Expat Republic is here to help you brush up on the Dutch you already know and to help you push through that taal-plafond to the next level. We’ve researched some awesome pop songs, (and one or two awful ones) to help you drill Nederlands into your subconscious. Music opens the mind and these handpicked songs to help you learn Dutch will also reveal another side of the local culture.
To find the best songs we enlisted the help and support of our Expat Republic community on Facebook. We asked, ‘What are your favorite Dutch Songs?’ and the response was huge and varied. Many of you enjoyed more traditional Andre Hazes-style music to help learn the language through authentic exposure. Others suggested more modern Dutch Pop like De Jeugd van Tegenwoordig and quite a lot of you pushed for trashy feel-good holiday pop music. The sort that is designed to imprint itself on the grey matter of your brain cells for life – (so bad it’s good). We have selected our top 5 below, and for the full listing head on over to our Facebook page and join the conversation there.
The 5 Songs to Help You Learn Dutch:
1. Het BBQ Lied by Kees Diks
Let’s start with a holiday tune that is as much annoying as it is enjoyable, Het BBQ Lied – (The BBQ song). It strikes that special chord in the back of our minds where we can fall in love with it but also acknowledge that it’s borderline trashy. The core pun of this tune is conjugating the word BBQ – BBQ, Bar biq me, bar biq everybody – and then we hear in Dutch, all the useful phrases you could use at a BBQ. The singer is like a cool dad that has a certain charisma. This tune is a bit of harmless fun that will remain firmly imprinted on your soul after one or two listens.
2. Brabant – Guus Meeuwis
This one starts slow and romantic and has a certain familiar tempo that might make you reminisce about old Christmas songs. It is essentially an ode to the beauty and joy of Brabant. After a slow waltz-like start it kicks in with some folk-style brass band and piano accordion melodies. The Dutch is clean, crisp, clear and you could pick up some nice vocabulary.
3. Toppertje – Guillermo and Tropical Danny
Another holiday vibe summer tune. This song to help you learn Dutch is perhaps for a younger audience than Het BBQ Lied. It refers to Bacardi Breezers and Double Whiskeys while celebrating beautiful women and the freedom to dance, jump and be free. Toppertje is essential holiday vocab for all! It also has that unique quality of being a bit trashy and charming.
4. Kleine Jongen – Andre Hazes
How did we get this far without mentioning the legendary Andre Hazes? An accomplished Levenslied (life songs) singer, the late Andre Hazes has captured the spirit of his generation. Bloed, Zweet & Tranen is a biographic movie that details his journey from meager and difficult beginnings to success as a singer somewhat tainted by his fondness for drinking. This song, Kleine Jongen, is a slow letter of love to his son and warns his child of the surprise’s life might have in store for him.
5. Get Spanish – De Jeugd Van Tegenwoordig
This one is a funny choice as it mixes Dutch, Spanish, and a splash of English into its lyrics. On reflection, this is probably the most useful and most difficult one to brush up on your language skills. Most Dutch people do have a good handle on Spanish and will mix up their Spanish, English, and Dutch on vacation. About the group, De Jeugd Van Tegenwoordig – the youth of today – are a very popular band and have some excellent tunes. Get Spanish is not their finest work. When you have drained it for vocab, we recommend checking out Sterrenstof.
The Final Bar
In researching Songs to help you learn Dutch we tapped into a rich resource of never-ending song suggestions. The five listed above are the tip of the ijsberg. We didn’t have time to get deeper into music with suggestions like ‘Geef mij maar Amsterdam’ by Johnny Jordaan or ‘Ze Huilt Maar ze Lacht’ by Maan or ‘Niets Tussen’ by Frouke and many, many more. If you have some suggestions for songs that you think deserve to be on the list, please share your thoughts on our Facebook post. For those of you who prefer learning Dutch with a teacher, we recommend Talencoach who offers a super fun Dutch Brainwash service to improve your Nederlands.
As a final musical kiss farewell here is a much-loved children’s tune that has made its way onto Sesame Street, Dikkertje Dap.
Written by Joseph Kearney