Aftermath 2019 (14): Dutch victory shows every nation can win Eurovision

Duncan Laurence Arcade Eurovision 2019 Netherlands bookmakers favorite
The Netherlands second rehearsal 2019 — Photo by: Thomas Hanses

Two months ago, The Netherlands won the Eurovision Song Contest 2019. Their first victory since 1975. Something the Dutch celebrated hard, since they have seen the other side of the Eurovision-medal often. In our last episode in the Aftermath series, we look back at what happened in Holland after their victory.

Duncan Laurence’s victory with ‘Arcade’ marked the fifth overall victory of The Netherlands in the history of the Eurovision Song Contest. But, with three gold medals before 1970, and one in 1975, these previous wins were from a long time ago. A time, where the Eurovision Song Contest had a different set of ‘rules’ to be succesful.

In this article we will look back at the Dutch path to glory, and what other nations could learn from The Netherlands.

Internal selection, focus on the song

The Netherlands has had internal selections of big names in the Dutch music industry since 2013. Something which gave them a place in the final almost every year, except for 2015. Duncan Laurence was also picked by the broadcaster (AVROTROS) internally, but he was not a notable big name in the nation before Eurovision 2019.

Duncan Laurence took part in The Voice of Holland, but did not get close to victory. Still, Ilse DeLange (the female part of The Common Linnets) had him in her time at that talent show, and remember what he was capable of. She asked him to write a song. And when the selection commitee heard thát song, ‘Arcade’, they knew: We have to change our strategy this year.

Basicly, The Netherlands had their focus on the quality of the song first, and then on the artist. In the six years prior, this order was reversed. A small, subtle change, but still.

The bookmakers’ favourite

Duncan Laurence was already in the top-5 of the bookmakers, even before his song was released. The buzz was around Sergey Lazarev from Russia, before all the songs were available. After the actual release of ‘Arcade’, The Netherlands got the second place of the bookmakers. And when Russia premiered their song ‘Scream’, they even switched places.

That first place would never be out of the Dutch hands ever since. Yes, there were some hiccups at the rehearsals, especially in the first week. But professional punters and the bookies had their minds made up. If anything, The Netherlands became a bookmakers-favourite in a way we haven’t seen in previous years. Not even Loreen or Mans Zelmerlow had odds of ½ at the rehearsal stage of the contest.

An exciting voting sequence

Was it a runaway victory for Duncan? Not at all! He did not win the jury vote, neither did he end up on second place. North Macedonia and Sweden got a better result. And when Italy, not far behind the Dutch, got a big televote after a good juryscore, it got very exciting!

However, Duncan Laurence got well enough points to surpass Mahmood from Italy. And knowing how many points were left, the battle was over. Even though many people, including John Lundvik and Duncan Laurence himself, were nota ware of it in the final seconds.

Duncan got a hero’s welcome at Schiphol

The Dutch airport Schiphol, which will welcome a lot of people in 2020, had a gathering crowd upon Duncan’s arrival. The Netherlands knows this success did not come easy. The country remains the worst scoring Eurovision-nation in history, with eight non-qualifications from the semi finals in a row, between 2005 and 2012.

It gives the Dutch victory ever more value. If a country, that has had such terrible results in the contest with a certain strategy (or lack of it) can end up in 2nd place in 2014 and even win it in 2019, it proves that literally every nation can win it. If they have the right strategy, song, artist and emotional connection.

The Aftermath 2019 series is made in collaboration with our Australian partner website Eurovision Union.