Let me preface this post with a reminder of how the Netherlands solicited entries for this year’s selection: by dropping sheet music, demo tapes, or whatever else into a ginormous Dutch box. Anything goes. Can’t say I envy the poor schmuck at TROS who had to wade through that, especially when you consider what they were left with.
The 2012 Nationaal Songfestival was set up as a series of 3 head-to-head competitions:
1) Stalker song versus Stale ballad with the “Running Scared” shower (result=FAIL);
2) Dutch Cher in Native American headdress versus Woman in underwear asking for chocolate (hint: one of these is your winner);
3) Beauty pageant contestant versus Hootie covering Kenny Rogers (battle of the feel goods).
The second round pitted Pearl (AKA stale ballad) against Joan Franka (AKA Pocahontas) against Ivan (AKA Darius Rucker). Personally, I would have chosen Ivan. But 52% of Dutch televoters went for 21-year-old Joan Franka, so in the end we were left with “You and Me.”
“You and Me” is a bouncy little tune that evokes ’70s folk pop like B.J. Thomas. In Eurovision speak it reminds us of Rollo and King or Sjonni’s Friends. Pleasant but uninteresting. Why the headdress and fire circle, I have no clue. It has no bearing on the song. In the United States, this blatant appropriation of Native American tradition is considered taboo. So for us, it offends rather than serves as a gimmick. We don’t use the word “Indian” anymore either. Not sure all of this is quite as problematic for a European audience, but we gather from the fan reaction and from parsing the judges’ comments it was a distraction.
The last time the Netherlands made the Eurovision finals was 2004. I don’t see “You and Me” changing that, but if they want to win over folks like us they could start by re-imagining the staging.