It is that time of year, that the mind-set of people “underneath the rivers” will only be about partying and beer. A time of bad dancing, bad music, and so-called “polonaises”;
A time of drinking, yelling, and no shame at all. The time we call Carnaval!
[ Feest! - Lamme Frans, 2017 ]
Because tomorrow Carnaval is about to hit off, I would like to take a moment to tell everyone — also those not into the mixture of shame and shamelessness — that Carnaval is actually a big cultural event, especially in the south of the Netherlands. As someone from North-Brabant I feel somewhat obligated to tell all of you that Carnaval is the best time of the year, and that it beats Christmas and Easter combined, but I am definitely not going to do that.
However, my love/hate relationship with this five-day party basically changes by the year. At first, I liked it, like you would expect from a child, since it is all dressing up and having fun. Then it became boring, simply because my puberty brain could not cope with the shamelessness. But now I know: drink beer, put your arms forward, and make a cow-milking gesture. When making this movement, there is literally nothing that you can do wrong and you’ll blend right in.
Apart from all this dancing and the low complexity of how to celebrate Carnaval, it actually houses hidden treasures of creativity. Of course there is tons of creativity in the many different outfits (I do not mean the policeman, pilot, SWAT, or any other costume that is “daring” or “cool”). Yet even the music, — ‘yes, for real!’ — is full of satirical creativity. Okay, I will try to not be biased, and I agree that ‘jalalala.. Meatball’ might not be a very strong song text. However, there are lots of songs that would tickle the creative part of the brain.
[ La La La Gehaktbal - Evert Baptist, 2015 ]
(Good) Carnaval musicians turn a common trend or popular music into a bearable, satirical song each year. Sure, it seems easy to compose and produce a Carnaval song, but it only goes to show that you have to be more creative in text. In North-Brabant, Kings of Leon’s massive hit Sex on Fire is known as Seks met die Kale [“Sex with that bald guy”] throughout the entire year. Not because the song is completely different, but because it is incredibly catchy.
Another example of excellent trend watching combined with satirical creativity is Het Vleesteam's song Tinder. As you can probably expect, the song is plainly about being single, but being able to swipe potential matches to the right, organise a date, and well, what happens afterwards is something I leave to the reader's imagination. The song's quality lies in its timing: in the year of its release (2014) Tinder became immensely popular, and so did Ke$ha's hit Timber on which it is musically based. The combination of the two made for a simple, but effective Carnaval hit song.
Looking at this year, a new corpus of Carnaval songs has yet been composed. A certain artist always “wins the league” in having produced the biggest hit of the year, a title reserved this year for Tilburg-born Lamme Frans. His name translates into Drunk Frans, which sets the tone for his tracks and performances. Lamme Frans always releases his Carnaval hit a month before the craze starts and the song is always a hit. This year his song De Zuipschuit already has nearly half a million views on YouTube, and it is once again a perfectly portrayed satirical parody on Dutch history.
[ De Zuipschuit - Lamme Frans, 2019 ]
In this way, personally, I am a bit jealous of Carnaval musicians. Every year I say the same thing: 'This year, in September, I am going to check the current trends, will pick a popular song, and I will create my own Carnaval hit song.' Sadly, each year, that does not happen. Yet, that only increases my respect for the people that are seen as the laughing stock of the musical world, but actually house a certain amount of textual creativity that is not always as appreciated as it should be.
Alaaf dear friends, have fun during Carnaval!