As he prepares for Stockholm next May, Douwe Bob is the it-boy of the Dutch Eurovision scene. However, we shouldn’t forget about those that came before him, both the good and the bad. The Netherlands hasn’t had the best Eurovision reputation in recent decades, but that doesn’t mean its artists have given up and gone away. Lots of them are still creating new music, and we’ve gathered up some of their latest releases for you to enjoy (or not).
Gerard Joling “Ledereen Doet ‘t” (Everybody’s Doing It)
Occasional Topper and 1988 Eurovision contestant, Gerard Joling, is in need of some help. The poor guy appears to be trapped in some sort of time warp, occupying a period where cheese and tackiness rule. Of course, he’s been there for a while, arguably for his whole career. And by now it’s all rather tiring. There’s no novelty in seeing a middle-aged man with day-glo skin prancing through fountains while hordes of elderly women follow. The song is bizarre, dated schlager with cheap ’80s synths and some random falsetto thrown in for good measure. Mike, one of our Dutch writers, says that the lyrics seem to have been written by a pack of drunken drag queens, and not those of the Conchita variety.
Ladies of Soul “Feel Good”
The conglomeration of five of the Netherlands finest female performers is back to flog yet another set of concert dates, and once again they’re releasing a new single to do so. Oddly, for a group named Ladies of Soul, the track is completely soulless. The lyrics are as subtle as a cement block to the head. Feel good, I feel good, we feel good… okay not the actual words, but they may as well be. Add in a completely unnecessary, emotionally manipulative, attempt at a key change and this all feels overly manufactured. However, it must be stressed that the ladies vocals are flawless. As we saw at various Eurovisions, Glennis Grace, Trijntje Oosterhuis and Edsilia Rombley are vocal powerhouses. If they must sing together, could they at least try something more sophisticated and worthy of their talents?
Sieneke “Ik Heb Van Liefde Mogen Dromen” (I Was Allowed To Dream About Love)
Sieneke, the queen of kitsch for the millennial generation… or not. Because as we’ve said many times, we doubt anyone under 70 pays her much heed. Over the past summer, the granny in a young woman’s body has gifted us with two singles. The video for the first seems to be an infomercial for pure living. The 2010 Eurovision singer does her best Stepford Wives impression, dressed in a pink cardigan while lounging around the kitchen and staring into a coal fire. Meanwhile, a young couple take a walk by the sea, bounce on a trampoline and frolic in a field. Alas, Sieneke’s singing eventually drives the pair apart… well we presume that’s the cause.
Sieneke “Het Gat Van De Deur” (The Hole In The Door)
In this second clip, we see Sieneke try her hand at some comedy. Once again dressed in her trademark cardigan and slacks, the young singer watches as a woman loses patience with her partner. The man drives the poor woman batty, paying more attention to the dog and his phone than to her. Eventually, she has enough and kicks him out. Such lols!
3JS “Grenzeloos” (Limitless)
If you were left cold by the trio in Düsseldorf, “Grenzeloos” is unlikely to turn you into a fan. However, there’s more to appreciate here compared to their Eurovision effort. Vocals are less strained and considerably more emotive, which is unsurprising considering the subject matter of the song. The group are ambassadors for Terre des Hommes, and the music video documents their trip to a Syrian refugee camp in the Lebanon. The track is written in honour of the children they met, and who we see in the clip. Filmed in April, the recent escalation in the crisis gives added resonance to both the video and song.
We all suffer from the occasional bout of hiccups. Even Anouk. She began the Dutch renaissance at Eurovision 2013, and up to now she’s had a pretty consistent hit rate. However, “Dominique” is far from her greatest work. Accompanied by a rather literal video, the song tells the tale of a girl who falls in love with Dominique. She gets jealous when he’s with other people, and feels like it’s an impossible love story. The track marks a departure for Anouk in many ways. Most notably by being her first song to be recorded in Dutch. Unfortunately, the guttural language fails to capture the singer’s essence. We prefer the sad singalong songs.
The Common Linnets “We Don’t Make The Wind Blow”
The storm failed to blow them to the top of the table at Eurovision 2014, but the band have managed to harness the wind and make their way to Hollywood. “We Don’t Make The Wind Blow”, is not only the first cut from their sophomore album, it also features on the soundtrack to the critically acclaimed US mini-series Wayward Pines. The show documents strange goings-on and disappearances in small town America. Aptly, the song overflows with menace and suspense. From the opening guitar riff it’s evident that the serenity of “Calm After The Storm” is long gone. In fact this is borderline rock. There’s a rawness and an edge that we haven’t heard before. Needless to say Ilse makes the transition from country gal to rock chick with ease. And if future material was to sound like this, we wouldn’t object if she made the switch on a more permanent basis.
The Common Linnets “Hearts on Fire”
For their latest single, the group return to what they know best. Whilst there are a few rock pockets throughout, you couldn’t call “Hearts on Fire” anything but country. And it’s probably the closest the Common Linnets have come to true honky-tonk barnyard hoe-down music so far. It’s all rather carefree and fun. The atmospheric feels we’ve come to associate with them are absent. “Hearts on Fire” makes for some light relief, but if this becomes a regular occurrence we might have to look elsewhere for our classy country fix.