Tuesday 20 April 2021

10 Dutch songs everyone should be able to sing along to

Blood, sweat and tears, 15 million people, flowery curtains and nights like you only see in films… the Dutch have a huge catalogue of singalong songs. Here’s a selection of classics to help you breeze through your inburgeringsexam and earn the awed respect of your Dutch friends.

1 Lang zal ze leven

No birthday party is complete without this song and it is one that you must try to master, especially if you have children. It’s very simple.

Lang zal ze leven, lang zal ze leven
Lang zal ze leven in de gloria, in de gloria, in de gloria
Hieperdepiep hoera! (x3)

(Translation, Long may he/she live, in glory)

That’s it! Tiresome additions such as Zij leve hoog/Honderd jaren leven are not compulsory and can be ignored.

2 Wilhelmus

This is the Dutch national anthem and if you are going to sing along, do what the national football team and everybody else does and only sing the first two lines:

Wilhelmus van Nassaue
Ben ik van Duitsen bloed
Mumble, mumble, la la la etc.

Duitsen meant Dutch, not German, in the 16th and 17th century in case you’re wondering.

3 Bloed, zweet en tranen

One of the last songs (2002) recorded by the late, great André Hazes. It is also one of his best. Like most of his songs it has the odd grammatical wobble but who cares. Here’s the chorus. Lighters at the ready!

Met bloed zweet en tranen
Zei ik rot hier nu maar op
Met bloed zweet en tranen
Zei ik vrienden dag vrienden
De koek is op.

(With blood, sweat and tears, I said sod off out of here. With blood, sweat and tears, I said well friends, it’s goodbye friends, there’s no more pickings left for you).

4 Dinge-dong

The list wouldn’t be complete without a Eurovision song and this one actually won for the Netherlands in 1975… in English. But the band, Teach In, also recorded it in Dutch. Here’s a snippet featuring long-term memory loss and daft dinge-dongs and bim-bam-boms.

Is ‘t lang geleden? Is ‘t lang geleden?
Dat mijn hart je riep met z’n ding-dinge-dong?
Is ‘t lang geleden? Is ‘t lang geleden?
In de zomer zon ging het bim-bam-bom

The lyrics are no better in Dutch than they were in English: Is it long ago? Is it long ago? That my heart called you with its dinge-dinge-dong. Is it long ago? Is it long ago? In the summer sun it went bim-bam-bom.

5 Bloemetjesgordijn

More daftness, of the Carnaval kind. Every year a carnavalskraker hits the charts. This one is a classic from 1972.

Weet je wat ik wel zou willen zijn?
Een bloemetjesgordijn, een bloemetjesgordijn.
Van het plafond tot op het raamkozijn:
Een bloemetjesgordijn, een bloemetjesgordijn
En alle dagen hangen lekker in het zonnelicht
Met bloemen op m’n hele lijf en ook op m’n gezicht.

(Do you know what I would like to be? A flowery curtain, a flowery curtain. From the ceiling to the window sill. A flowery curtain, a flowery curtain. Hanging in the sunshine all day long. With flowers all over my body and my face.) What can we say?

6 Zing, vecht, huil, bid, lach, werk en bewonder

Sing, fight, cry, pray, laugh, work and admire. This a good one for practising your verbs. The song, from 1971, is sung by Ramses Shaffy who had many wonderful hits in Dutch. The refrain is the title so all you have to do is get the verbs in the right order and you’re away.

7 Het is een nacht

The chorus of this one is usually sung completely by the audience, giving singer Guus Meeuwis a well-deserved break. It was his first single and became a big hit in 1995 (and drove lots of people crazy). Here’s the chorus so you can join in:

Het is een nacht
Die je normaal alleen in films ziet
Het is een nacht die wordt bezongen in het mooiste lied
Het is een nacht waarvan ik dacht dat ik hem nooit beleven zou
Maar vannacht beleef ik hem met jou (oh)

Translation: It’s a night you only see in films. A night that people sing about. It’s a night I didn’t think I’d ever have. But tonight it’s you and me (oh).

Note that films in the third line is pronounced fillems.

8 Een muis in een molen in oud Amsterdam

Chances are you know this one in English. This is the original version sung by entertainer Rudi Carrell in 1965.

Ik zag een muis. Waar?
Daar op de trap. Waar op de trap?
Nou daar! Een kleine muis op klompjes
Nee, ‘t is geen grap, ‘t ging van klipklappiedieklap op de trap
Oh ja.

9 15 miljoen mensen

A song originally made to persuade all those wonderfully anarchic Dutch people to use the Postbank (which has since merged with ING bank), it became so popular it went to number 1 in 1996. There are, of course, now nearly 17 million people in the Netherlands, but the sentiment (and it is full of sentiment) holds true. Note: the new ING adverts have dropped the anarchy and replaced it with full-blooded orange nationalism.

15 miljoen mensen
Op dat hele kleine stukje aarde
Die schrijf je niet de wetten voor
Die laat je in hun waarde
15 miljoen mensen
Op een hele kleine stukje aarde
Die moeten niet ‘t keurslijf in
Die laat je in hun waarde

So arms in the air and start singing: 15 million people, on a tiny patch of land. You don’t tell them what to do. You respect them for what they are. 15 million people, on a tiny patch of land. You don’t try to put them in a straitjacket. You respect them for what they are.

10 Aan de Amsterdamse grachten

This 1949 declaration of love to the murky but undoubtedly very beautiful canals of Amsterdam sung by comedian Wim Zonneveld is another Dutch favourite, and singing it while standing on a bridge (in the capital of course, not just any old bridge) will gain you the admiration of many.

Aan de Amsterdamse Grachten
heb ik heel m’n hart voor altijd verpand
Amsterdam vult mijn gedachten
als de mooiste stad in ons land
Al die Amsterdamse mensen
al die lichtjes ‘s avonds laat op ‘t plein
niemand kan zich beter wensen
dan een Amsterdammer te zijn

To the canals of Amsterdam
I have pledged my heart forever
Amsterdam fills my thoughts
As the most beautiful city in our country
All those Amsterdam people
All those lights late at night on the square
No one could wish for more
Than to be an Amsterdammer

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