Belgium in the Eurovision Song Contest
Belgium is one of the founding countries of the Eurovision Song Contest, having participated since the inaugural event in 1956. Unique to Belgium is its two main broadcasting systems: the Flemish-speaking VRT and the French-speaking RTBF. The broadcasters alternate each year in selecting the nation’s representative for the contest. This alternating system ensures representation from both linguistic communities. Over the years, Belgium has sent songs in Dutch, French, English, and even German. Belgium only won one time: in 1986 Sandra Kim won with a landslide with her song “J’aime La Vie”. However, in 1978 Jean Vallée reached a second place with the song “L’amour, Ça Fait Chanter La Vie”. The contest was, in that year, also broadcast in Jordan. Israel won, but as Jordan didn’t recognize Israel, they mentioned Belgium as the winner. Another time Belgium became 2nd was in 2003, with Urban Trad and “Sanomi”.
The national selection in Belgium in 1996 was called “De Gouden Zeemeermin” (The Golden Mermaid). Four semifinals with ten songs each were held. Michel Follet and Alexandra Potvin hosted these shows, as well as the final. On March 9th, in the Casino of Knokke, the final selection was made:
- Lisa Del Bo, “Liefde is een kaartspel“, 215 pts, 1st
- Patrick Alessi, “Een andere wereld”, 73 pts, 11th
- Chelsy, “Kijk me aan“, 128 pts, 8th
- William Reven, “Zo voel ik vandaag“, 119 pts, 9th
- Nadia, “Morgen komt de lente”, 135 pts, 7th
- Peter Van Laet, “Er is iets“, 143, 4th
- Sabien Tiels, “Nooit meer alleen“, 139 pts, 6th
- Doran, “Jij alleen”, 37 pts, 12th
- Gary Hagger, “Dat ik hou van jou“, 141 pts, 5th
- Splinter, “Ik laat je nooit meer gaan“, 189 pts, 2nd
- Enzo, “Mooi“, 151 pts, 3rd
- Mario Caselli, “Mademoiselle“, 90 pts, 10th
Before the final, male trio Enzo was among the favourites, but in the end they didn’t win; Lisa Del Bo did. Anyone who wants to rewatch the entire show: that is possible! You can watch it here!
Lisa Del Bo
In 1990, she was the winner of the Belgian version of the Dutch Soundmixshow with the song “What’s a woman” by Vaya Con Dios. She has since released 13 albums.
In 1993, Del Bo participated in Eurosong, the Belgian preliminary round for the Eurovision Song Contest. In this, she finished third with the song “Vlinder”, behind Barbara Dex. Three years later, in 1996, Del Bo took another chance in the Belgian pre-selection. With the song “Liefde is een kaartspel”, she managed to win and therefore got to represent Belgium in that year’s Eurovision Song Contest.
Lisa Del Bo cooperated with Luc Steeno and Willy Sommers on a duet album, “De mooiste duetten en méér”. Her most recent album, “Niet alleen”, was released in 2022. All of her albums reached the album charts and were successes.
Liefde is een kaartspel
“Liefde is een kaartspel” is a melodic song that uses card-playing as a metaphor for the game of love. The song was composed by Siirak Brogden and John Terra, with Daniël Ditmar writing the lyrics. The lyrics convey the idea that, in love, just as in card games, there’s an element of chance and unpredictability. You might not always win, but it’s worth taking the risk. At the Eurovision Song Contest, which took place in Oslo, Norway, the song was performed in Dutch. Despite being considered a contender by some, the song finished 16th place out of 23 participants, which was somewhat of a disappointment for the Belgian delegation.
In 2001, the Swedish entry “Listen To your Heartbeat” was accused of plagiarism. It was supposed to be a copy of “Liefde is een kaartspel”. The composers of the Swedish song, Thomas G:son and Henrik Sethsson, denied it. They said the similarities were a coincidence. In 2003, the Belgian music association, SABAM, declared that the song “Listen to Your Heartbeat” was a case of plagiarism. Though the song’s composers refuted the claims, they faced potential legal action from the lyricists and composers of “Liefde is een kaartspel”. To resolve the matter, the Swedish delegation agreed to a financial settlement.