Elisabeth Ouni lists her top Belgian tracks

For most people the name Elisabeth Ouni might resonate with her project A Polaroid Story, but besides scrambling the famed for a polaroid, she is occasionally spinning records or striking poses for a fashion shoot. Here she shares with us an eclectic mix of Belgian tracks topping her list. Her personally telling selection includes classics from Arno, Jacques Brel and Technotronic, to contemporaries such as Belgian poster-boy Stromae.

1. Zanna – Anna Domino & Luc Van Acker [1984]

First heard this song in the Felix Van Groeningen ‘Steve + Sky’ movie and I was stunned to hear that it was Belgian. The production is sexy, haunting and timeless.

2. Vaya Con Dios – Puerto Rico [Vaya Con Dios, 1987]

This track is gangsta. Period. Play this blasting out loud during a warm sunset anywhere and you’ll understand. This track can be scored on a Quentin Tarantino Movie. Dani Klein is a goddess and I love all her songs really. I would love to have her on APolaroidStory.com btw.

3. Zap Mama – Bandy Bandy ft Erykah Badu [Ancestry in Progress, 2004]

Afro Belgian harmonies at its finest and the fusion of these two queens makes this track definitely a stand out.

4. Allez Allez – African Queen [African Queen & Promises, 1997]

A Belgian funk group from the early 80’s channeling Grace Jones vibes.

5. Baloji – Ostend Transit [Hotel Impala, 2007]

This track from Balo’s Hotel Impala is a personal stand out for me because it kinda channels my love for Ostend and Marvin Gaye. I can also relate to it because of how I see Ostend. It’s a city with which I have a long history and where I see myself ending up. But for now, it’s also a city I needed to leave behind.

6. Arno – Les Filles Du Bord De Mer [Idiots Savants, 1993]

If you are a girl with Ostend roots, then Arno should be your God and this should be your anthem.

7. Trixie Whitley – Need your love [Fourth Corner, 2013]

It’s essential for music to make me feel something. In Trixie’s case, she stirs out pure emotion. The way she can perform this track live is crazy. The longing for love is tangible in her voice and lyrics. She is brilliant and Belgium should be extremely proud to have her.

8. Deus – Nothing Really Ends [Pocket Revolution, 2005]

Me and Belgian rock, it’s not a warm relationship. The boss from Lafayette in Ostend, a bar where I used to work many many long nights of my life always played that track late when we’d close up the bar and the vibe and it’s lyrics always made me so freakin’ sad. But because of that, the song and its lyrics are brilliant and it’s officially the only song from Deus I really, genuinely like.

9. La Sonora – Starflam [Survivant, 2001]

This track. No words. A Belgian classic. When you play it in front of people, it somehow always creates unity and warmth.

10. Hadise – Sweat [Sweat, 2005]

As a young girl with a profound love for R&B and being half Tunesian with a weak spot for kitsch, middle eastern sounds, I was obsessed with this track when it came out. And the fact that a Belgian girl with Turkish roots was able to produce this type of straight up R&B club sound, during a time when this type of music wasn’t really accepted or found ‘cool’ in Belgium, amazed me.

11. Lunaman – Nutcracka [Nutcracka, 2006]

When this came out, you couldn’t recognize the fact that its production was Belgian. I still appreciate this track and its video, directed by Senol KorkMaz. Truth be told, nobody in Belgium made videos like him during that period.

12. TC Matic – Oh la la la [TC Matic, 1981]

Another track related to the city I love the most, and many Ostend-related memories. When this track plays I always think of my hometown Ostend. It has so much swag and carries a true essence of rock ‘n’ roll. Besides that, Arno is a boss.

13. Samanta Fu – Theme From Discotheque [Soulwax, 2001]

Man… I can’t even explain how much I love this track and the video that came with it. This song and those lyrics are so epic and makes me reminisce the very early Culture Club days where 2Many Dj’s were king of the castle and the Ghent club kids were the definition of cool.

14. Pump Up The Jam – Tecehnotronic [Pump Up The Jam, 1981]

Propably not ‘cool’ enough for many to mention this track, but look at the video and listen to the sound. This track is timeless and managed to conquer the world, and got features in The Fresh Prince Of Bel-Air ànd Space Jam. The story behind the whole song is also interesting considering the fact they replaced the vocalist of the track Ya Kid K with a model in the video and for all public performances of the song. Harsh! A bit cheesy for this time maybe, but still a dope track.

15. The Mackenzie feat Jessy – Innocence (It Feels So Good) [2008]

I don’t care what you think. I don’t care if it’s not hip to say this: I LOVE this track. I always thought Jessy from The Mackenzie had such a cool voice. Her vocals on Innocence are super sexy. It takes me back to the days were the Belgian charts were ruled by Belgian dance (for better or for worse).

16. Stromae – Alors On Danse [Cheese, 2010]

The minute I heard this track I wanted to hear it in the club and when I finally did (it wasn’t mainstream at that time) I went completely nuts. This song has it all, it’s sad, it’s melancholic, it’s intense, it’s sexy and the lyrics are, thematically, crazy on point. The vocal swag is undeniable and the production has a cool nod or reference to the typical Belgian Dance era. It’s a prelude from the oeuvre of a king.

17. Eigen Makelij – Nekst 1 (remix) [2015]

This track is full of braggadocio and let’s say I can appreciate a bit of stunting when executed properly. Call it the Yeezy syndrome. Here Nag, Passie & Rasss go at it with a hard flow, plenty of swag and a whole lot of confidence. I always liked the dubstep remix version of the song, where everyone on the track comes across even harder.

18. t’Hof Van Commerce ft Gabriel Rios, Riemolare Baloij & TLP – In De Rayone [no info]

Being from the coast, it’s easy to recognise why Riemeloare kills this track. The lyrics he spits glance out a small vibe of the Belgian coast mentality that I grew up in and still carry around myself. The fusion of all those different languages, Spanish, west- Flemish and French make this track in a weird way typically Belgian. And yeah, if you understand a bit of Flemish, you’ll probably remember that TLP’s grand finale lyrics are straight up nasty and hilarious.

19. AbrahamBlue – .she [2014]

I met Abraham in Antwerp about two years ago I think. I had to speak about apolaroidstory.com in a youth center. There were about 7 people attending my ‘lecture’ and Abraham was one of them. Afterwards he came up to asking me if he could send me some music. He sent me this track. When I listened to it, my heart melted and my stomach got all messed up, which mostly is a good sign. I believed in him ever since and I’m very curious how his journey will turn out the next few years. He is a diamond in the rough.

20. Hamza – Mi Amor [2015]

A very current sound, influenced by urban subcultures that are not inherently Belgian, but I’ve put it in here because I really like Hamza’s melodies. He is playful with words and on his latest release he manages to produce a contemporary R&B sound that is believable. Not many Belgian artists manage to do that. At least 4 tracks from his H-24 album got stuck in my mind (melodie wise) and some of his lyrics stand out enough for me to recognise there is talent. Mi Amor is the perfect execution of a good R&B song with plenty of sonic surprises and lyrical winks that make me grin. I love it. “J’crois qu’en vas se prendre un peut plus d’alcool.” :)

21. Jacques Brel – Chanson Des Vieux Amants [1987]

No explanation needed. What a legacy for Belgium to have Jacques Brel tied to its nation.

22. Lucy Loes – Mien Zeekapiting [2012]

If you are from Ostend, then you know why this track is in this list and you know I simply HAD to put it in there. Ostend, stand up!