Category Archives: Netherlands

The Rumor Mill…

Hey, everyone!  Pardon my lapse in posting over the past month or so…what can I say?  I was a bit burnt out after this year’s Eurovision Final.  It’s sort of like having a massive holiday dinner, full of all of your favorite foods, surrounded by friends and family…after it’s all done, all you want to do is curl up and take a nap.  But I’m back on my feet, and looking forward to dishing up more ESC-tastic goodness for all of you!

(Oh, and by the way…650 readers?  Thank you all so much for stopping by!  Feel free to leave me a note in the Comments section, and let me know what you think of my little piece of the Internet.)

Anyway, even though it’s only July, and the 2010 Eurovision Song Contest is barely cold, we’re already hearing news of the 2011 edition!  Here are two confirmed bits of news (and one juicy rumor that I can only hope is true):

1) OFFICIAL:  Lena Meyer-Landrut will be defending her title for Germany in 2011.  This has been confirmed by broadcaster NDR, but no other details have been provided yet.  This will be only the third time that a winning performer returns the very next year to defend their title; the other two singers were Lys Assia coming back in 1957 and Corry Brokken in 1958.  Sadly, Lys came in 8th place out of 10 that year, and Corry came in last place…will Lena fare much better?  We have nearly a year to see…but while we wait to hear what Deutchland’s plan is, Lena’s been keeping very busy.  She just released her fourth single, “Touch a New Day” (written by Stefan Raab), and her album “My Cassette Player” has already been certified Double Platinum in Germany.

In the meantime, Germany has yet to decide where the 2011 Eurovision Song Contest will take place.  The official announcement will likely happen in December, but there are about eight cities vying for the honor, including Berlin, Hamburg, Munich, and Lena’s hometown of Hanover.

2) OFFICIAL: The Netherlands, after their disappointing performance in Oslo, have finally washed their hands of Pierre Kartner and have decided to send the Volendam-based band 3Js to Germany next year.  They’ve had quite a few Top-10 Hits in their homeland, and sing almost exclusively in Dutch.  Here’s their most recent single, “Geloven in het Leven (Believe in Life)”:

Not bad at all!  And, at the very least, a lot better than the most recent Dutch entry.  Even better, 3Js will have their entry selected in a much more open and fair system than last year, when the song had been written beforehand, and only a small jury and in-house audience could vote, with songwriter Kartner eventually deciding the outcome.  The band will submit a number of new songs, and the best will be selected by a jury and an open televote.

3) RUMOR: According to credible sources, the BBC is in talks with pop singer/songwriter Mika to have him compose the UK’s 2011 Eurovision entry.  After the debacle of this year’s “That Sounds Good To Me”, bringing in a fresh, current, and globally-appealing figure like Mika would be an absolute masterstroke.  He was born Michael Penniman to an American father and Lebanese mother in Beirut, but moved to Paris and then London at a young age.  He has had his name batted around before in ESC circles; there were rumors a few years ago that when Lebanon was considering a return/debut into Eurovision (they were due to enter in 2005, and even had their song selected, but a refusal to show the Israeli entry not only forced their withdrawal from the show, but also had the broadcaster slapped with a three-year ban), Mika would carry their banner.  As this has not happened, we’re left hanging! 

Despite his young age (only 26), Mika is a prolific and highly talented artist.  His breakthrough hit, “Grace Kelly”, was a global smash, reaching the Top Ten in the UK, Turkey, Spain, Norway, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, and many other charts.  It made it to #12 in Canada, and #13 on the US Pop 100. 

If these rumors actually pan out to contain an iota of truth, this could be absolutely huge for British Eurovision hopes.  While “It’s My Time” was a beautiful song, and performed very capably by Jade Ewen back in 2009, the UK really hasn’t sent a successful up-tempo number since 1998’s “Where Are You“.  Mika could help bring back some measure of credibility to Eurovision in the United Kingdom.  Now we’ll just have to see if this is actually true…

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.