Tens of thousands of Dutch people have threatened to leave the country in protest over a pop song written for the inauguration of Holland’s new king.
After Queen Beatrix announced her abdication in January, Crown Prince Willem Alexander is set to become the country’s first king in more than a century when he replaces his mother as Holland’s monarch on April 30. Ahead of the occasion, an inauguration committee asked the public to contribute lyrics for a new anthem, written by British-born songwriter John Ewbank, to be performed at the event, reports the Daily Telegraph.
The result, called “The King’s Song” (or “Koningslied”) features an unusual mix of musical styles, including traditional Dutch music and rap. The project involved a total of 51 Dutch artists, who can be seen in the song’s promo video flashing the three-fingered “W” (for Willem) sign, and singing “I build a dyke with my bare hands and keep the water away” and “through wind and rain I’ll stand beside you… I’ll keep you safe as long as I live.”
Ewbank has written and produced a string of Dutch top 40 hit singles, and “The King’s Song” seemed at first to be no exception, going straight to the top of the Netherlands’ iTunes chart when it was released on Friday. But many Dutch were less than enthused, and by the following day, an online petition entitled “No to the King’s Song” had collected nearly 40,000 signatures from people who vowed to abdicate as Dutch subjects unless the “imbecilic” track was withdrawn from the inauguration ceremony.
One unimpressed signatory said the song sounded like “North Korean propaganda,” while another wrote that the track “spontaneously turns you into a Republican, if you weren’t one already,” reports the BBC. Later on Saturday, Ewbank admitted defeat, and said he was withdrawing the song from the ceremony, reports the Guardian. “After having to block yet another insult on my Twitter account, I am now totally done,” he tweeted, and suggested another track, “Je bent een Koning” — recorded by a group of amateur musicians in Utrecht — as an alternative.
But on Monday the inauguration committee said it was sticking with the song, writes the Australian, saying in a statement that the song had caused a “wave of reactions, mainly positive.”