In my country, the Netherlands, there is a yearly great music event at the radio which is called the Top 2000. It started in 1999, right before the turn of the century, so this year is the twentieth edition. The format is very easy, people can vote to their favorite songs (maximum 35) and a list is created of the 2000 most popular ones. At Christmas day the program starts and continues 7*24 until New years eve. The concept is brilliant. In this period people look back and reflect their year or life. The memories of all those great songs from the past is the perfect support for getting the right inspiration. In the beginning round 200,000 people voted, but the amount of votes increased yearly. Last years the number of votes increased to 6.5 million. An immense amount when you realize that the number of Dutch residents is 17 million.
But it’s not only the radio program. The Top 2000 is a complete multimedia format. When the leaves start to fall the Top 2000 team brings people in the right mood via Facebook messages and other social media items. “Only 40 days until voting starts, have you prepared your list already?” and this kind of stuff. The voting week itself starts with a music quiz at television. In the beginning of December, directly after voting ended, there is a tv show to reveal the top 3. Radio dj’s bring you in the mood, people share their personal lists via social media, Facebook messages grow (‘ Dj X has voted, see the list’, ‘ What’s is your favorite soul hit ?’ etc) and it’s the talk of the town. In fact it’s not only a songlist, it’s emotion. The right emotion at the right moment.
During the week of the program the craziness doesn’t have any limits. Beside the radio broadcasting there is a dayly television program called Top 2000 a gogo (picture above). The format is very stable during the years, a celebrity supports his or her favorite song, a quiz, a person next door tells about a meeting with a popstar once, a star from the past tells about a hit song and of course a lot of video clips. There is the Top 2000 café (picture below) in which people can watch the radio broadcasting. Believe it or not, but in the beginning people were waiting up to 6 hours to get in to see a dj playing records. Now it is better organized, you have to buy a ticket to come in for 30 minutes. Of course the crowd in the pub is live at television during the whole day. Unbelievable? Ok, this is what it is. It is the ideal feeling for your yearly meeting with the family. It is the inspiration to tell all those old stories again and forget the hectic of dayly business.
And the list, does it give surprises? In fact it doesn’t. Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody was the number 1 in 15 of the previous 19 editions. Two times The Eagles were the lucky ones with Hotel California (which is the eternal number 2). In 2005 the song Avond from Dutch singer/songwriter Boudewijn de Groot was at 1. A in 2015 it was John Lennon’s Imagine, as a result of the terrorist attack in Paris a couple of months before. At the moment of writing this article the voting week is going on. But nobody doubt that Queen will be number 1 again. The movie Bohemian Rhapsody is still screened in the cinemas and everybody is enthusiastic.
But why do people still love these old songs? I think the answer is in the revolution of the music industry. People love music and teens are trying to find who they really are. But people that grew up in the sixties until nineties could only buy records and cds. For a lot of money you bought one and after that you called your friends to enjoy the music together. Teens taped music at cassettes. You were only able to hear a particular song when it was played at the radio. In fact music was one big desire. It was a way of life. Nowadays you have Spotify and when you discover a new artist you can play the complete discography within one second. Music is still important for the new young generation, but the real desire has gone. That’s why all those old top hits from long ago are still very strong. But when my 22 year old daughter is showering and I hear the sound of The Cranberries, Rolling Stones or Fleetwood Mac coming from the bathroom I cannot suppress a little smile.
To get an idea of the Dutch music taste here is the top 10 of 2017:
- Bohemian Rhapsody – Queen
- Hotel California – The Eagles
- Stairway to Heaven – Led Zeppelin
- Piano Man – Billy Joel
- Child in Time – Deep Purple
- Black – Pearl Jam
- Wish You Were Here – Pink Floyd
- Fix You – Coldplay
- Avond – Boudewijn de Groot
- November Rain – Guns ‘n Roses
Yes, in fact Top 2000 is not an ordinary music chart. In twenty years it became part of the Dutch culture, a national phenomenon. It’s the perfect feeling at the right moment.