TopPop was the first regular dedicated pop music TV show in the Dutch language area. Dutch broadcaster AVRO aired the programme weekly, from September 22, 1970 to June 27, 1988. Presenter Ad Visser hosted the show for its first fifteen years. The creator and original director of TopPop was Rien van Wijk. Many other directors followed: Egbert van Hees, Geert Popma, Henk Renou, Chris Berger, Jessy Winkelman, Wim van der Linden, Bert van der Veer and Charly Noise. Although TopPop was inspired by British music programme Top of the Pops, it had its own character.
The show's main approach was to let music artists mime to their latest hit record in the TopPop studio. However, most music acts in the Dutch pop charts were foreign to the Netherlands, and frequently not available for a performance in the studio. If this was the case, it was sometimes possible for the TopPop camera crew to meet the artist at another location. Consequently, artists were filmed around the world, including Tom Browne in a studio in New York City, David Cassidy at the airport in Schiphol, and Barry White at his home in Los Angeles. If there was no way to feature the artists on the show, their promo video would be played - if one existed, since prior to the 1980s these were not routinely created. If all else failed there was a fourth option, that the show frequently had to resort to: hit songs were played to a dance routine by dancer and choreographer Penney de Jager and her troupe. When music videos became more common on television, the popularity of TopPop decreased and the programme was stopped in 1988. TopPop was chosen as the programme of the century in a poll in 2000 by Televizier.
For many Flemish and Dutch viewers, TopPop was the primary source of information about pop music. TopPop compiled its own hit chart, based on viewers' top-ten lists, sent in on postcards, from 1970–1974, from 1978–1982 and from February 23, 1986 to July 10, 1988. However, it used the Dutch National Hitparade, a sales based list, from 1974–1978 and 1982–1986.
In the last show of each year, the complete Top 10 of the year was broadcast. There were performances by studio guests and there were polls among viewers on the most popular artist, group and DJ. Looking back on the past year 1976, Ad Visser and Krijn Torringa were sitting behind a desk in an office which made it a parody of Van Oekel's Discohoek (translation: Van Oekel's Disco Corner). This absurd programme was itself a parody of TopPop.
Notable performances include one in 1977, by Iggy Pop, who refused to leave his dressing room and then, during a rehearsal, stormed dramatically and unexpectedly onto the studio floor. He spent most of the song writhing on the floor without a shirt on, miming his hit single and destroying some plants that had been put on the floor as decoration. For many young viewers in the Netherlands, this was their first encounter with punk rock.
Some TopPop made videos were of such quality, the performing artist chose to use it as a promotional video. Examples are the 1974 clip of an eye-patched David Bowie miming to "Rebel Rebel" and Nena walking through a woodcuttery at Crailoo near Hilversum, imaging a post-war devastated area fit for the "99 Red Balloons" Cold War atmosphere of 1983.
The famous archive of performances can be viewed online.
- Entry at wilde-life.com
- Roos, Mark (3 August 2015). "Iggy Pop shockeert Toppop". Algemeen Dagblad (in Dutch). Retrieved 15 January 2016.
- In the Netherlands the original German language sung version of the song, "99 Luftballons", was Nena's debut hit song charting at Number One in March/April 1983.
- TopPop at youtube.com