Wednesday, June 01, 2005

The Cross Europe Chart Challenge... of Death! THE NETHERLANDS

Well, this has been a long time coming. I would like to shirk responsibility and blame the weather, my research proposal and the general rubbishness of most of last week's Dutch top 10. The panel largely agrees, but have been particularly verbose in doing so.

Contributing this time, but not last time:

KS: Koen, who is Dutch and knows this stuff. His blog is in Dutch but is named after a Delgados lyric, so visit him anyway.
GD: Geoff, who doesn't have a website, but a message-board stalwart.
MT: Miguel from Argentina once mounted an airtight case that Girls Aloud are better than the Beatles and who has a new blog but I've lost the address.
SS: Shahaf, also no website, but probably has a more encyclopaedic knowledge of pop than anyone else in Israel.

Daniel Powter (5) got reviewed last round, so let's ignore him (thank goodness, say I) and look at what wasn't.

1. Guus Meeuwis - Geef Mij Je Angst
EO: 5, SN: 7, AG: 0, MJ: 3, JP: 1, IM: 0, KS: 5, GD: 9, SS: 7
ADJUSTED SCORE: 4

KS:
Rather dull cover version of recently deceased André Hazes. It's hard to convey to foreigners what Hazes meant over here. Some say he was a pub singer who got lucky, a literature professor I know says he is a singer-songwriter on a par with Dylan and Springsteen. His funeral service was held in a football stadium that seats 50.000, and broadcast live on Dutch TV. Whatever Hazes is, Guus Meeuwis is none of these things. He's a none-too-technical singer who seems to strike a chord with people. Old people, mostly, like my mum.
GD: Try as I might, I find it hard to arouse my normal English cynicism when it comes to this. Maybe it's because it appeals to my nostalgic sensibilities becaise Guus Meeuwis was number one in Holland with his first single when I briefly lived over there 10 years ago.
SS: Guus Meeuwis is well familiar to me, as a one hit wonder that is, whenever I see his name all I can think of is his 1996 smash 'Het Is En Nacht', which even shockingly toped the charts here in Israel.
IM: A stultifying solo piano ballad that sounds like it rivals Celine Dion in the emoting stakes. Utterly devoid of interest. Why is it number one?
MJ: Sounds for all the world like one of the ballads from Grease 2--you know, if Michael had been an exhange student from the Netherlands instead of Sandy's cousin from Australia.
EO: A nice line in dignified restraint, which makes it better than Coldplay any day.
SN: I applaud the producers for not caving in to the presumably skull-crushing pressure of chucking in a studio orchestra and majestic gong bashes, and the whole thing ends up being surprisingly elegant and refined, if not a little sterile.
AG: Strings! A gospel choir! A dance remix! Do something! - but then, the music overcomes even me, for it is impossible to survive "Je Angst" and stay awake at the same time. Way to go Guus.

2. Kane - Something To Say
EO: 4. SN: 3, AG: 0, MJ: 2, JP: 3, IM: 7, KS: 1, GD: 1, MT: 0, SS: 8
ADJUSTED SCORE: 2

MJ:
And that something is, "Listen to it very closely or you'll miss the inconsequential chorus amidst all of the Killers-by-numbers racket."
GD: They've said it now. Hopefully they'll now shut up and go away. This truly is bland, uninspired, mid-atlantic rock at its worst. They don't even sound that inspired by it themselves so god know how they hope to convince us.
KS: Oh, they do this U2 stadium rock thing pretty well, I guess. Not that I would want to listen to it, ever ever again.
MT: What the world was waiting for...crappy generic dad rock is here! Oh yeah, now I realise dad rock has already been here for a while. Well, in that case, let me reprhase: What the world was waiting for...crappy generic grandad rock is here!
AG: Sadly NOT the 7 foot tall wrestler, who walks through hell, fire and brimstone, but a band who have walked through hell, fire and the "how to sound like a Dutch Stereophonics" play book.
SN: You mean that every country in the world has its own multitude of faceless guitar bands that clog up commerical radio and the upper echelons of the charts?
IM: This song doesn’t really work for me until two minutes in, where Kane stops fussing around with what might otherwise be a power ballad and just hits the button marked “Ludicrous Speed”. As long as this is ridiculously overblown it’s great – it’s the quiet bits in between that induce wincing.
SS: I see them more as the Dutch Coldplay rather than the Dutch U2, not because they sound like them, but because they always milk around the same formula and don't really develop musically. I loved "Rain Down On Me" (Original + Remix), so this part 2 of the song is satisfying for me, I love it how he takes it so emotionally, when the lyrics are actually a bit naff.
EO: Ooh, this sounds like it's going to be a bit like Idlewild back when they were good. But it doesn't. Good driving rhythm, though.
AG: The kind of band and song your Mum (not my Mum, she's cool!) would nod along to in the car, and proclaim some modern bands were "hip". You would then smack your head and say "God mum! You are SO embarrassing!" - and you would be right.
JP: You'll be pleased but probably most of all surprised to hear that Kane did once make a really good song. It was a duet with Anouk who you may remember from last week, and it was much better than "Lost" as well. It was called "My Best Wasn't Good Enough, involving lots of shouting of "tick tock tick tock" and very much deserving of you all to hear it immediately. This song, however, is Kane's usual snooze-rock and best avoided.

3. Krezip - Out Of My Bed
EO: 6, SN: 6, AG: 9, MJ: 2, JP: 8, IM: 6, KS: 4, GD: 2, SS: 4
ADJUSTED SCORE: 5

SS:
So Krezip have gone teenage-angst rock? I'm not really convienced to be honest. It's a bit like if Natalie Imbruglia were to go Fiona Apple. It just doesn't really work.
GD: Skater Boi was all the Avril Lavigine I ever needed. So I can really do without a cheap third-rate Dutch version.
KS: It's pretty cool that both the number 1 and the number three artists are from my hometown, but sadly both songs do nothing for me. This song goes for the whole sassy Lavigne/Simpson vibe, but sass is exactly what this band has always missed.
SN: Ashlee Studt-Lavigne rolls out of bed, looking appropriately alternative and surly. Next to her lies a skinny youth with floppy black hair and a facial piercing of some sort. "Hit the road, Jack (or Bartholomeus or whatever)," she says, picking up her guitar and striking some appropriately bad-arse power chords. Jack/Bartholomeus vows to stop dating girls who list Liz Phair as an influence.
JP: This is great! A young Michelle Branch would be more than happy with it.
AG: The video clip is amazing, as she hooks a big arsed hook to her lazy benny boyfriends bed, the other end to her Thunderbird, and then drags his bed out of his house, through the wall, and into a concrete block, while humming a jaunty Stacy Orrico cheery tune.
EO: You know, there were about four really good songs on the Amy Studt album, this one sounds a bit like "Under The Thumb" but it's altogether more clumsy and forced but there's something vaguely endearing about it.
IM: My girlfriend walks into the room. “Hey, what was that song you were listening to, with the female vocalist?” I cue it up, explain it’s from the Dutch Top Ten. Her response: “It sounds like Lindsay Lohan”. I cannot deny the extreme justice of her remarks.
MT: Girls, I have to admit that those nice
hi-octane full blown pop songs like "Sk8ter Boi" or "Just Like a Pill" you make sometimes are really hard to resist, and I've grown to like you. So today I'd like to give you a very useful piece of advice: mid-tempos like "Complicated" or this "Out of My Bed" thing NEVER work.
EO: I rate songs like these on a scale based on how poorly they compare to Ashlee Simpson's "Lala", which really is the best rock single of the 00s.
MJ: I hate the lazy "Yeah yeah yeah" bits near the bridge, and the whole thing is so Avril-esque and instantly forgettable that it's really not worth a score.
KS: I'd trust them to feed my cat while I'm on holiday next week though.

4. Snoop Dogg - Signs
EO: 4, SN: 7, AG: 0, MJ: 10, JP: 7, IM: 8, KS: 8, GD: 7, SS: 5
ADJUSTED SCORE: 7

EO:
Overrated. Disco isn't supposed to be smooth.
SS: It's a bit too retro, isn't it?
MJ: I don't even know how to process the mindsets of people who hate on this song--no one no one NO ONE can match Snoop for delivery, and we must give snaps to anyone who got JT to say "Fuck" on record and in his gorgeous falsetto.
IM: When a man is tired of Snoop telling Timberlake “you ain’t no G”, that man is tired of life. Particular when the backing is so poptastic.
EO: JC Chasez didn't need to say "fuck" to be cool. If Justin starts singing songs about wanking, I'm going into hiding, though.
SN: Could probably benefit from having Gwen Stefani bellowing about her shit at some point.

6. Racoon - Happy Family
EO: 2, SN: 8, AG: 1, MJ: 3, JP: 2, IM: 2, KS: 1, GD: 0, MT: 6, SS: 1
ADJUSTED SCORE: 2

EO:
Jaunty, and has a whistle. This is going to be terrific. Except...
KS: The Raccoon's singer's thick accent spoils everything before I've even made up my mind about the song.
SS: This song is so 1993 it's disgusting, even the silly chorus can't save it.
GD: I think I'm actually allergic to this sort of thing. I couldn't listen to it the whole way through. Urgh. It's all so derivative.
JP: I liked this song much more when I thought it was real racoons singing. Even cartoon racoons would be better than the reality, which turns out to be a bunch of ugly old men.
SN: Racoons are apparently highly adept at knocking over garbage bins, opening jars and the like in order to scavenge whatever scraps people deemed appropriate to throw out. These Racoons in question appear to be gnawing on the remains of the Barenaked Ladies. One band's scraps are another's three-course meal, apparently.
MT: I tried for a few seconds and my mind had to shut itself not to get lobotomized. And I'd rather keep liking this song, thank you very much.
MJ: If lead singer dude (who sounds like the guy from Live) would just lay off the lyrical heaviness, this could be a real treat. It's jaunty and summery and cutesy (but not enough to make me gag), but when the chorus hits and you realize that it's just a bit of whine-rock-unplugged, the bloom is off the rose. I appreciate its brevity, though--so many bands could take a lesson from that.
IM: So what we have here is someone marrying an acoustic version of Green Day’s music with the lyrical prowess of one of Staind’s old “I hate my family” screeds. Oscar Wilde’s line about seriousness being the only refuge of the shallow has never rung more true.
EO: Annoying voice, horrible lyrics, dreadful chorus - whingeing AND attempts at profundity. That spells awful.
AG: "It would be great if we could have a cup of everything!" says the head Racoon. I don't think that's a good thing to be promoting. In fact, rather than writing a song, what you've done is write the theme song to a jaunty Scouse sitcom from the 1980s written by Carla Lane. I think the Grandad would have bad eyesight, and live in the lof...er...don't mind me, the song has finished now...

7. Ali B - Leipe Mocro Flavour
EO: 7, SN: 7, AG: 0, MJ: 2, JP: 3, IM: 7, KS: 7, GD: 3, SS: 9
ADJUSTED SCORE: 5

GD:
Ooo. Dutch Rap. I see it's moved on a little bit since the days of DJ Sven & MC Miker G's seminal "Holiday Rap". But not by very much.
JP: This guy appears to be the Dutch Kenzie.
KS: Dutch hiphop (esp. 'Nederhop', the Dutch-langauge variety) has gotten better and better in recent years (very much opposed to Dutch rock music in that respect). Ali B's pop take on the genre took some time to win me over, but this is pretty classy.
SS: I like Dutch Hip-Hop, strange as it may sound I think the language really fits this kind of music. And this is a real fun song, catchy and the melody flows really good, real summery Eurorap tune!
EO: This isn't bad, nicely bubble-gum backing, but Ali B doesn't have the sense of playfulness in his flow to pull it off. Also, he does that annoying voice thing Eminem does when he tries to make one of his heavy-handed lines seem funnier than it is.
IM: The way it almost sounds comprehensible but not quite, even the way it sounds much phlegmier than English; all are kind of neat. But the real appeal is universal; I’m a sucker for quasi-reggae piano and neat sliding synth beeps.
SS: Maybe it because I don't understand what they're singing about, but I'd take this anyday over recent shit than 50 Cent or Lil' Jon bullshit.
JP: It's typical European rap ie. sounds like American rap from 5 years ago (perhaps early Eminem) with even less comprehensible lyrics. It is quite bouncy though.
MJ: When you don't speak the language, it's hard to make a judgment about some hip-hop tracks. This could be "Fuck tha Police," or it could be "Ice Ice Baby." I'm leaning toward the latter, despite the decidedly non-Dutch insertions of "muthafucker."
SN: I think I like foreign rap music because I really have no clue what's going on. This one is particularly good because it has one of those Chingrish titles I love so much, with a familiar word seemingly thrown in for the hell of it. Super fun happy joy!
AG: Oddly, this week Gloria Jeans have started seeing Leipe Mocro Flavour coffee with cream and sprinkles. The girl behind the counter who sold me it said, quote, "yo bitch! Roll with the coffee! Bitchin! Wicked! Fly girl in full effex!", to which I said "why are you sounding like the Dutch Joel Turner and the Modern Day Poets?" but she just handed me my coffee, which was crap, tasted funny, and made me want to be a bogan. I went back to Vanilla Ninja flavour the next day, to be safe. (For the benefit of non-Australians, Joel Turner and the Modern Day Poets are the worst thing to happen to music ever - EO)
GD: This is flat, lifeless, and monotonous throughout, like some
of the worst rap from the 80s. Although he does get bonus points for
giving me the first laugh of the top 10 for rhyming Microfoon with the quaint Dutch town of Bergen op Zoom.

8. Dr Kucho - Can't Stop Playing
EO: 3, SN: 3, AG: 2, MJ: 3, JP: 0, IM: 6, KS: 5, GD: 5, MT: 6, SS: 8
ADJUSTED SCORE: 4

JP:
This is SO rubbish! I think Holland is one country where dance/club music is (in general) even more rubbish than the UK.
KS: Nothing to see here people, move along.
MT: A nice funky beat, which sounds a little bit dated, yes, that doesn't make it any less fun. Not a huge lot of fun, but a bit.
AG: Video clip with an amusing comedy dog, I suspect.
SN: I put it to you that this man...drumroll please...isn't even a real doctor!
AG: Unlike Dr Alban, who is a real dentist.
GD: Certainly wouldn't get me running onto the dancefloor but wouldn't have me fleeing to the bar either. A little bit repetitive, but that's par for the course with this sort of thing.
SS: Am I the only one who thinks it's actually "Disco's Revenge" by Gusto under a different beat? well I know it isn't but it reminds me of it.
IM: A fine example of the form, albeit one haunted by the sneaking suspicion that its place on the charts could be filled by a multitude of other songs.
EO: You know those bits that are like the bits between exciting, fun bits in dance singles? This song is nothing but those boring parts of dance singles laid end to end.
AG: Who says dance music is dead! Not the Dutch! Crazy cats! Pass the glowstick!
SN: Doesn't he know that it'll fall off if you don't stop playing?

9. Joss Stone - Spoiled
EO: 0, SN: 7, AG: 0, MJ: 4, JP: 2, IM: 2, KS: 4, GD: 5, MT: 2, SS: 0
ADJUSTED SCORE: 2

EO:
I hate her so much it defies rational explanation. Even the fact that she slaughtered the sacred cow that is The White Stripes can't make me like her.
GD: The fact that my main memory of seeing her Glastonbury is that she was taller than I imagined she would be rather than the music says it all really. Waste of a good voice.
JP: We all know Joss is annoying and overrated, so is she wise to admit to being spoiled as well?
AG: Joss, mate, you don't make songs, you make mood music. You are played in bad restaurants by people trying to set "the mood" so you don't notice your hit on the bread, or "sensitive" blokes trying to cop a feel. Your role in life was taken once by Macy Gray. Have you considered a Dr Kucho remix?
IM: I know her voice is supposed to be all amazing and faux-authentic and shit, but to me it just sounds like a slightly huskier Amanda Marshall. And no disrespect to Marshall, but the only difference between her and Stone’s respective brands of pop is that Stone is that much more in hock to the past. This is not a good thing.
MT: I really don't know that much about english soul, but I'd love to and i'm sure it's something that's not far away in the queue of things I owe to myself. I've always been curious, since the first time I felt there had to be a connection between Dusty Springfield and Siobhan Donaghy, a feeling of loneliness and resignation that comes from accepting that, by singing an afro-american music style when they certainly weren't neither afro nor american, they could only become exiles in their own land.Well, spoiled or not, there's just nothing of it in Joss.

10. Kus - Lekker Ding
EO: 9, SN: 5, AG: 7, MJ: 6, JP: 7, IM: 8, KS: 9, GD: 8, SS: 9
ADJUSTED SCORE: 8

GD:
It has a sauciness that almost seems English is its faux-coyness, and is great fun for it. I suspect no self-respecting 9 year old Dutch girl is complete without having having this as their ringtone this week, and I suspect playgrounds across Holland are a happier place for it.
IM: Every so often you hear a sound in a song that makes you want to type in all-caps “MY GOD I LOVE THAT SOUND”. The synth stabs that start off “Lekker Ding” (or as I think of it now, “La La Lekker”) qualify. See what I did there?
EO: Bold, joyous, brassy and infectious, if a bit empty. Not that it matters a whit.
AG: There's a vague Diana Ross in the 80s thing going on here, I don't know if anyone thought that. And the tiniest Mama Mia debt.
SN: This started off with such promise. Tambourine jingles, squidgy synthesiser noises, an appropriately wacky name, a rather good-natured Motown feel, and then...nothing.
IM: Kus are some sort of Dutch girl group that could be their analogue for anything from Girls Aloud to... I don’t know, Phil Collins or something, but on this basis I’d place them closer to Girls Aloud.
AG: It's OK, but by the standards of the Dutch charts this week, it's a veritable "No Good Advice".
SS: If not for the heavy Dutch accent I would have thought this is another Swedish pop treat, it is a treat though!
KS: One of these songs that bring out the sun. Almost perfect execution of all elements needed for this kind of mid-tempo euro-pop to be good. Little extras are the helium-pitched voice toward the end and the lovely lyrics about the best friend's brother turning out to be HOT.
JP: The "la la lekker" sounds like it should be from an advert, although I don't even want to speculate what it might be advertising.
SS: A quick lesson in Hebrew : Kus (כוס) is the Hebrew word in slang to the female genitals.
MJ: Did you know that in some states here in the southern U.S., it's illegal to get your ding lekkered?
IM: It’s a great song, and not just for that sound (oh, and smut fans: the title translates to “Nice Thing”).
GD: A rather frothy little pop number, where they sing
about giving their best friend's little brother his first kiss at a
party (Kus = Kiss; Lekker Ding = A Hottie).
JP: It's a nice little pop song which would have done well in Eurovision, especially since the chorus really wants to be Mamma Mia.
MJ: I like the Casio-sounding synths here, and the lead singer hits some lovely sweet notes on the build-up to the chorus. The bridge is a little too short, and I wish the guitar-esque effects got dropped into the mix sooner, but i's hard to dislike this track. It makes me think of the Cheeky Girls--you know, from their "difficult, mature, and confessional" second album in some parallel universe.

And, despite the general mediocrity - resulting in a low low score of 44 for The Netherlands, Kus have scored 8 and as such are worthy of being posted. You are probably going to sit there and think "ARGH! What does that la la lekker bit sound like?". Well, I know, and I'm not going to tell you. Unless you ask really nicely.

Kus - Lekker Ding

6 Comments:

At 4:20 AM, Blogger Alyson with a Y said...

Oi! National Bank reader! Get back to work! Stop piss farting about!

I think it's also important to note, I may yet write that Scouse sitcom...

 
At 8:21 AM, Blogger migueltt said...

I made that horrible joke about generic dad rock...well I know it stinks, and I had written some kind of explanation that made me look not that stupid, but I fucked up the email I sent to Edward and it didn't appear. Anyway, the point was that it was a terrible joke, probably the worst you'll ever see, a potential antidote to the one Monty Python's Scribble created, but the fact that such a lame joke was inspired by that song pretty much said what a horrible tune it is. It's so bad it makes you want to quit listening to music. Or maybe just quit listening to anything.

 
At 7:40 PM, Blogger Edward O said...

It wasn't that bad a joke, and due to the verbosity of everyone this week, I savaged nearly everyone's ballots.

Next country to go out is Norway. Readers, if you would like to participate, please send me an email: enthusiastic at iprimus dot com dot au.

 
At 10:44 PM, Blogger Ian said...

I could have sworn I gave Kus a 9...

 
At 1:39 AM, Blogger Edward O said...

Ah, crap, you did. It doesn't affect the final score, though, so I won't get in any great hurry to fix it.

 
At 12:47 PM, Blogger Ludo said...

lovely read. :)

The Lekker Ding song has a hilarious videoclip, it's a total replica of a Britney video. (I forgot which song)

 

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