Debut – 1956
Current Broadcaster – RTBF (Wallonia) / VRT (Flanders)
Best Result – Winner (1986)
Highest Score – 217 points (2015)
Worst Result – 26th in Semi-final (2007 – 14 points)
Belgium are one of the founding nations from the inaugural 1956 Contest, and have participated almost every year apart from three occasions in 1994, 1997 and 2001 (all due to relegation). They have won the Contest once, but have also finished last eight times.
Each year, Belgium alternates between the Dutch-language Flemish broadcaster VRT, and the French-language Walloon broadcaster RTBF, who take turns in selecting the country’s Eurovision entry. Since 2002, even-numbered years are when VRT organise the song, whilst odd-numbered years are when RTBF organise the song.
Both of Belgium’s entries in the inaugural 1956 Contest were in French. One of them – “Le plus beau jour de ma vie” (performed by Mony Marc) finished 2nd, whilst the other – “Messieurs les noyés de la Seine” (performed by Fud Leclerc) finished 9th. The tradition of rotating between the two national communities began the following year in 1957, when they sent their first Dutch entry in in the form of “Straatdeuntje” (performed by Bobbejaan Schoepen).
They finished the rest of the 1950’s with a series of midtable results, including Fud Leclerc’s second entry “Ma petite chatte” finishing 5th in 1958.
Belgium started the 1960’s in the worst possible start when they scored two consecutive last place results in 1960 and 1961 (the latter scoring the infamous Nul Points). The first half of the decade didn’t fare much better as they lingered near the bottom of the table before scoring another Nul Points result in 1965.
The second half of the decade fared slightly better with consecutive top 10 results, including a 4th place result in 1966 with “Un peu de poivre, un peu de sel” (performed by Tonia).
The 1970’s saw Belgium get mainly middling results, starting with a top 10 result in 1970 with “Viens l’oublier” (performed by Jean Vallée). The high point of the decade being in 1978 when they earned their best result at that point by finishing 2nd with Jean Vallée making his second Eurovision appearance with “L’amour ça fait chanter la vie”.
Belgium also got top 10 results in 1974 with “Fleur de liberté” (performed by Jacques Hustin) finishing 9th, in 1976 with “Judy et Cie” (performed by Pierre Rapsat) finishing 8th, and in 1977 with “A Million in One, Two, Three” (performed by Dream Express) finishing 7th. However, they also got two more last place results in 1973 and 1979.
The 1980’s had mixed results for Belgium. Most of the time they had middling-to-poor results, but also finished in the top 5 in 1982 with “Si tu aimes ma musique” (performed by Stella) finishing 4th, and in 1984 with “Avanti la vie” (performed by Jacques Zegers) finishing 5th.
In 1986, Belgium won the Contest with Sandra Kim performing the song “J’aime la vie”, which held the record for the highest scoring Eurovision entry until 1994. Also, it was revealed that Kim was 13 years-old, as opposed to 16 like she originally claimed. This means that she is the youngest Eurovision winner of all time, a record that will never be broken, as years later the EBU introduced a minimum age of 16 for participants.
When preparing the 1987 Contest, RTBF had the privilege of organising the live show (due to the broadcaster being responsible for their winning entry), but they allowed VRT to select the entry as the rotation policy meant it was Flanders’ turn to organise the Belgian song.
The 1990’s were mostly not kind to Belgium, their only bright spot being one top 10 result in 1998 with “Dis oui” (performed by Mélanie Cohl) finishing 6th. The low point being in 1993 when they finished in last place.
At the turn of the century, Belgium once again found themselves in last place. However in 2003, they proved to be the dark horse of the Contest by being pipped to 2nd place with the band Urban Trad performing “Sanomi”, a song performed in an entirely made-up language.
Their 2003 result meant that Belgium automatically had a place in the next year’s Final, when a Semi-final would be introduced. Despite sending an entry well-received by fans, they unexpectedly found themselves near the bottom of the Final scoreboard in 2004. After that, Belgium found themselves stuck in the Semi-finals for the rest of the decade.
Belgium’s run of bad luck in the Semi-finals finally came to an end in 2010, when the song “Me and My Guitar” (performed by Tom Dice) won its Semi-final and finished 6th in the Final (the best result for a Flemish entry), giving the country their best result in years. In 2013, Roberto Bellarosa became the first Walloon entrant to qualify to the final with “Love Kills”, finishing 12th. They returned to the top 5 for the first time in 12 years, when “Rhythm Inside” (performed by Loïc Nottet) finished 4th in 2015.