After some undesirable results through the 2000’s, Belgium started a new chapter at Eurovision back in 2015, where they found themselves in the Top 5 for the first time since 2003. Since then, we have seen Belgium stick to a certain style, but as we know, it hasn’t always paid off. This year, the nation enlisted Hooverphonic to represent them with the song Release Me, but where would this have ended up at Eurovision?
Anita (Eurovision Union)
Song and Vocals
Admittedly, I have only heard this song once or twice since it was released. I vaguely remember the melody of the song, but there has never been anything to really grab me. Listening to it again now, I definitely see the appeal of the song. This feels on brand for Belgium, but also feels as if it wasn’t released for Eurovision, which is a positive in my eyes.
What I enjoy most about this song is the orchestral sounds which really add to the atmosphere of this song. As many people have pointed out, it’s a very ‘Bond’-esque song, and I think that has a lot to do with the tone of voice mixed with the orchestra. What I think prevents me from really loving this song is that by the end of the first chorus, we have heard it all, and although it builds ever so slightly towards the end, we don’t get that big moment.
Performance and Act
Belgium struck gold when selecting Hooverphonic simply for the fact that they are incredibly experienced musicians, and will produce a good song suitable for Eurovision rather than a song that feels specifically for Eurovision. What put Belgium in danger this year was the stage performance. The song is in many ways similar to their 2018 entry from Sennek, which was widely picked as a qualifier prior to the contest, however the staging just didn’t work on camera. If Belgium had avoided those same mistakes, Belgium could have definitely had a place in the final.
Next Up: 2021
We will be seeing Hooverphonic return for Belgium in 2021, and interestingly they have discussed the option of bringing an upbeat entry to the contest. It’s understandable in a way, as they wouldn’t want to pigeonhole themselves into this style. It’s difficult for artists returning, because they want to produce a song that is at the quality of their 2020 entry, but don’t want to be seen as repeating the same formula. At least with Hooverphonic we know we will get a well considered and well produced entry.
This is a strong entry from Belgium, and had the stage performance worked well on camera, I don’t see why it wouldn’t have been in the final. It’s definitely not my favourite entry of the year, and I think there’s room to improve for 2021, but I am keen to see the direction they will take next year.
Song and Vocals
‘Release me’ is a small, intimate song. Hooverphonic consists of an experienced group of musicians and they know how to write such a piece of music. Though we haven’t heard them give a live televised performance of the song, as far as I am aware, I am not worried about the delivery.
Performance and Act
The worries for the Belgian act of 2020 were lying in the area of staging and camerawork. Belgium has had their fair share of successes and failures on this topic, and it was the question how it would have turned out for them in Ahoy. With Sennek a few years ago, such a dark song was staged and performed in a way that people could not connect enough. This was also the risk with ‘Release Me’.
Next up: 2021
Hooverphonic will be back in 2021. But they already said they will take a completely different route next year. They are working on an uptempo entry. Maybe they had second thoughts, when they were presumably already far in working out their stage concept for Rotterdam? Maybe they have played this song and this style a lot recently and just want to take another artistic approach? Whatever the reason may be, it will be interesting to find out what Belgium will give us next year.
I think Belgium had a lot of potential in the Eurovision Song Contest 2020 but the song ‘Release me’ was also a risky choice. And as it goes with risky choices, it is usually black or white. Either they would have made a big impact and perhaps made it to the top-10 in the grand final. Or it could have flopped and turn out to be a non-qualifier. I hope Hooverphonic will take a risk again in 2021 and not play it safe.
Additional Scores from Eurovision Union and ESCDaily Editors:
Average Score: 5.68/10
What do you think of Release Me? Follow our Eurovision 2020 reviews here.