Belgium 1996

"Liefde is een kaartspel" sung by Lisa Del Bo was the winning song in the Belgian final ('The Golden Mermaid') held on March 9th.

Lisa del Bo

The contestants:

Here's how the voting came out, in performance order:

                   Reg1 Reg2 Reg3 Reg4 Reg5 Press Exp Tot Place
Lisa del Bo        12    12   12   12   12   35   120 155   1
Splinter           11    10    8   10   10   30   110 140   2
En Zo               9     7   11    8    6   60    50 110   5
Peter van Laet     10     9    9    9   11   55    40  95   8
Garry Haggar        6     8    4    4    4   45    70 115   3
Sabine Tiels        4    11    1    3    5   15   100 115   3
Nadia               5     6    7    5    7   25    80 105   7
Chelsy              8     5    6    6    8    5    90  95   8
William Reven       1     1    3    2    2   50    60 110   5
Marco Caselli       7     3   10   11    9   20    30  50  11
Patrick Alessi      2     2    5    1    3   40    20  60  10
Doran               3     4    2    7    1   10    10  20  12

Five regional jury's gave each entry points from 1 to 12.
A press jury had the same weight as the five regional juries together, so could give points from 5 to 60 (5,10,15,...50,55,60)
The experts jury were given the weight of press and regionals together, thus voting 10, 20, 30 up to 120.

Commentary by Frank Vijt

Belgian papers and radio have been given the contest lots of attention (as usual) and repeatedly pointed out that if they wanted to do we this year they
a) would have to go for an up-tempo song as neither Holland nor Belgium have ever scored with dutch-sung ballads, no matter how beautiful we think they are.
b) would have to go for an experienced professional singer. Past experiments with new fresh talent (Barbara, Morgane,Etherlinck,...) have all gone wrong, except for Sandra Kim, but then she was a natural.

Obviously, the flemish public must for once have read those reports and listened to them, for that's exactly what they went for.

A number of participants had taken the opportunity of playing with a full grown orchestra to change the orchestration of their song, in some cases quite dramatically. In most cases with good results. A warm and lively audience was ready and willing to support their favourites.

After the twelve songs were presented the surprise interval-act came on. ESC-veteran Jacques Raymond together with Connie Neefs (sister of Louis Neefs) sang a medley of old Belgian entries, mainly from the 60's and 70's. The public loved it.

And then it was voting time. The belgian televion BRTN, in all its wisdom, had decided that as the ESC juries were made up for 50% out of music-experts, that's what they should do too. So, they invented a very complicated voting-system where the points from the five regional jurys and the press had the same weight as those from the so-called experts. As it turned out, all this was quite in vain, as everyone (except for the press) had the same favourite.

Dance-act En Zo, who cleverly mixed their techno-sound with the orchestra's horns, got cheered into third place. A bit disappointing maybe. However entering this song would have been a bit risky as it sure would not appeal to the older half of the jury. Some jounalists remarked that experiments of this kind are better left to the bigger countries (UK) and with Pas de Deux in mind, maybe so. For sure this bronze medall is the confirmation of the group's popularity and success in Belgium. When released, it is bound to do well.

Pop group Splinter, not unlike Clouseau, came second. This style is popular and will sell well in both Belgium and Holland. European juries might have problems with the rock sound, though.

The rather surprise-winner Lisa del Bo fits the above preferred picture. Her song is a catchy up-tempo tune, very eurovision, also thanks to the new orchestration. It fits into the 'Soldiers of Love', 'Nei eda ja' and other northern entries, is unfortunately a bit 'passť', a bit late 80's. I don't know whether it will still work nowadays, but euro-jurys have done funnier things and and even more old-fashioned french entry made number 4 last year. With the again high number of ballads an, albeit out-dated, uptempo song might appeal to the unpredictable euro-voters and certainly the 'new' countries. Expectations are never high in Belgium (learned from experience) so qualifying for Oslo would already be seen as a success. Once there, anything goes.

All ballads got rather low marks. Nadia's stunning performance past by the audience, Garry Haggar apparently got votes because of his recent top 3 hit. Sabien Tiels again suffered from nerves, but she's still young and can come back in two years time, more fit for ESC then. The afro-sound of Mario Caselli got either high or low votes. Peter Van Laet actually sounded good this time and got awarded fourth place for this.

About the winners:

Lisa del Bo started her career, winning the Soundmixshow, doing Belgium's top group 'Vaya con dios'. In 93 she entered the last flemish preselection and came third with the catchy 'Vlinder' (Butterfly). A big hit for her and a series of similar hits would follow. This victory is sure to confirm her position in flemish showbizz.
The song is written by John Terra, lyrics from Daniel Ditmar. John Terra just celebrated his 25 year singing career. He himself started in the belgian preselection, then Canzonissima, and was one of the most popular singers during the 70's and 80's. Though still singing himself, he now concentrates more on writing songs.
Lyricist Daniel Ditmar is actually a lawyer. He worked with Terra for some time now and together they scored already a number of hits for different artists.
On the positive side, this combination of talent and experience will add to the performance. In the past too many belgian entries suffered from a lack of professionalisme. On the other hand, it's a pity the entry comes a few years too late.

Thanks to Frank Vijt.