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Archive for April, 2012
24 Apr

Ik hou echt van Marco Borsato!

No, auto-correct did not screw up the post title. It is Dutch – a language I’ve heard quite a bit through friends I have vacationed with over the past couple of years. I’ve been to the Netherlands (many, many years ago) and have gotten to know the culture a bit through my Dutch friends, but being a music person I realized that I never really explored any type of music from Dutch artists. With a vacation looming with the Dutchies, I thought it might be interesting to explore some Dutch popular music and maybe surprise them with what I’ve learned – or better yet, just start playing it on the iPad and see if they notice it…

I found some data from the Dutch pop charts that pointed towards the most popular artists. In addition to other worldwide artists like the Beatles or Madonna, there were several superstars that are basically just based in the Netherlands. From the list I took a listen to some of the past and current artists. I have to say, well, I wasn’t impressed. It seems popular Dutch music, or Nederpop as it was called in the 60’s and 70’s for Dutch-language pop, is quite folky and bouncy – much like the German schlager music (the Dutch equivalent is levenslied). I think a good example of this was a worldwide hit for the George Baker Selection – who are from the Netherlands – and the song “Paloma Blanca.”  It’s very oom-pa-pa-ish. And even in some of today’s Dutch stars this still runs through their music. I’m not a fan of this style so I was not connecting with anything.

I tried Jan Smit, who is very schlagery. Andre Hazes, who is a bit better and kind of country-ish. Then an earlier hit group called BZN (who, discovered Jan Smit). Still, that schalger was all over the place. Another comparison might be through ABBA. Some of their songs, especially earlier hits like “Waterloo,” border on schlager but lean more towards what we know as mainstream pop. But none of these folks were ABBA. Some of their rock bands like D.A.D. are better, but they typically sing in English and therefore have potential for a wider world audience. I really wanted to find a Dutch artist that I could get into. Then, I came across Marco Borsato.

Marco Borsato is the number one Dutch artist in the Netherlands. In pop chart accomplishments he is only second to the Beatles in most #1 hits, most weeks at #1, and most weeks at #1 within a year. Where he actually tops the Beatles (and everyone else) is that he has the biggest #1 single of all time. His song “Dromen Zijn Bedrog” was #1 for 12 weeks. Plus, another #1 hit of his is tied in second at 11 weeks, “Rood.”  He has had 14 #1 hits all together from 1994-2011. By comparison, the Beatles had a 16. No other artists come close to this record. Therefore, I had to take a listen. And I was really pleased.

I think the difference is that Borsato’s music, although in Dutch, has a more worldwide pop sound. Several of his songs you could easily translate to English and hear them on the radio in the States or elsewhere. Only a minor few of his songs tend toward the home-style levelslied, and even then it sounds more updated and less folky. There were songs that only after a listen or two stuck in my head. I figured I needed to get a collection of his songs and on his website he recently released “#1,” a hits collection of 32 songs. Perfect! It was a bit of a bear getting it downloaded as I had to figure it all out in Dutch and pay via PayPal, but I got it. And I’m glad I did. I’ve been “singing” his songs for a while now, and I have know idea what I’m saying – or even if I’m saying it right! But regardless, I can feel the music and really enjoy it. Some of the words I started to recognized and thought – hey, this may mean such-and-such. I’d look it up and sure enough, I was right! So I must be understanding something. It’s a shame that foreign language songs really never get a change here in the States. There is some really great music out there that should be heard, regardless of the language. I just know I’m glad I discovered Borsato. Now, if I ever get back to the Netherlands, I’ll have to coincide the trip with a concert!

Here are three Borsato songs I’ve really enjoyed. The first, “Binnen,” reminds me of Robbie Williams. The second, “Wit Licht,” is his most rock-oriented outing. And “Dochters” is just a really fine tune. P.S. If you like “Binnen,” then YouTube the live symphonic version – pretty awesome.

 

 

 

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04 Apr

The Forgotten Ones: Merril Bainbridge

I decided to add a new category today called “The Forgotten Ones.” Lately I’ve been listening to some recordings that may or may not have been popular at the time of their release, however these days the songs, albums, and sometimes the artists themselves seem to have been forgotten. Have you ever found yourself listening to a certain recording and thinking “I wonder if I’m the only person in the world listening to this right now.” We all have these forgotten ones in our collection so I thought I might highlight some that are in mine.

First up, Merril Bainbridge. A singer/songwriter from Australia, she hit here in the States in 1996 with the cheeky tune “Mouth,” which hit number four on the Billboard chart and was a certified gold single. Although the song was bouncy and fun, other songs on her disc “The Garden” were superior and not as cutesy as “Mouth.” The opening track “Garden in My Room” sets the tone with a dark, sensual sound. From the more rock-leaning “Sleeping Dogs” to a acoustic take on Pet Shop Boys “Being Boring,” the disc is full of surprises you wouldn’t expect after hearing the initial hit.

Bainbridge released one more album in 1998 called “Between the Days,” which failed to do anything. Although a solid disc, it just wasn’t in the same league as “The Garden.” I think it is a special album and one that I always seem to listen to on a warm spring day. If I have this playing with others around, I’m usually asked who it is because they really dig it, so that always a good test for quality music.

She attempted a comeback in 2003, but it never really came to fruition. It seems these days she is writing songs for other Australian pop artists, which is not a bad gig at all. It is unfortunate that “Mouth” is all she is really known for because she offered so much more. It’s spring now and I just listed to this disc. I suggest checking her out and seeing if “The Garden” can fit in your spring rotation.

 

 

Categories: Music, The Forgotten Ones Tags: