The Netherlands is getting ready to celebrate the inauguration of King Willem-Alexander on April 30 with pomp and circumstance and, perhaps, with “Het Koningslied,” the King’s Song.
The King’s Song is, in my opinion, a delightful mix of musical genres — including traditional Dutch music and (Dutch) rap — lyrics and video contributed by Dutch artists and citizens alike and put together and performed by a score of Holland’s finest artists and musicians. It displays the diversity and the beauty of today’s Dutch people, it reflects — in the lyrics — Dutch history, traditions and struggles, such as the constant fight against the sea and the vocals are soft and melodic — something that can be difficult to accomplish with the somewhat guttural Dutch language.
Although of Dutch descent and brought up and educated in the Netherlands (and its former Antilles), I must have lost my Dutch touch and flavor, as Het Koningslied apparently has become a total flop in the Netherlands.
In an article alarmingly titled, “Here’s the song so bad it’s got the Netherlands in an uproar and is ruining the king’s big day,” the Washington Post says that there is one problem with the song:
The song, released Friday, is terrible. That’s not my judgment; it appears to be the opinion of the Dutch people themselves, according to a Financial Times story on the controversy. An online petition that reads: “In protest at this imbecilic ‘King’s Song,’ I hereby abdicate as a Dutch subject,” has earned more than 40,000 votes. Furious Dutch (there’s a phrase you don’t see too often) filled the national media and Web with criticism for, among other things, “the song’s poor grammar, eclectic mix of styles and lack of a memorable refrain,” as the Financial Times put it.
In TIME’s NewsFeed under the question “Why Do So Many Dutch Hate this ‘King’s Song’?” we read, “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.”
Surprisingly, the song has climbed straight to the top of the Netherlands’ iTunes chart. Nevertheless, pressure has mounted on the Inaugural Committee to withdraw the song from the inauguration ceremonies and/or to replace it with another song.
The Australian writes, “Dutch authorities have decided to stick with a much-maligned song officially celebrating next week’s enthronement of King Willem-Alexander, insisting reactions have been ‘mainly positive.’”
The plan is now for all the artists to come together for a concert in Rotterdam on April 30 when the country will be holding nationwide celebrations to mark the royal handover, according to the Australian and it quotes the Inauguration Committee:
“It’s the committee’s wish that the Koningslied be sung together and everybody is invited to join in,” it said.
“The concert will simply go ahead as planned,” the committee said, adding it was “sincerely appreciative of the composers and artists for their contribution.”
Knowing the Dutch, or rather, thinking that I know the Dutch, my feeling is that they will come together on April 30 and sing their hearts out for their new King.
Should our readers want to sing-along with the Dutch people during Willem-Alexander’s inauguration, below are the lyrics in Dutch, but in plenty of time to learn them by April 30.
The author is a retired U.S. Air Force officer and a writer.