Popular music

Today, Norwegian pop, rock, hip-hop, metal, R&B and electronica are more popular than ever. Bands and artists like Röyksopp, Turbonegro, Serena Maneesh, Sissel, Annie, Madrugada and Jaga Jazzist are at the forefront of Norwegian popular music. Thanks to a multitude of other active bands and new record companies, more is going on in Norwegian popular music than ever before.

Norway has a large and active rock scene. High-volume bands, like Kaizers Orchestra, Big Bang, Madrugada, Amulet, Serena Maneesh, Motorpsycho, Animal Alpha and JR Ewing, have a solid position in Norway, and increase their popularity abroad with every successful tour. Artists with a quieter sound include St. Thomas, Thomas Dybdahl and Ane Brun, as well as groups such as Washington, Minor Majority, Salvatore and The White Birch, all of which have been praised by foreign music critics for their expressiveness. 

Norwegian pop music boasts a number of gifted and distinctive songwriters and performers, including Bertine Zetlitz, Sondre Lerche, Maria Mena and Ephemera. Among the younger, promising artists is Marion Ravn, formerly half of the duo M2M, and now a solo artist with a major international contract. The other half of M2M, Marit Larsen, is also expected to develop a successful career. Meanwhile the veterans in a-ha are still going strong, almost 20 years after their massive international breakthrough, and enjoying major success in terms of both record sales and live performances. Another long-standing Norwegian favourite is Sissel, who is now concentrating on increasing her international audience, with particular focus on the USA.

The electronica scene is dominated by the biggest current name among Norwegian music exports: Röyksopp. However, the Tromsø/Bergen is not alone in producing melodic, warm, organic electronica. Artists like Jaga Jazzist, Xploding Plastix, Ralph Myerz and The Jack Herren Band, Lindstrøm and Prins Thomas, Datarock, Flunk, BermudaTriangle, Supersilent, Frost, Sternklang and Bjørn Torske have made a large number of recordings and give frequent live performances.

Norwegian hip-hop is characterised by a strong Norwegian-language scene, which includes such names as Tungtvann, Klovner i Kamp and Karpe Diem, as well as an up-and-coming scene taking its inspiration directly from the USA’s east coast, and which includes Equicez, Paperboys, Warlocks and Tee Productions.

Metal has traditionally been one of Norwegian music’s biggest music exports. Bands such as Satyricon, Red Harvest, Dimmu Borgir, Enslaved and Mayhem have many loyal fans in Norway and abroad, and the international music press ranks the Norwegian metal scene as among the best within the genre.

Norwegian roots/country/folk music is also thriving, with good revenues, popular festivals and loyal fans. Norwegian-language artists like Henning Kvitnes and Jonas Fjeld are some of this genre’s most successful artists in Norway, with excellent record sales and extensive concert tours. Other key artists within this broad genre include Home Groan, The International Tussler Society and HGH.

Production companies and studios such as Stargate in Trondheim and Waterfall in Oslo have built up a solid reputation within the international R&B scene. Remixing, producing and writing songs for major international artists and well-known Norwegian R&B artists like Mira Craig, Samsaya and Sofian has created a vibrant, active community that is acknowledged far beyond Norway’s borders.

The appearance of new, young and independent record companies has also helped to strengthen Norwegian pop music. Labels such as Tellè Records, Smalltown Supersound, Racing Junior, Black Balloon Records, Moonfog, dBut Records, Beatservice, Rune Grammofon and Trust Me have proved to be important suppliers of new and energetic bands that have made a name for themselves at home and abroad. These young, new labels are strongly export-focused, and have managed to build solid international networks.

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MadrugadaPhoto: Jasper James/ Virgin Records LTD

RöyksoppPhoto: Unknown / Wall of Sound/ Labels UK

Sondre LerchePhoto: Marte Rognerud/Virgin Records LTD

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