You know what makes me happy? Really really happy? Discovering weird and wacky Dutch traditions that I never knew existed! It’s like finding an uneaten bar of chocolate at the back of your cupboard just waiting to be devoured or a crisp 20 euro bill in the pocket of your jeans from last summer. The joy of the find! Score!

At a Sinterklaas borrel a few weeks ago the Top 2000 popped up in conversation, later, at a meeting with Dutch colleagues it somehow worked its way into the conversation, and then again, casually mentioned in passing by a friend. Of course, by the third encounter my brain started ticking, my fingers started googling, and I couldn’t help but ask every Dutchie around.


The Top 2000 is a real gem on the Complete SDPL list; a bizarre cultural phenomena embraced by millions of Dutchies. No idea what I am talking of? Let’s review!

  • every year the Dutch vote for their all-time favourite songs in a contest-of-sorts called the “Top 2000″
  • Dutchies cast their votes online at the beginning of December
  • the tradition first started in 1999 by Dutch radio station Radio 2
  • the broadcast was planned to be a one-time event, but was carried over due to its overwhelming popularity
  • in 2002, Radio 2 added Top 2000 television programme featuring the top songs, interviews and performances
  • in 2003, Top 2000 in concert (broadcasted on New Year’s Eve) was added to the  empire, featuring Dutch artists performing songs from the list

Now here’s where things get even more fun:

  • it is estimated that well over half of the Dutch population tune in to the Top 2000 every year Yes, you read that correctly! We are talking over 9 million Dutchies with ears-perked!
  • various online “movements” take place to try to bump songs out of certain positions or get new songs into the top listings
  • numerous Facebook pages, discussion forums and websites announce impromptu campaigns and “calls-to-action” to attempt to influence the ratings
Bohemian Rhapsody

The Dutch cannot get enough of Queen!

Some more fascinating facts:

  • the first year’s top three songs were: Bohemian Rhapsody (Queen), Hotel California (Eagles), and Deep Purple (Child in Time)
  • Bohemian Rhapsody has held the #1 position for 12 of the 14 years
  • the Dutch song Avond by Boudewijn de Groot briefly bumped Bohemia Rhapsody off its pedestal in 2005
  • Hotel California (most often in 2nd place) took the victory position once, in 2010
  • This year (2015) saw a new song taking over the top position: John Lennon’s Imagine!

On December 25th the Top 2000 kicks off, blasting tunes across the Netherlands until the New Year. While other cultures eagerly anticipate unpacking their stockings and/or devouring their Christmas turkey and trimmings, the Dutch yearly welcome the commencement of 7 days of pure unadulterated radio pleasure. We will definitely add this to our list of the weird & wacky Dutch New Year’s traditions!

It has been rumoured that the whole tradition may have actually arisen as a cheap  efficient way to save costs during the holiday season (oh you Dutchies are sooo predictable!) Instead of paying radio DJ’s holiday pay for working on Christmas, why not just load up a set of 2000 songs to play and skip those pesky fees! 😉

Regardless of its original motivations, the Top 2000 is a unique Dutch oddity that looks like it’s here to stay! Now, who was it that said ‘video killed the radio star’? I suppose they weren’t anywhere near the Netherlands in December!

2015 top spots:


1. John Lennon
2. Queen
Bohemian Rhapsody
3. Eagles
Hotel California
4. Claudia de Breij
Mag ik dan bij jou
5. Led Zeppelin
Stairway to Heaven
6.Billy JoelPiano Man 7.Boudewijn de Groot
8. Deep Purple
Child in Time
9. Pink Floyd
Wish You Were Here
Fix You