60 Years of Eurovision: Ranking the Dutch – Part 4 (30-21): The Inbetweeners

Ranking the Dutch 4 HEADER zonder tekst

Eurovision and the Dutch: let’s talk numbers…

    • As I have already stated over and over in my previous blogs, the Netherlands have eagerly participated in Eurovision since its very start in 1956. Yet there have been 4 years in which we were absent:
      – In 1985 and 1991, the contest took place on the 4th of May, which is a national commemoration day for victims of wartime violence. It was considered inapproriate to participate in Eurovision on that day.
      – In 1995 and 2002, we weren’t allowed to compete due to bad ratings the years prior.
    • In its 60 year running, the Netherlands have won the Eurovision Song Contest 4 times: in 1957 (“Net als toen” – Corry Brokken), 1959 (“Een beetje” – Teddy Scholten), 1969 (“De troubadour” – Lenny Kuhr), and in 1975 (“Ding-a-dong” – Teach Inn).
    • Corry Brokken and Sandra Reemer share the title of most recurring artist. Both performed 3 times.

Dutch party snack of the day: bitterballen. They’re the best. Especially when you dip them in mustard. If you ever get the chance, try them!

30. Harmony – ‘t is O.K. (1978, 13th place)

Let’s talk Eurovision and politics for a moment. If anything, they’re kind of inseparable. Hell, it’s why Eurovision was invented in the first place.  And what better way is there to get any message across than by putting it on global television.

So, Harmony: three singers, two of which are from former Dutch colonies. Singer Rosina Louwaars from Indonesia (officially independant since 1949), and back-up singer Donald Lieveld from Suriname (independant since 1975). In my opinion, Dutch colonial history is something that sadly isn’t talked about enough, if at all, here in the Netherlands nowadays. (Seriously, it’s mostly just swept under the rug.) But to skip a very long and complicated story for now (that I certainly intend to save for future blogs), due to lenght and the risk of going off-topic too much, let’s forward to 1978. A time in which the Netherlands were slowly starting to get accustomed to the new cultural renaissance that had been flourishing since the early 1950’s. Which of course, was something that not everybody was equally accepting about. Thus, Harmony was born…

These three seem to have come here with one single purpose: to preach to all of Europe that “it’s okay”. The problem being, however, that what they consider to be “okay” remains rather vague in my opinion. As I wasn’t around yet in the 1970’s, maybe I don’t know what I’m talking about here. Who knows, maybe simply being on stage together was groundbreaking enough at the time. Yet I cannot help but wonder whether they could have made a bigger impact if they had sung something that was a tat more relevant than this.

As it is, this song reminds me of a boring vintage Christian after school special, clumsily blurting out a message that, in all fairness, the American Sesame Street managed to put in song so much better that exact same year:

Some random lyrics from “‘t Is O.K.”:

Are you thinking: “I can’t take this anymore”,
All these problems every day.
Can’t you see the sun, only storm and rain?
Is there only misfortune?

Then we have a happy song for you here,
The cure to a problem.
Sing it with us sometime, because you will enjoy it
Away with your worries, feel good.

It’s okay, sing that melody
Happy and in harmony
Live with some sympathy
For people around you
It’s okay, sing that melody
Happy and in harmony
Aim for some sympathy
Then you’ll never be alone

Good try, though. And I really enjoy watching Harmony’s extremely forced and wooden ‘thumbs-up’-dance routine. It’s ridiculously entertaining, in a way…

29. Anouk – Birds (2013, 9th place)

What can I say about this? Who doesn’t love Anouk! I like the haunting melody. It’s very well done, and the only reason I put it relatively low in my ranking is simply that my personal preference for Eurovision entries tends to go out to kitschy sing-a-longs.

But the thing I actually love most about this performance is the tied in commercial that an insurance company aired the days and hours prior to Eurovision. It’s hilariously brilliant:

28. 3JS – Never Alone (2011, 19th place in the semi-finals)

Seeing as these three from Volendam usually serve the lowest common denominator here in the Netherlands, this song is a pleasant surprise, in my opinion. Especially since, apparently, they wrote it themselves. Kudos.

27. Conny Vandenbos – ‘t Is genoeg (1965, 11th place)

You could argue that this song continues where the 1964 entry left off: while Anneke Grönloh accepted her lying and cheating man “because [he was] her life”, Conny has had “enough” of his bullshit. Finally!

I love how her facial expressions change from happy when singing about remembering the good times, to cold and angry when she declares that it’s enough.

Some random lyrics:

It’s enough
I’ve had enough of all the playing with fire
I’ve had enough of all the flattering and gifts
It’s enough, I want to be happy
It’s enough

What you promised me seemed so romantic
But it soon turned out that tale was a lie
And when you wasted our love that night in May
It was enough
Maybe you loved me
I was so happy with you
I would have liked to share my life with you
But you always lie
And deliberately cheat on me
For a woman this is unacceptable
She would then say to you in all fairness

It’s enough
I’ve had enough of all the playing with fire
I’ve had enough of all the flatterings and gifts
It’s enough, I want to be happy
It’s enough

26. The Common Linnets – Calm After the Storm (2014, 2nd place)

So, this was the entry that was supposed to do it all. This was the song that was expected to win the Netherlands their first Eurovision victory since 1975. At least, that was what the media kept telling us over and over here. Of course they lost to Conchita Wurst. And to be honest, I can’t blame the voters. Conchita is awesome.

Named after a bird whose (if you ask me, not that particularly special sounding) song has been praised by Blake, Wordsworth, and the likes, Dutch country star (yes, they exist) Ilse de Lange and Dutch talent contest hasbeen Waylon (to my generation still best known for being the singer of the “Harry de Hengst”-tune from Telekids) certainly give it their best.

And sure, it’s a pretty song. It’s well-performed and the camera-work is certainly nice and all (the Dutch have now proclaimed this camera-twirling thing their own, by the way, so everybody who has used it since is now considered a thief (I’m talking to you, Norway)), but I personally think this song is incredibly dull. (I’m sorry, people of the Netherlands, but let’s be honest to one another; it is.) And that’s all I have to say about it: pretty, well-performed, but dull. (And: go Conchita!)

25. De Spelbrekers – Katinka (1962, 13th place)

Charming as these two appear to be, this song is actually awfully sexist. It’s basically a catcalling song. (As you can also see them act out in their performance, by the way.) Boys will be boys, I guess?

This honestly wouldn’t have ended this high, had it not been for its swinging-yet-so-incredibly-stiff-at-the-same-time early 60’s vibe and its clever over-articulated and highly alliterative lyrics.

Best worst lyrics:

Each morning, sun or rain
Katinka crosses our path
Her heels go click clack on the sidewalk
Short skirt with blue pants
But her eyes acknowledge no ‘yes’ or ‘no’
That’s why all the boys longingly sing to her:

Little coquettish Katinka
Just turn your head for once
Take a peek over your shoulder
Your mom won’t see it, so come on

Little coquettish Katinka
Maybe you’re shy?
We would love to see
A glimpse of your little nose

24. De Toppers – Shine (2009, 17th place in the semi-finals)

So yeah, a few years before Gordon managed to enrage the entire world with his ‘no. 39 with lice’-comment in Holland’s got Talent, he was in Eurovision. Not a big fan of Gordon myself therefore, but I have to admit that I do enjoy this song, hypocritical as it may be (seeing how its ‘shine your light and let’s all be nice to each other’-message is sung by one of the meanest talent show judges ever). I especially seem to enjoy it even more after a few glasses of wine. It’s happy. It’s camp. It’s very Eurovision. And, as you might have noticed by their accents, it’s also extremely Dutch. (In fact, it sounds so extremely Dutch, it slightly hurts my ears when listening to it. Hence the wine.) Pity though that their Ironman lights apparently refused to work properly on live television. Karma perhaps?

23. Michelle – Out on my own (2001, 18th place)

There’s something I really like about this song, although I can’t pinpoint what it is exactly. Unfortunately not many voters seemed to appreciate it back in 2001, and this meant that the Netherlands weren’t allowed to participate in 2002.

Maybe this sweet and humble ‘girl against the world’- performance isn’t particularly Eurovision-appropriate, but I certainly think Michelle deserved better.

22. Mrs. Einstein – Niemand heeft nog tijd (1997, 22nd place)

I don’t think it can get more 90s than this. Mrs. Einstein is a musical theatre group that started in the late eighties and still performs today, describing their own repetoire as “pop music, combined with theatrical decor, ditto texts, and their own opinions”.1 I think that also says it all for this performance. Titled “Nobody has Time Anymore”, this is basically over the top dramatic song-shaped social commentary about how nobody takes the time to care for anybody but themselves anymore. Although preachy and repetitive at times, I like it. Especially because of the musical underscore that goes all out on its violins and electric guitars. Just love that. 

Some random lyrics:

You don’t understand this world anymore,
Time is expensive, because time is money
Standing still is out of the question,
Pace is therefore what counts

People will still give,
[But] never dwell on their feelings
They can quickly donate something
to charity from behind their computers

Because nobody has time
Only time to hurry
No one has time,
Only to think about themselves
No, no one has time,
Nobody has time

21.Re-Union – Without You (2004, 20th place)

A charming little song that reminds me of mid 90’s boybands2 and therefore hits me right in the childhood. Unfortunately that’s not the only thing that reminds me of childhood, as this song’s lyrics seem to be written by an eight year old. Seriously: “I keep calling your name,/ My life can never be the same”. And:  “It’s filled with dear desire”, “you set my soul on fire”… How cliché can it get?! But: remniscence of happy childhood days, and therefore feel-good, and therefore thumbs-up.

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

Next time: 20-11 — The Good(ish)

De uitvreter
Zomerhuis met zwembad
Zingo Poetry Slam
Meneer Heineken, het is voorbij


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. Translated from  http://www.muziekencyclopedie.nl/action/entry/Mrs.+Einstein, last checked 19-9-2015 

  2. Yes, nitpickers out there: I know that the song I linked to is originally a Bee Gees song. My parents were all too keen to point that out to me in the 90s. Yet for me this song is 6th grade in a nutshell. And it makes me happy.