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Netherlands: Duncan Laurence – Arcade

Netherlands has shaken up the Eurovision outright market with the release of Duncan Laurence's Arcade. It's exactly what this year's Eurovision lineup needed: another country to challenge the assumption that it is Russia's Contest to lose. It still probably is given the immense voting power versus Duncan from the Netherlands. Regardless of that, the transition from inconspicuous demo version to spine-tingling contender shows what can happen when you spend more time in the studio. The Greece review is the perfect example of a song that arrived to the Contest undercooked. There are hints of Chris Martin's delicate tone in Arcade, though…
Song Appeal
Vocal Strength
Staging Potential
Likely Televote Appeal
Likely Jury Appeal

Slam Dunc

The transition from inconspicuous demo version to spine-tingling contender shows what can happen when you spend more time in the studio

User Rating: 4.15 ( 98 votes)

Netherlands has shaken up the Eurovision outright market with the release of Duncan Laurence’s Arcade.

It’s exactly what this year’s Eurovision lineup needed: another country to challenge the assumption that it is Russia’s Contest to lose. It still probably is given the immense voting power versus Duncan from the Netherlands.

Regardless of that, the transition from inconspicuous demo version to spine-tingling contender shows what can happen when you spend more time in the studio. The Greece review is the perfect example of a song that arrived to the Contest undercooked.

There are hints of Chris Martin’s delicate tone in Arcade, though it would make for quite an edgy ColdPlay track, which is something to consider when backing Netherlands at the much shorter 6/1 at the time of writing. Is Arcade too edgy to challenge for the win? I tend to think the switch between light and heavy moments in the arrangement help overcome this doubt. The main worry is the inclusion of Hans Pannecoucke in the staging team – he’s still trading on his 2014 success and has been terrible ever since. On the plus side, he will be joined by Ilse DeLange who will hopefully tame some of his more left-field excesses such as full-face masks or not looking at the camera…

A video of Duncan’s first live performance dropped as I was writing this preview. While watching what worried me most is Duncan’s failure to look into the camera *facepalm*. His features also appear quite harsh on the eye, and while that shouldn’t matter, I don’t feel myself being motivated to vote for him. The song his great. His vocal will be one of the best in the Contest. I’m just struggling seeing him convincing Europe’s televoters to pick up their phones en masse and vote for the Netherlands. It makes him less of a Kristian Kostov and more of a Loïc in terms of a warm, engaging performance versus slightly cold and distant. Eurovision staging can easily overcome these concerns. Even so, it does provide a niggling doubt in my head given that Eurovision winners all have that unique ability to own the stage and connect through the TV screen.

About Gavster

ESCtips Owner   I’m a qualified designer and dedicate a lot of my free time to keeping the ESCtips show on the road. My family routes allow me to support the UK, Ireland and Italy.

77 comments

  1. Do we really need any comments for this one? Amazing. It’s in for the win…let’s see what Sergey brings.

  2. By second hearing I was absolutely sold. This modern ballad will stand out amongst the competition and is jury gold. I can see a decent measure of televote support too.

    It puts me in mind of Beautiful Mess and they need the same type of modern staging that can hopefully capture the dark and melancholic mood of the song.

    Top 5 contender.

  3. Oozes class. Parallels with Beautiful Mess very apposite. Love the instrumental entry and close. It’s a song with many distinct layers in only three minutes. Serious contender.

  4. This is the only entry so far that has immediately given me winner vibes and its a credit to Duncan and the Netherlands that one of the only other songs I’ve heard all season that’s on that level is the “I miss you” demo. This guy is good.
    In my opinion, it takes a good minute to really kick in but once it does it is excellent, solid, interesting lyrics, strong memorable hook, it might not be anything new or original, but it is done to a very high standard. This also looks strong on both sides of jury and televote too, whereas everything else so far has trouble.
    It shouldn’t be too hard to stage this, keep it simple and focus on him. Not many songs to go now, Netherlands the one to beat.

    • For me Arcade is the sort of song that tends to finish second at Eurovision.

      • Exactly the same feeling I have hehe

      • Not with songs thus far. I believe could forge a Dami type lead wit the juries that it will NOT lose with the public vote like Dami did.

      • Thank you for an excellent summary of my confusion as to why I cannot see it winning at this stage. Though with some good staging (especially if Russia fails to be amazing) and cautious jury (who might not have audacity to go for Conan at full swing), it might be a jury winner plus 3-4th in the televote that just might be enough…

  5. Now you’re talking Gav 🙂 Though I would easily have Televote appeal at 4 nearly 5 stars.

    This song is SO FAR ahead of chosen entries thus far it is quite stark.

    Multi layered (hi Mark); superb builds, lifts, drops and emotional climax(es).

    So beautiful the human heart – broken in all its pieces by that terrible love that we all have to meet and go through at some point.

    This is winning both Jury and Tele at mo and we’ll need to see something VERY VERY special to beat it.

    Am absolutely gobsmacked at its beauty. With Ilse mentoring him (duettist on NL 2nd Calm After The Storm) staging input and ideas should be excellent and impactful.

    Feel somewhat in a daze as until now – near the very end of the selections – that Wow! song was missing. No longer.

  6. You know a song is good when eve a 2 minute demo of the song is a contender to be one of you’re personal favorites! This just blows everything else so far out of the water, including anything in Sweden, which means it’s realistically down to Russia to stop this.

    • Catriona Colville

      I think John Lundvik can be a massive threat the if he wins on Saturday. I can see him also doing massive things on the jury score and I feel his song is more attractive to the televoter.

      • Not for me at all. A threat but not a massive one. Arcade is SO much more original than the generic the Lundvik song.

        • Catriona Colville

          Will the voters at home be too bothered how “original” it is? I feel Lundvik’s song is more accessible to them and he is also an incredibly charming and charismatic performer. Everyone agrees he could do very well with the juries. But I really believe his potential televote is being underestimated because it’s Sweden.

          Calling a winner is actually impossible at this stage, and I think a few of the NF songs that people aren’t talking about (like Australia, Estonia and Czech Republic) will play a much bigger role than anticipated. It’s fun speculating though!

      • Personally I don’t get the Lundvik song at all – apart from the ‘Hear Me’ shout which is good.

        More objectively, I concede Lundvik could do well the juries, but as has been par for the course for Sweden recently, I can’t see it scoring highly with the televote, whereas I think Netherlands probably will.

  7. Hello. Hey. Hai. Hola. I am Dutch. Let’s stay with both feet on the ground. I really like it. But let’s also face the inevitable. Modern pop ballads seem to be slightly (very slightly) less succesful than modern up-tempo pop entries. Let’s have a look at the ‘ballads’:

    –> 1st place: Austria 2014
    –> 2nd place: The Netherlands 2014
    –> 3rd place: Sweden 2014
    –> 2nd place: Russia 2015
    –> 3rd place: Italy 2015
    –> 6th place: Latvia 2015
    –> 1st place: Ukraine 2016
    –> 2nd place: Australia 2016
    –> 1st place: Portugal 2017
    –> 2nd place: Bulgaria 2017
    –> 4th place: Belgium 2017
    –> 3rd place: Austria 2018
    –> 4th place: Germany 2018

    Now a look at the more (modern) up-tempo entries:

    –> 4th place: Armenia 2014
    –> 5th place: Hungary 2014
    –> 1st place: Sweden 2015
    –> 4th place: Belgium 2015
    –> 5th place: Australia 2015
    –> 3rd place: Russia 2016
    –> 4th place: Bulgaria 2016
    –> 6th place: France 2016
    –> 3rd place: Moldova 2017
    –> 5th place: Sweden 2017
    –> 6th place: Italy 2017
    –> 1st place: Israel 2018
    –> 2nd place: Cyprus 2018
    –> 6th place: Czech Republic

    I can’t help feeling that televoters could be slightly less more impressed by ‘Arcade’ as opposed to juries. I am glad Ilse de Lange is going to join Hans Pannecoucke and the AVROTROS-team. Because in the past year the poor fellar Pannecoucke wasn’t really helped by a creatively pro-active broadcaster. Hence I am happy that this year the internal selection committee, which comprised of Daniël Dekker (event supervisor) and Cornald Maas (commentator) were very critical of this year’s Dutch entry as opposed to the previous three entries which did well with juries, but not so much with televoters.

    Staging-wise, this should be kept simple. Preferably lots of dark(er) lighting and Visuals. I wouldn’t mind lots of dark greens, whites and blacks (like Bulgaria 2017 and Netherlands 2014).

    Let’s wait for Russia first. AND Austria, Azerbaijan and Armenia, because I expect these three countries to come up with something nice too. And also Poland, Malta, Israel and Ireland. Let’s see what happens. Currently in my TOP 30 prediction I have The Netherlands 5th (possible Jury winner, perhaps 7th with Televoters).

    Then again, Gav also pointed out that I can be so so wrong sometimes hehe :-).

  8. Gert, I’m just glad to see that you’re in a much better mood now.😉 Over the last few weeks you’ve been slowly sinking into the depths of despair.

  9. I might as well play devil’s advocate. I agree it’s the best so far but I’m not sold on it’s televote potential.

    Voters on a saturday night don’t want something that is too melanchonic. I feel beautiful mess was just on the right side of the line. Salvador had charm and intensity. To me, this feels maybe a bit too sad. I think Azerbaijan’s Drip Drop (2010) was also the wrong side of the line (5th in televote) – although I concede this is a stronger song.

    However, I also see that determing the winner is a game of comparison every year – and currently, I’d see this topping the jury and coming top 3 televote. The strongest contender so far, but I think Sergey’s ballard could be a little more uplifting and enough televotes.

  10. Full time reader, very very part time commenter here. In fact, I think the last time I commented on here was after the release of Beautiful Mess. The reason I bring that fact up is because I think the parallels between BM and Arcade are very obvious – in my opinion, BM was the best song in 2017 and bar another country pulling something incredibly special out the bag, I feel the Netherlands will have the best song this year. I’d even argue that while I thoroughly loved BM, I feel that Arcade has just that little bit more authenticity to it. It is a truly mesmerising piece of art, and nothing else so far this year comes within a mile of it. I literally can’t fault it. That chorus is something else.

    Ever since Duncan was named as the Dutch artist I had a pretty good feeling about his entry; I just thought it was going to be a stunner. So I went out on a limb and got behind the Netherlands @22, so you can imagine my relief once I heard the song earlier. I was pleased to see that the majority of you see the quality in this entry, as I didn’t want to get caught up too much in confirmation bias.

    The Netherlands have a cracking chance with this entry, can’t see it out of the top 5.

  11. Not a patch on Zero Gravity…

  12. My current two rankings after 31 entries are known (and after carefully watching available ‘LIVE’ performances, from both the Eurovision entry and previous non-Eurovision material). I Always make a ranking of ‘Favourites’ and a ranking of, what I consider, ‘Prediction’. Curious what you think of it Gavin :-). Mind you, everything can change (albeit considerably less with only 10 entries to go):

    https://imgur.com/ETQBPKD.png

  13. The first song this year, which gave the aura of the winner. But I still prefer Sergey Lazarev. From the preview of the song by Sergey Lazarev, it seems that their songs are similar.

  14. Wow, this is what we’ve been waiting for. There is winner potential here for sure but I will echo other comments and say staging is absolutely crucial. The song itself has very strong jury and televote appeal but will need a little something special on stage to make it a winner. I find myself agreeing with Sam above who emphasises the melancholic nature of the song, too much emphasis on melancholy in the staging and you can write it off. The pivotal moment in the song for me is around 2:30, this is when there needs to be a moment and some kind of ‘dark into light’ moment à la Jamala’s tree in 2016. Get that right and it’s in the winner category.

  15. Takes 1:12 before we hear the great chorus. Too long. Will have lost people on an ESC Saturday night. Then after each chorus we go back to the dullness. It’s a shame it couldn’t maintain the drama like say Aram Mp3 “Not Alone” which also had a drab first half.

    Will perform a lot worse than the bubble expects.

  16. Hello everyone. I hope you like my blog about the Dutch entry. This time I wrote it in English. Hope it puts some things into perspective here :-). Feel free to comment:
    https://songfestivalwerk.wordpress.com/2019/03/08/tel-aviv-2019-staging-tips-arcade-duncan-laurence/

    • To be honest, I think I’ve summed up my worries pretty well in my article. I agree that Duncan really needs to connect. It makes the difference in this particular case between 1st place and 5th or 6th place.

      However, let’s not forget that there isn’t the advantage for The Netherlands and some other internally chosen entries to have an already finished stage package. Russia doesn’t really count here, because their keyword has always been ‘winning’.

      I care to go back to The Common Linnets 2014. Everything came into place during rehearsals, yet Netherlands still was seen a bit boring by some Eastern-European nations, whereas Austria was not.

      Also, it perhaps sounds a bit ridiculous to compare ‘Calm After The Storm’ with ‘Arcade’, but entries have minor flaws. CATS isn’t as modern as ‘Arcade’. CATS was a pretty low key song that was very sweet, but still mellow until the end, whereas ‘Arcade’ has some more climatic key changes in which you could play nicely with camera shots and lighting (listen to the high notes and the clapping) .

      To summarize, and like I said in my article, there probably will always be more unknowns with an internally chosen song. So we just have to wait if the Dutch modern pop ballad knows how to stand out in two months. Hence I totally agree with Gav here. I would be careful betting on Les Pays Bas and hold out until rehearsals. But equally I would also like to point out that The Netherlands has little chance to not qualify and little chance to be on the right hand side of the scoreboard.

      So Russia, let us surprise tomorrow!

  17. Ok he won’t win

    First live performance – https://cloud.mail.ru/public/JVLb/iUj1SMLX3

    • Hi Shlanderous. Mind you – you said earlier you prefer Sergey based on that rough 10 sec Sergey snippet lol.

      Methinks a little allegiance to Sergey here 🙂 🙂 🙂

      • Please no offence… but Duncan seemed a little bit wooden during this first live performance. I am not trying to pick holes here, just saying I would listen to his adorable voice forever but I am not enjoying watching him yet. Lots of time to fix this and get some ‘meaningful’ gestures and camera looks – I am simply commenting on the 1st appearance st this stage. He needs to work at his perceived stiffness

      • Here the question is that Sergey has a big and confident stage presentation regardless of whether his song is worse or better than Duncan’s song (I’m sure it is worse).

        I really did not expect him to worry. I watched his performances on The Voice and he was fine.

  18. Really great live. Crappy vocal mix in a tv studio. A quiet opening line and then vocal kicks in and was superb. Don’t know which singer you were listening to lol.

    This was also a special arrangement of song – the Tel Aviv will be the full one as on video.

  19. Live version now on youtube

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OTTgoCnVxaU

    Reactions are applauding this amazing live vocal!

    First live outing and this is gonna be amazing in Tel Aviv with the full version 🙂

  20. It is true that Duncan didn’t look into the camera in the DWDD performance, but I doubt there was a rehearsal in which he knew where the camera was.
    In the The Voice of Holland videos you can see that he connects with the camera.
    https://youtu.be/g4BjEs0JkCw

    • Cheers Stommie. I had come across that clip before the song was released. I like his vocal, I’m just struggling seeing him deliver a televote-magnet performance. It really concerns me.

      • To be fair, Salvador also didn’t really look that much into the camera either. I see your point, but I think that can easily be fixed with practice over the coming months. Ilse is on the staging team so I am not worried at all.

        Biggest selling point for this song for me is that it gripped me during the first listen. It had that wow factor that Salvador and Kristian Kostov had.

        • I agree, Thomas, and I nearly mentioned Salvador in the review. The way I would counter is by highlighting that Salvador sold a dreamy, uplifting vision. Duncan, on the other hand, has a darker, gloomier song so there has to be a transition from dark to light. More importantly, the audience has to go on that journey with him, so he has to connect in some way. It’s one hell of a challenge and I’m genuinely intrigued to see how they tackle it.

  21. Greece walks all over this,in my opinion of course and i took the backers on in the 7s zone,Song is too boring to win on its own so it needs a really great performance and im not sure we will get one.This year you cant say no because of the structure of the songs,but this would be a really boring winner and the guy looks ropey to me.

  22. Folks need to settle. This is not a winner, there’s too little development and it’s too maudlin.

    I’m reminded in a good way of Birds, Suus, and Blackbird in that it creates a moment of stillness and emotion, but it doesn’t feel big enough despite the strong vocals. Im also reminded of Silent Storm, which sure didnt win either.

    We may feel less excited about this after song rivals have polished their songs up.

    And the singer seems an introverted performer too. Think about how much love some of the guys he’s up against will be making to the camera. Switzerland, Azerbaijan, Russia…

    • Guys making to the camera are heavily overvalued. Ingrosso did terribly with the audience, while Blanche is very good. Because the Ingrosso song is bad, and the Blanche song is beautiful. And no looking at the camera will correct this fact.

    • I’ve been waiting for someone to bring up “silent storm” because that is what this most reminds me of and could become. That was an excellent song but just did not connect and was dragged down with overwrought staging from the 90’s and a guy awkward in front of the camera and audience. I don’t want to see violins here, I don’t want to see anyone else on the stage, and I want this dude to look down the camera. His first live doesn’t bother or excite me because it’s his first live in a TV studio and not being bad vocally is always my only concern under those circumstances.
      Silent storm had competition. Not only from the two dark horses of Austria and Netherlands but also at this stage from Armenia, Sweden and Hungary. I don’t think there is a song that comes close to this in terms of quality this year with only Russia, Armenia and a very unlikely Malta left to show their hands. There are of course songs that threaten this, but if Netherlands fulfills its potential they will be very hard to beat.

  23. It’s good to expand on your information of a particular Eurovision entry. I mean most people in here are professional betters. So they have to.

    Having said that, I do think “De Wereld Draait Door” early-night weekday talk show isn’t the best source of information when it comes to being telegenic, charismatic, and so on. Quite a lot of Eurovision song presentations in the show were completely changed toward the Eurovision rehearsal. Sometimes with no good result. Think about last year’s “Outlaw In ‘Em”, of which I preferred the more ‘unplugged’ Johnny Cash-esque performance in DWDD. We know how that turned out in Lisbon.

    However, I recall the song presentation of The Common Linnets in DWDD in 2014 or Douwe Bob’s entry from 2016. It was all a bit so so. The staging in Copenhagen and Stockholm in the end was a u-turn from the DWDD performance.

    Conclusion: Take “De Wereld Draait Door” for what it is. A small podium for, usually, indie style songs and unplugged live performances, in which being telegenic has no importance at all. Cameras are there to ‘observe’ the immersively performing artists, not the other way around, where artists ought to be constantly looking into the camera.

    So it’s good not to draw too much information from this first “DWDD” performance. I do agree with Gavin that he needs to occasionally smile into the camera and on the whole find the camera more often. This “DWDD”-performance reminded me a bit too much of Norway 2014. But from what I’ve heard from lighting and set director Ignace d’Hease, who will join Ilse de Lange and Pannecoucke on the staging team, the final stage act in Tel Aviv will be much more different. Also don’t forget that this year’s stage in Tel Aviv is much more like 2014 and much less like 2018 (much more LED-walls).

    Let’s see what Ignace d’Hease, Ilse de Lange & Hans Pannecoucke will do with Duncan’s “Arcade”. Gavin’s wariness at this stage is entirely justified. But let’s not overestimate those “DWDD”-performances, which will be thrown overboard anyway in Tel Aviv.

    PS: to get a better idea of how Duncan could come across on camera, I advice the available live performances from the singer in “The Voice Of Netherlands 2014”.

    • >>This “DWDD”-performance reminded me a bit too much of Norway 2014.

      This “DWDD”-performance reminded me a bit too much of Salvador. 😀

        • I know.

          But it really has Salvador vibes.

          • Upon listening it for the first time, I thought it had TOP 10 placing written all over it. Anything between 3rd and 9th is possible for me. But I still agree with Gavin here. Perhaps it’s a bit too ‘arty’ to go all the way to 1st place. Duncan really brings an emotional vibe on stage, but a kind of vibe that doesn’t propel him that easily to the TOP 3 with televoters. Kristian Kostov and Salvador Sobral have a slightly more positive charisma if you ask me. Then again, I didn’t see Salvador win in the first place back in 2017.

            Iffff Netherlands wins, then I think it’ll be Ukraine 2016 style, with two 2nd places, adding up to the victory.

  24. Lovely review Gavin thanks.

    Last night was of course the ‘acoustic’ version of the song and in Tel Aviv NL will have the full dramatic, fleshed out backing track. Backing vocals were lovely last night and I hope he keeps them – they looked super pro and cool too – top flight industry standard.

    Duncan’s USP – as with Salvadaor, Jamala, Conchita and they each had it even though of course it was a unique brand of unique selling point for each – is, what many posters/reviews keep picking up on: Truth. He is a total musical craftman and he lives and breathes this story. His brokenness, different from the flawedness of Salvador, more lies in opening out a broken heart for all to see and conveying this fragility yet with power too.

    Funny, in a total contrasting style of song, this time last year there was a big autopsy on Netta’s first performance (which too had differences to the ‘full song’).

    I can offer, for what it’s worth, with my experience in the music biz pro, to you Gav and the team on here – hi team 😉 – my view musical on last on last night’s performance to help us…
    OK: the tiny studio reminded me of Ireland’s RTE set up. The vocal was very very dry, and the opening couple of lower key lines needs that reverb/gate lift that will be there on stage in Tel Aviv, and this last night they sounded a bit gruff and dry. Easily remedied. I feel Duncan played to the small crowded gathered last night and wasn’t too bothered with finding that look deep into the camera. With ILse and the team in Tel Aviv I think all the camera angles will be on the money. I’m glad he’s not seated at the piano. Key to this will be the staging (as all songs in Tel Aviv) and I feel the stark, dramatic look and feel with a switch up at the very right moment, as in a la CATS, that is required, if achieved can see this win. I think Ilse’s input with Pannecoucke could be key here and if I had to out a bet on it (excuse the pun) I think she will be the restraint on his vision that will get it right.
    NL winning, like all of ESC betting, lol, is a gamble. But if Sergey’s song is really good (as I expect) but not as unique and wonderful as NL (which I also expect) I can see a Dami style jury with Sergey behind – but not as much – but with the public vote Duncan will stay on Sergey’s tail a lot closer and therefore could win.

    We will see. But I agree with Gert, as with Netta last year, we now know a first outing, that he can sing live and very well at that and undoubtedly he has so much more to offer juries and some of the public than the good and competent but somewhat one dimensional vocal of Sergey.

  25. For me, this is the kind of song that may not win, but will still be in iTune charts for months while all the other Eurovision songs will have drifted off in nothingness. A song that will still be played in a few years on some radio stations, unlike most winners from last years. I’ve never heard the Israelian winner some weeks after the contest anymore.

  26. Now that the Russian entry has been made public, it is clear to me that in terms of artistry, quality and memorability, it is no match for Duncan Laurence’s ‘Arcade.’ There is nothing special, outstanding or vote-worthy about ‘Scream.’ Quite underwhelming after all the hype. To be honest, I couldn’t really remember what it was like, half a minute after it was over. It sounded over-cooked – well to me. I appreciated how much Sergey was doing his best. But no surprise to me that the moment his entry was revealed, he had to yield his anticipated nr. 1 position to Duncan.

  27. Just found out they hired that awful director that destroyed Belgium and Netherlands last year Hans Pannecoucke or how his name is… that wasis stupid lol. He only got 1 entry right by chance.
    I guess Sergey will win afterall

    • Euoiio, I think that entry where Pannecoucke “got it right by chance” may just have been the better song. So the Common Linnets did not get to second place thanks to him, but despite him. It may be the same this time. Duncan’s song is of literally outstanding quality: as in “it stands out.” Again: hence Duncan replacing Sergey as expected winner the very moment Sergey’s entry was revealed. Sergey’s song does not stand out. Audiences hear and see it. They are touched by Arcade. ‘Scream’ seems to leave them cold(er).

      • Netherlands had a pretty strong entry last year too but Pannecoucke completely ruined it with utterly stupid staging. Waylons live performances of the song were amazing… until he hit the rehearsals. Trust me, Pennecoucke has the power to ruin a song.

        • Waylon’s song was ok. But nowhere near the category that Duncan’s entry is in. So I believe the team around Duncan will make the song rule the performance instead of Pannecoucke.

        • Belgium 18 was destroyed by Sennek herself. She made most staging choices herself. And the Netherlands 18 wasn’t winning material to begin with and Waylon is not a very likeable performer. His behaviour in Lisbon didn’t help either.
          On the other hand, Pannecoucke was also behind Belgium and the Netherlands 16, which both had excellent staging (apart from the pause in the Dutch song, which didn’t work out as intended.)
          Spain 17 was a turd of a song, but the staging couldn’t have been better and suited this kind of song very well. And the Netherlands 15 was an awful song (yes Anouk wrote the lyrics, but she never released it herself) and the artist was very insecure on stage. Also a hopeless cause.

  28. Clip from 4 years ago when he was on The Voice:

    https://youtu.be/g4BjEs0JkCw

  29. Another live performance of Arcade:

    • What strikes me here, and we have to Judge this performance in the context of a very small radio studio, are Duncan’s exceptional vocals. And the fact that the vocals itself could be the reason for emoting so well on social media. Duncan’s range goes from low, crisp vocals to skin tingling falcetto vocals. In a way, Jamala had a similar effect with her emotional vocals.

      Sometimes, in the ‘total staging package’ of potential winners, one (or a few elements) tend to stand out. With Netherlands 2019 it could very well be the combination of the actual song and the wonderful, emotional, slightly fragile vocals. Also, Duncan’s body language to me……..is very lovely to look at. You ‘feel’ he’s ‘losing’ himself in the song.

      Let’s see if staging can elevate this even further. And I am talking then about:
      –> Camera shots
      –> Finding the camera
      –> LED-wall and LED-floor visiuals
      –> Overall lighting colour
      –> Special effects inserted in the editing room (think Bulgaria 2017)
      –> Reaction of the audience
      –> A slight bit of choreography (especially since backing vocals sing the ‘echo’)
      –> Clothing

    • Again he demonstrates solid vocals. Just need to see more to camera but I feel we won’t get to see that until first rehearsal in Tel Aviv.

      • Hi Gert & Gav (kind of a hip ring to that lol). Showlad’s take:
        We settle down now into our deliberations as we get to know the artists and songs and calmly mull our considerations…
        For me the Dutch song and singer is a bit of a paradox containing elements that could provide a clear win or a place on the podium 2nd to 5th (only lower if he struggles badly with nerves).
        I think the key is not only to project what we would wish and be ready to make judgement on what we have actually seen.
        Pluses:
        *Amazing heartfelt vocal in the main
        *He delivers with a sincerity that is very worthy of the great song
        *This is the best ‘song’ in the competition
        Minuses:
        *The opening lower key lines are still a bit of struggle, he does seem a little bit rabbit in headlines and an off key start (like on the previous TV show) could be really damaging to both jury and the viewing public.
        * watch all the ‘Voice’ vids and the tv show performance. Even on the Voice you can feel his eyes ‘resist’ and pull away from the camera and avoiding a gneuine and convincing ‘owning it into the camera performance’ look. Great staging still cannot bridge the gap if he doesn’t connect.

        Summary: the song is a worthy ESC 2019 winner but all of Dami, Salvador, Conchita, Mans, Jamala, Marija etc absolutely sold it. I strongly suspect he’s a lovely but rather shy young man in person and I would be worried at him not selling this and standing heartfelt with eyes closed (only other way of avoiding that look into the camera) which may not be enough.
        As the dust settles, if Sergey as I suspect nails his impressive live vocal ‘Scream’ is ALL ABOUT a song written for the live stage show, as competent but rather uninspiring as the song itself is.

        I would worry that an amazing eye catching mind blowing Russian staging could be much more powerful to Joe Public and Duncan may not forge enough of a lead with the juries (that is if he gets this lead on the current performance and star quality, as if he doesn’t ‘fire and inspire’ the likes of Swe will take away jury votes from him).

        Soberly seeing Duncan’s performance talents for what they are and not for what I would like them to be I would have Rus and NL joint favs at the mo and not the lead that NL have over Rus.
        I am afraid that what Duncan needs to deliver comes naturally and cannot be taught and therefore question if he has enough to get NL victory over the line.

        Maybe be he will, maybe he won’t, but for me it’s certainly not at the level of a 2/1 or 5/2 chance. I need more.

        • Hence I said:

          “Let’s see if staging can elevate this even further. And I am talking then about:
          –> Camera shots
          –> Finding the camera
          –> LED-wall and LED-floor visiuals
          –> Overall lighting colour
          –> Special effects inserted in the editing room (think Bulgaria 2017)
          –> Reaction of the audience
          –> A slight bit of choreography (especially since backing vocals sing the ‘echo’)
          –> Clothing”

          But I also think we sometimes over-analyse things here. Music is also very much about……..emotions. And there’s not a clear black-and-white formula on how to ‘catch’ the televoters and jurors with those emotions.

          It’s sometimes just….’there’. Looking back to Salvador Sobral, he performed everything the same as in the Festival Do Cancao. Only things that were changed were his clothes, and a nice forest-y LED-wall. In the end we can reason that the satellite stage amidst that audience did the trick. But I am more bolder. It was the song and the singer that did the trick. All information was there for all bookies, yet the bookies never had it at no#1 leading towards the rehearsals. You can say that Salvador ‘owned’ the stage, but to me it was his entire personae: hand movements, fragile voice, closed eyes, and a song itself that conveyed pure emotions back in the national final.

          Jamala then with her ‘1944’. Yes, the staging was wonderful, with the fastly growing tree in the background. But Jamala is Jamala, and we all know how ff-ing passionate she gets on stage. She put all the drama of the lyrics into her performance, vocally, and enhanced by her facial gestures of pure heartfelt desperation. Thát was the emotion Europe was sold on.

          Then there was Lena Meyer-Landrut in 2010. Just a little pixie gal who just stood there, prancing around like a little pony, not even singing thát spot-on, but she oozed joy. No big staging stuff was needed here. And yes, ‘Satellite’ is entirely different from ‘1944’ and ‘Amar Pelos Dois’, as it conveyed entirely different emotions, but it was pure, heartfelt sincere.

          Basically like……..all winners.

          The issue I have with Russia this year: the song from the start hasn’t been met with clear approval. And that Always needs to be the starting point towards winning the whole d**n thing. With ‘Scream’ it all feels way too calculated. Yes, it can bring you to wonderful heights on the scoreboard. But Eurovision is not 100% televoting anymore. And the actual matter of winning all comes down to convey emotions in a sincere way.

          Staging can only help with that to a certain extend. But you still have to have a song that, on first listen, grabs you by the balls. I just don’t have that with ‘Scream’. Winning is not just about owning the stage with wonderful effects. It’s about ‘owning’ the stage in a sincere, pure way.

          Sometimes this helps, also for professional betters (and I think it’s a bit of advice that’s hard to dig, but Eurovision is not football. Eurovision is about emotions): How did you react when you first heard the song? Skin-tingling sensations (‘1944’)? Dancing on your chair (‘Toy’)?

          I wish Sergey Lazarev a lot of success, but if I can give him an advice: By jolly keep it simple. Ignore 2016. Use the satellite stage. Do it small, show your vulnerability.

        • Very much endorse these sentiments Showlad. Put crudely, for me it’s:

          “Excellent superior musical product, good vocals but wet behind the ears VERSUS good to very good song, performed by trusted performer with a team we know can produce a stage epic.”

          All I can add to your analysis is that Duncan’s relative newness and naivety, MIGHT, just might actually work to his advantage over the perception that Sergey and the team are just a wee bit over-rehearsed. The lyrics of “Arcade” lend themselves very much to vulnerability (those Salvador “tics” and facial expressions?) and brokenness. NOT if he is singing out of tune (I agree with the comments about the start, he takes a few seconds to get “on point” intonation-wise), but if he’s coming over as genuine, human. The “to camera” moments are critical…they may even make or break this song……after Rehearsal 1, this will either be 5-4/evens or drift out and be replaced by Sergey. All to play for.

          • Honestly, I hope Sergey Lazarev keeps it small this time. But my feeling is that he uses all staging possibilities. I think we honestly overestimate the emotional element here, being only possible with some kind of formula: looking in the camera. Not saying that this is not important. On the contrary.

            I just can’t see Sergey winning the jury vote massively. If he does want to do that, he needs to sing it from the satellite stage, perhaps with some ‘Heroes’-effects, while he is sitting on a stool. But please Kirkorov, don’t…overdo this.

      • How did you………emotionally feel when you first heard the song? With your eyes closed? What did the song do to you Gavin? Do you think ’emotional connection’ with an entry can also happen if someone completely indulges in his/her performance; if someone doesn’t look in the camera, but instead wants you to be an ‘observer’ of his/her emotional ride of 3 mins?

        • It is possible that the famous “goose bumps” happen purely from an auditory point of view and do not rely initially on visuals. That is what happened to me at first hearing after 35/40 seconds….I thought and felt “That’s it!”…. and endless re-listens have only reinforced that. But we all hear, see and feel songs in a different way…..so for “visual absorbers”, the camera work and staging is key. The musical claims, for me, are indisputable.

        • I haven’t – and don’t tend to – listen to ESC music with my eyes closed. I like to judge things quickly like an ESC audience. On first listen I found it incredibly powerful and NL are well deserving of favourite status. However, as I’ve mentioned previously, I need to see him perform to TV viewers before I can call him the winner… or not.

          • I fully agree with you on that Gav. Mind you, I don’t think he’s a winner yet in my book. Don’t get me wrong. Far from it. The cards will be re-shuffled during rehearsals (I even think I’m slightly more confident about Greece this year).

            What do you think of my comments (advice) for Sergey? Should he not ‘overdo’ staging tricks? Keeping it a bit smaller (satellite stage), with some minor visual effects (‘Heroes’ 2015)?

          • No, I think Sergey’s song is theatrical enough to justify bold staging. I have no idea what they’re planning or what I would do in their situation.

          • Hi Gert. ‘looking into the camera’ is a one size fits all statement but basically I’m meaning he needs to connect and sell the song. As fragile as Salvador was he totally had conviction and owned the stage. I fear Duncan may be nervous and have a bit of rabbit in headlights. He is great but I don’t get the same charisma confidence as I had in many, many of the other winners which is a concern for me for ‘holding’ and captivating Saturday nite viewers at home.

            Re Russia I think the theme is very epic battle type, Game of Thrones, Camelot, Hero to the rescue etc and I feel the opposite of your sentiment – the song NEEDS an epic demons and dragons backdrop. You’re The One was just as competent/basic style as Scream but the viewing public were enthralled to such a degree with the ‘show’ put on to provide Russian with a massive Televote win.

            Duncan has the best song, is the better singer – but Russia may well have a super confident singer with an amazing show. Sergey will fare better this time with juries but an epic staging could see just as big a televote win.

            As Mark says – TRULY all to play for.

      • This was of course a radio performance.

  30. Indeed Showlad, yet we know Eurovision is about 50% televotes and 50% juries. At this stage I….simply can’t see how Russia will massively win the jury vote. But who knows, perhaps the total package in Tel Aviv will be truly magnificent. But then there’s still the….song.

    Regarding Duncan. Charisma comes in all sorts and colors. I think Duncan very much owns the stage, in his own way. His vocals actually could enhance the total package if for instance his charisma is not on par with Salvador Sobral.

    But to me it’s also way too early to write off Duncan after two ‘live’ performances set in small studio’s. One being a talkshow that’s foremost famous for introducing indie stuff, and the other one being a radio studio. It’s also dangerous to read too much from those instances.

    I agree though that in the end the ‘live’ rehearsals and the eventual Eurovision performance is what counts. It really could be the ‘make’ moment: 1st. Or the mildly ‘break’ moment: 3rd to 8th. On the whole though I disagree with you on charisma. To me the new ‘live’ performance truly….touched me. Perhaps we shouldn’t compare him at all with Salvador Sobral or Jamala or any other winner. What works for me here is the combination of the song, with his fragile vocals, which are lovely to observe in its own skin-tingling way.

    We’ll see what happens Showlad ;-). Shall we put Netherlands on a 6th place in the odds with a bot? 😛

  31. Still think Gavin’s review about ‘Arcade’ in this article is very much spot-on.

    Pro’s:
    –> Fantastic song, very current
    –> Unique vocals, meme in itself?
    –> Rather endearing to see him indulge in his own song

    Con’s:
    –> It lacks a ‘meme’ and a story (Salvador sweet ticks, Ms Chicken Netta, Jamala punishing Russians)
    –> We haven’t seen Duncan really connect that well with camera’s yet (indeed more of a Blanche/Loic than a Kristian/Cesar)
    –> I expect Netherlands’ odds to drift after Eurovision in Concert
    –> Hans Pannecoucke isn’t a Sacha Jean Baptiste: Sacha is a more overall stage director, whereas Hans’ focus is soley camera angles

    At this moment I think Netherlands could repeat it’s 2nd place (or 3rd, or 4th) of 2014, but I think Switzerland and Greece stand a better chance at this moment. More palatable songs. And I even start to think jurors will be impressed by Lucca’s dance routines (watch his ‘making of’ video from the videoclip).

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