When I was a kid, listening to Dutch music did not make you the most popular kid in class. There have always been popular Dutch artists, but pop music was mostly sung in English. When I look at the current Spotify chart positions in the Netherlands, and also at my own playlist, it seems like tables have turned. From Antoon to S10, our native language is ruling in our popular music. How did our native language become so popular again? And who should you listen to?
The Popularity of the Dutch Language
The Dutch language has always been represented in music. However, it used to be mostly folk singers and cabaret artists who made music singing in Dutch. The holy grail of our pop music has been English for a long time.
That has changed in the past few years. A lot of our Dutch artists are singing in their native language. Pop music, rap, in every genre rule some Dutch artists and songs. Listening to Dutch music doesn’t mean you listen to one of the few anymore; there are many artists and genres to choose from. How is this possible?
One of the reasons that Dutch music is so popular again, is the changing music industry. To fight for your song on the radio you used to have to convince the radio directly. This made artists adjust their music to the type of music the radio was playing already. Nowadays, you can reach your own audience. With Spotify, YouTube and other social media channels you can play your own game. This way, some artists gained so much popularity that they reached the radio later on. Having the radio play some popular Dutch songs has made it easier for other people to make music in Dutch too. The field has been more broad, which also made Dutch artists able to learn from each other. It showed new artists that there does not only exist one type of Dutch singing artist. You can play around with it. The Dutch language can fit in every genre, in many ways. This made the current variety of Dutch music possible.
Another reason for the popularity of the Dutch language in music is strangely the popularity of English in music. The increase of artists singing in Dutch might partly be a counter reaction to our music being overruled by English.
Why Would Artists Sing in Dutch?
With all the possibilities of releasing your music on Spotify, to a broad international audience, why are so many artists singing in Dutch?
Which words do you use? What do you want to say directly, which parts of the song should be more cryptical? Choices like this are easier when you write in a language that comes naturally to you. It can stay close to the artists themselves.
For most artists the answer is simple. You lose something in translation. In your native language, it is easier to play with your lyrics. Which words do you use? What do you want to say directly, which parts of the song should be more cryptical? Choices like this are easier when you write in a language that comes naturally to you. It can stay close to the artists themselves. There is nothing standing in the way of saying exactly what you want to say.
My Favorite Dutch Singing Artists
With so many different Dutch singing artists, who should you listen to? Time to rank down a few of my favorite Dutch artists. Here are my four tips:
This pop group from The Hague is a must-listen if you want to explore Dutch music. Electronic sounds and mostly happy tunes. Their last album was called Betaalbare Romantiek, which translates to Affordable Romance, which I personally really like. Nightlife and romance are some topics that their songs and lyrics are full of. However, they also showed themselves from a more activist side when they made a song together with Sophie Straat about voting for women during the Dutch elections. Over the last few years this pop group has gained a lot of popularity in The Netherlands.
Even if you are not Dutch, there is a chance you have heard of this artist. S10 is our Dutch Eurovision contestant of this year. In her singing, rap and spoken word this 21-year-old artist shares her personal stories. Her battles with mental health create a foundation for this artist. But she sings about much more. Her unique voice, beautiful themes in her songs, collaborations with rappers and singers and electric sounds make her work worth listening to. Her albums and single releases have been on repeat in my headphones for the last few months. And with her Eurovision entry, she will be bringing the Dutch language in music to a European audience too.
A singer-songwriter mostly known for her amazingly written lyrics. The 20-year-old Froukje is a Dutch artist who has quickly made her way into the music industry the last couple of years. Catchy tunes about big and small topics. From the climate crisis to wanting to dance. Froukje sings about it all, and every song is written with outstanding lyrics. One of my favorite lyrics is ‘I’m in the cupboard, I wanted to see if it fit and it fits, I’m delirious, oh they must feel how happy I am to be with them’. Throw her songs through Google Translate to get a sense of the wonderful topics and put her songs on repeat.
Making hip-hop and classical music clash in his songs is a goal of Sor. This rapper has found himself to be looking up to Beethoven, since he suffers from hearing loss too. Sor has found a way to keep making music with this big challenge. His talent for classical music has been shown when he entered a television program where he needed to conduct an orchestra as best as possible. He won the program competing against other Dutch celebrities. In his new music, he is not only rapping but classical music has made its way to his music too. Combining different worlds of music. This unique artist must be in your playlist.