As The Netherlands isn’t really the biggest of places, it seems fitting that the large majority of the hottest Dutch acts sing in English. Targeting pan-European success as much as domestic, Holland’s output may not be at the cutting edge of the musical scene, preferring nostalgia over trailblazing.
That’s not particularly a negative though when some of their reminiscing is as good as the artists below.
Many great bands have been built on a fraternal bond. Oasis, Van Halen and Radiohead all have a pair of brothers at the heart, and Dutch pop rockers Go Back To The Zoo are no different.
Brothers Cas and Teun Hieltjes were inspired at a young age when their grandmother of all people gave them a Guns N’ Roses tape. Having later roped in school friend Bram and after finding eventual bassist Lars in the que for tickets to The Strokes, the band was born.
It should come as no surpise then to find that the Nijmegen based quartet possess a sound a kin to a Strokes/Dandy Warhols crossover. Go Back To The Zoo are a fantastic throwback to pop rock of the 90s.
Having had their release beam me up picked up by Nike was a huge early boost to the band, them a lucrative deal with Universal. Now on their second album Shake a Wave, Go Back To The Zoo are the ideal antidote to anyone suffering from a withdrawal of distortion fuelled, Britpop reminiscent rock.
Some families just seem to be musically gifted. Eva Simons can claim to be from one, with a pianist father, vocalist mother and a grandfather so good on the accordion he has his own statue in Amsterdam. Good thing she’s got enough in the tank to keep the tradition alive then.
Originally a part of girl group Raffish in Holland until they split up in 2006, Eva went experimenting for a couple of years before finding her own style, cutting edge electronica.
Having found internet fame after an uploaded confused her song Silly Boy for a Rihanna/Lady Gaga duet, she’s been working with some of the electronic scene’s biggest names, with collaberations with both Afrojack and Will.I.Am over the last year.
Having released singles Renegade and I Don’t Like You since then, Eva’s sound is on the crest of the dubstep wave, mixing elements from the love-it-or-hate-it genre with her fantastic vocal.
With her debut album set to launch later this year, excitement about Eva is rapidly growing. With a sound as loud, lewd and distinctive as her giant, flaming Mohawk, there’s plenty of reasons why she could make a massive impact on the EDM scene.
One of Holland’s most established stars, the diminutive singer VanVelzen oozes star quality. Always unapologetically cheery, VanVelzen’s proclivity towards hoping back onto his trademark piano leads to him having a nicely Bublé-esque lean to a lot of his pop.
With a voice not too unlike the Canadian crooner (perhaps not quite as smooth, but a little rawer), VanVelzan’s a talent that’s far too engaging to let slide by. While he’s still trying to emulate the success of his debut album Unwind, that entered the charts at number one and stuck around for more than a year, VanVelzen’s latest album is a cracking slice of modern pop.
VanVelzen’s been rather busier with his TV commitments too of late, with him being one of the mentors and judges on talent show The Voice of Holland. VanVelzen himself actually invented the show’s key gimmick; that all the auditions are done blind.
That he’s achieved so much while still being below five feet tall seems a valid argument for the show’s crux after all.
Our last entry for The Netherlands is someone you might already be familiar with.
Caro Emerald came to prominence with the song ‘A Night Like This’, a big, swoon inducing jazz ballad that got her on radios nationwide and enough interest to send her album Deleted Scenes From The Cutting Room Floor to number four in the UK charts and into the top ten in Switzerland, Austria, Germany and Poland as well as Holland.
It was here that she enjoyed her biggest success, with her album topping the charts for a staggering 27 weeks straight, setting a new Dutch record after beating Michael Jackson’s Thriller by a week. Just to rub it in, the album was then re-released and broke the thrity week mark.
The recipe for her success is simple though, she is a real jazz talent in a market starved of a great, new, jazz artist. Sounding like it could have been scooped out of a 1950s big band club, there’s something incredibly cinematic and silky smooth in Emerald’s voice. A smoky, seedy prohibition speakeasy in audio form, Deleted Scenes From The Cutting Room Floor is a wonderful throwback.
How she follows up this multi-platinum winning debut is an extremely intriguing prospect.
Think we’ve missed off someone too important on our whistle stop tour of The Netherlands? Let us know in the comments.
FemaleFirst Cameron Smith