Music Hits The Right Key In Language War


STIB/MIVB officials wanted to play songs from both languages over the public address systems to replace the current list of tunes that dates back to 2005.

During a recent trial period they played French-speaking music alongside the usual hit list, which proved successful with passengers. Officials now plan to draw up a quota system that will aim to find a balance between the country’s two main languages, Flemish and French. If successful, it will be the first time Dutch-speaking and Francophone songs will be played together on the metro.

Before the pilot programme there was a fear that passengers might take offence to songs not in their own language being played.

“Some commuters may hear a French song and they are angry it is not in Dutch. And vice versa,” Brussels legislator Luckas Vander Taelen is reported to have said. “It was a pretty stupid rule. It is logical to move away from this position.”

Up until the middle of the last decade, all music was instrumental, the metro company anticipated any potential trouble when it started to play songs with lyrics.

“To avoid problems, we did a test with 70% English, 15% Italian and 15% Spanish,” said STIB/MIVB spokeswoman Ann Van Hamme.

The new policy allows the chance for many more bands now to have underground hits.