First Listen: The Netherlands Goes Country (Again)

Has The Netherlands gone too many times to that well?

Douwe Bob will sing Douwe Bob will sing "Slow Down" at the 2016 Eurovision Song Contest. (Screen: YouTube)

After a regrettable showing in which Trijntje Oosterhuis’s terrible outfit choices overshadowed her mediocre song, The Netherlands are returning to a formula that’s been relatively successful in recent years: a folk / country act fronted by an earnest young man. This time it’s Douwe Bob, who has been known to sing with both Anouk and The Common Linnets, two artists that helped break a long string of Dutch Eurovision failures-to-qualify. Can he tap into their success to get The Netherlands back on track?

At first glance, this is a pleasant entry. Douwe Bob has an incredibly smooth voice and a song that rolls the listener along without a care in the world. Can anyone tell me what this is actually about, though? Generally speaking, lyrics are not a make-or-break component of a Eurovision entry, and some of the most popular songs don’t really make any sense. (Looking at you, Måns.) But the lyrics do need to tell some kind of story. Unfortunately, “Slow Down” reminds me more of last year’s Icelandic collection of choruses than the Swedish winner. On the one hand, in a song that lasts only 2:45 — a full 15 seconds below the limit — it’s boring to have the entire last minute of the song be choruses and instrumental interludes. On the other hand, the lyrics in the verses don’t make any sense, so we don’t need more of that and perhaps it’s better to just finish early.

Given the amount of exposure Eurovision audiences get to these songs between now and the contest, it’s easy to get tired of a song that seems thin. I’ve only listened to it twice, and I’m already bored with it. I fully expect this song to struggle to qualify.

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