A very berry treat for the Netherlands.

I saw these and thought they would fit perfectly for a Dutch treat at a Eurovision Grand Final Party! They are strawberries dipped in a variety of different condiments to provide a rather delicious replica of the Dutch national flag. Very cute and very easy to make as well. Have a look at the recipe below:

White chocolate chips
Blue sugar sprinkles / Edible glitter (for a more camp version, De Toppers style)

1. Wash the strawberries thoroughly and let them dry completely.
2. Melt the white chocolate to a smooth, thin consistency.
3. Place the blue sugar in a bowl and set aside.
4. Dip the strawberries in the white chocolate to cover two thirds of the berry.
5. Next, dip the strawberries in the blue sugar to cover one third.
6. Place the strawberries on wax paper-lined baking sheets & then in the fridge to set.

I hope you enjoy it. Bon Appétit!

Flying the flag high: Eurovision entries scale the iTunes charts.

As the 2012 national finals season for the Eurovision Song Contest approaches its final stages, we can see that plenty of Eurovision entries as well as national final entries enter the iTunes chart in their respective countries. Have a look below:

Perhaps the most surprising is the Netherlands, with the Dutch entry You And I by Joan Franka at # 2 (previously #1 last week). The last time a Dutch entry was a commercial hit on home soil was in 2010 with Sieneke’s Ik Ben Verliefd (Sha-la-lie). I suppose John de Mol deserves some credit in drumming up interest in the Eurovision Song Contest again and for making the entry a commercial hit, thus restoring some credibility to the Contest in the eyes of the Dutch public and media as well creating a bit of pride. That still doesn’t exonerate him from hijacking the Nationaal Songfestival and turning it into a ‘The Voice’ after-show.

Another welcome surprise can be seen in the Spanish iTunes chart, with the country’s newly selected Eurovision entry Quédate Conmigo in at #9. This has never happened before, at least in my recollection, to a Spanish entry. It means that the people are getting behind the song and are very proud of it. I think we can expect some really good viewing figures from Spain this year.

Unsurprisingly, we can see Cyprus’ entry La La Love in the Greek chart at #9. No surprises for guessing where Greece’s douze points are going to.

As usual, Sweden’s Melodifestivalen dominates the iTunes chart in the run up to the Finalen i Globen and we can expect this to continue over the next coming weeks as the Swedes turn their attention to Eurovison Song Contest preparations.

A few entries have fallen off the charts but will most likely appear again as the Contest looms closer. These include Norway’s Stay by Tooji and Italy’s Per Sempre by Nina Zilli, which I suspect may return re-incarnated in its Eurovision form.

I have to say, it’s really great to see countries getting behind their entries and turning them into commercial hits as well as worthy showcases of their country’s music heritage, culture and industry. Goes to prove that the Eurovision Song Contest is more commercially relevant than people are prepared to admit.

Nationaal Songfestival 2012 hijacked!

A few days ago, TROS announced the final candidates to compete in the Nationaal Songfestival. Here they are below:

  1. Tim Douwsa – Undercover Lover
  2. Kim De Boer – Children Of The World
  3. Ivan Peroti – Take Me As I Am
  4. Raffaella – Chocolatte
  5. Joan Franka – You And Me
  6. Pearl Jozefzoon – We Can Overcome

As you can see, five of the six candidates are straight out John de Mol’s own show ‘The Voice Of Holland’, the other is from a TROS show.

What happened to all the other amazing entries sent in? Where is Jeronimo’s Sacrifice? Or Tao Hypah’s Play The Girl? Or Brandi Russell’s Drug Of Oblivion? These are all fantastic songs that should have been awarded a place. We expected a few of de Mol’s acts to make the cut but not have all the slots taken up by them.

At-least we’re not the only ones to think so, as this issue is even being taken up at Dutch parliament by Socialist party MP Jasper van Dijk, who has been quoted as saying “This is a John de Mol party, not a party for everyone”.

It’s a crying shame as The Netherlands had the chance to stage one of the most exciting national finals of the season and have a song that will stand a chance at the Eurovision Song Contest.

The only way TROS can redeem themselves is if all the songs turn out to be amazing. Or else we will know that the whole thing is a rigged, political affair that is grossly unfair to all the other artists and composers who must have spent considerable amount of time preparing their entries.

ASFE chats with… Tao Hypah!

The pop landscape of The Netherlands is about to receive a shake-up with the arrival of an exciting new pop star by the name of Tao Hypah. Dedicated, outspoken and extremely talented, his brand of brash, catchy electro-pop is sure to set tongues wagging and toes tapping. I had the opportunity to chat with the up-and-coming Dutch singer about his music and ofcourse, his bid for the Dutch ticket to the 2012 Eurovision Song Contest. Check out what he had to say!


ASFE:  Hallo Tao! Could you please introduce yourself  to our readers?

Tao:  I’m Tao Hypah 21 years old, born to a Dutch mother and Asian father and raised in Holland. I grew up in a very musical and creative family, which is where my passion for making music comes from. At the moment I’m working with different producers from Vietnam, Germany, England and, of course, Holland.

ASFE:  Tell us something unexpected about yourself! We all have our unexpected quirks, what’s yours?

Tao:  I sleep naked. Not sure if that’s a quirk!

ASFE:  Can you describe what your song ‘Play The Girl’ is all about? What would it mean for you and the song to represent The Netherlands at the Eurovision Song Contest?

Tao:  For me ‘Play The Girl’ is about crossing your own boundaries. The lyrics may sound controversial to some but I know everyone has that moment in life that you just want to flick the switch in your head and let yourself go. That’s the message of ‘Play The Girl’. It’s about being free. It’s actually about what life is about. There are more sides to us than we even realise and they deserve to be put in a song!

To be given the chance to represent The Netherlands in the Eurovision Song Contest would be amazing. Talking about crossing boundaries! I would be very honoured and do my best to deliver a great performance.

ASFE:  ‘Play The Girl’  is one of the favourites to make it to the televised rounds with lots of support from the Eurofans. How does it feel knowing you’ve gathered all this support? Were you expecting it?

Tao:  I had no expectations at all. I just thought it would be a great adventure that I should be a part of, so I decided to give it a go. I’m very happy about and humbled by all the positive reactions. The support I’ve been getting from people who’ve heard the song has already made it all worth while.

ASFE:  We know the Eurovision Song Contest isn’t exactly viewed as the ‘coolest’ in The Netherlands. What do you plan on doing to change this perception?

Tao:  I don’t know if I can change this perception on my own but all I can do is be myself and do what I love most. I do know that Eurovision Song Contest can be a whole lot of fun, so the doubters should just give it a fair chance and enjoy it for what it is – a great, colourful, fun Saturday evening TV show.

ASFE:  What are some of your favorite Eurovision Song Contest entries and moments?

Tao:  I loved the last year’s performance by the Irish twins Jedward! So over the top, supercamp and their song ‘Lipstick’ was really good, really catchy. I thought it deserved to become an international hit. I liked Jedward’s fun factor, not taking themselves too seriously. And, their stage production was really cool!

ASFE:  Over here, we organize massive Eurovision parties on the night of the Grand Final, complete with culinary delicacies from each of the participating countries. Should you go on to represent The Netherlands, can you suggest some of your favorite Dutch dishes that the fans can prepare in your honor?

Tao:  We have really nice cookies called ” Stroopwafels” or,in English, treacle waffles. For those not familiar with this delicacy, it’s a waffle made from two thin layers of baked butter with caramel syrup filling in the middle. I love fish too, so I also recommend a raw dish we call “Haring” fresh herring with onions.

ASFE:  What’s next in store for Tao Hypah? Will we get to hear more music? Is there an album on the way?

Tao:  There is so much going on at the moment. We’re doing a brand new radio edit of ‘Play The Girl’ which I’m very excited about. There’s possibly going to be a video for it too, and I’m currently in the studio recording vocals for 3 new songs, which will be on my album. We’re now talking to several record labels, so I think 2012 will be an exciting year.

ASFE:  And finally, what message would you like to give our readers and the Eurofans?

Tao:  I’ll keep it simple – have fun, enjoy your life, be free, be who you are. Love and respect. That’s all that matters. And as for Eurovision – it’s such a guilty pleasure and I can’t wait for the next one, whether as a contestant or a fan watching it on TV. Both ways, it will be fun!

We’d like to thank Tao Hypah and his management for the interview and to wish him good luck. The candidates for the Nationaal Songfestival will be announced on 5th January 2012 and here’s hoping Tao and Play The Girl is among them!
For those of you who can’t wait to hear Tao’s album, here’s a sneak peak with a track called Celeb.
You can also check out his Eurovision bid Play The Girl:

New Music: ‘I Want You Baby’ by Jeronimo.

Dutch popstar Jeronimo has unveiled a song from his upcoming album entitled I Want You Baby and it is a fun, Caribbean-infused party track that I envision playing at quite a few barbecues. It continues in the vein of his previous summer hit I Am No Superman. A jolly little song indeed that’ll get your toes tapping for sure. Of course, we are all afire to hear his aspiring Eurovision Song Contest entry Sacrifice (which I wrote about here), but this ought to tide us over until then.

New Music: ‘Play The Girl’ by Tao Hypah.

Dutch-Japanese singer Tao Hypah’s bid for the Nationaal Songfestival 2012, Play The Girl, has now been unveiled in its entirety. And what a corker of a song it is! It’s an unabashed, exhilarating piece of Europop that channels the euphoria of E-Type disguised in the contemporary vibe of Taio Cruz. It’s got some pretty shocking lyrics that is bound to create a bit of furor. It also happens to be insanely catchy. Tao Hypah himself seems to be of the GaGa school of popstars and I can just image what sort of outrageous performance he’ll turn out. Check out the song below:

I’m fully supporting Play The Girl, along with Jeronimo’s Sacrifice! Even with just these two songs, it looks like the Nationaal Songfestival 2012 is shaping up to be one of the most hotly anticipated of the season. I really hope they make it to the televised shows.

Editor’s Note: ASFE would like to thank the folks over at Tao Hypah’s management for sharing the HQ version of the song. Cheers!

Jeronimo presents potential bid for the Dutch Nationaal Songfestival 2012.

Dutch singer Jeronimo, best known across the low countries for his hit I Am No Superman, has uploaded a preview of the song that has purportedly been submitted to the Dutch selection for the 2012 Eurovision Song Contest. It’s called Sacrifice and you can listen to it below:

It’s a very modern, catchy affair that instantly sticks in your head on the first listen. I must have played it about 20 times already. My favourite parts are the ‘uoh-woah-uoh-uoh’s. I really like it and, paired with some slick choreography and a great stage show, it could do wonders. Heck, Jeronimo could be the Dutch Eric Saade! I really do hope that Sacrifice was sent in, because the Netherlands need to wake up and realise that they can’t keep sending old-fashioned songs to the Eurovision Song Contest. They need some fresh blood and a contemporary sound flying the flag and Jeronimo is an ideal candidate.

Yes Jeronimo, you are the superman!


Who should fly the flag for the Netherlands?

It was while on the prowl for new music did I come across the perfect candidate who ought to fly the Dutch colours at the Eurovision Song Contest. Re-introducing Ralf Mackenbach. Ralf may be familiar to some o’ y’all as the tiny but talented winner of the 2009 Junior Eurovision Song Contest with the catchy ditty Click Clack, which he composed himself.

Well, Ralf is back and all grown up with a pop-tinged club sound. Cue the release of his new single Dance. Check it out below:

Ralf is currently prepping for the release of his sophomore album 'Moving On'. What better way of promotion than a Eurovision Song Contest participation?

IMHO, Ralf would be the perfect candidate to go forward to Eurovision for the Netherlands. First and foremost, he’d take great advantage of the ‘Saade Effect’, that is, appeal to millions of teen girls and secure more than a few televotes. Secondly, Mackenbach could give Saade a run for his money because he can actually sing and dance at the same time really well. His performance at Junior Eurovision proved that, and this would make him really popular with the national juries. Thirdly, his kind of clubby Euro-dance-pop hybrid sound is exactly what’s popular (no pun intended) internationally these days (see Enrique Iglesias’ I Like It). An awesome contemporary Dutch dance song would go down well with both the public and the juries, making for a very good placing, potentially a victory.

Also, it would be kinda cool to see a Junior Eurovision winner go for it at the real thing. It would create alot of buzz and media attention and for once, the Netherlands will be in with a chance.

Eurovision News Roundup.

Here’s a quick roundup on what’s been happening in Euroland over the weekend.

The Netherlands: The Dutch national selection just became one of the most hotly anticipated of the 2012 season with the announcement that media baron John de Mol will be heading the selection. John de Mol is well known for having created some of television’s most popular shows including ‘Big Brother’, ‘Deal Or No Deal’ and most recently, ‘The Voice’. This is amazing news and just the sort of media savy and expertise that The Netherlands needs to revamp its approach to the Eurovision Song Contest. No doubt de Mol’s involvement will create alot of international buzz too.

Israel: Despite initial reservations, Israel have confirmed that they will indeed be participating in the 2012 Eurovision Song Contest. With the preliminary dates clashing with the Jewish holiday of Shavu’ot, broadcaster IBA originally stated that participation may not be in the cards for Israel next year. However, they have appeared to have ironed out these issues and now we can happily look forward to an Israeli entry next year.

Bosnia & Herzegovina: The usual rumours about artists touted to represent their countries are all healthily rife and the latest comes from B&H. Balkan superstar Hari Mati Hari has been tipped as the one to wave the country’s flag next year, having already reported to be in discussions with BHRT. Hari Mati Hari is ofcourse no stranger to the contest, having previously done the honours in 2006 with the song Leijla and gave B&H its best placing to date: third place. Will he do better this time around? Let’s wait and see.

Slovenia: Taking a leaf out of Germany’s book, Slovenia have modified their national selection to include a singer selection in the style of ‘Unser Star Für…’ entitled ‘Misija Evrovizija’ (‘Mission Eurovision’). The culmination will be the traditional EMA to select the song. This week, the dates for the audition have been released with a tour across the country scheduled to take place. Citzens of Slovenia and the EU are eligible to participate. For more info, click here. After this year’s relatively successful run, I’m interested to see what changes Slovenia will bring to EMA, which in my opinion is one of the more enjoyable selections in the National Finals Season.

And that was some of the news!

Rumoured artists for The Netherlands in 2012.

With only 356 days till the 2012 Eurovision Song Contest, the folks over at TROS in the Netherlands are already reportedly in talks to line up next year’s Dutch representative to the world’s biggest music event. One of the names floating around is that of Rochelle Perts, currently competing in the Dutch X Factor. Check out one of her performances from the show:

This girl has a truly amazing voice and, should she be selected, would need a jaw-dropping song to go with it. If this can be secured, then the Netherlands’ chances in the Eurovision Song Contest would be very high indeed.

One of the other names rumoured to fly the Dutch flag is Tim Douwsma, who was part of the Dutch jury this year. Below is one his releases.

A pleasant enough song sung by a pleasant enough lad.

Whichever artist is selected, what should be considered most important is the song. Since this is a song contest, it won’t matter how good the singer(s) is/are. If you have a rubbish song, then you won’t stand a chance. Therefore, I hope TROS gets a hold of some uber-talented songwriters to compose a song that will knock it out of the park for the Netherlands. We need to see them back in Grand Final!