Nationaal Songfestival

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Nationaal Songfestival
Logo between 1997 and 2003
Also known asNSF
GenreMusic competition
Country of originNetherlands
No. of episodes48 editions
Production companies
  • NTS (1956–1969)
  • NOS (1970–2001, 2006)
  • TROS (2003–2005, 2009–2012)
Original release
Release24 April 1956 (1956-04-24) –
26 February 2012 (2012-02-26)

Nationaal Songfestival (Dutch: [ˈnɑ(t)ʃoːnaːl ˈsɔŋfɛstivɑl]; lit.'National Song Festival') was an annual music competition, which was originally organised by the Dutch public broadcaster Nederlandse Televisie Stichting (NTS), and later by the Nederlandse Omroep Stichting (NOS) and the Televisie Radio Omroep Stichting (TROS). It was staged almost every year between 1956 and 2012 to determine the country's entry for the Eurovision Song Contest. The festival has produced four Eurovision winners and eight top-five placings for the Netherlands at the contest.

Due to declining interest in the competition and the Netherlands' poor performance in the Eurovision Song Contest in the late 2000s and early 2010s, it was decided that the Dutch entry for the Eurovision Song Contest 2013 would be internally selected.[1] As this led to the Netherlands' best Eurovision result in over ten years, Nationaal Songfestival has not been organised since.[2] The children's version of the competition, Junior Songfestival, is still active.


Participants of Nationaal Songfestival 1968
Sandra Reemer performing at Nationaal Songfestival 1970

From 1956 to 1969, Nationaal Songfestival was organised by the Nederlandse Televisie Stichting (NTS). From 1970 onwards, the show was produced and broadcast by the Nederlandse Omroep Stichting (NOS), with the exception of the 2003, 2004 and 2005 editions, which were organised by the Televisie Radio Omroep Stichting (TROS). After the 2006 edition, the NOS stated that it no longer wanted to organise the competition.[3] After a two-year hiatus, the TROS took over the event in 2009.

Throughout the years, different formats were used to determine which artist and/or song would represent the Netherlands in the Eurovision Song Contest. The competition was usually held in February or March. In 1985, 1991, 1995 and 2002, Nationaal Songfestival was not organised, because the Netherlands would not take part in that year's Eurovision Song Contest.

In 1961, 1963, 1980, 2007 and 2008, the Dutch entry for the Eurovision Song Contest was not selected through Nationaal Songfestival, but was chosen internally by a special committee. The 1963 edition of Nationaal Songfestival had been scheduled to take place on 23 January at the Tivoli in Utrecht, but was cancelled due to a strike of the Metropole Orchestra.[4] In 2007, a special edition of the show Mooi! Weer De Leeuw, titled Mooi! Weer het Nationaal Songfestival, was broadcast in which Edsilia Rombley performed three potential Eurovision entries, after which she announced which song she had picked.[5]

2009–2012: Final years[edit]

Nationaal Songfestival artists performing as an interval act at the 2011 edition

After a two-year hiatus, Nationaal Songfestival returned in 2009 as the selection method for the Dutch Eurovision entry; this time to select a song for De Toppers, who had been internally selected by the TROS as the Dutch representatives. In 2010, this format was reversed when the song "Ik ben verliefd (Sha-la-lie)" written by Pierre Kartner was internally selected, and the performer was chosen through Nationaal Songfestival. Both schlager acts failed to qualify for the final of the Eurovision Song Contest and were subject of heavy criticism in the Netherlands.[6][7]

When asked in the talk show Pauw & Witteman why "acknowledged composers" are no longer involved in writing the "best possible songs" for Nationaal Songfestival, Eric van Tijn, composer of the winning entries "Vrede" (1993) and "Hemel en aarde" (1998), stated that "it is not an honor anymore to take part in [the competition]".[8] He attributed the Netherlands' poor performance in the Eurovision Song Contest to the NOS and TROS's limited budgets, which did not allow established songwriters to present their songs in the best possible way, thereby making it unattractive to submit an entry.[8]

After more disappointing Eurovision results that Nationaal Songfestival continued to produce in 2011 and 2012, Anouk approached TROS to represent the Netherlands in the Eurovision Song Contest 2013.[1] While initially TROS was pushing for another Nationaal Songfestival selection that year, Anouk refused to participate in it and wanted to be internally selected with full creative control over the entry. Ultimately, TROS decided to select her, and she went on to represent the country with the song "Birds". Anouk was the first Dutch entrant to qualify for a Eurovision final since 2004, which is the longest non-qualification streak of any country to date. With this success, Nationaal Songfestival has not been held since. In subsequent years, the internal selection method led the Netherlands to more success, including placing second in 2014, and winning the 2019 contest.[2]


Nance Coolen and Esther Hart announcing the results of the televote at Nationaal Songfestival 2004

In the 1956, 1957, 1958 and 1967 editions, the winning entry was chosen through postcard voting: the public could vote by sending a postcard with the title of their favourite song to a specified address, with the song that received the most postcards being declared the winner.[1] From 1959 onwards, juries often had a role in determining the winner of Nationaal Songfestival. Many editions had twelve regional juries, one for each province (and one for the Zuidelijke IJsselmeerpolders prior to becoming a separate province).[1] Other editions had a single (international) professional jury or expert panel.[1]

A notable voting method was used in 1975, when the audience in the Jaarbeurs was asked to put a rose in one of three vases corresponding to the three competing entries.[9] The vase containing the most roses (the one of Teach-In) was declared the winner.[9] Televoting was first introduced in the 1997 edition. Since then, the voting system of Nationaal Songfestival has often been a combination of jury voting and televoting, largely resembling the voting system of the Eurovision Song Contest.

The voting in the 2010 edition led to much controversy, as it resulted in a tie which – according to the rules – had to be broken by composer Pierre Kartner. Kartner refused to choose between the two artists as he considered them to be "equally strong", and suggested to decide by flipping a coin instead. After much insistence from presenter Yolanthe Cabau, Kartner ultimately chose Sieneke as the winner of the competition.[10][11]

Past editions[edit]

Host cities of Nationaal Songfestival
(blue = semi-finals; gold = special show)
The Circustheater in The Hague, venue of the 1969 and 1980 editions
Rotterdam Ahoy, venue of the 2000, 2001 and 2003 editions
The Heineken Music Hall in Amsterdam, venue of the 2006 edition
Year Date of final Broadcaster Venue Presenter(s) Entries
1956 24 April NTS AVRO Studios, Hilversum Karin Kraaykamp 8
1957 3 February NTS AVRO Studios, Hilversum Karin Kraaykamp 8
1958 11 February NTS AVRO Studios, Hilversum Tanja Koen 11
1959 17 February NTS AVRO Studios, Hilversum Karin Kraaykamp 8
1960 9 February NTS AVRO Studios, Hilversum Hannie Lips, Piet te Nuyl 8
1962 27 February NTS Theater Concordia, Bussum Hannie Lips, Elisabeth Mooy 7
1963 Broadcast cancelled due to orchestra strike
1964 24 February NTS Tivoli, Utrecht Elles Berger 3
1965 13 February NTS Theater Concordia, Bussum Teddy Scholten 15
1966 5 February NTS Tivoli, Utrecht Teddy Scholten 15
1967 22 February NTS Kloosterhoeve, Harmelen Leo Nelissen 6
1968 28 February NTS Tivoli, Utrecht Elles Berger 4
1969 26 February NTS Circustheater, The Hague Pim Jacobs 10
1970 11 February NOS Congresgebouw, The Hague Pim Jacobs 10
1971 24 February NOS NOS Studios, Hilversum Willy Dobbe 6
1972 22 February NOS Theater Carré, Amsterdam Barend Barendse 3
1973 28 February NOS Theater Carré, Amsterdam Simon van Collem, Viola van Emmenes 4
1974 27 February NOS Jaarbeurs, Utrecht Willem Duys 3
1975 26 February NOS Jaarbeurs, Utrecht Willem Duys 3
1976 18 February NOS Congresgebouw, The Hague Willem Duys 5
1977 2 February NOS Congresgebouw, The Hague Ati Dijckmeester 10
1978 22 February NOS Congresgebouw, The Hague Willem Duys 8
1979 7 February NOS RAI, Amsterdam Martine Bijl 5
1981 11 March NOS Theater Zuidplein, Rotterdam Fred Oster, Elles Berger 10
1982 24 February NOS Circustheater, The Hague Lenny Kuhr 3
1983 23 February NOS Congresgebouw, The Hague Ivo Niehe 10
1984 14 March NOS NOS Studios, Hilversum Eddy Becker 10
1986 1 April NOS De Flint, Amersfoort Pim Jacobs 10
1987 25 March NOS Royal Conservatory, The Hague Astrid Joosten 6
1988 23 March NOS Congresgebouw, The Hague Astrid Joosten 6
1989 10 March NOS RAI, Amsterdam Linda de Mol 13
1990 10 March NOS Congresgebouw, The Hague Paula Patricio 20
1992 29 March NOS NOS Studios, Hilversum Bas Westerweel 10
1993 26 March NOS Escape, Amsterdam Paul de Leeuw 8
1994 26 March NOS AT&T Danstheater, The Hague Paul de Leeuw 8
1996 3 March NOS Cinevideo Studio, Almere Ivo Niehe 15
1997 23 February NOS Marcanti Plaza, Amsterdam Bart Peeters, Joop van Zijl 6
1998 8 March NOS RAI, Amsterdam Paul de Leeuw, Linda de Mol 8
1999 14 March NOS Studio 22, Hilversum Paul de Leeuw, Linda de Mol 10
2000 27 February NOS Rotterdam Ahoy, Rotterdam Paul de Leeuw 8
2001 3 March NOS Rotterdam Ahoy, Rotterdam Paul de Leeuw 8
2003 1 March TROS Rotterdam Ahoy, Rotterdam (final)
Hart van Holland, Nijkerk (semi-finals)
Loes Luca as "Nénette" (final)
Harm Edens (semi-finals)
2004 22 February TROS Pepsi Stage, Amsterdam Nance Coolen, Humberto Tan 24
2005 13 February TROS Pepsi Stage, Amsterdam Nance Coolen, Hans Schiffers 24
2006 12 March NOS Heineken Music Hall, Amsterdam Paul de Leeuw 9
2009 1 February TROS Studio 22, Hilversum Jack van Gelder 6
2010 7 February TROS Studio Baarn, Baarn Yolanthe Cabau 5
2011 30 January TROS Studio 21, Hilversum Yolanthe Cabau 5
2012 26 February TROS Studio 24, Hilversum Jan Smit, Vivienne van den Assem 6

Special shows[edit]

Year Title or format Date Broadcaster Venue Presenter(s)
1967 Announcement of results 1 March NTS Theater Orpheus, Apeldoorn Leo Nelissen
2007 Mooi! Weer het Nationaal Songfestival 11 February VARA Studio Cé, Almere Paul de Leeuw


Table key
Third place
Last place
Song internally selected
Artist internally selected
Year Song Artist Songwriter(s) Result in Eurovision
Final Pts. Semi Pts.
1956 "Voorgoed voorbij" Corry Brokken Jelle de Vries Unknown N/A
1957 "Net als toen" Corry Brokken Willy van Hemert, Guus Jansen 1 31
1958 "Heel de wereld" Corry Brokken Benny Vreden 9 ◁ 1
1959 "'n Beetje" Teddy Scholten Willy van Hemert, Dick Schallies 1 21
1960 "Wat een geluk" Rudi Carrell Willy van Hemert, Dick Schallies 12 2
1962 "Katinka" De Spelbrekers Henny Hamhuis, Joop Stokkermans 13 ◁ 0
1964 "Jij bent mijn leven" Anneke Grönloh René de Vos, Ted Powder 10 2
1965 "'t Is genoeg" Conny Vandenbos Joke Prior-van Soest, Johnny Holshuyzen 11 5
1966 "Fernando en Filippo" Milly Scott Gerrit den Braber, Kees Bruyn 15 2
1967 "Ring-dinge-ding" Thérèse Steinmetz Gerrit den Braber, Johnny Holshuyzen 14 2
1968 "Morgen" Ronnie Tober Theo Strengers, Joop Stokkermans 16 ◁ 1
1969 "De troubadour" Lenny Kuhr David Hartsema, Lenny Kuhr 1 18
1970 "Waterman" Hearts of Soul Pieter Goemans 7 7
1971 "Tijd" Saskia & Serge Gerrit den Braber, Joop Stokkermans 6 85
1972 "Als het om de liefde gaat" Sandra & Andres Dries Holten, Hans van Hemert 4 106
1973 "De oude muzikant" Ben Cramer Pierre Kartner 14 69
1974 "Ik zie een ster" Mouth & MacNeal Hans van Hemert 3 15
1975 "Dinge-dong" Teach-In Will Luikinga, Eddy Ouwens, Dick Bakker 1 152
1976 "The Party's Over" Sandra Reemer Hans van Hemert 9 56
1977 "De mallemolen" Heddy Lester Wim Hogenkamp, Frank Affolter 12 35
1978 "'t Is OK" Harmony Dick Kooiman, Toon Gispen, Eddy Ouwens 13 37
1979 "Colorado" Xandra Gerard Cox, Rob Bolland, Ferdi Bolland 12 51
1981 "Het is een wonder" Linda Williams Bart van der Laar, Cees de Wit 9 51
1982 "Jij en ik" Bill van Dijk Liselore Gerritsen, Dick Bakker 16 8
1983 "Sing Me a Song" Bernadette Martin Duiser, Piet Souer 7 66
1984 "Ik hou van jou" Maribelle Richard Debois, Peter van Asten 13 34
1986 "Alles heeft ritme" Frizzle Sizzle Rob ten Bokum, Peter Schön 13 40
1987 "Rechtop in de wind" Marcha Peter Koelewijn 5 83
1988 "Shangri-la" Gerard Joling Peter de Wijn 9 70
1989 "Blijf zoals je bent" Justine Pelmelay Cees Bergman, Elmer Veerhoff, Aart Mol, Erwin van Prehn, Geertjan Hessing, Jan Kisjes 15 45
1990 "Ik wil alles met je delen" Maywood Alice May 15 25
1992 "Wijs me de weg" Humphrey Campbell Edwin Schimscheimer 9 67
1993 "Vrede" Ruth Jacott Henk Westbroek, Jochem Fluitsma, Eric van Tijn 6 92
1994 "Waar is de zon?" Willeke Alberti Coot van Doesburgh, Edwin Schimscheimer 23 4
1996 "De eerste keer" Maxine & Franklin Brown Piet Souer, Peter van Asten 7 78 9 63
1997 "Niemand heeft nog tijd" Mrs. Einstein Ed Hooijmans 22 5 N/A
1998 "Hemel en aarde" Edsilia Rombley Jochem Fluitsma, Eric van Tijn 4 150
1999 "One Good Reason" Marlayne Tjeerd van Zanen, Alan Michael 8 71
2000 "No Goodbyes" Linda Wagenmakers Ellert Driessen, John O'Hare 13 40
2001 "Out On My Own" Michelle André Remkes, Dirk Jan Vermeij 18 16
2003 "One More Night" Esther Hart Tjeerd van Zanen, Alan Michael 13 45
2004 "Without You" Re-union Angeline van Otterdijk, Ed van Otterdijk 20 11 6 146
2005 "My Impossible Dream" Glennis Grace Bruce Smith, Robert D. Fischer DNQ 14 53
2006 "Amambanda" Treble Caroline Hoffman, Niña van Dijk, Djem van Dijk 20 22
2009 "Shine" De Toppers Gordon Heuckeroth, Bas van den Heuvel 17 11
2010 "Ik ben verliefd (Sha-la-lie)" † Sieneke Pierre Kartner 14 29
2011 "Je vecht nooit alleen" 3JS Jan Dulles, Jaap Kwakman, Jaap de Witte 19 13
2012 "You and Me" Joan Franka Joany Hazebroek, Jessica Hoogenboom 15 35


Musical styles and artists[edit]

In the early years of the competition, Nationaal Songfestival entries used to be entirely in Dutch, even though the Eurovision rules did not dictate any language restrictions until 1966.[12] The rule that a country's entries must be performed in one of its national languages was first abolished in 1973, which led to the 1974 en 1975 Nationaal Songfestival winners "Ik zie een ster" and "Dinge-dong" being performed in English at the Eurovision Song Contest (as "I See a Star" and "Ding-a-dong").[13] In 1976, "The Party's Over" by Sandra Reemer was the first song in a language other than Dutch to win Nationaal Songfestival.

The Eurovision Song Contest's language rule was reintroduced in 1977 and abolished once again in 1999, after which the majority of entries at each year's Nationaal Songfestival were performed in English.[14][15] The 2000 edition marked the first time an entry in West Frisian, "Hjir is it begjin" by Gina de Wit, was selected to take part in the competition.[16] In 2003, the operatic pop entry "Turiddu" by Arwin Kluft was the first to be fully in Italian.[17] In 2006, the lyrics of the winning song "Amambanda" by Treble were partly in an imaginary language.[18]

Throughout the years, the competition also diversified in terms of musical styles. In its early years, Dutch chansons and jazz songs dominated in the competition. Later, there was also room for more experimental entries, such as the rumba song "Fernando en Filippo" by Milly Scott (1st, 1966).[19] In the 1980s, the synth-pop genre gained popularity in Nationaal Songfestival with entries such as "Rechtop in de wind" (1st, 1987) and "Shangri-la" (1st, 1988), and by the late 1990s and the early 2000s, mid-to-uptempo dance-pop had become a successful genre in the competition. Entries in this genre included "No Goodbyes" by Linda Wagenmakers (1st, 2000), "So Much Love" by Ebonique (2nd, 2001), and "One More Night" by Esther Hart (1st, 2003). In the same period, the a cappella genre made its debut with the entries "Danielle… la plus belle" (3rd, 2001) and "Celeste" (5th, 2004).

While many established artists, such as Patricia Paay (1969), Bonnie St. Claire (1970, 1977, 1982), and Gordon (1990, 2003), have participated in Nationaal Songfestival, the competition has also been a stage for new talent.[19] Notable newcomers included Justine Pelmelay (1989), Marlayne (1999), Ben and Dean Saunders (2003), and Waylon (2005).[19][20][21]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e "De Nederlandse voorronde door de jaren heen". (in Dutch). 11 May 2017. Retrieved 23 October 2022.
  2. ^ a b "Hoe Anouk het Songfestival weer cool maakte". NPO Radio 2 (in Dutch). 12 May 2021. Retrieved 23 October 2022.
  3. ^ "Nationaal Songfestival 2007 zeker niet bij de NOS". Eindhovens Dagblad (in Dutch). 17 May 2006. Retrieved 23 October 2022.
  4. ^ "50 jaar songfestival: NSF 1963" (in Dutch). 29 August 2004. Retrieved 23 October 2022.
  5. ^ "Edsilia kiest Nooit meer zonder jou". (in Dutch). 11 February 2007. Retrieved 23 October 2022.
  6. ^ "Toppers krijgen veel kritiek over optreden Songfestival". (in Dutch). 3 February 2009. Retrieved 23 October 2022.
  7. ^ Noorloos, Jorieke van (23 July 2021). "Sieneke over haar 'Songfestival'-deelname: 'Er was óveral kritiek op'". (in Dutch). Retrieved 23 October 2022.
  8. ^ a b Eric van Tijn over het Songfestival (in Dutch). Pauw & Witteman. 9 February 2010. Retrieved 23 October 2022 – via YouTube.
  9. ^ a b "Teach-In (Nederland) - 1975". Songfestival Update (in Dutch). Retrieved 23 October 2022.
  10. ^ Dee, Daphne (19 August 2020). "Editorial: The 2019 Dutch victory – how did the Netherlands get there and what can other countries learn from it?". Wiwibloggs. Retrieved 21 September 2022.
  11. ^ "Songfestival-throwback: Pierre Kartner kan niet kiezen". RTL Boulevard (in Dutch). 18 May 2021. Retrieved 21 September 2022.
  12. ^ "Eurovision Song Contest: Luxembourg 1966". Eurovision Song Contest. Retrieved 4 July 2020.
  13. ^ "Eurovision Song Contest: Luxembourg 1973". Eurovision Song Contest. Retrieved 4 July 2020.
  14. ^ "Eurovision Song Contest: London 1977". Eurovision Song Contest. Retrieved 4 July 2020.
  15. ^ "Eurovision Song Contest: Jerusalem 1999". Eurovision Song Contest. Retrieved 1 July 2020.
  16. ^ "Primeur op Songfestival: een Fries liedje". Trouw (in Dutch). 18 January 2000. Retrieved 23 October 2022.
  17. ^ "Songfestivallers Ebonique en Kluft naar de finale". (in Dutch). 16 February 2003. Retrieved 23 October 2022.
  18. ^ "Belgen zingen niet-bestaande taal op Songfestival". Trouw (in Dutch). 10 March 2008. Retrieved 23 October 2022.
  19. ^ a b c Vendel, Edward van de (1 August 2022). "Alle Nederlandse songfestivalliedjes - de ultieme rangschikking". Eurostory (in Dutch). Retrieved 23 October 2022.
  20. ^ "Ben Saunders". NPO Radio 2 (in Dutch). Retrieved 23 October 2022.
  21. ^ Borgdorff, Suzanne (9 November 2017). "'Guess who's back...' Waylon naar Eurovisie Songfestival". Algemeen Dagblad. Retrieved 23 October 2022.

External links[edit]