Belgium don’t have the best track record at Eurovision. They have come last eight times, failed to qualify from the semi finals a further eight times and have received nul points on two occasions (1962 and 1965). Their best result was their only win which was for Sandra Kim in 1986 with her song ‘J’aime La Vie’. Last year saw a change in fortune for Belgium when they chose Loic Nottet as their entry. The ‘Rhythm Inside’ singer gave them their best result in 12 years with a top five finish and the most points that a Belgian entry has ever scored (217). In 2016, they will want to emulate this success, so let’s take a look at their national selection process and the acts who hope to follow in his footsteps.
In 2016, the Belgian entry and singer will be selected through the national final called Eurosong 2016. The belgian broadcasters VRT (public service broadcaster for the Flemish region of Belgium) and RTBF (broadcaster for french speaking part of Belgium) alternate in choosing the Eurovision entry for the country. This year it will be organised by VRT.
The artist and song will be chosen on 17 January 2016. The five competing artists were announced in November and their songs for them will be revealed one week before the televised final. The winner will be chosen by an expert jury of 10 different European countries and by televoting.
Most of this year’s contestants are relative new comers to the music scene, they are young, and highlight Belgium’s willingness to create a fresh approach to selecting their Eurovision entry. They have focussed not just on vocals, but on the overall appearence, performance and artistry of their entries, putting the prospective contestants through a rigorous and intensive boot camp (see video below). It would seem that they want to mimic the success of Loic Nottet in 2015, rather than the embarrassing dated ballad ‘Mother’ performed by Axel Hirsoux in 2014.
Adil Aarab was one of the contestants competing in Idool 2007, the third series of the Belgian version of Pop Idol. He finished in ninth place, losing out to eventual winner Dean Delannoit. Since Idool, he has been performing as part of a group called Adil and A.K.A. He has had some moderate success in his native Belgium with songs that are Soulful R&B/pop songs, with an acoustic touch. Songs like ‘Sweet Love’ and ‘Strong’ have enjoyed particular success. Adil has taken a break from the band to pursue Eurovision goals.
Astrid Destuyver is a relative newcomer who has gained fame for her piano ballad covers of hits songs ranging from Destiny’s Child’s ‘Say My Name’ to Amy Winehouse’s ‘What It Is’, as well as Jess Glynne, James Blake and Calvin Harris. Her vocal is strong, but is she a one trick pony?
Tom Frantzis describes himself as a young Belgian singer/songwriter and master communication student at the University of Antwerp. His YouTube channel consists of a mixture of cover songs and originals. Check out his song ‘Grown’ below:
Laura Tesoro is a Flemish singer and actress who it would seem has more professional experience than the three acts above. She has competed in a number of singing competitions including The Voice where she was one of the runners up in the final. She has also been acting in soap opera ‘Family’ since 2012 and has starred in a number of musicals including ‘Annie’ and ‘Domino’. In 2014 she has achieved top 40 success with single ‘Outta Here’.
Amaryllis Uitterlinden is also a famous singer-songwriter, TV and Stage actress and TV presenter. At the start of her career she had competed in TV talent show The Grand Prix Bart Peeters in which she finished in second place. In 2009 she released her debut album ‘The Beauty of It All’ with song ‘Not the Street’ as the lead single, which reminds me of Nerina Pallot’s tongue in cheek lyrics. She has also starred in a number of stage musical and is known for her role in telenovella ‘Ella’ and for guest starring in the fourth series of long running TV series ‘Missing’.
In the final Laura Tesoro’s ‘What’s the Pressure?’ won and it will go on to be the Belgian entry for 2016. See below for poll results: