60 Years of Eurovision: Ranking the Dutch – Part 2 (50-41): ‘Meh’

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A look back…

In the early 1950’s, in a Europe still divided by the aftermath of WWII, the Switzerland-based European Broadcasting Union had an idea: let’s bring all the countries we cover together around a “light entertainment programme”.

So they set up a committee, and at a meeting held in Monaco in 1955, committee chairman and director general of Swiss television Marcel Bezençon came with the suggestion to broadcast an international song contest. The challenge: all countries had to compete in one single television programme that would be transmitted simultaneously to all countries of the union. Not an easy thing to do back then.

The first Eurovision Song Contest took place on the 24th of May 1956, and was hosted by Switzerland in the town of Lugano.1 Seven countries competed2, each submitting two songs and two jury members, and after 1 hour and 40 minutes, an anonymously voting jury declared Switzerland’s “Refrain” by Lys Assia the very first Eurovision winner.

A lot has changed since that first boundary-breaking broadcast. As more countries joined in the years that followed, 1956 was the only contest that had two songs per country. Countries also soon started to submit entries sung in languages other than their own, live orchestra’s slowly but surely disappeared, and the simple, light-hearted, and most of all neutral songs, made way for campy shows in which nothing seemed to be impossible.3

And the Dutch were there. Over the past 60 years, we made 57 appearances. We triumphed a few times, we failed even more, and we loved every single moment of it.

So let’s continue my personal top 57 of Dutch Eurovision entries. Today we take a look at 50-41: the ‘meh’s…

…..
Traditional Dutch party snack of the day: liverwurst! Again combined with pickled onions, mini gherkins, and the variational slice of cucumber, and also again topped off with a tiny Dutch flag, we like to pretend this isn’t actually German at all.

 

50. Corry Brokken – Voorgoed voorbij (1956,?th place)

The second first Dutch Eurovision entry, sung by Corry Brokken, who would return to Eurovision the following year to become the very first Dutch Eurovision winner.4 Although this song isn’t much of a winner in my opinion: it’s a dull tearjerker lamenting the end of a relationship. Translated “Over for Good”, Corry blubbers over windows that are now closed forever while observing that her lover still keeps violets in the windowsill, “just like then”. Her lover ‘wasn’t that into her’. She knew, yet it felt different to her, and now she’s hurt. As she feels the springtime of her life is now over for good, she wonders why May still has to return every year. Same old same old, sung in words easy enough to be understood by any person with even the tiniest understanding of the Dutch language.

Best worst lyrics:

Over for good
Now we’ll never be together again

Because the best way to ensure you get your message across is repeating the same thing in different words. Works any time.

49. Maribelle – Ik hou van jou (1984, 13th place)

I’m so sick and tired of this song! For as long as I can remember, this song has been there: in commercials, gift cards, at karaoke nights, on radio and TV in one of its many, many, covers… it’s everywhere!

And apparently this is where it all started: the cheesiest love song of the Netherlands. If you think I’m exaggerating: it even has the words “I Love You” as its title, that’s how bad it is. Sung by Marietje Buys-Kwakman, or Maribelle, who comes from the artist breeding ground better known as Volendam [insert random cocaine and/or Asian tourist related joke here].

A random lyric example:

I love you
Only you
I can’t live in a world without you

Fun fact: Maribelle is still available for birthday parties, weddings, and other celebrations. For only 2650 euros, you’ll get a 30 minute performance. “Sound not included”.

48. Annie Palmen – Een speeldoos (1963, 13th place)

It’s a cute little song about a music box. And unfortunately that’s all there is to it: Annie Palmen describes “a music box of time long past”. The music box has a shepherd and a shepherd girl on top. Although the shepherd girl moves when the box plays its melody, the shepherd can never reach her. But then, one spring night, a fairy appeared who “gently touched them”. After that, the two became an eternal couple.

And if you don’t want to believe this story
Then ask the fairy yourself sometime
Because this fairytale is true

I like her well-articulated and now incredibly old fashioned-sounding Dutch a lot, though. Nowadays our former queen Beatrix is one of the few remaining people who still speak like this.

47. Lenny Kuhr – De troubadour (1969, 1st place)

Around 1:17, this song has a sound effect that is practically indistinguishable from the blips Facebook uses when somebody is talking to you. It therefore confuses me in a strange subconscious manner.

Lenny Kuhr’s song about the life and death of a Troubadour won first place in 1969. And although I know a lot of people love it, I personally think it’s slightly overrated. Its message is pretty straightforward. ‘The troubadour sang here, the troubadour sang there. And he also sang here, and he also sang there… But death simply has his own way.’

Then it became quiet, the song was finished
Only a bit of dirt in the end
But those who found comfort in his song
Will never forget him

Because he was so full of music
He sang for audiences large and small
He brought joy, melancholia
The troubadour

La, la, la, la, la, la, lei, la, la, lei, la, la
La, la, la, lei, la, la, la
La, la, la, la, la, la, lei, la, la, lei, la, la
La, la, la, lei, la, la, la

A simple universal message that everybody can understand and recognise. A solid song, just not one of my favourites.

I do really like Lenny Kuhr’s incredibly powerful and over the top theatrical performance. She seems to have a lot of fun with it.

46. Maywood – Ik wil alles met je delen (1990, 15th place)

So, instead of a break-up song, what about a make-up song? “Ik wil alles met je delen” (“I want to share everything with you”), by sisters Alie en Doetie de Vries, a.k.a. Maywood, is just that: a ‘let’s try again’-plea in song, packed with embarrassing clichés.

But maybe Wikipedia is right in blaming Maywood’s low ranking on a default microphone that blocked the sound of their “characteristic clarion”.5 Who knows.

A random lyric example:

Life is a carousel
Life is a street
That sometimes reaches a dead-end
When you don’t know how to go on

For a moment, yes, just for a short moment
You think: it’s over
But I love you just the way you are
Do you love me too?

I want to share everything with you
want to be everything for you
And if you are willing to trust me
We can share the pain

45. Sandra Reemer – The Party’s Over (1976, 9th place)

I love her smile! As hair and makeup have definitely improved over the years, Sandra Reemer (best known to my generation for hosting the gameshow Showmasters in the late 80s and early 90s), actually looks a lot younger now than she did in 1976. And what about that costume! It looks like the deranged lovechild of Pino and a stingray. (For all of you non-Dutch readers out there: Pino is the Dutch equivalent of Big Bird, and he’s blue.)

As for the song: ‘meh’. Not the worst, but certainly also not the best. Although Sandra has a certain charisma to her that almost enables her to pull it off, which I think is pretty admirable.

44. Milly Scott – Fernando en Filippo (1966, 15th place)

I honestly don’t know what to make of this song. The French presenter in this clip calls it a parody of Mexican songs. But is it a genuine parody or is it plain racism? And is it actually a song about Mexicans to begin with? The lyrics don’t make much sense: Fernando is a guitar player from Santiago (which as far as I know is in Chile, not in Mexico) who is in love with a girl who lives in San Antonio (which I guess from the song’s context must be the one in Chile?). So every night after he has performed his solo act, Fernando steps in his car and drives to San Antonio to serenade the girl. Filippo, the song continues, is nothing like Fernando; he would never step into his car and drive to San Antonio. But then one night, Fernando arrives in San Antonio only to discover the girl he loves so much has vanished: she has left San Antonio to be with Filippo. And Filippo apparently lives in Santiago, as the song ends with him telling Fernando at night that he must wait, because the girl will come to him, all the way from San Antonio.6

To add to my confusion, this may-or-may-not-be-racist-towards-Mexicans-or-Chileans-song is sung by Milly Scott, a successful nightclub jazz singer of Surinamese origin with her own TV show, who wrote history being the first black Eurovision contestant.7

Not that any of this really seems to matter in the larger scope of things. When a group of Dutch celebrities were invited to look back on 60 years of Eurovision performances in the NPO television series 60 jaar songfestival, all of them only appeared to notice and/or remember one single thing about this song: Scott’s swinging entrance and exit on the stage’s winding staircase, which they all thought was extremely hilarious. So maybe it’s just me.

43. Xandra – Colorado (1979, 12th place)


Long before South Park introduced the average Dutchperson to Colorado, Sandra Reemer (who for some reason went by the name Xandra that year) invited all of Europe to fly there with her.

Although I actually think this song is quite happy and catchy, its lyrics make it sound like a long travel agency commercial. Sandra Reemer’s performance is extremely fetching, however. Still: if you want to sing a song about Colorado in Dutch, then why pronounce “Colorado” in an ‘American’ accent? Seriously, that’s not how “Colorado” is pronounced here. I’m confused.

A random lyric example:

Oh whoa… Colorado
Fly with me to Colorado
Oh whoa… Colorado
Over the sea to Colorado
Oh… Colorado

The Dollar isn’t that expensive anymore
Are you joining us to cross over
To a life full of adventure
The rivers are full of fish
Being photographed together with a wild bear
Colorado, Colorado

42. Justine Pelmelay – Blijf zoals je bent (1989, 15th place)

Although it is easy to write this one off as yet another shallow love song, it has one thing going for it: its lyrics are so incredibly plain they could be about any kind of relationship. Think about it: this song could be about a lover, a friend, a beloved colleague, or a family member. Hell, it could even be about a dog! And I must say I appreciate it for that. It’s strong in its simplicity, in a way.

A random lyric example:

You just rolled into my life
It was different than before
I already knew you for years
It seemed like you really didn’t like me

Stay like I know you right now,
I love you as you are
Simply
As you are
Stay yourself, don’t change
Please just be yourself
Simply
As you are

You went through a lot during all that time
Despite everything you remained loyal
You’re my friend, my life
What would I be without you?

41. Hind – Your heart belongs to me (2008, 13th place in the semi-finals)

I like Hind, I like the up-tempo music, I like the Moroccan influences, I HATE the lyrics.

And as Hind apparently wrote them herself,8  all I can say is: stop kidding yourself. If someone hurts you, breaks up with you, and “ma[kes] it clear to see, / That [you] were never meant to be”, then that person’s heart clearly doesn’t belong to you.

Who’s the real “fool” here, Hind? Get over it.

 

What do you think of these songs? Please leave your answers in the comment section below.

Next time: 40-31 — The ‘Okay’

Gigengacks reizen
15.15
De dame met het hondje
7.60
De Wetten
23.90
Het Beest
11.95
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://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eurovision_Song_Contest , last checked 22-5-2015 

  2. Ibidem. The first countries ever to compete in the Eurovision Song contest were Switzerland, France, The Netherlands, Italy, Luxembourg, Germany, and Belgium 

  3. Ibidem 

  4. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Corry_Brokken, last checked 22-5-2015 

  5. http://nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maywood_%28duo%29, last checked 22-5-2015 

  6. for those of you interested: I found a full translation of this song on http://www.diggiloo.net/?1966nl  

  7. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Milly_Scott, last checked 23-5-2015  

  8. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Your_Heart_Belongs_to_Me_%28Hind_song%29, last checked 23-5-2015 

Gabrielle Pinkster

About 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’.
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