. I used to like Belgium, now I doubt their strategies. Hopefully Pierre D. will not make an appearance in 2021 as well. Cyprus 2019 had the same or nearly the same team as 2018. Not successful in 2019 when in2018 finnished 2nd. I keep my eyes on Switzerland to see what they’ll do considering the success of last year. Bulgaria is a safe bet probably… Read more »

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

You know, I wouldn’t care about their comment if it weren’t for the fact that they sent a bland song that goes nowhere…there’s a lack of self-awareness here.

Everyone knows they are capable of doing better. Like if you’re gonna say something like that, at least send a song interesting enough to justify it. I’m sorry dude but the song you chose isn’t exactly a pearl either.

Bob
Guest
Bob

Exactly! It’s fine if you say that and actually send an amazing track. Otherwise, be humble.

Purple Mask
Guest
Purple Mask

It is clear to me from the article that the journalist had asked the band why they were participating in Eurovision when the contest had been labelled by others as “a circus of bad taste”. Yes, Alex’s reply was following the same brutal lines (“in that case the group is a pearl”), but the question itself did not come from him, so neither did the judgement, yet. The danger is that if the band starts reading comments like some from the fans below, they are going to start to agree with the press assessment of a “circus”, simply because that… Read more »

Una
Guest
Una

I understand that the interview was in Dutch and some things got lost in translation. That’s what I take from it. And freedom of expression notwithstanding, maybe the journalist should have not used the term “circus of bad taste”. Maybe Alex should have not given that answer because it sounds bad from what I read here. I can remember the press conference of Francesca Michelin (Italy 2016 for those who don’t know). She was so sweet and really enthusiastic about her participation in Eurovision and what it meant to her. Other artists have expressed appreciation and gratitude for being in… Read more »

Tom
Guest
Tom

OMG they are so fake!!
I liked their entry but now they are over for me

Laura
Guest
Laura

They aren’t fake at all ! Excuse me but did you read the tittle of this article ? Also I’m Belgian and I saw the original newsletter and it was totally wrong translated in English ! so please don’t think they are fake , they love Eurovision for years especially Alex so change your mind please !

eurofan
Guest
eurofan

Alex has already stated before that he loves Eurovision, and that even last year he was invited to a dinner but followed the voting on his smartphone in the restroom 😉 So he’s not arrogant, and the article is totally misplaced.

Isak
Guest
Isak

He sat in the restroom for two hours?

Anita Mann
Guest
Anita Mann

We all remember when Salvador tried the same: just because a song is uptempo or catchy or you can sing-a-long to it doesn’t make it cheezy, or poorer quality. “Generic” pop, “fast food” music, “a circus of bad taste”, “cheezy” dance (or whatever TF you want to call it!) has always made ME happy, and the main reason I’ve been an ESC fan for many years. I don’t care if Callier believes his “alternative” music (which it really isn’t), is more superior. In fact, for me he’s nothing more than a pretentious d!ck.

Whisker
Guest
Whisker

They shouldn’t participate then. The hypocrisy.

Nicky91
Guest
Nicky91

it is a honest opinion, i appreciate honesty, and it is also true, back longer time ago there also had been fun songs, ballads but also more of that with real music

generic, fast food is meant in a way like overfabricated, overproduced some has made me happy too, but i am a fan of real music too (i did dislike amar pelos dois myself but recently i can also understand Salvador a lot more)

Anita Mann
Guest
Anita Mann

LOL… So, you’re a fan of “real” music too? Define, please. Please do!
Just because you enjoy “alternative” music more doesn’t make it more “real”, or your taste in music more superior to anybody else’s!

Elaris
Guest
Elaris

It was a poor choice of words, but he said them nevertheless. The translation of the written article was exactly how he said it on the radio. I get what he was saying and I totally support them for wanting to be different than the rest, but he could and should have brought that differently. I’m still rooting for my neighbours though.

Idan Cohen
Guest
Idan Cohen

Why do Eurovision fans get so upset when people still think that Eurovision is a circus? It was definitely a bad circus in the 00’s and this is what most of the world still thinks. Wanna change it? put a pressure on your country to send good singers and songs AND VOTE FOR THE GOOD SONGS. if it’s outdated, cliche, boring, predictable – NO REASON TO VOTE FOR IT. “I hate it when people think ESC is gay” => well yeah, stop sending self-empowerment pop songs about being gay, stop sending male singers who make faces to the camera and… Read more »

Idan Cohen
Guest
Idan Cohen

I mean jesus christ! we got into the sad (*SAD*) time where non-gay singers wanna represent their country with a song named “I am gay”..

Instead of kicking the song to the curve and NOT co-operating with the act, you actually vote for it?!

Have lost every common sense?! and then you complain that anyone “thinks Eurovision is gay”, well yeah, no shit!

Idan Cohen
Guest
Idan Cohen

(I can go on and on about how “I am gay” is an insult to any gay with a functioning brain, how this song does a cynical usage of the gay community, and how this song actually does the counter-effect by fixating the notion that gays are necessarily “flamboyant, air-headed men that think only about sex” but this is a different issue) (And people say how much Shefita is a racist joke that shouldn’t even be broadcasted. yeah, but a singer that makes us all look like we have the musical taste of a 12 year old valley girl. yay,… Read more »

Dawid
Guest
Dawid

You have no idea how happy I am to see this comment.

Idan Cohen
Guest
Idan Cohen

You welcome. I am the Israeli who don’t mind saying what everyone thinks but afraid to say 🙂

Nicky91
Guest
Nicky91

they don’t say that though

you just need to think about the song first, and then the act (finland can prove that this year too if they go for cicciolina which is a good song and also accompanied by a show act, and makes finnish language shine) a example from me

serbia can go for something modern, good music if a Dusa I Telo or Ne Pustam, or to a extent Kao Muzika which are great songs, and great entertainment value without going over the top

Robert
Guest
Robert

Well there is a unhealthy derogatory kind of way of thinking in the Benelux, maybe in more places in Europe.. Every year my friends and colleagues go out of their way to ask why I like the circus that is my lovely Eurovision.. ‘Serious’ artists copy that thought so I think he’s more sorry about the reaction he got rather than what he actually said.. Having said that as for the song, love it now.. Let’s judge the musicality rather than what the artist may say.. Carola came far with Invincible after her homophobic remarks.. Release him of his attitude

Kobe
Guest
Kobe

I knew something like that would happen with Alex Callier from day one . I only didn’t expect it to happen so soon 😀

Whisker
Guest
Whisker

They can withdraw, right? Not to mention they were under no obligation to participate in the first place. He can take his sad song and go away. This music snobbery must stop. If Eurovision is beneath you and your “talent”, then don’t participate. Maybe they can find a replacement for him.

ThomasC
Guest
ThomasC

He doesn’t hate Eurovision, he actually loves it. Hooverphonic would never participate if they think they are ‘too good’ for this show, because then it might harm their image. Just participating, saying yes to the question of VRT means that they like Eurovision and that they have a place there.

Joe
Guest
Joe

See? Told you it was a misunderstanding.

Nicolas
Guest
Nicolas

Ah Ah Ah, there’s only one Salvador. Do assume my friend.

bryan
Guest
bryan

Toujours les mêmes excuses . Ils sont au courant que leur chanson n’est pas bonne mais ennuyente. Stop critiqué tout les pays et ce dire on ce demarque . Il est ou le respect ?

Milan
Guest
Milan

The emperor is naked.

JeyDelRey
Guest
JeyDelRey

Taken out of context or not, he still said it. I don’t hate the song but it has nothing special, it is not the best, and this man does not make me want to root for Hooverphonic.

Heix
Guest
Heix

Their song is a quality between all boring ESC cliche and generic sons by Canto, Ulrikke, Tom from France etc.

Mia
Guest
Mia

Their song is nothing special tbh, there are hundreds of songs like that. And if they decided to enter the contest, they should learn to take criticism and not to act like spoiled divas. I want fall just for big name, just saying.

Moongaze
Guest
Moongaze

There are THOUSANDS of songs like that “Fuego” and you still treat it as a “masterpiece…

Mariko
Guest
Mariko

No he didn’t. He said (in dutch) that other people here always consider Eurovision a circus. Which they do. I’m actually afraid to tell people in Flandeds I watch it not to laugh at it, because people will not believe me.

Dawid
Guest
Dawid

So it’s personality contest for you? Do you know what S in ESC stands for?

Milan S.
Guest
Milan S.

Staging, of course.