Belgium in the Eurovision Song Contest
This article needs additional citations for verification. (October 2013))
|Member station||VRT, RTBF|
|National selection events|
|Appearances||63 (53 finals)|
For the most recent participation see
Belgium in the Eurovision Song Contest 2022
Belgium has participated in the Eurovision Song Contest 63 times since making its debut as one of seven countries at the first contest in 1956. The only countries with more appearances are Germany (64), France (63) and the United Kingdom (63). Belgium have been absent only three times in total, in 1994, 1997 and 2001, due to low scores in the previous contests that relegated them from the contest. Belgium has won the contest once, in 1986.
In the first 20 years of the contest, Belgium's best result was Tonia's fourth place in 1966. In 1978, Jean Vallée achieved Belgium's first top three placement, when he was second. Sandra Kim became the first and to date only winner for Belgium in 1986, when she won as a 13-year-old in Bergen, performing the song "J'aime la vie". Belgium's only other top three result came in 2003, when the group Urban Trad finished second in Riga, losing out by only two points. Belgium has finished last in the contest eight times, most recently in 2000, and has twice received "nul points" (no points); in 1962 and 1965.
After the introduction of the semi-final round in 2004, Belgium failed to reach the final for five consecutive years (2005–09). Since 2010, Belgium has become more successful, qualifying for the final in seven out of twelve contests and placing in the top 10 four times, with Tom Dice sixth (2010), Loïc Nottet fourth (2015), Laura Tesoro tenth (2016), and Blanche fourth (2017).
Belgium has two national broadcasters of the contest, Dutch-speaking Flemish broadcaster Vlaamse Radio- en Televisieomroep (VRT) and French-speaking Walloon broadcaster Radio télévision belge de la communauté française (RTBF). The two broadcasters rotate selection for the Eurovision Song Contest each year (from 2002 to the cancelled 2020 edition, VRT in the even-numbered years and RTBF in the odd-numbered years; until 1993 BRT/BRTN in the odd-numbered years and RTB/RTBF in the even-numbered years).
Belgium has participated in Eurovision since the very first contest in 1956, however Tonia's fourth-place at the 1966 contest remained the country's most notable achievement until Jean Vallée finished second in 1978. In the 80s, following good results for Stella (fourth in 1982) and Jacques Zegers (fifth in 1984), Belgium finished last for the sixth time in 1985. This was followed by Belgium's first and (as of 2022[update]) only Eurovision victory in 1986, when Sandra Kim won with her song "J'aime la vie" in Bergen, Norway. Although the lyrics claimed she was 15 years old, she was actually only 13 which prompted runner-ups Switzerland to petition for her disqualification, to no avail.[a] By winning in 1986, Belgium became the last of the 7 Eurovision founding countries to win the contest, as Switzerland, the Netherlands, France, Luxembourg, Italy and Germany all had won at least once before. Belgium scored an absolute record at the time, with Kim earning a never-seen-before number of 176 points (that record remained until 1993, with Ireland scoring 187 points). With an average of 9.26 points per voting nation and 77.2% of the maximum possible score, as of 2022[update] Kim's record still ranks eighth among all Eurovision winners.
Belgium finished last for the seventh time at the 1993 contest, before achieving its only top ten result of the 90s decade at the 1998 contest in Birmingham, where Mélanie Cohl finished sixth. In the 2000s, Belgium experienced mixed fortunes: the country started the decade by finishing last for the eighth and (as of 2022[update]) final time at the 2000 contest in Stockholm, before achieving its best result of the 21st century in 2003 when Urban Trad sang in an imaginary language and earned second place with 165 points, losing out to Turkey's Sertab Erener by just two points. The country then failed to qualify from the semi-finals for 5 consecutive contests from 2005 to 2009.
The 2010 entry for Belgium was Tom Dice, runner-up of the Belgian Flemish version of The X Factor in 2008. Dice finished first in his semi-final, allowing Belgium to participate in the final for the first time since 2004 and eventually finishing sixth overall, Belgium's best result since 2003 and the best result ever for a Flemish entrant (tied with 1959). Belgium then experienced a mix of ups and downs for the remainder of the 2010s: while the country failed to qualify for the final on 5 occasions (in 2011, 2012, 2014, 2018 and 2019), Belgium qualified in 2013 (with Roberto Bellarosa placing 12th) before scoring a 3-year-streak in the top 10 thanks to Loïc Nottet (fourth in 2015), Laura Tesoro (tenth in 2016) and Blanche (fourth in 2017).
In October 2019, Hooverphonic was announced as the Belgian representative for the 2020 contest with their entry "Release Me". Due to the cancellation of the 2020 contest in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, broadcasters RTBF and VRT later agreed that the band would be their representative for the 2021 contest instead. Their 2021 entry "The Wrong Place" went on to finish in 19th place in the final with 74 points.
Disparity between broadcasters
Belgium is a federal country divided into two major linguistic regions: Dutch-speaking Flanders in the north and French-speaking Wallonia in the south, each region having its own broadcaster (VRT in Flanders and RTBF in Wallonia). The broadcasters take turns to send the Belgian entry to Eurovision, and as of 2021[update] Flemish VRT is in charge on odd-numbered years while French-speaking RTBF is in charge on even-numbered years.
There has been a significant difference in the results achieved by the broadcasters. The french-speaking RTBF accomplished Belgium's only Eurovision win in 1986, all of Belgium's ten top 5 placings, and eighteen out of Belgium's twenty-five top 10 placings. On the other hand, the Flemish VRT has only placed in the top 10 seven times, while scoring six out of Belgium's eight last place finishes. In the 90s, the relegation rule was introduced, where the lowest-placed countries on the scoreboard were not invited the following year, to accommodate for the growing number of participating countries. Belgium was relegated three times, in 1994, 1997 and 2001; twice following a poor placing by a VRT-sent act the previous year, and once after RTBF act Nathalie Sorce placed last in 2000.
Since 2004 and the introduction of the semi-finals, the broadcasters have scored similarly in terms of qualification: RTBF qualified four times out of nine semi-finals, while VRT also qualified three times out of eight semi-finals and broke Belgium's five-year non-qualification streak, with 2010 contestant Tom Dice qualifying Belgium for the first time.
|Entry selected but did not compete|
|Fud Leclerc||"Messieurs les noyés de la Seine"||French||2[b]||N/A||No semi-finals|
|Mony Marc||"Le plus beau jour de ma vie"||French||2[b]|
|Fud Leclerc||"Ma petite chatte"||French||5||8|
|Bob Benny||"Hou toch van mij"||Dutch||6||9|
|Fud Leclerc||"Mon amour pour toi"||French||6||9|
|Bob Benny||"September, gouden roos"||Dutch||15 ◁||1|
|Fud Leclerc||"Ton nom"||French||13 ◁||0|
|Robert Cogoi||"Près de ma rivière"||French||10||2|
|Lize Marke||"Als het weer lente is"||Dutch||15 ◁||0|
|Tonia||"Un peu de poivre, un peu de sel"||French||4||14|
|Louis Neefs||"Ik heb zorgen"||Dutch||7||8|
|Claude Lombard||"Quand tu reviendras"||French||7||8|
|Louis Neefs||"Jennifer Jennings"||Dutch||7||10|
|Jean Vallée||"Viens l'oublier"||French||8||5|
|Lily Castel and Jacques Raymond||"Goeiemorgen, morgen"||Dutch||14||68|
|Serge and Christine Ghisoland||"À la folie ou pas du tout"||French||17||55|
|Nicole and Hugo||"Baby, Baby"||Dutch||17 ◁||58|
|Jacques Hustin||"Fleur de liberté"||French||9||10|
|Ann Christy||"Gelukkig zijn"||Dutch, English||15||17|
|Pierre Rapsat||"Judy et Cie"||French||8||68|
|Dream Express||"A Million in One, Two, Three"||English||7||69|
|Jean Vallée||"L'amour ça fait chanter la vie"||French||2||125|
|Micha Marah||"Hey Nana"||Dutch||18 ◁||5|
|Stella||"Si tu aimes ma musique"||French||4||96|
|Pas de Deux||"Rendez-vous"||Dutch||18||13|
|Jacques Zegers||"Avanti la vie"||French||5||70|
|Linda Lepomme||"Laat me nu gaan"||Dutch||19 ◁||7|
|Sandra Kim||"J'aime la vie"||French||1||176|
|Liliane Saint-Pierre||"Soldiers of Love"||Dutch, English||11||56|
|Reynaert||"Laissez briller le soleil"||French||18||5|
|Ingeborg||"Door de wind"||Dutch||19||13|
|Clouseau||"Geef het op"||Dutch||16||23|
|Morgane||"Nous, on veut des violons"||French||20||11|
|Barbara Dex||"Iemand als jij"||Dutch||25 ◁||3||Kvalifikacija za Millstreet|
|Frédéric Etherlinck||"La voix est libre"||French||20||8||No semi-finals|
|Lisa del Bo||"Liefde is een kaartspel"||Dutch||16||22||12||45|
|Mélanie Cohl||"Dis oui"||French||6||122[c]||No semi-finals|
|Vanessa Chinitor||"Like the Wind"||English||12||38|
|Nathalie Sorce||"Envie de vivre"||French||24 ◁||2|
|Sergio and the Ladies||"Sister"||English||13||33|
|Xandee||"1 Life"||English||22||7||Top 11 previous year[d]|
|Nuno Resende||"Le grand soir"||French||Failed to qualify||22||29|
|Kate Ryan||"Je t'adore"||English[e]||12||69|
|The KMG's||"Love Power"||English||26||14|
|Tom Dice||"Me and My Guitar"||English||6||143||1||167|
|Witloof Bay||"With Love Baby"||English||Failed to qualify||11||53|
|Roberto Bellarosa||"Love Kills"||English||12||71||5||75|
|Axel Hirsoux||"Mother"||English||Failed to qualify||14||28|
|Loïc Nottet||"Rhythm Inside"||English||4||217||2||149|
|Laura Tesoro||"What's the Pressure"||English||10||181||3||274|
|Sennek||"A Matter of Time"||English||Failed to qualify||12||91|
|Hooverphonic||"Release Me"||English||Contest cancelled[f] X|
|Hooverphonic||"The Wrong Place"||English||19||74||9||117|
|Jérémie Makiese||"Miss You"||English||19||64||8||151|
While VRT normally hosts a national final, Eurosong, when selecting their entries for Eurovision, RTBF usually holds an internal selection process (although it sometimes holds a national final, for example in 1998, 2005 and 2011, while VRT internally chose Tom Dice for the 2010 edition, Sennek for the 2018 edition and Hooverphonic for the 2020 and 2021 editions).
|1957||Artist: Internal selection
Song: National final with 3 songs
|1959||National final with 2 participants||NIR|
|1960||National final with 5 participants||INR|
|1961||National final with 6 participants||BRT|
|1962||National final with 5 participants||RTB|
|1963||National final with 6 participants||BRT|
|1965||Artist: Internal selection
Song: National final with 6 songs
|1966||Artist: Internal selection
Song: National final with 4 songs
|1967||National final with 7 participants||BRT|
|1968||National final with 10 participants||RTB|
|1969||Artist: Internal selection
Song: National final with 6 songs
|1970||National final with 4 participants||RTB|
|1971||National final with 12 participants||BRT|
|1972||Artist: Internal selection
Song: National final with 10 songs
|1973||National final with 10 participants||BRT|
|1974||Artist: Internal selection
Song: National final with 6 songs
|1975||National final with 10 participants||BRT|
|1976||National final with 5 participants||RTB|
|1977||National final with 3 participants||BRT|
|1978||National final with 8 participants||RTBF|
|1979||Artist: Internal selection
Song: National final with 3 songs
|1980||National final with 7 participants||RTBF|
|1981||National final with 10 participants||BRT|
|1982||National final with 4 participants||RTBF|
|1983||National final with 9 participants||BRT|
|1984||National final with 10 participants||RTBF|
|1986||National final with 9 participants||RTBF|
|1987||National final with 11 participants||BRT|
|1988||National final with 12 participants||RTBF|
|1991||Artist: Internal selection
Song: National final with 3 songs
|1992||National final with 10 participants||RTBF|
|1993||National final with 12 participants||BRTN|
|1994||Did not participate|
|1995||National final with 10 participants||RTBF|
|1996||National final with 12 participants||BRTN|
|1997||Did not participate|
|1998||National final with 10 participants||RTBF|
|1999||National final with 8 participants||VRT|
|2000||National final with 10 participants||RTBF|
|2001||Did not participate|
|2002||National final with 7 participants||VRT|
|2004||National final with 7 participants||VRT|
|2005||National final with 2 participants||RTBF|
|2006||National final with 7 participants||VRT|
|2008||National final with 5 participants||VRT|
|2011||National final with 14 participants||RTBF|
|2012||Artist: Internal selection
Song: National final with 2 songs
|2013||Artist: Internal selection
Song: National final with 3 songs
|2014||National final with 6 participants||VRT|
|2016||National final with 5 participants||VRT|
|1987||Brussels||Centenary Palace||Viktor Lazlo|
Barbara Dex Award
|1957||Willy Berking||Host conductor|
|1958||Dolf van der Linden|
|1966||Jean Roderes||Host conductor|
|1985||Curt-Eric Holmquist||Host conductor|
Commentators and spokespersons
This section needs additional citations for verification. (December 2019))
Belgium has two public broadcast stations VRT (Dutch speaking region) & RTBF (French speaking region). Both broadcast the event and over the years VRT and RTBF commentary has been provided by several experienced radio and television presenters, including Nand Baert, Jacques Mercier, Luc Appermont and Paule Herreman. However, from the 1991 Contest, André Vermeulen has provided the Dutch language commentary every year, with the exception of the 1996 Contest. Jean-Pierre Hautier provided the French language commentary from the 1994 Contest until the 2012 contest, having died shortly after. In 1962, the BRT used the commentary from NTS (The Netherlands broadcast), possibly for financial reasons.
Since 1998, VRT has supplied an additional commentator to join André Vermeulen; between 1999 and 2010, dual commentary was provided by either Bart Peeters or Anja Daems. Peeters provided the commentary during the years when VRT selected the entries, whilst Daems commentated the years in which RTBF selected the entries. Since 2011, Sven Pichal has replaced Daems as commentator, whilst Peter Van de Veire has replaced Peeters. From 2007, Jean-Louis Lahaye joined Jean-Pierre Hautier as a supplementary commentator for RTBF. After Hautier's death in 2012, Lahaye was joined by Maureen Louys in 2013.
|Year||Flemish commentator||French-speaking commentator||Spokesperson||Ref.|
|1956||Nand Baert||Janine Lambotte||No spokesperson|
|1957||Nic Bal||Bert Leysen|
|1958||Arlette Vincent||Paule Herreman|
|1959||Paule Herreman||Bert Leysen|
|1960||Georges Désir||Arlette Vincent|
|1961||Commentary via RTF France||Ward Bogaert|
|1962||Commentary via NTS the Netherlands||Nicole Védrès||Arlette Vincent|
|1963||Herman Verelst, Denise Maes||Pierre Delhasse||Ward Bogaert|
|1964||Herman Verelst||Paule Herreman||André Hagon|
|1970||Jan Theys||André Hagon|
|1971||Herman Verelst||No spokesperson|
|1974||Georges Désir||André Hagon|
|1975||Willem Duys||Paule Herreman||Ward Bogaert|
|1976||Luc Appermont||Georges Désir||André Hagon|
|1977||Patrick Duhamel||An Ploegaerts|
|1978||Claude Delacroix||André Hagon|
|1979||Paule Herreman||An Ploegaerts|
|1980||Jacques Mercier||Jacques Olivier|
|1981||Walter De Meyere|
|1986||Patrick Duhamel||Jacques Olivier|
|1987||Claude Delacroix||An Ploegaerts|
|1988||Pierre Collard-Bovy||Jacques Olivier|
|1989||Jacques Mercier||An Ploegaerts|
|1990||Claude Delacroix||Jacques Olivier|
|1991||André Vermeulen||An Ploegaerts|
|1994||Jean-Pierre Hautier||Did not participate|
|1995||Marie-Françoise Renson "Soda"|
|1996||Michel Follet, Johan Verstreken||Jean-Pierre Hautier, Sandra Kim||An Ploegaerts|
|1997||André Vermeulen||Jean-Pierre Hautier||Did not participate|
|1998||André Vermeulen, Andrea Croonenberghs||Marie-Hélène Vanderborght|
|1999||André Vermeulen, Bart Peeters||Sabine De Vos|
|2000||André Vermeulen, Anja Daems||Thomas Van Hamme|
|2001||Did not participate|
|2002||André Vermeulen, Bart Peeters||Geena Lisa|
|2003||André Vermeulen, Anja Daems||Corinne Boulangier|
|2004||André Vermeulen, Bart Peeters||Martine Prenen|
|2005||André Vermeulen, Anja Daems||Armelle Gysen|
|2006||André Vermeulen, Bart Peeters||Yasmine|
|2007||André Vermeulen, Anja Daems||Jean-Pierre Hautier, Jean-Louis Lahaye||Maureen Louys|
|2008||André Vermeulen, Bart Peeters||Sandrine Van Handenhoven|
|2009||André Vermeulen, Anja Daems||Maureen Louys|
|2010||André Vermeulen, Bart Peeters||Katja Retsin|
|2011||André Vermeulen, Sven Pichal||Maureen Louys|
|2012||André Vermeulen, Peter Van de Veire||Peter Van de Veire|
|2013||André Vermeulen, Tom De Cock||Maureen Louys, Jean-Louis Lahaye||Barbara Louys|
|2014||Peter Van de Veire, Eva Daeleman||Angelique Vlieghe|
|2016||Peter Van de Veire||Umesh Vangaver|
|2021||Fanny Jandrain, Jean-Louis Lahaye||Danira Boukhriss|
|2022||Maureen Louys, Jean-Louis Lahaye||David Jeanmotte|
- Belgium in the Eurovision Choir of the Year – A competition organised by the EBU for non-professional choirs.
- Belgium in the Junior Eurovision Song Contest – Junior version of the Eurovision Song Contest.
- Belgium in the Eurovision Young Dancers – A competition organised by the EBU for younger dancers aged between 16 and 21.
- Belgium in the Eurovision Young Musicians – A competition organised by the EBU for musicians aged 18 years and younger.
Notes and references
- Since the 1990 contest, the minimum age for participation is 16 meaning Sandra Kim will remain the youngest winner ever (unless the age limit is lowered).
- The full results for the first contest in 1956 are unknown, only the winner was announced. The official Eurovision site lists all the other songs as being placed second.
- Spain originally gave its 12 points to Israel and 10 to Norway. After the broadcast it was announced that Spanish broadcaster wrongly tallied the votes and Germany should have got the top mark - 12 points - instead of being snubbed, as it happened. The mistake was corrected and so Germany was placed 7th over Norway. Israel and Norway both received 2 points less than originally and Croatia, Malta, Portugal, United Kingdom, Netherlands, Belgium, Estonia and Turkey all received one point less than indicated during the broadcast.
- According to the then-Eurovision rules, the top ten non-Big Four countries from the previous year along with the Big Four automatically qualified for the Grand Final without having to compete in semi-finals. For example, if Germany and France placed inside the top ten, the 11th and 12th spots were advanced to next year's Grand Final along with all countries ranked in the top ten.
- Although the song is in English, the French title is repeated throughout the song.
- The 2020 contest was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
- All conductors are of Belgian nationality unless otherwise noted.
- The contest was organized by RTBF, but the Belgian entry was from VRT, hence Walloon Jo Carlier serving as musical director (and conducting for Cyprus) while a Flemish conductor led the Belgian entry.
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- Roxburgh, Gordon (2014). Songs for Europe: The United Kingdom at the Eurovision Song Contest. Vol. Two: The 1970s. Prestatyn: Telos Publishing. pp. 142–168. ISBN 978-1-84583-093-9.
- Roxburgh, Gordon (2016). Songs for Europe: The United Kingdom at the Eurovision Song Contest. Vol. Three: The 1980s. Prestatyn: Telos Publishing. ISBN 978-1-84583-118-9.
- Granger, Anthony (20 May 2018). "EBU Wants to See More Commentators Attend the Eurovision Song Contest". eurovoix.com. Retrieved 12 December 2019.
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