The Netherlands clocked up one of the biggest non-qualification streaks at Eurovision, failing to qualify from 2005 until 2013. Despite that, The Netherlands had a refreshed take on Eurovision, which ultimately led them to winning the contest last year with Duncan Laurence and his song, Arcade. It’s not easy to follow a winner, but Jeangu Macrooy had that task this year, with his song Grow. Would we have seen another success from The Netherlands this year?
Anita (Eurovision Union)
Song and Vocals
Host nation entries usually end up in one of two places, either at the bottom of the results table, only saved by the fact that they were automatic qualifiers, or otherwise, back into the top 10. They have the hometown support and cheers, but that doesn’t always equate to votes. This year, I suspect that Jeangu Macrooy would be in the latter category, continuing the success of The Netherlands in recent years.
The biggest change for The Netherlands over recent years was that they went from dated songs that felt like they were written specifically for Eurovision, to entries that were just good songs, with or without the context of Eurovision. Grow is a great example of that. This is perhaps not a ‘typical’ Eurovision song, but it’s just a great song that a lot of people would be able to personally connect with, and that comes back to the relatability with Jeangu and his lyrics. The song has an intimate beginning, where we hear Jeangu’s soulful vocals take the lead, with barely any instrumentation. This inherently grabs your attention, especially at Eurovision where first impressions count. The song has a beautiful melody as the song progresses, it grows (pun intended) and we get to hear more of Jeangu’s vocal talent. Lyrically, this is among the best of the class of 2020, and I think that comes down to the simple but yet universal lyrics.
What’s really great about this song is that it leaves you wanting more. You feel as if you are reaching a peak in the song, but then it ends, and you just want to keep listening. This isn’t just the stock standard pop song, or ballad, or Eurovision song. Grow is uniquely special. A real gem that I will remember for years to come.
Performance and Act
Although we don’t know the full details of Jeangu’s stage performance, what we do know is that it was set to be directed by Hans Pannecoucke, who directed the stage show for Duncan Laurence last year… and we know how that ended. Because of that, I had high hopes for this performance. With the right light show and camera angles, this would have really made an impact on camera.
Next Up: 2021
The Dutch team were quick to announce that Jeangu would be returning to Eurovision 2021, and I think that’s great news. I naturally want to see all artists return to next year’s contest, but I genuinely would love to see the music direction that Jeangu will take next year. Will he stick with this intimate and vulnerable style, or will he return to the style of his previous releases? It’s hard to think that he could create something better than Grow, but at minimum, we will get to hear his beautiful vocals on stage next year.
This is surely one of the best Dutch Eurovision entries in the modern era of the contest, and I am so sad we didn’t get to see him on stage this year. I genuinely had this as a dark horse of the competition, and although a double win in modern day Eurovision feels out of reach for any nation, Jeangu would have come close. I can’t wait to hear what he has for us next year, and only hope that it matches the unique style of Grow.
Song and Vocals
Once again The Netherlands really went for quality in their composition. A non-typical Eurovision, with a special build-up. The song changes to a gospel ending, leaving out the previous chorus and refrain. Jeangu is a gifted singer and has a personal connection to the song ‘Grow’, which shows in his delivery. The only problem I have with the song is that it seems to build-up to something very promising and spectacular towards the end. But suddenly the song is over, and that promise is not fulfilled on first listening. Obviously, the song needs time to Grow for its audience.
Performance and Act
Duncan wasn’t the most experienced artist, when AvroTros selected him for Eurovision. But he had some experience with televised performances, from a talent show. With Jeangu, even this is not really the case. This is a high risk factor. The biggest doubts with him are in that part of the act. Will he be able to deliver his song not only vocally, but also personality-wise, so it will get the same impact as ‘Arcade’ did? I don’t know.
Next up: 2021
The Netherlands was one of the first nations to announce that they were going to keep their singer for their home match in 2021. Jeangu was chosen internally, so it makes sense. However, he was chosen based on his song. As was the case with Duncan. For 2021, the starting point is completely different. Now there is an artist chosen first, followed up by a song. In the recent past, this has not always work out for The Netherlands. But in some moments, it also did. We have to wait and see what they will come up with.
‘Music first’ was the introduced slogan by winner Duncan and The Netherlands lived up to their own terms. Once again they gave a boost of quality to Eurovision with a non-typical Eurovision song with a different build-up than the cliché chorus-refrain-intermezzo-keychange set-up. And for that we thank them. Please keep that in mind by writing a new song for Jeangu in 2021 and try to keep Eurovision in Rotterdam, The Netherlands for 2022 as well.
Additional Scores from Eurovision Union and ESCDaily editors:
Average Score: 8.4/10
What do you think of Grow? Follow our Eurovision 2020 reviews here.