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March 26, 2014

Dutch country music to hit Eurovision Song Festival 2014

Filed under: Music by Orangemaster @ 1:14 pm

Sung by established Dutch artists Ilse DeLange and Waylon as a duet under the name The Common Linnets, this year’s Dutch entry for the Eurovision Song Contest in Copenhagen has ‘no chance in winning whatsoever’, according to widespread online criticism by music business folks. I tend to agree.

You need a catchy song, something either people can sing along to the chorus (the ‘hook’ – think of the power of ‘here’s my number, so call me maybe’) or something that people can remember even if it is sung in a foreign language, in this case a guitar riff, a weird outfit or even a cool dance routine.

‘Calm After the Storm’ is a sort of country song, which is traditionally not a good choice. When Germany tried to go all American country in 2006, they got slammed, and that year Finland’s metal band Lordi won. I remember it well, as I was coincidentally in Copenhagen watching the delectable slaughter on telly.

The Dutch entry doesn’t modulate, both singers cancel each other out, the range is too low especially for Ilse, as I can barely make out what she’s singing. In fact, the title of the song is mangled to suit the music, as the word ‘after’ is pronounced ‘afTER’ instead of ‘AFter’, giving it a Dunglish feel. The pulsating guitar rhythm faintly reminds me of ‘Every Breath You Take’ by The Police. Listen to it, and hear them modulate like bosses, especially the bridge.

At least Anouk’s song ‘Birds’ of last year I can still remember and sing along to it.

Listen for yourselves:

(Link: www.volkskrant.nl, Photo of Microphone by visual dichotomy, some rights reserved)

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March 22, 2014

Metropole Orchestra re-records Esquivel

Filed under: Dutch first,Music by Branko Collin @ 12:51 pm

Juan Garcia Esquivel was a Mexican composer of pop music who was one of the pioneers of a genre called Space Age Bachelor Pad Music.

mini-skirt-keller-filmLast year Zone 5300 called the genre “an orchestral cross of lounge pop and exotica”. In 2013 the Hilversum-based Metropole Orchestra, the largest professional pop and jazz orchestra in the world, released an album of re-recorded Esquivel tunes, Perfect Vision. Berlin-based composer Stefan Behrisch was asked to reconstruct the sheet music as the originals had been lost.

One Internet store, ReR MegaCorp, sells and describes the record as follows: “Remember stereo? Not the naturalistic, tasteful stereo but the extreme, weird, psychedelic stereo that has been all but forgotten now? Here it is. Apart from being stunning in its own right, this record makes some wake-up statements about recording and what it can do – and about how far we have moved away from that sensibility.”

Marco Kalnenek’s appraisal is not as excited, but then he isn’t trying to sell the album: “[A] loving tribute to an almost forgotten music director. The arrangements are meticulous and the recording and production are perfect—modern without diminishing the original sound.”

The video by Keller Film shown here is a perfect accompaniment for the Esquivel tune Mini Skirt. The sensibility of the animation is American and 1950s-like, but the theme is modern and Dutch. Boy meets girl, except that the girl is a high earning, Macbook wielding professional and the boy one of the army of under-earning delivery men that sprung up after the market for mail was liberalized in 2009.

See also: Wikipedia on Juan Garcia Esquivel.

(Illustration: screen capture of the video, cropped)

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March 19, 2014

Dutch artists cover current pop hits, good or bad?

Filed under: Music by Orangemaster @ 8:00 am

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Radio station 100% NL broadcasts Dutch music sung in Dutch or from Dutch artists and has recently decided to expand its reach by commissioning Dutch-language versions of currently English-language pop hits. The project is called ‘Let’s Go Dutch’ and was launched last week. First up is Charly Lusky with ‘Ik heb iets’ (roughly, ‘I’ve got something’, ‘there’s something happening’, you get the idea), a cover of Pharrell Williams’ Happy, see the first video below.

Covering current English-language pop hits to have more to play on the air is fine, however the comments on NU.nl are mostly negative to put it mildly. I have nothing against the voice of Charly Lusky in this music video, but then I’d rather hear Pharrell Williams. As a non native Dutch speaker the lyrics of the Dutch version sound insincere and artificial, something a Dutch artist would never have written on their own. It’s like there’s no added value in the Dutch version.

Many people feel the translation sounds like it’s for dummies, level-wise. The background singers still sing ‘happy’, a word the Dutch have been using for a few years now instead of the Dutch word ‘blij’ or ‘gelukkig’, which means they left in some English after all.

As a Dutch blog puts it in English, is it a hit or is it shit? Give it a whirl and tell us what you think.

Charly Lusky – Ik heb iets

The original Pharrell Williams – Happy

(Links: www.nu.nl, nlpop.blog.nl, Photo by Quistnix, licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 1.0)

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February 19, 2014

North Korean hostesses cover traditional Dutch song

Filed under: Food & Drink,History,Music by Orangemaster @ 5:29 pm

Two years ago, a North Korean restaurant (now closed) in the West of Amsterdam had caused quite the commotion having been accused of spreading propaganda and all that jazz. But at least there was after dinner singing.

Now in the East part of town restaurant Haedanghwa features North Korean food with traditional after dinner songs sung by North Korean girls in traditional garb. The fun part is, they sing their rendition of the Dutch standard ‘Aan de Amsterdamse Grachten’ (roughly, At the Canals of Amsterdam) that they apparently worked very hard not only to sing, but to understand. They practiced for a few weeks and now you can enjoy the video.

(Link: www.vice.com, Photo of Pyongyang restaurant by Comicbase, some rights reserved)

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February 16, 2014

Hieronymus Bosch’ buttock music brought alive

Filed under: Art,Music by Branko Collin @ 11:22 pm

garden-delights-bosch-pdTumblrer Chaoscontrolled123 decided to transcribe the music written across the buttocks of one of the characters in Hieronymus Bosch’ famous painting The Garden of Earthly Delights. You can hear the results here.

Chaoscontrolled123 appears to be unimpressed by the tune but I see promise in it. Surely techno DJs or metal band Within Temptation should be able to do something with the melody?

Hieronymus Bosch was a mediaeval painter who was born and lived his entire life in ‘s-Hertogenbosch (hence the last name Bosch). The Garden of Earthly Delights is perhaps his most famous painting consisting of three panels, the right-most of which depicts hell. Our trouserless friend is part of a scene in which the sin of lust is depicted as music—Wikipedia says lust was considered the ‘music of the flesh’ in those days.

By the way, I don’t know if any art historian ever noticed this, but there is a diptych in the right panel of the triptych. Huh-huh.

(Link: Trendbeheer; illustration Hieronymus Bosch)

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February 11, 2014

Colonialism and cannibals: deconstructing a Dutch tourist attraction

Filed under: History,Music by Orangemaster @ 9:30 am

The brouhaha starts with the pot calling the kettle black: although she had a great time with her kids, an American journalist managed to find fault with a Dutch amusement park ride from De Efteling called ‘Monsieur Cannibale’ (yes, that’s French, explanation coming up) that features an African cannibal-like character with a bone through his nose by calling it ‘a racist throwback’. America’s Disney is already a cesspool of throwbacks, which dilutes the journalist’s comment as much as a useless homeopathic remedy.

The ride has been around since 1988 and regardless of what people think of it (‘racist throwback’ vs. ‘mythical character’), taking issue with it now is very lame, especially making a totally unproven connection between the offensive character and Dutch colonialism just to drive a point.

And it gets more odd at least for me.

A few years ago, there was an advert on Dutch telly with small children dancing around a room to the song ‘Monsieur Cannibale’ by Sacha Distel. I couldn’t understand why a song about a cannibal was deemed fitting for dancing kiddies. My co-blogger pointed out that the Dutch knew this song from De Efteling.

Problem is Distel’s song is about a man captured in Africa by cannibals who thought he was a spy, trying to politely plead the head cannibal (hence addressing him as Monsieur) not to eat him, but negotiates his way out of it by offering him porno magazines. The head cannibal laughs, brings the guy back to his harem for a week after which the guy lose 20 kilos, refuses to leave and wants to stay with the harem, which we can easily assume are a whole bunch of naked, ready to go women.

You can imagine my surprise at seeing dancing children associated with trading porno magazines, something I bet most of you didn’t know. Well, now you know and you won’t be able to unknow it, just like me.

And if you want some French-style throwback, watch how Sacha pulls the side of his eyes to designate speaking Chinese in the video at 0:25 for starters.

(Link: www.nltimes.nl, Photo of an Efteling dragon by Jeroen Kransen, some rights reserved)

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February 4, 2014

Las Vegas club bans and bashes Dutch DJ music

Filed under: Music by Orangemaster @ 2:56 pm

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I shared an article on Facebook a few days ago entitled New Las Vegas Club Will Ban “Mainstream Records” And “Lazy Artists” because I noticed five of the fourteen mentioned were Dutch. Regardless of people’s taste in music, this hit list just proves how popular Dutch DJs actually are. In fact, just last summer you could enter a contest to be married by Tiësto in Las Vegas.

Dutch hits:
Hardwell is from Breda, same as Tiësto.
Chuckie is from Surinam, but lives in Aruba.
Afrojack is from Spijkenisse.
Martin Garrix is from Amsterdam.

Speaking of lazy, shame on you TV station AT5 for claiming that these are “Amsterdam DJs”. Check your facts and don’t be douches yourselves. This kind of gratuitous appropriation is exactly why the rest of the country likes to bash Amsterdam.

(Link: whiteraverrafting.com, Photo: Amsterdam’s DJ Natashka in Munich)

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December 30, 2013

Artist records the sound the Earth makes 9 kilometres down

Filed under: Art,Music,Nature by Orangemaster @ 8:00 am

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Amsterdam-based artist Lotte Geeven has recorded the sound the Earth makes from the ‘deepest hole in the world’, which is apparently nine kilometres deep, near the Czech border. Seismologists, geophysicists and engineers helped her with this project, resulting in a series of sound installations.

It reminds me of some classic industrial music, probably Lustmord or a loop of 1980s Zoviet France. It’s soothing but eerie at the same time.

(Link: www.designboom.com, Photo of Seismograph by Hitchster, some rights reserved)

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December 25, 2013

Longest concert ever in Leeuwarden

Filed under: Music by Branko Collin @ 3:47 pm

logo-serious-requestMore than 400 bands broke the world record for the longest concert last Saturday by playing 363 hours (15 days and a bit) consequetively in Leeuwarden as part of the Serious Request charity event.

The record attempt produced 17,000 euro through ticket sales for fighting lethal diarrhoea in Africa and Asia. The entire event, which takes place annually while three 3FM radio DJs lock themselves up in a glass house in order to be the focal point for all kinds of spin-off charity drives, produced over 12 million euro for the good cause.

Leeuwarder Courant writes that after the record was broken, the success was celebrated by having a band—the Broken Brass Ensemble—play some more music.

(Illustration: 3FM Serious Request logo)

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December 2, 2013

Singer Gordon accused of manipulating Top 40 list

Filed under: Music,Online by Orangemaster @ 7:00 am

One of the authoritative hit parades of the country has accused artists such as Gordon and record companies of manipulating their positions by buying their own products, according to the chairman of the Dutch Top 40 foundation, Erik de Zwart.

Who’s Gordon? He’s the culturally insensitive talent show jury member who fired off ‘racist’ Chinese jokes on live television recently that in the end were indeed insulting to the Chinese candidate.

When determining the Top 40 airplay is also taken into account, contrary to another well established hit parade, the Single Top 100, making it susceptible to manipulation, De Zwart says. Gordon comes in at 38, 27, or not at all on major radio station lists. De Zwart believes that it doesn’t jive that Gordon is at Number 1 for weeks on the Single Top 100. Gordon’s response was that De Zwart was envious of him and trying to ruin his good name.

(Links: radio.nl-1, radio.nl-2)

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