ESC 2010 Reviews: The Netherlands
Ah, the Netherlands. I’ve been to Amsterdam a few times, and it’s truly one of my favorite places on the planet. I love how welcoming the city is, how unbelievably comfortable it can be…it’s just like slipping on your favorite pair of jeans. The people are friendly, the food is wonderful, the architecture like nowhere else on the planet. It’s really a shame that their Eurovision entry this year is so abysmal.
It’s not like the Dutch haven’t had their success in the past. They’ve won the contest four times, and some of my favorite ESC classics come from Holland. In 1959, Teddy Scholten (who sadly passed away this past month) took home the crown with “Een Beetje (A Little Bit)”, one of the most adorable songs to come out of the contest. It was a perfect little snapshot of the times: the dress, the hair, the innocent little flirtation in the song…they all added up to a sweet victory for Teddy, who would eventually leave showbiz and work with the Dutch Red Cross.
In 1966, the Netherlands took a bit of a risk and brought a new level of performance into the ESC. Instead of the traditional chansons and ballads that had dominated the contest for the previous ten years, the Dutch brought in Milly Scott, a Surinamese-Dutch jazz singer to sing “Fernando en Filippo“, a song about a love triangle in Latin America. Milly bounced around on stage with reckless abandon, something that really hadn’t been seen before on the Eurovision stage. When I look at the high-energy performances that are often seen in today’s competition, I often think back on “Fernando en Filippo”, and marvel at how things have evolved over the past few decades.
In 1975, the Netherlands inadvertently provided one of the most unintentionally comical songs the ESC has ever seen. Ironically, it also gave them their most recent victory. Schoolboys all over the UK couldn’t help but laugh at lyrics like “There will be no sorrow/when you sing tomorrow/and you walk along with your ding-dang-dong!/Ding-a-dong every hour, when you pick a flower/Even when your lover is gone, gone, gone!” You can’t quite top Teach-In’s “Ding-a-Dong“, can you? (Readers, I’m giving you an assignment: If Teach-In can Ding a Dong every hour, even when their lover is gone, how long will it take for them to develop carpal tunnel syndrome? Whoever gives me the best answer wins…my undying love and respect!)
Between then and now, the Dutch have come up with a few great songs, all with varying levels of success. My personal favorites include 1972’s clap-along number “Als Het Om De Leifde Gaat (When It’s All About Love)” by Sandra and Andres, 1992’s “Vrede (Peace)” by Ruth Jacott, and 1998’s “Hemel en Aarde (Heaven and Earth)” by Edsilia Rombley.
Despite all of the Netherland’s previous success in the ESC, they have sadly fallen off the mark over the last few years. They haven’t qualified for a Final since 2004, and haven’t finished in the Top 10 since 1999. This year, it looks like they’re taking another step backwards. Unlike many countries, where singers will submit their own songs and they’ll duke it out in a preselection, or where a country will select a singer and song, or a single singer will have a selection of songs that the public can vote on, the Dutch decided to go backwards. Broadcaster TROS selected their song’s composer internally, and held a national final to decide who would sing “Ik Ben Verliefd, Sha-La-Lie (I’m In Love, Sha-La-Lie)”. Now, the UK did something similar last year and came out with a 5th place score. The British had selected Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber and Diane Warren. The Dutch, however, selected songwriter Pierre Kartner (aka Father Abraham), who was best known for this:
Oy. After a low budget national selection that was basically decided by a coin flip from Kartner himself when two contestants were tied, we end up with this:
Don’t get me wrong…Sieneke’s cute, but this song is so dated…it just doesn’t do the poor girl any justice. She’s only eighteen, yet the way she’s styled makes her look twice that age. It’s just a bit sad to see the country that brought us Teddy Scholten and Milly Scott come to this. Sieneke will be in the second semifinal, which means that her chances of passing through to the Final are slim to nil, unless half of the contestants aren’t able to make it to the contest because of flight delays from a certain Icelandic Volcano. I wish Sieneke well, but I hope this is the last time she takes advice from a man who talks to Smurfs.