"The Dutch entry is a wonderful little song with great potential to do well in the final." See there, a phrase I have not used for many years. But now the Dutch got their act together.
Anouk - Birds (Netherlands 2013)
Out of the long-time participants of eurovision, the Netherlands has one of the poorest showings since the semi finals were introduced. Only once did they manage to qualify and have not been in a final since 2004.
Not really surprising either as their entries have been far from convincing. They have often been pale, half-hearted, kitschy little songs with far too little heart and what seems like a fear of looking too serious.
What a good thing then that they finally got around to asking Anouk to do the job for them. Not only is she an experienced singer with a timbre of her own, she has also been around long enough to figure out that people who stay true to their own style tend to get rewarded for that.
So out goes the typical eurosongs and in comes an atmospheric number, sounding more like an inspired part of a 60's movie score rather than anything else. Rich, sophisticated and a little bit demanding. Not completely unlike last years Albanian entry.
The only thing that holds my grade down a tiny bit is the hope that this song will develop even a little bit further live. Anouk has said in interviews that she is thinking very much of the visual presentation, what colour this song should be. Sounds very promising to me.
Yes. Perhaps not everybody's cup of tea but more than enough people will love this to make it sail safely into the final. First Dutch entry doing so in a long, long, long time.
My grade: 4/5
By the way, am I the only one who is reminded of this other Dutch entry - also an ambitious and demanding entry that happened to do quite well in the end?
Saskia & Serge - De tijd (Netherlands 1971)