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The History of Norwegian Pop Music
by Alex Cosper (4/17/13)


The roots of Norway's music were in folk and opera prior to the termination of its connection with Sweden in 1905. From that point on Norway began to develop its own sense of national pop culture. Folk artists such as David Monrad Johansen and Geirr Tveitt continued the folk traditon. Opera singer and composer Pauline Hall mixed in influences from around the world. Arne Nordheim was considered an avant garde composer who helped craft a highly influencial string quartet sound beginning in the 1950s. He was also an innovator in electronic music.

The Oslo Philharmonic was founded in 1919 and continues to serve Norway with diverse classical music. The orchestra performed many sellout shows its first year. The orchestra performed the first live concert on Norwegian radio in 1923. By entering a contract with Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation (NRK), the orchestra secured a weekly radio show in 1925. The orchestra started performing outside of its homeland in 1962 and has since become internationally known. The NRK went on to be a key to the development of Norwegian pop music.

Foreign jazz artists began to tour Norway in 1921, which influenced the development of Norwegian jazz centered around the piano, saxophone, violin, banjo and drums. In 1938 the Funny Boys emerged as the first notable Norwegian jazz band. A top songwriter of the 1940s through the 1960s was Troubadour Alf Proysen, who sang about Norwegian culture. One of the most memorable tributes to the culture comes from the Beatles with their 1965 song "Norwegian Wood," which also introduced the western world to the Indian instrument the sitar. Even though Norway has not produced many big names on the international scene, the Norwegian band a-Ha had a worldwide hit in 1985 with "Take On Me."

Hip hop started becoming a subculture in Norway following the 1984 film Beat Street. Initially most rap songs were sung in English until the start of the 21st century when rap songs started to be recorded in an assortment of Norwegian dialects. Tungtvann was an early pioneer in Norwegian rap songs. By 2005 hip hop had become the mainstream in Norway. Popular Norwegian rap artists include Karpe Diem, Paperboys, Minoritet, Warlocks and Tommy Tee. In 2002 Madcon collaborated with the Paperboys for the hit "Barcelona," which led to a string of other hip hop hits by Madcon. Other successful Norwegian artists include Rebekka Karijord, M2M, Marit Larsen and Kings of Convenience.

In 2012 the International Federation of Phonographic Industry (IFPI) reported that Norway moved up a notch to be the world's 18th biggest music market. The country actually nearly ranks top ten in digital sales, as nearly half the nation's music sales were digital by 2011. According to the IFPI consumers between the ages of 30 and 59 make up 39 percent of Norway's music sales while 25 percent was represented by the 60 plus age group. Only 18 percent of sales came from the 15-29 age group. Norway's national music charts are ranked by IFPI Norway.









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