After an unfortunate amount of non-qualifications in recent years, Belgium finally found their groove again after the selection of Loïc Nottet back in 2015. Belgium found themselves in the Top 10 three consecutive times, however last year failed to qualify. This year, youngster Eliot was chosen to represent the nation with the song Wake Up, but will it bring Belgium back to the final or is their successful run now over?
Song + Vocals
Based on the songs that Belgium have sent since 2015, I knew we were in for a treat this year, regardless of the participant. Since 2015, the nation has developed a specific musical identity at Eurovision and it could probably be described as sophisticated, minimal but memorable. This year’s song Wake Up falls into that Belgian category as it is yet another sophisticated and minimal song. As for memorable, I don’t know that it reaches the level of some of their previous entries, but for some people including myself, it has remained on the radar.
Easily the highlight of this song for me is the backing beat throughout the song. It’s unlike anything I’ve heard before, and it’s the part of the song that remains in my head even when the song is over. Props also have to go to the melody of the song, and I’d argue that the better melody is through the verses. The first verse is probably the most captivating, but as it builds you expect something big from the chorus but I think it falls a bit flat during the chorus. The second verse is brief and doesn’t have that same build. The chorus is good, but isn’t the stand out of the song. I’d also say that we hear the chorus too many times in this song, and even if it means breaking the traditional pop song structure, they could have pushed those boundaries for the sake of creating more interest in the song. By the last minute, you know what’s coming and there’s nothing new to capture the listener.
I’m not sure that we’ve heard this song performed live yet (correct me if I’m wrong) so it’s hard to judge how it will sound vocally, but one comment to make is that the pronunciation of certain words throughout this song isn’t great. For an English speaker to not totally understand all the words is perhaps concerning, and makes you wonder whether we could have seen the song in a native tongue.
Even to watch Eliot perform on the Voice Belgium is a struggle as the videos are in fact blocked for me, so I can’t speculate on the vocals even in general. Hopefully the Eurovision pre-parties will shed some light on how this will be performed live.
Act + Performance
I genuinely can’t comment too much on Eliot as an artist having not seen him perform live at all. Clearly he must have talent otherwise I’d say that the Belgian broadcaster would have not selected him, so I’m trusting the broadcaster on this one!
As for the Eurovision performance, or potential performance, I see something fairly simple for this song, but not Sennek simple. Last year’s staging was far too simple and I’d argue that it was a key factor in the song not qualifying to the final. Interestingly enough, the music video for Wake Up has a very similar vibe to the staging of last year’s entry, and as much as it suits the music video for this song, the performance will need more. What it needs exactly I don’t know, but it just needs something to keep the attention of the viewers especially knowing that it is a song that is likely to lose attention especially through that final minute.
Wake Up has elements of a great song, however for me it just sits at the level of a good song. It’s nice – it has a unique and catchy beat and for the most part a nice melody, however it’s just missing something. With a strong vocal and visual performance, I can see this making it to the final but not confidently. There are a handful of songs which will overpower this, especially in the second half of the first semi-final. It will be a tough one for Belgium, and it could go either way.