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The Netherlands, it must be said, has had rum luck in Eurovision over the past decade, failing to qualify in each of the past 8 Contests. They even drew on Edsilia, their last really impressively placed singer who came 4th in 1998 to see if she could repeat that feat, but to no avail. Not even the winsome charm of Indiana Joan last year could reverse their fortunes. This year, in answer to many Dutch fans’ prayers, they have enlisted one of their biggest names to do the honour, as many have dreamed of for years. Anouk has a long and successful career in the Netherlands, but isn’t quite so well known outside, a circumstance which may once more hinder qualification. Her song Birds is unusual, vaguely haunting and showcasing her distinctive vocals well. Its time signature also helps to set it apart from the many other female ballads she’s up against and it’s probably fair to say she wins the award for most original amongst her competitors. But for original also read challenging, for this is not the easiest of songs to lose yourself within. It’s on the maudlin side and what sets it apart may ultimately see it set aside. It’s dividing opinion amongst the fans, with some convinced it’s a winner whilst others fear it’s another year in the semis for the poor Dutch. I’m somewhere in the middle. Try as I might I can’t really warm to it, and I’m usually very given to the left-field female singer. That said, Anouk’s been canny not to give any hint of her performance and this has the potential to be very strikingly staged. I would so like to see the Dutch fans rewarded for their patience, but I’m not convinced this is the song many of them envisaged from their dream-ticket contestant, and though I think it should qualify in a weak field by virtue of its unusualness I equally wouldn’t be surprised to see this fail once more.