The Top 10 Songs in … SOUTH AFRICA!

1. Lianie May & Jay, “Bonnie & Clyde”


The couple compare themselves to Bonnie and Clyde, Romeo and Juliet, and Jekyll and Hyde. The last one I find especially troubling for its implication that the couple is a split personality (with one evil personality), despite the fact that the first two couples weren’t exactly very functional either. The song is generic aggro bubblegum of the kind that hurts my head.

Grade: D

Best YouTube Comment: “oulik” — MsLPSdreamer

2. Helene Bester, “Lemand Om Vas Te Hou”


Why won’t Helene Bester stop smiling? It’s weirding me out. This video feels like a cult recruitment tool, and it’s totally working on me. I want to go wherever the ducks and scarves and maple trees and lakes are so that I, too, may turn into an ever-smiling pod person just like Helene Bester.

Grade: B

Best YouTube Comment: “Well done! What a truly talented singer from South Africa. Beautiful voice and the words are so realistic. Please can we see more of Helene Bester! This lady is going to go far if she carries on the same path.” — overbergdesign

3. Hulle, “In My Gatsak”


“Where does it hurt?” “In my gatsak” (back pocket). Sorry, that was so dumb. Please don’t blow a gatsak. (Sorry again.)

Grade: B+

Best YouTube Comment: “Amazing musiek” — mld4eva

4. Theuns Jordaan, “Roeper Van My Hart”


Theuns Jordaan has a gorgeous bass voice that makes me nod along in agreement with his song lyrics even when I don’t know what they mean. Google claimed the translation of this song’s title is “Pager of My Heart,” which can’t be right, but I will pretend that it might be and that this song is just really out of date on communication technology.

Grade: A

Best YouTube Comment: “Stunning!!” — TheRSAchick

5. Karlien Van Jaarsveld & Dewald Wasserfall, “My Hart Se Hongersnood”


Karlien Van Jaarsveld is the sister of successful Afrikaans musician Bobby Van Jaarsveld. Speaking of sisters forced to live in their more famous sibling’s shadows (what up, Ashlee Simpson!), Beyoncé’s sister Solange Knowles has a new video for her song “Losing You” that was shot on location in Cape Town, South Africa, by director Melina Matsoukos. It’s a lot better than this schmaltzy duet, which had me checking my watch on the first listen.

Grade: F

Best YouTube Comment: “det es lekker” — GrantMcMains

6. Nianell, “Liefde Begin Eers In My”


OK, so it turns out the music video I posted is actually for a different song, but there’s no video for the actual song so I left it up anyway so you can get a look at Nianell. Nianell is a Namibian singer, guitarist, pianist, and composer with a four-octave vocal range. “Liefde Begin Eers In My” gives me Celine Dion-playing-a-soccer-team-championship-game feelings.

Grade: B+

Best YouTube Comment: “Netjies Nia!!! Welgedaan!!!!” — annejurgens

7. Willem Botha, “Breek Op In Stereo”


Willem Botha attempts a Kelly Clarksonish energetic breakup song, but without Kelly’s power-lifting vocals this just comes off like lukewarm pop-punk for a 10-minute lunch break at a dead mall food court.

Grade: C

Best YouTube Comment: “Very nice video!!” — MarcelvanderHorst

8. Johan C Venter, “Oe Soos Perels”


Earnest falsetto rock with a really nice bridge that bumped it up to a B.

Grade: B

Best YouTube Comment: “Johan, I have just a bath full of happy tears ;) looking forward to following your career further, you are beautiful! X” — AnitavandeVenter

9. Jak De Priester, “Roer Jou Voete”


I couldn’t find this video on YouTube, so I bought the song on iTunes and you’re going to have to trust me; it sounds just like “Mambo No. 5.” Remember “Mambo No. 5?” The “Gangnam Style” of 1999? Remember 1999? The world seemed so promising.

Grade: C+

Best YouTube Comment: N/A

10. Snotkop, “Dis ‘N Land”


Snotkop is the stage name of François Henning. This is an “Empire State of Mind”–type local pride song, and much like that song it is incredibly limp and corny. The chorus comes from Carike Keuzenkamp’s patriotic anthem “Dis ‘N Land,” which is not without its catchy charms. The farmland video reminded me of the Zach Galifianakis and Will Oldham version of “Can’t Tell Me Nothin.'” Snotkop is not very zef.

Grade: B-

Best YouTube Comment: “BRILLIANT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!” — AmandaRoos

Filed Under: Billboard, Grading the Charts, Top Ten

Photo on 2014-01-10 at 12.58 #3

Molly Lambert is a staff writer for Grantland.

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