ESC 2010 Reviews: Belgium
Unlike the other entries I’ve written about so far, Belgium is one of Eurovision’s original participants. They took part in the ESC’s inaugural contest in 1956, and have only been absent three times since then (1994, 1997, and 2001, due to low cumulative scores from earlier years). Despite such a long history in the contest, Belgium has only won the thing once, back in 1986, with 13-year old Sandra Kim’s “J’aime la vie” (if you want a bit of a laugh at how far the world has come in terms of fashion since 1986, check out her performance here…and I though Belarus had a lock on the mullet?!).
One of the cool things about how Belgium manages their participation in the contest is that because of the division between the French-speaking (Walloon) and Flemish-speaking populations of the country, they have two broadcasters picking the nation’s songs, alternating year by year. The entries from French-speaking broadcaster RTBF tend to fare better in the competition than their Flemish counterpart, VRT. Belgium’s lone victory and two second-place finishes were all from RTBF, but VRT’s entries have never done any better than 6th, and that was back in 1959! (Granted, the Walloons haven’t been doing too fantastically in recent years, either. They sent an Elvis impersonator last year. Seriously.)
Trying to change VRT’s luck this year is Tom Dice (real name: Tom Eeckholut), the runner up in the Flemish version of “X Factor”. He was selected internally by the network with the hopes of bringing Belgium back into the finals for the first time since 2005. His song, “Me and My Guitar”, is a simple, yet enjoyable track that I could imagine someone singing while sitting in the lounge at my old college dorm.
Tom’s voice isn’t perfect, and he isn’t as drop-dead gorgeous as some of the other participants in this year’s competition, but Tom has the sort of sweet, earnest, and genuine “everyman” quality that appeals to me. We’ve all known a Tom Dice or two. He’s the acquaintance you sat next to in High School Trigonometry, or the dude you sometimes see at the coffee shop you always go to, or the quiet guy four cubicles down from your desk at work. You might not know much about him, and you might have walked by him a thousand times without even realizing it, but you still want him to succeed at whatever he’s going for. That’s why I’m pulling for Tom to at least break into the finals.
And let’s face it…any nation that can give us this deserves a break, don’t you think?