Sunday, December 17, 2023

A Belgian first: bilingual Christmas song

Did you know that according to a recent survey in Belgium, 60% of Belgians cannot name a single Belgian Christmas song? That's because there's never been any kind of Belgian Christmas hit. Christmas a GoGo once featured Merry Merry by Tom Helsen, as well as Urbanus''Bakske vol met stro', which has to be the most well-known song, but not a sing-a-long classic.

The survey also said nearly 3 Belgians out of 5 want a new Christmas song by a Belgian artist. This year, a major online shopping site gifted Belgium a Christmas song: 'Pakjes vol liefde/Cadeaux pleins d'amour' ('Gifts full of love') features Jonathan Krego of The Voice and Elise Tack from the Scala, singing in French and Dutch. The song needed to appeal to all Belgians, had to be easy to follow and had to have meaningful lyrics.

When Belgians need songs to represent their country like at the Eurovision Song Contest, they either alternate between French and Dutch, sing in English, or go the made-up language route to try and please everyone like they plan to do in 2024. Compromise is at the heart of everything Belgium does.

'Pakjes vol liefde/Cadeaux pleins d'amour' was a song made by committee and clearly going for a commercial vibe. It works well in both laguages, and only time will tell if it will be a hit. You have to start somewhere.

It does remain odd that a country with over 11 million people and world-class artists in several languages barely has any Christmas music. Come on Belgians (Kom op Belgen/Allez les Belges), write more Christmas songs!