Arcade (song)

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"Arcade"
Arcade (Duncan Laurence song).png
Single by Duncan Laurence
from the EP Worlds on Fire
Released7 March 2019
Format
GenrePop
Length3:04
LabelSpark
Songwriter(s)
Producer(s)
  • Wouter Hardy
  • Oscar Holleman
Duncan Laurence singles chronology
"Arcade"
(2019)
"Love Don't Hate It"
(2019)
Music video
"Arcade" on YouTube
Eurovision Song Contest 2019 entry
Country
Artist(s)
Language
Composer(s)
Duncan Laurence, Wouter Hardy
Lyricist(s)
[1]
Finals performance
Semi-final result
1st
Semi-final points
280
Final result
1st
Final points
498
Entry chronology
◄ "Outlaw in 'Em" (2018)   
"Grow" (2020) ►

"Arcade" is an English-language song by Dutch singer Duncan Laurence. It represented the Netherlands in the Eurovision Song Contest 2019 in Tel Aviv, Israel, which it won.[2] The song was released as a digital download on 7 March 2019.[3] The song was written by Duncan Laurence, Joel Sjöö, Wouter Hardy and Will Knox.[1] After the complete line-up of songs was announced, Arcade was the odds' favourite to win Eurovision, and had remained so until the contest ended.[4] An acoustic version of the song was released on 19 July 2019.[5][6] In February 2020, "Arcade" won an Edison Award for best pop song of the year.[7] In May 2020, Arcade was included on Duncan's debut EP Worlds on Fire.[8]

Background and composition[edit]

Duncan Laurence wrote the song while he attended the Tilburg Rock Academy. He worked on the song for over two years, predominantly while collaborating with Wouter Hardy, a former band member with Sharon Kovacs.[9] The song is inspired by the heartbreak of a loved one of Duncan's who died. According to him, Arcade is a story about the search for the love of your life, and about the hope to reach something that seems unreachable.[10] The namesake lyric "Small town boy in a big arcade" refers to his experience, being from a small town, as a Rock Academy freshman entering the summer fair of Tilburg, the largest in The Netherlands. Throughout the song, the fair and its arcade games are used as a metaphor for love, addiction and gambling with relationships.[11]

Arcade is inspired by film soundtracks and consists of 165 tracks.[12] The song opens with four chords played on piano, accompanied by a simple piano riff and overdubbed vocals. The triple metre verses contrast with the 4/4 time signature of the rest of the song, giving it a distinct sound. Heavy emphasis is put on Duncan's vocals. After the soft verses, in which he expresses his sadness and vulnerability, the chorus kicks in with heavy drums, accompanied with a choir of backing vocals, to enhance the lyrics' expressions of anger and frustration.[11]

Eurovision Song Contest[edit]

Selection and reception[edit]

Ilse DeLange, runner-up of Eurovision 2014 as a member of The Common Linnets, came across Duncan in The Voice of Holland later that year, where she became his coach, and he regularly shared his songs with her since. DeLange sent one of those songs, Arcade, to the Dutch Eurovision selection committee.[11][13] Duncan Laurence was revealed as representative of the Netherlands in the Eurovision Song Contest 2019 on 21 January 2019, after Arcade was internally selected by the Dutch broadcaster.[14] The song was never specifically written for Eurovision.[15] Following the announcement, the selection committee received backlash from social media users, because of the decision to let an unknown artist represent The Netherlands in Eurovision, after previously sending unknown artists to the contest who usually achieved miserable results for the country.[16]

After Arcade itself was revealed on 7 March 2019, the track received mostly positive reactions.[17][18] The sound of Arcade has been compared to the likes of Coldplay. Peter Van de Veire, Belgium's Dutch-language Eurovision commentator, said that the gravity of the song's lyrics and composition would appeal to Eurovision viewers.[19] Editors of the Eurovision fan site Wiwibloggs praised the emotional atmosphere of Arcade and gave the song an average score of 9.15 out of 10.[20] Dan Niazi from ESCXtra, another Eurovision fan site, said he wasn't prepared for a song "as good and as perfectly produced as Arcade" to represent The Netherlands. He praised the song's production and lyrical content, and thought the song had "the potential of changing the face of the contest for good", comparing the song to Loreen's Euphoria.[21] OGAE members placed the song third overall, behind Switzerland's and Italy's entries.[22] Shortly after the release of Arcade, The Netherlands became the leader of the betting odds;[23][24] the Dutch broadcaster revealed they had a hosting plan on hand in case of a Dutch victory, written years beforehand,[25] and The Hague had already applied a bid for hosting the following Eurovision, might Duncan Laurence take home the trophy, by April 2019.[26]

In Eurovision[edit]

On 28 January 2019, an allocation draw was held, which placed each country into one of the two semi-finals, as well as which half of the show they would perform in. The Netherlands were placed into the second semi-final, held on 16 May 2019, and were scheduled to perform in the second half of the show. Once all the competing songs for the 2019 contest had been released, the running order for the semi-finals was decided by the show's producers rather than through another draw, so that similar songs were not placed next to each other. The Netherlands performed from starting position 16 and qualified for the final.[27]

The performance of the song in Tel Aviv featured Duncan Laurence sitting behind an electric grand piano, with three backing vocalists supporting him offstage. DeLange and The Netherlands' creative team decided that Duncan sit behind a piano on stage, because, him being a singer-songwriter, they wanted to portray him on stage as a musician.[28] Surrounding Duncan and his piano, smoke, water and lighting effects, reminiscent of the official music video, accompanied the performance.[29] Reactions to the simplistic performance were mixed. The Telegraph's Charlotte Runcie found that "the song deserves to do well, but the pared-back staging was in danger of being forgettable".[30] Heidi Stephens, reporter for The Guardian, found the Dutch performance "bleak, but hauntingly beautiful".[31] Writing for The Independent, Rob Holley found that Arcade was well performed,[32] and although he feared that the performance was underwhelming for Eurovision standards, he thought The Netherlands were the biggest contenders for victory.[33] BBC's commentator for the semi-finals Rylan Clark-Neal put The Netherlands in his top 5.[34] During the Eurovision week, The Netherlands remained a favourite to win the competition, according to the bookmakers;[35] shortly before the contest's final, their chances of winning were as high as 46 percent.[36]

In the Grand Final, Duncan Laurence was drawn to perform in the first half of the show, on spot 12.[37] Arcade received the maximum score of 12 points from six national juries, and twice from national audiences.[38] The Netherlands were closely followed by North Macedonia, Sweden and Italy during the jury vote and the latter during the televoting sequence[39], but ended up winning the Eurovision Song Contest with 492 points. After the Belarusian jury's original verdicts were discarded, their final number of points was 498.[40] It was the first Eurovision victory for the country since 1975, when Teach-In won for The Netherlands with Ding-a-dong.

Covers from other Eurovision acts[edit]

It was featured 3 times in the Eurovision Home Concerts series, and covered by all the acts in Armenia's Depi Evratesil selection for the 2020 contest that would be cancelled in a group performance.[41]

Track listing[edit]

Digital download[42]
No.TitleLength
1."Arcade"3:03

Charts[edit]

Certifications[edit]

Region Certification Certified units/sales
Belgium (BEA)[78] Gold 20,000*
Netherlands (NVPI)[79] 4× Platinum 320,000^
Norway (IFPI Norway)[80] Gold 30,000double-dagger

^shipments figures based on certification alone

References[edit]

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External links[edit]