60 Years of Eurovision: Ranking the Dutch – Part 3 (40-31): The ‘Okay’

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Congratulations Sweden!

I loved your act! You definitely are “the heroes of our time”. Can’t wait till next year!

So… that was it then. The songs have been sung, the points have been given, the “booh’s” have been yelled, and all I can say is that I enjoyed every single moment of it. Thank you Austria, you did an excellent job!

Suffering from Eurovision withdrawal as much as I am? Then I’ve got some news for you: fortunately I experienced some delay last week, so we have 40 more songs to go here. Have fun!

Dutch snack of the day: Asparagus rolls! Wrapped in ham, and once again topped off with a tiny Dutch flag, we like to pretend to each other that these mushy straight-from-the-jar pointers are actually really fancy.

40. Corry Brokken – Heel de wereld (1958, 9th place)

Corry Brocken’s third Eurovision performance. Translated “The Whole World”, there is a certain charm to it. And even though this title certainly suggests otherwise, it’s actually a very small song. It’s its smallness in turn, however, that makes it powerful as well.

I must tell the whole world my secret
Because I’m happy
The whole world means twice as much to me now
Because now I know happiness

Yet isn’t the world too busy?
Who still finds time for happiness?
Still I want to cheer because
I must tell the whole world my secret
Because I’m happy

Shall I notify them by postcards?
Shall I advertise it in the newspaper?
I don’t care how I tell it
But the whole country has to know.

39. Glennis Grace – My impossible dream (2005, 14th place in the semi-finals)

A ‘follow your dream’- song, how refreshing. Although, watching this clip again, I must admit that the sappy romantic fool hidden somewhere deep inside me finds this beautifully poetic in its Eurovision setting.

And what a voice! Initially I was planning to nitpick those few moments when she sounds a bit off key, but let’s be honest: this is a live performance in front of millions of people, and apart from a few tiny mistakes her voice is simply awesome.

Not very original or catchy, but undeniably beautiful.

38. Maggie MacNeal – Amsterdam (1980, 5th place)

Oh, hello Blossom! This bombastic performance by Sjoukje Lucie van ’t Spijker, a.k.a. Maggie MacNeal (apparently a ‘Scottish’ wordplay, as “spijker” is the Dutch word for “nail”),1 is an ode to Amsterdam. Its basic message: Amsterdam stays with you, wherever you go. Needless to say, a lot of Dutch people love this song. Even though its lyrics are a bit lame, this song is a lot of fun to sing along to in the pub, especially when you’re in Amsterdam.

Some random lyrics:

Wherever you are in the world
You think back to that moment
And don’t know where you remember it from

But suddenly it comes back to you
There was endless atmosphere
That will be there, time and time again

In Amsterdam, Amsterdam
A lot of things happen
Amsterdam, Amsterdam
Has already been there for centuries

Amsterdam, Amsterdam
The city where everything is possible
Amsterdam, Amsterdam
Everybody knows about it

And yes: they also made an English version. Just as lame, and just as much fun!

37. Linda Wagenmakers – No goodbyes (2000, 13th place)

I don’t think there’s a single Dutch person over the age of 25 who doesn’t remember the day Linda Wagenmakers represented the Netherlands at Eurovision. Although that has nothing to do with her performance, as nobody here saw the show’s live broadcast that day. On Saturday the 13th of May 2000, the SE Fireworks depot in the city of Enschede exploded, killing 23 people, including 4 firefighters, and injuring 947.2 The government called out a national disaster, and because about every Dutch television network in existence switched over to emergency broadcasts and updates, the live transmission of Eurovision that happened to take place at the exact same time was pulled off the network. We therefore never saw Linda’s performance on live television, and our votes were replaced by a back-up jury.3

Which brings me to another point that caused a lot of controversy back then: despite everything that was going on at home, the organisation behind Linda’s performance somehow decided not to cancel the act. And as I have to believe the comments I found on YouTube, Linda herself was not informed about anything at all. Who were informed however, were the millions of voting viewers all over the continent, who pretty unanimously agreed this was rather disrespectful towards the Enschede victims and their families, and decided not to give her any points. Resulting in a meager 13th place for poor Linda.

Bitter aftertaste of this song aside though, I wonder if it really had ended up that much higher if the Enschede disaster hadn’t occurred. I simply don’t think the song itself is that special. It’s ‘okay’ at best. And I don’t understand what the deal with that dress was. It adds absolutely nothing to the song’s content and quality. Only thing I do like about this performance are the other outfits worn on stage: it’s the early 2000’s in a nutshell. I owned a practically identical pair of extremely flared white trousers back then.

36. Frizzle Sizzle – Alles heeft ritme (1986, 14th place)

You could argue that 1986 was a year for juniors. Our southern neighbours send the (pretending to be 15 but actually) 13 year old Sandra Kim, and the Netherlands came up with this. One year earlier, these four still sang in Kinderen voor Kinderen (“Children for Children”), a popular Dutch children’s choir.

It’s hard not to see the resemblance by the way:

So, yes: these four girls are respectively 16 or 17 years old. And yes: I don’t think they look that young either. As I also commented on one of Sandra Reemer’s performances in my previous chapter, hair and make-up styles have definitely improved since then.

I remember hearing somewhere that the group ran into a lot of bad luck shortly before their performance. One of the girls lost her voice, and another suffered from an eye infection. It’s easy to assume therefore that their shoes got lost as well, but apparently that was actually done intentionally, and received as groundbreaking. The 80s were a weird time.

Considering how young they are, I think they did a good job. Thing is though that the song they sing is still very much a children’s song. Among other things, it’s about having trouble getting up in the morning while mom is waiting for you to come down for breakfast.

I discovered they made an English version of this song as well, and its translation is pretty accurate:

I loved this song when I was in primary school. And I think that’s also where it should stay.

35. Humphrey Campbell – Wijs me de weg (1992, 9th place)

Even though I would probably happily dance along to this song if it was played at some party or festival, there is just something about it that also makes it bizarrely forgetful. And I mean that quite literally: I forgot all about this song and therefore had to recalculate my entire list and edit the first blog of this series two days ago.

So, three accordion-accompanied dancing pirates who want to be “shown the way”. And their lead singer is called Humphrey Campbell. I like these men’s energy and dance moves a lot, by the way. A nice song, just not a very memorable one.

Some random lyrics:

I’ve searched for myself here and in other countries
And I went looking for friends for ever
I found truth, but also watched her collapse again
The foolish dreams stolen by time
Show me life, how far can you get?
Who can help you, heart or mind?
The path you’re looking for in yourself
Never ends, doesn’t stop, lets you live
Show me the way to my own liking
Show me the way to a new beginning
Show me the way to eternal love
Show me the way

34. Marcha – Rechtop in de wind (1987, 5th place)

Everything about this performance is so extremely 80s it’s simply hilarious! Another song I love to sing along with after a few glasses of wine.

Translated “Upright in the wind”, this song is basically a cheesy 80s rendition of Gloria Gaynor’s “I will Survive”.

Some random lyrics:

When the door slammed shut
I told myself:
“Don’t look back anymore”
Pull up the bridge
Make a fortress of your heart
And keep your tears inside
Save them for the night
When, in the wild darkness
you’re still hoping and waiting
But that’ll pass
Once that’ll be over, too

But upright in the wind
I’ll keep standing
I will go on
Believe me
If not with, then without you
Upright in the wind
Even if it’s a hurricane
Even when you can’t find
Solid ground anymore
I’ll still stand upright in the wind

33. Gerard Joling – Shangri-la (1988, 9th place)

One Night in Bangkok” rip-off much? Having that said, I love “One Night in Bangkok”, so this song’s got that going for it. And what more can I say about this? It’s Gerard Joling; it’s nearly impossible to get anybody campier than this.

So, what’s it about? Erm…. I’m not sure. Wikipedia explains it as follows though:

The song is a dramatic ballad, with Joling describing his search for a Shangri-La of his own in life. He contrasts his desire to live in happiness and surrounded by love with the attitude of many in the modern world, which is described as being at least a belief that one does not require love for happiness.5

Oh well, at least it has that 80s vibe, and that makes it fun to watch.

Some random lyrics:

In a night of neon and the smell of stale beer
A screen of rice paper stands there
The world is what one actually wants to see
In a jungle of concrete you can barely feel the love

Who can live without love
I’m looking for Shangri-la
Who can live without love
I’m looking for Shangri-la

32. Corry Brokken – Net als toen (1957, 1st place)

With “Net als toen” (“Just like then” ), Corry Brocken became the first Dutch Eurovision winner ever. It’s a small but sincere song about a marriage that doesn’t seem to be as happy as it used it be. Could it be that the once powerful love that started it all is slowly but surely disappearing? The song takes the form of a wife addressing all of the above to her husband. What I like about it is that it’s not a tragic love song, as you would expect from a context such as this; it’s straightforward and feels like part of a genuine conversation. This isn’t as much a song about an unhappy marriage as it is a song about insecurities. And Corry’s matter of fact approach to the issue is simply perfect.

Best lyrics:

Yes, you’re getting fat, and your hair’s turning grey
But that doesn’t mean you can’t still flirt.
Well, sometimes you act like a child, so incredibly
Brutal and wanton in turns

Be sweet to me once again, just like then
Ask me for a kiss once again
Bring me roses again, blush again
When you see me, just like then
Be nice and courtly once again
Find me beautiful and charming again
Then the world will be just like before
A land of fairytales

31. Anneke Grönloh – Jij bent mijn leven (1964, 10th place)

I’m extremely torn about this song. I love the music; it simply exhales the 1960s. Which makes this song incredibly catchy and easy to sing along with. But then again I HATE this song’s lyrics; they’re infuriating!

Jij bent mijn leven, or “You are my Life”, is about accepting someone despite all of his flaws. Problem is I think these particular flaws aren’t the ones anyone should accept from another person.

Some random lyrics

I know you’re lying
And that you’re cheating on me
But I accept it
Because you are my life

Of all those things you have promised
nothing will ever turn out right
Which has so often
damaged my trust in you

But I will stay beside you
Wherever you may go
Nothing can separate us from each other



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

Next time: 30-21 — The Inbetweeners

Alfred J. Kwak - Verboden te lachen
Rotbeesten en Gruwelijke rijmen
Alice yn Wûnderlân


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/Maggie_MacNeal, last checked 23-5-2015 

  2. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Enschede_fireworks_disaster, last checked 23-5-2015 

  3. http://www.beeldengeluidwiki.nl/index.php/Eurovisie_Songfestival, last checked 23-5-2015 

  4. these lyrics were adapted from a translation I found on http://lyrics.wikia.com/Marcha:Rechtop_In_De_Wind/en, last checked 23-5-2015 

  5. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shangri-La_%28Gerard_Joling_song%29, last checked 23-5-2015