Back in 2007 we mentioned Showballet Penney de Jager dancing to Meco’s disco version of the theme of Star Wars on 1970’s Dutch TV show Toppop. This is that video.
In the 1970s bands would playback live—if that description makes sense—to their pop songs on television. Sometimes an artist would not or could not show up and Toppop solved this by having its in-house troupe, Showballet Penney de Jager, do a bit. As for why this pre-recorded routine contains cowboys and motorcycle riders, I don’t know.
In the mid-1980s Toppop was pushed out of the fish tank by Adam Curry’s Countdown which focussed on showing music clips instead of live acts. The ballet’s front lady De Jager, now 65, still performs. Her current troupe Burlesque Express is part of the travelling theater festival De Parade at the moment. The festival has set up its tents in Utrecht and will leave for its final stop this year, Amsterdam, in the week of 5 August.
Twenty years ago Bettie Serveert was the sort of indie rock band that made producers everywhere pay attention, but they never managed to surpass the success of their debut album Palomine.
Yesterday the band reunited with former drummer Berend Dubbe for a special birthday gig on which they played the entire Palomine album at Paradiso in Amsterdam. According to 24 Oranges reader Jeroen Mirck, who was there, “Bettie Serveert played songs like Tomboy, Balentine, Kid’s Allright and Brain-Tag with as much urgency and as dynamically as in the early nineties, as if the songs had been written yesterday.”
The name “Bettie Serveert” means “Betty to serve” and is a reference to Betty Stöve, a Dutch player who managed to reach the Wimbledon tennis finals in 1977.
As you may have read, after the Rutte government attacked “entarte Kunst” it is now promoting “Blut und Boden” music. Dutchnews reported yesterday that “MPs on Thursday evening voted in favour of a quota for Dutch language music on Radio 2, the public broadcaster which focuses on popular music. The motion, drawn up by Martin Bosma from the anti-Islam PVV, requires programmers to make sure 35% of the music played on Radio 2 between 07.00 and 19.00 hours was produced in the Netherlands.”
The folks at the Amazing Retecool blog have used their regular Photo Fuck Friday to try and imagine what famous record covers would look like if all music had to be in Dutch. Shown here are Bruce Springsteen’s Born in the Netherlands by Ohjajoh and Foreigner’s Double Passport by Gelul.
The past week Kyteman manager Niels Aalberts has been posting and annotating a six part e-mail correspondence with Caro Emerald producer David Schreurs about how they got to their respective successes.
One of the most remarkable ideas in the stories of both Kyteman and Caro Emerald as noted by internet marketeer Erwin Blom is the one of developing success outside the framework of traditional record companies. Schreurs mentions that this makes it easier to make quick decisions (you don’t have to keep track of everybody’s agendas), and that since your money is not disappearing into the deep pockets of the share holders of the likes of Sony, you can allocate resources for expensive projects more easily.
Kyteman is young jazz musician Colin Bender’s project, a hip hop orchestra containing 12 instrumentalists and 10 MCs. Their debut album The Hermit Sessions (2009) has been in the Dutch Album Top 100 for the past 79 weeks, and has sold 60,000 copies so far. Earlier this year the orchestra won the Popprijs.
Caro Emerald (Caroline van der Leeuw) is a jazz singer whose A Night Like This shot to the top of the charts, and whose album Deleted Scenes from the Cutting Room Floor easily took over the record for most weeks at number 1 in the Dutch Album Top 100 (30 and counting)—the previous record was held by Michael Jackson’s Thriller (27 in 1982). In the second quarter of this year, Deleted Scenes accounted for 10% of all album sales in the Netherlands.
This song from the Kinderen voor Kinderen choir (‘Children for Children’) was voted their best song last Saturday, public broadcaster VARA announced according to Volkskrant. The song is called ‘Op een Onbewoond Eiland’ (‘On a Desert Island’).
Kinderen voor Kinderen was a choir initially founded by VARA for charity, the idea being that the proceeds of their records would go to help children in poor countries. It was heavily ridiculed for the snooty, Gooi ‘R’ that the children in it used, and which sounds almost exactly like the British word ‘air.’ You can hear a sample at the start of this Kinderen voor Kinderen parody Ik Heb Die Zwaar Bekakte R Niet (‘I Lack That Snooty R’) by fake children’s choir De Boksbeugeltjes (‘The Brass Knuckles’).
Being partly a child of the 1970s I am accustomed to a barren Dutch pop music landscape, and therefore always a little surprised when an act shows up in and from this country that’s worth listening to. The past 18 months I have found myself surprised more than once.
Leaf – Wonderwoman. “Why’s my life so boring? I am up for a little bit more.” And here’s the surprise: in the third act she doesn’t introduce a guy to make it all right.
All Missing Pieces – I want you to know. February this year was a special month for the band, because that’s when the Labour Inspection gave 11-year old bass player Quinten an exemption that will allow the three-year old band to perform more than the 12 times a year the law permits.
Last Saturday, pop star Peter Gabriel’s red double decker tour bus got stuck on the A27 near Lexmond when the motor of the vehicle burst into flames. Peter and friends were en route to a concert in Belgium. The flames went out by themselves and the double decker was towed away. The regional transport company scored them a bus to help them get back on track.
I just happened to see his concert in Amsterdam (last minute invite from a friend, thanks again!) and took a few mobile phone pictures.
Illustration: Blondie on a tin foil mointain on TopPop
The biggest pop music TV show in the Netherlands during the 1970s and the early 1980s was TopPop. This was the time when artists still had to show up in shows all over the world to have their faces remembered. Then video clips came along, and a competing channel brought Adam Curry back to the country to ride their wave. His show Countdown was the end of TopPop.
TopPop had several things going for it, not in the least its host Ad Visser, a slightly goofy looking guy who was into tantric sex and writing space operas. Artists would lip-sync against psychedelic backdrops, and if they were unable to come on the program, the show ballet of Penny de Jager would dance to a pop song. There was something oddly discomfitting about the show that was at the same time its biggest asset.
Clips of the show can of course be found on Youtube, but a few weeks ago an official archive was launched, which publishes themed compilations of performances. Think Blondie, Duran Duran, Randy Crawford, The Jacksons, The Carpenters, Grace Jones, Nina Hagen, and TopPop’s ballet dancing to the theme of Star Wars.