Weekend Intermission is our regular feature where we look at an artist or band not from the Nordic countries, just to mix things up a bit.
Before putting Eurovision to sleep for another year I couldn’t let this song pass.
Overall, the Nordic countries didn’t do too badly, with Sweden the highest ranked at fourth, Cornelia Jakobs’ excellent ‘Hold me closer’, followed by Norway’s wolf-banana thing (10th) which benefited from a strong public vote as novelty songs often do. Finland came in 21st with The Rasmus’ rocker ‘Jezebel’ while Systur’s (Iceland) sweet but unsubstantial ‘Með hækkandi sól’ trailed in 23rd. Denmark had already been eliminated, unreasonably I thought, in the first semi-final.
And of course Amanda Tenfjord, representing Greece but mainly brought up in Norway, managed a very creditable 8th. She’s just released a follow-up single and you can read all about it by following the ‘previous page’ link at the end.
But on reflection, and having listened to it several times this week, S10’s ‘De Diepte’ (literally ‘The Depth’) was my favourite song of the competition.
S10 is the artist name of Stien den Hollander, a 21-year old from North Holland who is a rapper as well as the alt-pop artist that she presented at Eurovision. She’s still a student at a music technical school by all accounts.
But what is most notable about her is her struggle with mental health issues from a young age. As a teenager she spent some time in a psychiatric hospital and has been diagnosed with bipolar disorder. Her first two EPs, ‘Antipsychotica’ (2016) and ‘Lithium’ (2017) were named after psychiatric medications.
Perhaps it’s just that I have a soft spot for artists who have suffered from such problems that I tend to support them, and there are a surprisingly high number of them.
I said I couldn’t let the song pass and that’s what it’s about, the ‘passing’ of her boyfriend. Or at least that is one interpretation. Another is that she is singing about herself and what might have happened to her when she once made a suicide attempt. That is now behind her in ‘the depth’ and she has come to terms with who she is.
I’m not usually a fan of extended ‘ooohs’ and ‘aaahs’ in songs but again there is an interpretation of what that refers to which I can buy into; namely that it represents the breathing techniques used to help calm down someone having a panic attack.
Much has been made of her decision to sing the song in Dutch; for the first time since 2010 and it has a lilt to it that might have gone absent in English. On the downside it means it won’t get much airplay in the UK and US, which is a shame because it deserves it; it is a beautiful song.
It managed 11th position at Eurovision, one behind ‘Give that wolf a banana’. Sweet Jesus. It was seventh highest placed on the jury vote but overlooked on the public one. Appearing halfway through in a clutch of ballads probably didn’t help.
Stien has been prolific these last few years with a third EP, not named after a medication this time, which is a positive sign, and two albums. It looks like most of her songs are in Dutch. I have no problem with that but I hope we’ll hear some in English too, because I doubt the industry here (where she has never charted and her work might not even have been released) could hardly continue to overlook her if she does that.
Find her on: