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Music / Nits

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Dutch art-rock band founded in 1974. Known in much of Europe as One Hit Wonders for their 1987 single "In The Dutch Mountains", but well-regarded enough to maintain an extensive touring schedule across the continent and sometimes further afield. They have a significant following in the Netherlands (naturally), Scandinavia and pockets of Canada (where they benefitted from being championed by Barenaked Ladies).


  • The Nits (1978)
  • Tent (1979)
  • New Flat (1980)
  • Work (1981)
  • Omsk (1983)
  • Kilo (1983) (mini)
  • Adieu Sweet Bahnhof (1984)
  • Henk (1986)
  • In the Dutch Mountains (1987)
  • Hat (1988) (mini)
  • Urk (1989)
  • Giant Normal Dwarf (1990)
  • Ting (1992)
  • dA dA dA (1994)
  • Alankomaat (1998)
  • Wool (2000)
  • 1974 (2003)
  • Les Nuits (2005)
  • Doing the Dishes (2008)
  • Strawberry Wood (2009)
  • Malpensa (2012)


  • Hjuvi - A Rhapsody in Time (1992) (with The Netherlands Radio Symphony Orchestra)
  • Dankzij de Dijken (1995) (with Freek de Jonge)

Tropes associated with Nits:

  • Animate Inanimate Object: A restaurant, of all things, in "An Eating House".
  • Book Ends: Giant Normal Dwarf opens with "Radio Shoes" about the start of a quest to find the eponymous footwear, and ends with "The Infinite Shoeblack" (which is written in the same meter) which documents the finding of the shoes.
  • Bottle Episode: In The Dutch Mountains was the musical equivalent - all the songs were played live in the studio, direct to two-track.
  • Captain Obvious: "I can live without a finger, I can live without a toe / But a head is necessary" - "J.O.S. Days"
  • Cosmetic Award: "Mountain Jan". Jan spends years studying the behaviour of electrons, and is honoured by having a mountain named after him, "somewhere in Antarctica".
  • Everything Is an Instrument: a pedestrian crossing on "Zebra", bicycle parts (natch) on "Bike in Head"
  • Fake-Out Fade-Out: In live performance, "Cabins" has a false ending. (The quite different original recording simply fades out.)
  • Foreign Language Title: They perform in English, so any of their songs with titles in other languages are this - sometimes the title is in the song, but the song is otherwise in English.
    • Adieu, Sweet Bahnhof (both a song and album) has the three words of its title in three different languages.
  • Genre Mashup: Particularly when they play live, but there are some unusual genre-melds in their recorded output too, like "Cabins" (new wave meets systems music) and "Sleep (What Happens To Your Eyes)" (synthpop meets lieder).
  • Genre Roulette: when they're not rushing headlong into eclectic territory, they'll play with this quite a lot, ranging over new wave, pop, rock, jazz, avant garde, classical, folk and beyond.
  • In Medias Res: the retrospective Nits Hits starts in the middle of their career and moves forward chronologically, then the second CD starts in the middle again and works backward to their oldest material.
  • Long Song, Short Scene: There are live recordings of the complete song "The Singing Telegram", but the studio version on Henk just comprises the Epic Instrumental Opener and starts fading out as soon as the vocals arrive. They did record the whole thing but decided that was the only bit they liked enough to include on the album.
  • Mrs. Robinson: "Robinson"
  • New Sound Album: they're known for doing this with almost every album, to the point where critics and fans are disappointed if they don't.
  • Real-World Episode: "Nescio" does this with the central character of the classic Dutch short story "De uitvreter".
  • Rearrange the Song: Like New Sound Album, they make a regular habit of this. Some songs get a whole new arrangement for every tour.
  • Shout-Out: At least half their songs revolve around shout outs of one kind or another - to people, works of art, books, landmarks...
  • Silly Love Songs: A noted aversion, they write very few love songs generally.
  • Spell My Name with a "The": Played straight until 1990, then averted with the official name now being NITS (usually in capitals, too).
  • Step Up to the Microphone: Robert-Jan Stips sings lead on a few tracks; Joke Gereats sang the live-only "Telephone Song".
  • The Something Song: "The Long Song".
  • Train Song: "Adieu, Sweet Bahnhof" and "The Train".
  • War Is Hell: Several songs including "Sketches of Spain", "Mourir Avant 15 Ans" and "J.O.S. Days"
  • With Lyrics: Inverted. "Walter and Conny" has lyrics, but they've never been officially used and the song is always played as an instrumental. A demo with the lyrics has been bootlegged.
  • Word Salad Lyrics: "Bilbao Boa" on dA dA dA. Lampshaded in the CD booklet where instead of the lyrics being printed, there's a statement that they were made up on the spot and make no sense written down. "Rumspringa" seems to be a Word Salad song too.