The views I present in this review of Jeangu Macrooy’s song for Europe do not necessarily represent those of my employers. They definitely don’t represent those of a certain ex-president.
There is something infinitely bad-ass about Jeangu taking his second opportunity to represent The Netherlands at Eurovision with a song that turns the history of the Dutch colonization of Suriname into an empowering anthem.
Frustratingly, but not unexpectedly, a song called “Birth of a New Age” has gotten some jack-assed Old Age commentary from people who should know better than to “accidentally” mishear the non-English lyrics and from other people clinging to an idea of history that focuses on some sense of national identity based on past “glory” rooted entirely on conquest and/or exploitation.
On the other hand, part of the new age we are beginning to live in involves artists like Jeangu confronting history and listeners facing that history without getting defensive, then spreading their understanding to the next generation of people who are one further step removed from the old way of thinking.
It takes more than a song to end years of prejudicial thinking, and trust me, it’s easy to get complacent when you see your country take strides towards a more equal and just society only to completely reverse course and install into power someone who openly wants to preserve class, gender, and racial divisions. The old ways do not get swept away that easily, because decades of defensiveness and self-righteous anger don’t just melt away on Inauguration Day.
Listening to “Birth of a New Age” again the day after gawking at Belarus’s agitprop just reminds me that progress has been slow and painful. And I am one of the many people who is tired of that. We live in an age where we can accelerate progress and, frankly, we need to as the old guard resorts to historical tactics to hinder it.
“Birth of a New Age” is a gorgeous song, sparse yet lush, pulsating and progressive. It is unflinching and celebratory. And it is absolutely the right song for The Netherlands to present to the world at Eurovision this year.
(Also, let me just call myself out for being a bit hypocritical: I am someone who has engaged in a bit of “accidental” mishearing of non-English lyrics. I’m not proud of myself, but I am happy to have moved on from that. Between this and Jendrik’s song, I feel like I am developing into an empathetic human being.)