Why the youth is crazy about Joost Klein, the pop star who makes you chop and cry

Walter Grootaers is a fan, just like youtuber Acid. At Rock Werchter, Joost Klein (24) got young and old to chop and cry. He also quickly sold out his Flemish autumn tour. What makes the Dutchman the perfect pop star of this time?

Elmo Le van

On the opening night of the Lokerse Feesten, Joost Klein is programmed in the shadow of ‘t Hof van Commerce and Zwangere Guy, but there is a real chance that afterwards it will mainly be about the passage of the Frisian.

Yes, there will be frowning. And anyone born before 2000 will probably describe his performance as a parody of bad pop. But don’t try to fathom Joost Klein. It is the difficulty – say, the impossibility – of grasping what the 24-year-old Dutchman stands for that makes him so special. You have to undergo a performance by Joost.

“I get uncomfortable when someone asks what I’m doing, because I don’t know either,” he said in 2016 in conversation with Vice. Joost is a welcome guest at Studio Brussel in Belgium, after he first became known in his home country as a youtuber under the pseudonym EenhoornJoost, who says he deals in “vague shit”. Joost eating toothpaste, Joost juggling with an iPad, Joost on a school trip and other craziness in front of 200,000 subscribers.

In the meantime, the twenty-something went through his YouTube account with the coarse brush and little remains of the period when his good hand was fused with a camera. He then exchanged the image for the word – he brought, among other things, the collection of poems Albino out – but his best ideas in recent years have gone to lyrics.

Opinions will be divided on the latter: “I am a flyer then a seagull”, and: “You are Firefox and I am Google Chrome” may not be the one-liners that people over thirty associate with literary marvels, but for those who understand them, they are simply brilliant finds. The comparison with Pepijn Lanen, alias Faberyayo, is easily made by a similar charismatic clumsiness, but Joost’s approach is slightly different.

Crazy Frog

In kitchen terms, what Joost Klein does is called fusion. His shows include gabber, hyperpop, trance, echoes of Echo & the Bunnymen, a cover of Crazy Frog’s ringtone ‘Axel F’ and a cover of ‘Ik wil je’. According to Joost, both cover choices are not intended to be ironic.

Not even a little, he suggested Knack Focus: “I grew up with YouTube, 9GAG and Reddit. When music was talked about there, it wasn’t about the importance of britpop in music history or the timelessness of Bob Dylan. People just post vague shit they found on YouTube.”

Joost genuinely likes types like Crazy Frog and Scatman John. In “Albino,” he refers to both Pokémon and Lana Del Rey. That says a lot about Joost and his music, but at the same time even more about the consumption behavior of Generation Nu. Genres are no longer of this time; the youth do not let their preference be limited by fashionable terms. That is precisely why young people love Joost so much and less so in artists who excel in one discipline: you never know what his next move will be.

It used to be an insult to make no head or tail of someone’s work. Now you can make it straight into the mainstream. By the way, Joost doesn’t do anything special to be special. He is a champion of ‘do your thing’: if the Frisian’s next album contains a bagpipe solo, it will be because he thinks a bagpipe solo is just cool.

The Moaners

Gradually older generations are also discovering Joost Klein. Walter Grootaers was very enthusiastic about Joost’s version of ‘Ik wil je’, after he had met the artist through his daughter. Unlike his show at Pukkelpop 2019, his audience at Rock Werchter 2022 was quite diverse. “I even see a few old people”, said Joost. He came, saw and had everyone with him.

Calling Walter Grootaers and youtuber Acid – with whom he has a song together – on stage were drunken bullseye, but even more so, the unique positioning of the Dutchman in the pop landscape is his greatest asset. Because even though ‘Wachtmuziek (Sped Up)’ is gabber pur sang, the song is about something.

In ‘Music on hold’ he complains about the long waiting times in healthcare. “I am a very lonely boy”, was also a binding text on Werchter. The Frisian is the Yungblud of the Low Countries: he plows his way through taboos in an unorthodox way. Settle into the couch with a box of Kleenex and play ‘Florida 2009’, about how both his parents died during his teenage years. Five euros if you keep it dry.

Joost Klein is straightforward, in good and bad days. He talks in rare interviews about how life can be a bit of a mess sometimes, but “I’ve turned my thoughts and feelings into something healthy, something that makes a living and makes other people happy,” he said in a statement. The newspapaer.

He flaunts his emotions, but don’t call him a sell-out. The fact that his fan base is growing strongly – his shows in the autumn in Het Depot, Muziekodroom and Viernulvier were immediately sold out – is the result of his versatility and the role that taboos play in it.

“I’m Joost Klein, but my thanks are big,” he recently posted in a YouTube comment. He won’t start floating soon, but know: Joost Klein has a great future ahead of him.

Joost will play at the Lokerse Feesten on 5/8, together with Zwangere Guy and ‘t Hof van Commerce.


Sculpture Marc Deurloo/Lumen