60 Years of Eurovision: Ranking the Dutch – Part 1 (57-51): The Very Bad

Ranking the Dutch - HEADER

The Eurovision Song Contest: love it or hate it, but we Dutch have been there from the start. And as this week marks Eurovision’s 60th anniversary, I decided to rank all Dutch entries from the past 60 years.

So over the upcoming 6 days we will be counting down my personal top 57 of Dutch Eurovision entries. Starting at the very bad, and working our way up to the very best.

Why 57? Because there have been a few times when we weren’t allowed to compete, due to bad ratings the prior year.

Unfair? Probably not. Anyway, enjoy! And don’t forget to leave your comments below!

Traditional Dutch party snack of the day: Cheese! Combined with pickled onions, mini gherkins, canned tangerine or pineapple, and topped off with a little Dutch flag, these tiny wet stacks will bring joy to any occasion.

57. Joan Franka – You and Me (2012, 15th place in the semi-finals)

I have to admit that I feel a bit sorry for Joan. The song itself isn’t even that bad. She actually wrote and composed it herself, together with a certain Jessica Hoogenboom (who goes by the artist name Jesse Maria), and it’s an incredibly sincere, sweet, and humble song about a childhood friendship that was, in fact, based on a real friendship.1  The problems, however, lie in the way the song is executed: it’s god awful. Think off-sounding Dutch rip-off Alanis Morisette with a terrible lisp, combined with theme park country music. And what’s with that early 20th century Irish immigrant band that seems to come straight out of Titanic?

As I understood from comments posted on YouTube, several people tried to talk her out of the odd looking ‘Native American’ headband. She refused to get rid of it though, and this earned her the nickname ‘Indiana Joan’.2 According to Franka herself, the headband is a tribute to a childhood game she and the friend who the song is about used to play, as is also acted out in the song’s official video.3  A very personal tribute that most people didn’t get of course, and her headband was thus considered highly offensive by many. Although this song didn’t even make it to the actual finals, it oddly enough did reach number 1 in the Dutch Single Top 100.4 A well-intended but extremely misunderstood effort with an ending that therefore may or may not be happy? You decide for yourself.

56. Hearts Of Soul – Waterman (1970, 7th place)

In my opinion this song represents the worst of the early seventies. Translated into English, the song starts “Are you an Aquarius? Then your sign fits mine”. And that’s actually all this song is: an ode to the sign of Aquarius. A Dutch poor man’s rendition of Hair, basically. It’s hippie crap, it’s boring, and that’s all I have to say about it.

55. Saskia & Serge – Tijd (1971, 6th place)

Another awful, and extremely boring 70s hippie song. This time by then newlyweds Ruud Schaap and Trudy van den Berg, who liked to go by the ‘exotic’ sounding Saskia&Serge. They actually became a well-known duo over the years that followed. Never managed to get a number 1 hit, though.5 Can’t imagine why. Translated into English, this song is called “Time”, and tells the sad tale of a lover who wants too much too quickly. The person addressed in the song is far away, and waiting impatiently only makes time pass by even slower.

Best worst lyrics:

Desire is a blossom
And blossom turns to fruit
And storms are built
From breath, one sigh at a time

54. Heddy Lester – De mallemolen (1977, 12th place)

What are these women wearing?! No, seriously: who thought this was a good idea? 1977 brought us this incredibly cheesy song about the “crazy merry-go-round of life”, which probably wasn’t even an original metaphor back then. Lazy.

Best worst lyrics:

In the crazy merry-go-round of life
Everybody spins his own round
The merry-go-round also turns without you
Your horse will never stay empty for long
So come on, spin along with that crazy merry-go-round

Once you get into the merry-go-round of life
You might be a little bit scared in the beginning
Then somebody will hold you
Until you can do it in your own
As the crazy merry-go-round fear never lasts for long

53. Ben Cramer – De oude muzikant (1973, 14th place)

Although this song tells the devastating tale of an artist who was once very famous, but who is now forgotten and reduced to the life of an anonymous street musician, its continuous change of tune simply annoys the crap out of me.

Fun fact: despite ending 14th, this song has been translated into English (as “The Old Street Musician”), German (“Der alte Musikant”), and French (“Pour être vraiment sincère”). All sung by Cramer himself.6 The fact that I couldn’t find any of these recordings on YouTube probably says enough though.

52. Linda Williams – Het is een wonder (1981, 9th place)

That second voice! Argh… In typical Dutch folk music style (that, yes indeed, sounds an awful lot like German Schlager), Linda shares her encounter with “the miracle of meeting the love of your life”.

Clearly written by a man (‘humble little silent me never saw any meaning in life, until I met you’), this song has probably pissed off many feminists over the last 34 years.

Best worst lyrics:

Being happy didn’t mean much to me before
I also I didn’t have any experience yet, on the contrary
Falling down and getting up without complaining
And in silence I made ends meet

It’s a miracle
It’s a miracle
Yes, that I’ve met you
You’ll stimulate my life for good now

But if you think that’s bad; guess again! That same year someone decided to ‘translate’ this song into English. And with ‘translate’ I mean ‘write completely different lyrics to the same melody’. The next video almost made me cry.

‘Listen to me, ladies: it’s fun to be the other woman!’ Eugh

51. Jetty Paerl – De vogels van Holland (1956, ?th place)

There is something special about this song: it was the first song ever to air in the very first Eurovision contest, hosted in Switzerland in 1956. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to find any footage of the actual performance. So why is it in the 51st spot? Because it’s extremely boring. Translated, the song is titled “The Birds of Holland” and that’s all it is about: birds in Holland. Written by Annie M.G. Smidt, queen of Dutch children’s literature, you could argue the simple and straightforward lyrics have a slightly childlike charm to them, but still: it’s a song about birds in Holland!

Best worst lyrics:

The French birds sing toodledoo
Japanese birds sing toodledoo
Chinese birds sing toodledoo
But nowhere the birds sing so happily and cheerfully
As in Holland in spring in the meadow7

Interesting fact: according to Wikipedia, none of the results of the 1956 Eurovison Song Contest have ever been published, except for the winning song, which was Switzerland’s “Refrain” by Lys Assia. Because only 7 countries competed that year (Switzerland, France, The Netherlands, Italy, Luxembourg, Germany, and Belgium), they all had to submit two entries.8 Curious to hear what else the Netherlands had in store that year? Look no further than Part 2


What do you think of these songs? Or do you think there are even worse songs out there? Please leave your answers in the comment section below.

Next time: 50-41 – ‘meh’


Slecht bevallen
Eindelijk volstrekt alleen
Pogingen iets van het leven te maken
De kleine verlossing of de lust van ontlasten
Gabrielle Pinkster

Gabrielle Pinkster

Gabrielle Pinkster (a.k.a. The Reading Dutchwoman) studied English Language and Culture at the University of Groningen and specialised in early 20th century literature and poetry. Like most (former) students of literature she is ‘currently working on her novel’.
Gabrielle Pinkster
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  1. http://nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/You_and_Me_%28Joan_Franka%29, last checked 18-5-2015 

  2. Ibidem 

  3. Ibidem 

  4. Ibidem 

  5. http://songfestivalvisie.nl/eurovisie-songfestival-1971/nederland-jaar-1971-saskia-serge-de-tijd-1756/12522/, last checked 18-5-2015 

  6. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/De_oude_muzikant, last checked 19-5-2015  

  7. Full translation: http://www.diggiloo.net/?1956nl1  

  8. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eurovision_Song_Contest_1956, last checked 22-5-2015