After having spent a few months in the Netherlands, you probably know some Dutch musicians by now, especially if you listen to Dutch radio every now and then. Even though most of the big names sing in English, there are some that produce amazing music in Dutch. This article will present some of those artists to show that even though the Dutch language may sound a bit funny, it is possible to compose great songs with it.
Let’s start with pop music. A duo that is widely known, is called Acda & De Munnik. Unfortunately they don’t make music together anymore, but they have left us some songs that will be known for a long time to come. One of their classics is Het regent zonnestralen, which means ‘it is raining sunshine’. Sounds poetic, right? It’s about a man called Herman who sells his car. Then the new owner crashes it in an accident, but the police think it was Herman. Herman reads about ‘his’ death in the newspaper, and gets a second chance at life. Put this way it may sound a bit vague, but it is a beautiful song with a positive vibe. You can watch the video (with lyrics) here.
Another pop group that you might have heard of, is called Bløf. They have been making music for a really long time now and produce many songs that are well known. The lyrics are often very poetic and they have collaborated with international artists, resulting in a mix of styles and cultures. It is impossible (for me) to name which one of their songs is the best (as they have so many good ones), but a really successful collaboration is Hemingway, with Eliades Ochoa. It is sung in Dutch and Spanish and has that lovely Spanish guitar sound, which gives it a slightly melancholic but beautiful undertone. Click here to see the video.
A slightly more cheesy artist is Guus Meeuwis. He is from the south of the Netherlands and definitely has that accent: the giveaway is the ‘soft g’, which you may have heard somewhere already. The anthem of the province Brabant is one of his songs, that is the one called Brabant (makes sense right?). Even though it sounds a bit cheesy, it is a great song and an ode to this region and its people. Part of the refrain goes like this: ‘But the people they are sleeping / The world closes down / And then I think of Brabant / Cause that’s where the lights still burn’. You can listen to the whole song here (with lyrics).
Then on to something way different: let’s talk rap music! A much loved group in this genre, both by the youth and older people, is De jeugd van tegenwoordig, meaning ‘the present day’s youth’. They are with four guys, but in general their frontman Pepijn Lanen writes the lyrics. He is also a poet and writer, and you can hear that: the text is often constructed with great care. A recent classic of theirs is Sterrenstof (‘Stardust’), which you can watch here (with lyrics) . However, they also have songs that are much weirder, like Gekke boys (‘Funny boys’; click here) and Get Spanish (see the video here). They don’t always seem to take themselves seriously and make funny and very danceable music.
And finally to conclude a very positive song that was released only just recently: the Dazzled sticks with De tunnel (‘The tunnel’). It is made by a duo from Amsterdam and Zwolle (a super cute city in the north of the Netherlands). Even though the lyrics are not as strong as those of the artists we’ve discussed above, they do have a lot of potential. De tunnel sounds very upbeat and is an ideal soundtrack for the summer. In the refrain they sing: Ey, the sun is shining / Light / Oh light / Light at the end of the tunnel (for the rest of the song, click here). There is not really a poetic message hidden in these lyrics, but it is certainly a good way to get rid of the last remnants of winter and to embrace the summer sunshine!
by Tessa Vermeir