Last week Finland marked a hundred years since it declared independence from Russia. “What timing,” I thought. But digging around for Finnish pop music for our seven-week dive into Nordic pop hasn’t been easy. Unlike its neighbors, Finland has kept a much lower profile (at least for the most part) and so it was a bit more difficult looking for easy entry points to the country’s music. And then it all clicked into place, somewhat. Like its neighbors, they have had a presence in our collective musical consciousness – we’re just not aware of it.
We’ve reached the point where things get tricky, slightly. Now we’re past Sweden and Norway – two Nordic countries that have contributed a lot to pop music around the world – we’re heading to countries that are more… incognito, shall we say. But then I have a soft spot for Denmark – my first dip into Nordic pop, at least for this blog, was with this country – and, for a country so small land-wise, it’s also given us a lot. I’m honestly surprised at how many acts I have dug up while researching this week’s installment. So, here we go, then. Denmark.
Now, it’s on to Norway as we continue to go country-by-country for this seven-week look at Nordic pop. Despite being significantly smaller, population-wise, from Sweden – five million people, roughly, as opposed to nine million – musically it’s also contributed a lot. Like Sweden, there’s a lot of Norwegian music on the radio and you wouldn’t realize it… at least until the time you finish going through this. Unless you already knew about it.
I am writing this from a hotel room in Hong Kong. It’s cool outside, but it will be cooler in the coming days, or so the weather forecast I’ve been keeping an eye on suggests. As expected there is little to nothing on television, so I am watching the BBC. On the ticker below, a headline scrolls about Pixar co-founder John Lassetter, and how he’s taken a leave after allegations of improper behavior. Specifically, the line was, in quotes, “unwanted hugs”.
Last week we came to the slightly awkward realization that most of our five essential Nordic pop acts – four out of five – come from Sweden. That says a lot about how much of a force Swedish music has become, although we’re keen to stress that there’s a lot of interesting music from their neighbors too. But that’s in the coming weeks. This week we square in more on Sweden, because it’s such an obvious place to start, yeah? That, and it’s worth realizing that Swedish music has been an intrinsic part of Western pop for decades.