Ten years ago, the three Ks met for the first time: Karen, Kristel and Kathleen were brought together to form K3 (say “ka-dree”), Flanders’ answer to the Spice Girls. Ever since, K3 has ruled the world of kleuterpop – toddler pop – in Flanders and the Netherlands with titles such as “Oma’s aan de top” – “Granny’s at the Top” – and “Jongens zijn gek” – “Boys are crazy”.
The three Ks made the most of their success, but a decade of wearing identical outfits took its toll, and earlier this year Kathleen announced that zij wilde solo verder als zangeres – she wanted to become a solo singer. The remaining Ks vowed to soldier on as a duo – until someone came up with the idea of finding a replacement via a TV talent show. That same day, Kathleen unceremoniously disappeared from Madame Tussauds in Amsterdam.
The TV show, K2 zoekt K3 – K2 seeks K3 – culminated recently with a million Flemings and twice as many Dutch watching the long drawn-out final.
I must confess to watching the show myself, though, believe me, it was by accident. The blonde hopefuls had been whittled down to three, who were put through their paces. The two Ks sang some of their repertoire with each one in turn, which left me with the strange feeling that something was not quite right: as one paper put it, alle drie zongen ze Karen en Kristel naar huis – all three of them sang the boots off Karen and Kristel (“sang them home”). In fact, they sounded best when the three young ones alone sang together, if you see what I mean.
And the chosen one? Josje Huisman was the two Ks’ choice. Josje is from Amsterdam and, apart from being launched into a hectic recording and touring career, is having to get to grips with Dutch as it is spoken in Flanders. She’s taking elocution lessons to blend in with the Flemish Ks, which she will need, for example, to sing K3’s latest “Bij de Politie” – “With the Police” – where she sang politie with a -ts- instead of a -ss- sound.
You can already hear J and K2: de nieuwe K3-single ligt in de winkel – the new K3 single is in the shops. It will be a mix of old and new songs with ex-K3er Kathleen being airbrushed away: de zangpartijen van Kathleen worden vervangen door die van Josje – Kathleen’s singing parts are replaced by those of Josje.
At home we tried to join in – not with the singing but with the constant smiling. A couple of minutes of grinning exhausted us, but Josje, and the losers, couldn’t stop.