The Netherlands’ Eurovision 2012 Entry

Let me preface this post with a reminder of how the Netherlands solicited entries for this year’s selection: by dropping sheet music, demo tapes, or whatever else into a ginormous Dutch box. Anything goes. Can’t say I envy the poor schmuck at TROS who had to wade through that, especially when you consider what they were left with.

The 2012 Nationaal Songfestival was set up as a series of 3 head-to-head competitions:

1) Stalker song versus Stale ballad with the “Running Scared” shower (result=FAIL);
2) Dutch Cher in Native American headdress versus Woman in underwear asking for chocolate (hint: one of these is your winner);
3) Beauty pageant contestant versus Hootie covering Kenny Rogers (battle of the feel goods).

The second round pitted Pearl (AKA stale ballad) against Joan Franka (AKA Pocahontas) against Ivan (AKA Darius Rucker). Personally, I would have chosen Ivan.  But 52% of Dutch televoters went for 21-year-old Joan Franka, so in the end we were left with “You and Me.”

“You and Me” is a bouncy little tune that evokes ’70s folk pop like B.J. Thomas.  In Eurovision speak it reminds us of Rollo and King or Sjonni’s Friends. Pleasant but uninteresting. Why the headdress and fire circle, I have no clue.  It has no bearing on the song.  In the United States, this blatant appropriation of Native American tradition is considered taboo.  So for us, it offends rather than serves as a gimmick.   We don’t use the word “Indian” anymore either.  Not sure all of this is quite as problematic for a European audience, but we gather from the fan reaction and from parsing the judges’ comments it was a distraction.

The last time the Netherlands made the Eurovision finals was 2004.  I don’t see “You and Me” changing that, but if they want to win over folks like us they could start by re-imagining the staging.

5 thoughts on “The Netherlands’ Eurovision 2012 Entry”

  1. Actually, “American Indian” is really o.k. these days, say some of the inter-tribal groups. Others still prefer Native American.

    But the outfit is way, way unacceptable, but she probably doesn’t realize it.

    1. Fair point, after all, there is a Smithsonian “National Museum of the American Indian”. 🙂 I have seen some folks on Eurovision forums talking about it as “Indian”, and that still raises hackles with me.

      She’s only 21 years old. She may well have just been riffing on 70s Cher–wonder how many folks know that Cher has Native American heritage?

  2. the reason for wearing the (fantasy on a) native-american outfit is the fact that she is singing of her childhood memories; part of these memories for her is how she used to play (cowboys and) indians
    so she is wearing a childrens costume, the way it would have looked like when she was a child. is this wrong? there is no moral stand (or even awereness haha) involved.

    1. Hi Eric, thanks for the comment! Is it wrong? Well…let me respond this way. I’m a mom of a 3-year-old. He has a dress up box so we can play pretend. In it we have fake glasses, scarves, masks. There is also a hat and headband for cowboys and indians. Every time we pull those two items out, Chris and I look at each other and put them back in the box with a feeling of discomfort about the message it sends our child. We haven’t thrown them away, mind, but we do put them back in the box. Was it ok to dress up like an indian 30 years ago? Yes. But these days I don’t feel like it’s right for me to run around in a feather headdress. Times are different.

  3. OMG why can she wear what she wants to wear? I think her song is the dark horse and the best till date. Best dutch entry in years. No I am not dutch but i am not full of hate either. Shame on you.

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