Laurence won a total of 492 points from the expert juries and televoters in a contest that was touch and go from the beginning, with North Macedonia a surprise frontrunner until the collective votes were tallied. Italy finished in second place with 465 votes and Russia came in third with 369 votes. It was the fifth win for the Netherlands in Eurovision history. The last time the Netherlands won was in 1975, marking a 44-year stretch between wins.
“In the past few years many well known artists represented the Netherlands at the Eurovision Song Contest. I’m not well-known, but that’s also a good thing; The Netherlands has a lot of young and talented musicians,” the 24 year-old singer-songwriter said when he was first selected to represent his country in Eurovision. “My participation proves that nothing is impossible. You can suddenly get the opportunity to represent your country on an international stage. I’m very proud to represent my country… I will give it my all.”
Following his win, Laurence told the crowd gathered at Tel Aviv Expo, “This is to dreaming big, this is to music first, always, thank you!”
The mood during the show was festive throughout, with attendees including such music industry insiders as S-Curve records president Steve Greenberg and Doron Medalie, co-writer of “Toy,” the song recorded by 2018 Eurovision winner Netta Narzilai. Medalie was standing on his feet and dancing the entire stretch of the show, most notably during the performance of Spain’s contestant, Miki Nunez, who sang the poppy Catalan track “La Venda.” While the Expo started emptying out around the three-hour mark at around 1 a.m. Tel Aviv time, those remaining continued to wave flags of the respective delegations.
With Madonna’s guest performance meting out “a message of peace,” others in the music industry echoed the Queen of Pop’s commitment to playing in Israel, a country endlessly a target of boycotts and media attention focused on politics and the ongoing Palestinian-Israeli conflict.
Ari Ingel, director of Creative Community for Peace (Ccfp), an entertainment industry non-profit organization dedicated to promoting music and the arts as a bridge to peace and artistic freedom, spoke of how “a shared love of music and the arts has the ability to bring us together when so many people are trying to sow division.”
Ccfp brought 15 delegates to Israel for Eurovision week. The mission of the trip is not only to counter the rampant anti-Israel Boycott Divest Sanctions (Bds) movement but to encourage the uncensored exchange of creative ideas within the musical and artistic space.
“Banding together as an artistic community in the region is more essential than ever,” said Ingel of the Eurovision show.
Jeremy Hulsh, founder and managing director of Oleh! Records, Israel’s music export and development office, was “rooting for Israel,” but saw a lot of “great talent” in all the Eurovision contestants. He did however note the particular importance of fostering musical talent in Israel.
“In Israel, there’s an astonishing amount of talent in the pop music realm,” said Hulsh. “Having Eurovision in Tel Aviv provides a plum opportunity to showcase this talent–not only in the actual Eurovision show but also in the Eurovision village and in clubs and bars all around the city this week. Israel is home to a vibrant, robust, creative community of artists, and it’s time the world knows this.”