Number too weak, competition too strong, is verdict after elimination of Mia and Dion Yesterday, 15:56 in Cultuur & Media National and international connoisseurs shed light on the disappointing semi-final of Mia and Dion at the Eurovision Song Contest. Why was the Netherlands eliminated and what should be done differently?

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Mia Nicolai and Dion Cooper at the Eurovision Song Contest 2023 in Liverpool
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  • Philip Dujic

    editor online

It was a big disappointment last night: for the first time in eight years, the Netherlands is not in the final of the Eurovision Song Contest. Mia Nicolai and Dion Cooper failed to convince the home crowd with their Burning Daylight.

Many viewers will have sat on the couch with their buttocks squeezed, knowing that Mia and Dion had sung the song out of tune in the run-up to the Eurovision Song Contest. “We all held our breath,” says Gianni Paelinck, Eurovision follower for the Belgian broadcaster VRT. But it wasn’t the song itself. “It worked out in the end. It was pretty okay, nothing to be ashamed of, but it kind of stuck. There were too many negatives.”

Power of the number

One of them is the song itself, says Katja Zwart of the Telegraaf podcast Songfestivalkoorts. “It’s a nice song for the radio, but it had nothing to do with it. It ripples a bit. You also noticed that in the reaction of the audience: people didn’t care much. Even though it all turned out very nicely in image. To no avail.”

According to Swedish Eurovision connoisseur Ben Robertson, Burning Daylight missed something special. “If you bring a ballad, it must contain special moments. Then your presentation must be right and the characters must be appealing. That was the case with Duncan Laurence’s Arcade and with Calm After the Storm by The Common Linnets in 2014. They had chemistry with the camera.”

Competition too strong

In short: the marriage between the artists and the song was not great, he concludes. “It wasn’t endearing, it was a blank canvas. There wasn’t a moment in the song where the performers could shine.”

Watch Mia and Dion’s performance here:

For example, Mia and Dion sang in the semifinals of the Eurovision Song Contest

We warned in advance about the strong competition. “It was one of the toughest semi-finals in recent history,” says Robertson, who is heavily involved with Eurovision statistics.

“It could very well be that the winner, the number 2 and the number 3 come from this semi-final. Then it is just very difficult to place yourself.” He refers to the clear winner Sweden and the big challenger Finland. “You can say that the Netherlands was just unlucky to be placed in such a strong pot,” says VRT reporter Paelinck.

No help from jury

According to him, the loss of the votes of the jury “undoubtedly” plays a role. Those votes do not count this year, because a number of countries had been in cahoots last year. “And to continue, Belgium and the Netherlands often rely more on the professional jury than on televoters,” says Paelinck.

Podcaster Zwart wants nothing to do with criticism of the lack of jury votes. “That’s the wrong starting point. You have to stay with yourself and try to write a good song that can be a potential world hit. That’s the essence. You shouldn’t frantically try to put all kinds of check marks that your song should meet.”

Mia and Dion are fed up with their elimination, but go home with their heads held high:

“It was a difficult semi-final, we gave everything”

Is there any reason to panic now? No, says Robertson. “One can overreact after this elimination, but in my opinion there is no reason for that. The Netherlands has put down one of the strongest series in recent years when it comes to surviving the semi-finals.”

It is often called after an elimination that there should be an extensive national selection round, as has been the case with Sweden for years. But Black is a bit fed up with that discussion. “I think the organization should not succumb to such criticism, which often comes from people who have nothing to do with the Eurovision Song Contest.” She does think that the preparation should be much better. “For example, Mia and Dion were only on stage for the first time a month ago. That is simply not possible if you go to the Eurovision Song Contest, which 200 million people watch.”

She also believes that the selection committee must be addressed. “More musicians really need to be involved. Jan Smit was in it, but he has now stepped out. Put experienced musicians in. I think that will help.”

There is no secret formula for Eurovision winnings, Robertson knows. “But the most important thing is authenticity. You touch a lot of people with that.” Or as Paelinck says: “Try to be original. And if you’re not, then at least you shouldn’t be a bad copy.”

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