BEHIND THE SCENES | Gustaph and ‘Because Of You’ to represent Belgium at 2023 Eurovision Song Contest in Liverpool

Gustaph, Stef Caers (42), will represent Belgium in Liverpool in England for the 2023 Eurovision Song Contest. Gustaph and his song ‘Because of You‘ won the finale of Eurosong, which is Flanders‘ selection contest for the ESC. Dennis and I went to see the finale live, in the audience, at BrusselsHeysel‘s Palace 12

Sweden has its Melodifestivalen (Melody Festival) and Italy has the Festival della canzone italiana, better known as Festival di Sanremo or Sanremo Festival. When Flanders chooses a representative for Belgium at the ESC, it – sometimes – organises Eurosong. Wallonia doesn’t hold public preselections, but usually picks someone from song contests such as ‘The Voice Belgique‘. 

From 1975 to 1989, Eurosong was a staple of Flemish television. But Eurosong never led to really successful entry at the ESC. So after 1989 it hasn’t always been organised. Also, it is quite expensive to produce and public broadcasting corporation VRT is always under pressure to cut costs and to do what the Flemish minister of Culture wants. 

2023 marks a return to the Eurosong brand. It was last held in 2016. This year, it consisted of five short broadcasts from Monday to Friday, culminating in yesterday’s live broadcast finale. 

Live from Brussels

The audience was expected to arrive at 6.30 PM, with the broadcast starting two hours later, at 8.30 PM. So we duly arrived on time in Brussels. Dennis had made some salad so we could eat something before entering. 

We were far from the first to present ourselves at the entrance, but the process was smooth. After dropping off our belongings at the cloakroom, we headed to the event hall itself. Palace 12 is not a television studio and it shows. It’s an event hall. It’s not too hot and it’s not cramped. So the audience was large.

Dennis and I had a great spot at the front, but we were told to go further back. Dennis is very tall and we stood in the line of sight of the cameras. That was quite a bummer, but Dennis took it sportingly. Luckily, our new spot gave us a decent vantage point as well. 

The show

Experiencing the show in the hall is quite different to what you see on television. Acts and performances play out differently. 

Ameerah‘s ‘The Carnival‘ act really looked great from inside. Chérine‘s ‘Ça m’ennuie pas‘ perhaps less. Gala Dragot‘s post-act ‘scene’ reacting to Alexander Rybak looked aggressive. 

Eurosong winner Gustaph convincingly performed best. The act works well on a stage. He wasn’t a favourite beforehand, but scored 3rd with the professional jury and 2nd with the general public so he won. 

The show lasted some two hours and those flew by. It was a fun evening and experience. I did not have the ‘broadcast recording feel’ I had years ago going to ‘So You Think You Can Dance‘. This was more a concert. 

Gustaph.

Afterparty 

After the recording, there was an afterparty with performances by gay crowd pleasers (the gay referring to the crowd, not the pleasers) ESC 1986 winner Sandra Kim and Kate Ryan (ESC 2006). Because in Flanders, Eurovision is a gay affair. It’s our FIFA World Cup

An opportunity to say hello to people we know and discuss winner(s) and losers of Eurosong. And also a fun amuse-bouche for Danny‘s and my visit to Liverpool and Manchester.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s