Donald Clarke

Whingeing about cinema and real life since 2009

A tribute song to King Willem-Alexander meets appalled ears

A cheesy Europop tribute to the new Dutch king has outraged many of his subjects.

Sun, Apr 21, 2013, 19:11


I love this story about the abysmal song knocked together for the swearing-in of King Willem-Alexander of the Netherlands on April 30th. (“Swearing-in”? Now there’s bicycling monarchy for you. Nothing so vulgar as a coronation.) The furore reflects well on the people of the Netherlands. For years, we have — usually at Eurovision time — observed Europop in horror and wondered why a continent that produces such fine cheese, lovely paintings, tasty wine and superb novels can’t seem to get contemporary music right. It looks as if the Dutch people themselves share our aesthetic puzzlement. To be fair, the main perpetrator of Koningslied — it means “King’s Song” — appears to hail from Hampshire. One John Ewbank gathered together 51 “top Dutch artists” (don’t snigger) to perform a tune that alternated bad MOR with much worse rap. The lyrics triggered the most violent opprobrium. Somewhere in the region of 38,000 people objected to the playing of a song described as “imbecilic”. Eventually, poor old John was forced to withdraw the entry.

“Dear compatriots, after having to block yet another insult on my Twitter account, I am now totally done,” Ewbank wrote on his Facebook page. ”My apologies to those who found it an appropriate song… but I hereby withdraw the Koningslied (King’s Song) and wish you plenty of success.”

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I do feel sorry for the poor bloke. But there is no questioning the wretchedness of the project. Here’s a sample of the lyrics: ”I build a dyke with my bare hands and keep the water away. … Through wind and rain I’ll stand beside you. … I’ll keep you safe as long as I live”. Do you get it? The protagonist — possibly the king, himself — will build a dyke, because much of Holland lies below sea level. It’s rather as if we composed a national song that was all about shamrocks, faeries and punching people. The old bastard in me does find itself wondering what’s become of us all. George II of England got Handel’s Zadok the Priest. Poor old Willem-Alexander gets this twaddle. No wonder they play nothing but reggae in Amsterdam’s excellent coffee-shops (within which I greatly enjoy coffee). The local alternatives are too ghastly to contemplate.

Oh, one more thing. Why was I not informed before now that the King’s consort rejoices under the name Princess Máxima? Now, there’s a name to conjure with. It sounds as if she were created by George R R Martin or (apologies ma’am) some seedy perpetrator of chubby porn. None of this is true, of course. It seems she is a very respectable Argentinean economist with no known sword-and-sorcery connections. Good for her.

I’ll stop now. I’ve caused enough offence.