The below editorial features the opinions and views of the quoted reviewer and do not necessarily represent the views of #escYOUnited as a whole, Eurovision or the EBU.
This Saturday, September 26, 2020, The Netherlands will decide who will represent them at Junior Eurovision 2020. The contest ever-presents (one of only two countries – Belarus being the other – to have performed at every contest since the first one in 2003) gave a great account of themselves in 2019, when Matheu Hinzen came in 4th in a competitive field with “Dans met jou.” And in 2020, even with the tournament reduced to 13 nations and performances being held remotely, the Dutch will hope their Junior Songfestival format yields another great result.
Again, the vote will be split into three: an adult jury, a kids’ jury, and the televote. Eurovision 2019 winner Duncan Laurence joins Emma Heesters and Ronnie Flex in the adult jury, while Hinzen is joined by 2019 runners-up 6Times in the kids’ jury.
And as ESC United did last year, we assembled some staff to offer our own opinions and recommendations for whom The Netherlands should send to Junior Eurovision 2020. Both of ESC United’s Dutch contingent are on hand – we are joined by writer and one of our YouTube channel commentators Roy Postema, and by our Instagram account manager Melanie Otto. Representing Yorkshire is writer James Maude, and we are also joined by ESC United’s social media guru and writer Connor Terry.
Now assembled, let’s see what this Voltron of barely professional Eurovision reviewers thinks of the Dutch entries.
Jackie and Janae – “It’s You and Me”
Written by Babette Labeij, Dimitri Veltkamp and Robin van Veen, “It’s You and Me” features duo of Jackie & Janae. Labeij came in 9th at the Dutch Eurovision national selection Nationaal Songfestival 2004, but did end up going later as a back-up singer for Edsilia Rombley. Her co-writer is her husband and co-founder of Superba Records Dimitri Veltkamp, a musician and artist in his own right. Dutch producer Robin van Veen rounds out the writing and production team.
Connor – 9 – “Call me crazy but I kind of enjoy this song, but as a non-competition song. It sounds like something I would just casually pull up on spotify and listen to while doing work, and it’s very pared back for a potential Dutch entry. This is a song that really could light up live, and create a surprising win if done correctly because these girls have some good harmonies and vocal timbres. I’m 100% okay with a sneak victory for this song!”
James – 5 – “That “Sssshhhh” after every verse reads as a “Shut Up!” to me. These two sweet young girls are just going about their day and the production team puts that harsh “Sssshhhh” in to ruin their O’3GNE-esque day? Really? Right after they sing “Listen to our song” you A%$&#%$ put in a “Ssssshhhh”? I feel bad giving this a low score. Jackie & Janae are the two best Girl Scouts around in the Netherlands (probably), but this song is the audio versions of Do-si-dos (an oatmeal cookie with peanut butter filling), which is the absolute worst Girl Scout cookie available. As good a sales crew as Jackie & Janae are, this will be a hard sell.”
Melanie – 5 – “Jackie and Janae are bringing us a sweet ballad with a great message. The voices of both the girls fits perfectly together when they sing together. Sadly, the song itself is quite forgettable. The English lyrics sounds a bit forced and not natural. The beat of the song also needs more body, because sometimes I have the feeling they’re singing acapella. Maybe a revamp and great staging can help lift up this song, because I think the message of the song will appeal to a lot of listeners.”
Roy – 5.5 – “For some reason I have the feeling that this will win for The Netherlands. Is that a good thing? I don’t particularly think so. The song is very basic, lyrically and sonically. The girls have great voices, but I feel like they could have done a bit more to show that off. It is just really predictable and it doesn’t really do anything with me. I think they could have a decent staging with this, but I would rather have a song with a bit more life than this.”
Total: 24.5 (Average = 6.125)
Robin – “Mee”
Robin is the only solo act at Junior Songfestival 2020, and the only performer to sing entirely in Dutch (the others hew close to the Contest’s home language rule with verses in Dutch and choruses in English). “Mee” is written by Adriaan Philipse, Julian Vahle, and Maxine van Breukelen. Utrecht based producer Adriaan Philipse is joined by Julian Vahle, the 22-year-old son of Dutch TV presenter and actress Linda de Mol and film director Sander Vahle, who is a singer in his own right. Singer Maxine van Breukelen rounds out the production and writing team line-up.
Connor – 8 – “You may be shocked to learn that I’ve placed this lower than Unity – and that’s because this too is radio friendly but as a summer (or fall…technically) hit but there are flaws. Robin has a really
great vocal ability that is shown off by this track, but I wish it was a bit more uptempo. This song has a lot of potential, but I’m worried that if she can’t maintain the energy of the track live it will turn into a snooze fest. It definitely sounds like something that would be out there in the Dutch music industry, but it would likely need a revamp to bring some youth and fun into it. It’s a tad bit dangerous but I can still see it be successful if it moves on.”
James – 8 – “This song reminds me why I need to get my daughter to a krav maga class ASAP. Who is that goofball in the orange T-shirt hanging around the crisps at the supermarket staring at Robin? And why are the kids milling about at the supermarket anyway? How boring is it to be a kid in Holland? That being said, in a world where Roksana Wegiel and Viki Gabor crushed it at JESC 2018 and 2019, respectively, The Netherlands have their version of Euro teen pop-modernity right here. Robin has that undefinable star quality and charisma and it’s no surprise she’s the only kid in the selection to get a solo gig, even if you feel the track they give her is a little too pedestrian. But then I thought “I just want to scream at the top of my lungs” was a bit blah back in 2018, and I will admit I was wrong about Roksana. If Roksana can crush Europe like an empty aluminum can, I don’t see why Robin can’t in 2020 either, especially since home advantage is essentially nullified in 2020.”
Melanie – 8 – “This song is the most interesting of the four. Her voice and the composition of the beat is
amazing. She sounds so soothing that I can listen to her for hours. I’m just scared that this song won’t stand out enough because it’s too linear. It’s like a rollercoaster with amazing props and lights, but the ride itself is kinda boring because it’s missing a looping and corkscrews. So I really hope they’ll revamp this song a bit and give it more fireworks, because I would love to see Robin winning Junior Songfestival 2020.”
Roy – 6.5 – “I feel like Robin is the most interesting and distinct artist of this selection. Her voice has it in her to carry the song on the stage, the videoclip makes her come across very likeable and capable of performing the song, but something is off here. I guess they tried to take a risk in making a minimalistic drop, but I feel like it kind of really backfired on them. The luck would be that this year’s field is a lot smaller than usual, but it doesn’t really stand out as an overall package to me.”
Total: 30.5 (Average = 7.625)
T-Square – “Count on Me”
T-Square survived a plagiarism accusation (some allege it sounds too close to BTS’s “Boy with Luv”). Dutch broadcaster AVROTROS responded with one of the most emphatic defenses of an entry you will ever hear, having had several Dutch musicians and experts review the claims and dismiss them. In any event, T-Square are comprised of four boys whose names begin with the letter T: Thimo, Teddy, Thijs, and Tyrone. “Count on Me” was written by Jermain van der Bogt and Willem Laseroms, the duo behind Matheu Hinzen’s “Dans met jou.”
Connor – 7 – “The Dutch broadcaster appears to have an obsession with young boybands that will dissolve the same day as the national final. In this case – I’m not mad at the grouping, but more the song. The verses of the song are way more successful than the refrain, mostly because the only thing you’ll remember is the redundant “woooooah wooooooah”. It’s a great try for sure, but this studio lacks energy, and I’m hoping that they would have a more successful performance live. But then again FOURCE came 4th with an equally bad song in 2017 so who knows…”
James – 4 – “Lets get the plagiarism innuedos out of the way – van der Bogt and Laseroms have been on the JESC scene for quite a while, were cleared by AVROTROS, and it is unacceptable that some alleged “fans” keep trying to paint them with that brush. That being said, this song does have some issues aside from its being influenced by the massively popular K-Pop. As individual performers, the kids seem fine but I don’t think they work as a cohesive unit. This track would work better if, like the song van der Bogt and Laseroms wrote for Matheu Hinzen, they nominate a lead and have the other three as back-ups. One of these lads needs to take charge, because as it stands we got four random kids randomly slapped together because their names start with the same letter and whom you can tell don’t gel like a group that has been together for a while and has natural connection between its members. Sure, they can work on that in their routine up to the contest, but we have three more ready to go options to choose from.”
Melanie – 7 – “Of the four songs competing at the Dutch Junior Songfestival 2020, I think T-Square with “Count On Me” has the most potential to do well at Junior Eurovision. I think a lot of teen girls
will love the boys from this group and will vote on them. Also, I see them rocking an amazing choreography on the stage. Nevertheless, I have to compare them with Fource’s “Love Me” and Matheu’s “Dans Met Jou” and I think their songs were better than “Count On Me.” Hopefully they’ll work on a special memorable moment in the song or staging.”
Roy – 4.5 – “After the second listen I already got sick and tired of the “Oooh’s” and the “Aaah’s” in this song, but I had to endure it for a third time by my own standard before finalizing the review. Yeah this song really rubs me the wrong way. It is basic, simple, got a copyright accusation and is an earworm that I would rather skip than continue listening to. The lads sound great and I hope they can give it a good performance, but this should definitely not be the song for The Netherlands if it were up to me!”
Total: 22.5 (Average = 5.625)
UNITY – “Best Friends”
Unity are an all-girl quartet comprised of Naomi, Demi, Maud, and Jayda. “Best Friends” is written by seasoned musician and producer Robert Dorn, who has experience at Junior Songfestival and other kids contests, including writing songs such as Max & Anne’s “Time to Party.”
Connor – 9 – “Okay now here we go, I love that we have a girl group in the JESC NL national final! Similar to Jackie and Janae this song is a very casual listen song, but this one sounds much more radio ready. The track is slightly pop leaning but creates a balance between showing off their voices and talent, while still keeping the song energetic and fun. And it’s got a classic “CLAP WITH ME” moment! Extra points for that.”
James – 7.5 – “The best and most sweet song about friends has to be Dragon Sound’s “Friends for Eternity” from the oddly endearing yet incompetent ’80s martial arts movie Miami Connection. I certainly hope these four girls aren’t forced to fight Village People-esque bikers and drunk ninjas looking to sell cocaine in Orlando like Dragon Sound had to. As a group, UNITY gel better than T-Square, and I know sweet songs like this grinds some folks gears, but there’s a sincerity here you can’t be mad at. It’s sweet, light pop fun.”
Melanie – 6 – “The harmonies of the 4 girls are amazing together! “Best Friends” is a song that will stick in your head after the first listen. It’s contagious and everyone will easily clap along with this song. But the song itself is just too sweet for me. I just wanted to see some more spice with the girls. As we sometimes say in the Netherlands: “The enamel pops off my teeth” of this song. It’s just a sweet okay song.”
Roy – 7.5 – “I hate how the beginning of the song sounds like it is a stock sample from your random stock-sample-website. But I feel like this could maybe work. The voices of the girls were selected really well together and the overall piece is actually kind of memorable. It is still a bit basic, but sometimes basic is effective. Especially in Junior from what we’ve learned from the past. This maybe should be The Netherlands’ pick to “send to Poland.””
Total: 30 (Average = 7.5)
Right, so who does ESC United think AVROTROS should pick to represent The Netherlands at Junior Eurovision 2020? Here is the final tally of points for all four entries:
- Robin – “Mee” (30.5 points, Average = 7.625)
- UNITY – “Best Friends” (30 points, Average = 7.5)
- Jackie and Janae – “It’s You and Me” (24.5 points, Average = 6.125)
- T-Square – “Count on Me” (22.5 points, Average = 5.625)
So by a razor thin margin, ESC United voted for Robin’s “Mee” to represent The Netherlands. Three scores of 8 and a 6.5 lead us to believe this will be another solid performer for the Dutch. Though not having a 9 score, with the way JESC televoting works we would not be surprised if this one gets picked a lot as a second or third choice.
Do #YOU agree with our editors’ recommendation of song or singer? Share your thoughts below, in our forum, or in the comments below.