Written by Stephen Swai
Whenever there is a crisis, interesting things happen. Take for example the Breunion Boys. This pro-European Union boy band has released a song, Britain Come Back, urging the British people not to leave the EU. The cheesy song, complete with a colorful and emotional YouTube video, has managed to garner more than 172,000 views in a short time, and has attracted the attention of CNN, Breitbart News, the Russian Sputnik and even the official Chinese State Press Agency.
The group consists of five boys between the ages of 22 and 25: three Dutch university students, an Afghan and a Spaniard. The boy band wouldn’t have existed if it wasn’t for Julia Veldman, an anime filmmaker born in the Netherlands, working and living in the US. Upon learning of Britain’s referendum result, she came up with the idea of forming an anti-Brexit boy band. It was the reaction of the European Union to Brexit that made her feel something had to be done. She said: “I saw everything collapse. Political parties and protests were already taking place, but they were not successful. Great Britain is very important for Europe.”
“Brexit was an emotional decision and music conveys emotion. That is why I think this is a better answer,” added Veldman. Taking inspiration from British boy bands like Take That, Veldman spent a year auditioning dancers and singers who shared her feelings about Britain’s relationship with the EU. “What better way than to use the boy band sound that Great Britain has given us to convince them to take us back?” said Veldman. Veldman has invested more than €11,000 of her own money into setting up the band; those who work on the project with her, do so for free. Commenting on the results of Brexit, 24-year-old band member Joshua Alagbe said: “Look at how angry the Brits are towards the EU. Now look how many Europeans are angry towards Britain for leaving. I think this emotion should be answered. We are kind of an answer to the emotion.” Alagbe, who said he has been singing and dancing since he was a child but is only now learning to perform seriously, added: “The British should remain in the EU because we love each other. We are in this because we belong together.” Another band member, Hajo, when asked why he wanted the UK to stay in the EU, said: “I watch the BBC almost every day. I’ve watched all the British movies, like Love Actually. I feel very passionate about Britain and was planning to live there, so I’m involved in that way.”
Veldman said that forming the boy band was a final, desperate, ultimate attempt to prevent Brexit before the March 29 divorce date. Britain Come Back, which was written for the Breunion Boys by Flavia Faas, a Dutch songwriter, has received mixed reactions. Some have received the project positively, while others, like the Independent and the music website Stereogum, have said that the song is a satirical joke. With their social media pages exploding following the release of their song, fans and followers are also unsure whether the Breunion Boys are a satirical band or if Veldman’s intentions are actually genuine. However, even after all the negative feedback, Veldman takes her project seriously. “For me it is natural that I do something, instead of watching helplessly. We are in danger of repeating the mistakes of the past. Nationalism and populism are on the rise, and we know where that can lead. I think it is important to proclaim a message of unity,” she commented.
Joshua said that the cheesy video is part of the culture of boybands. “It just means that it touches people and you see that there’s a lot of emotion in this subject. It’s funny, but we do have a serious goal. We want to reach the hearts of the British people.” Although there are currently no official tour plans, the Breunion Boys have high hopes of visiting the UK and spreading their message of unity. Veldman would like the band to tour the UK. In order to finance this, she is selling merchandise. She plans to go to pubs, looking for Leave voters and persuade the Remainers to speak out against Brexit. “Britain, don’t despair! We have a plan,” the band writes on its website. “We’re going to release a hit single, and through the power of music, get you back.”