Two songs were vying for the top spot in the UK’s music charts last month. Beethoven’s Ode to Joy, also the EU’s “Anthem for Europe”, and 17 Million Fuck Offs, by pro-Brexit comedian, writer and commentator Dominic Frisby.
The competition between these two pieces signified a much starker divide than a merely musical one. The melodic passage of the final movement of Beethoven’s 9th Symphony – originally the setting for a vocal rendition of Friedrich Schiller’s poem Ode to Joy – had been adopted as the European anthem by the Council of Europe in 1972 and in 1985 by the European Community. Pro-Europeans in the UK launched a campaign to get the song into the charts, settling on a recording by André Rieu, with the Johann Strauss Orchestra.
O friends, no more these sounds!
Let us sing more cheerful songs,
more full of joy!
Joy, bright spark of divinity,
Daughter of Elysium,
Fire-inspired we tread
Thy magic power re-unites
All that custom has divided,
All men become brothers
Under the sway of thy gentle wings.
Meanwhile, Frisby’s song listed some of the more prominent Remain campaigners and told them all where they could go:
It was the greatest democratic turnout in British history,
I do not scoff
And when the time came to speak the British said fuck off.