The Best Norwegian Songs of the Decade So Far (2010-2014)

1. Todd Terje – ‘Inspector Norse’ (2012)
For the best part of a decade Todd Terje had been seemingly content to toddle along in the shadow of Oslo disco standard-bearers like Lindstrøm and Prins Thomas, releasing meandering, winking reworkings of the likes of Chris Rea and The Beegees, his choice of remix-fodder and Todd Terry-referencing moniker perhaps suggesting he wasn’t taking any of it particularly seriously. And then ‘Inspector Norse’ happened. The boss of Norway’s national new music radio may have refused to play it on the grounds that it sounded like “elevator music”, but slowly but unstoppably everyone else, everywhere, did. Cool, catchy, moreish, danceable, and deliciously different – never mind best Norwegian track of the decade so far, ‘Inspector Norse’ might be just be the best one anywhere.

2. Susanne Sundfør – ‘The Brothel’ (2010)
‘A work of such terrible beauty you will struggle to look away’, The Times wrote of Cormac McCarthy’s The Road, and the same is true of Sundfør’s visceral reimagining of the desolate world of McCarthy’s sucker punch dystopia. Achingly beautiful, songs capable of this kind of devastating power are rare indeed, and whilst the vision Sundfør sings pristinely into being (co-opting the literary horrors for what could be read as a bleak treatise on prostitution) may be a horrifying one, you will feel compelled to listen – and feel deeply – again and again.

3. Hubbabubbaklubb – ‘Mopedbart’ (2013)
Disco mouthfuls Hubbabubbaklubb haven’t really released anything other than ‘Mopedbart’, but if it’s all they ever do they can die pretty happy. Given out on a Sydney label, with daft slacker lyrics about riding around on a moped with a moustache, this lazy, hazy Balearic number might have seemed an unlikely success, but from the first note of the lothario bassline your hips will twitch, and the ba-ba-ba-ba-bada-bum chorus is an irrepressible burrower. Despite being uniquely Norwegian, the appeal of ‘Mopedbart’ is somehow utterly universal.

4. Susanne Sundfør – ‘White Foxes’ (2012)
The first single to drop from Susanne Sundfør’s third album The Silicone Veil, ‘White Foxes’ opens with 12 seconds of a distant metronome before a fragile piano descent ushers in a tar-black and poisonous bass growl beset by percussive cave drips. If this frosty palette seems to be keeping the listener at Fever Ray’s preferred arms length, however, that all changes when the singing hits. ‘White Foxes’ features Sundfør’s most stunning vocal performance yet – imperious, moving, enigmatic – and when she soars suddenly into the cryptic pre-chorus trill of “you gave me my very first gun” you forget to keep breathing.

5. Lindstrøm & Christabelle – ‘Lovesick’ (2010)
Lindstrøm’s extended Moroder/Donna Summer tribute collaboration with Belgian singer Christabelle may have been semi-improvised, but more than once the sexy strut crystallised into a solid gold disco Tune, and never more so than on ‘Lovesick’, which drops a massive creaky old-school hip-hop beat for an echoing Christabelle to adorn with sassy remonstrations to some spurning lover.

6. Casiokids – ‘Fot i Hose’ (2010)
‘Fot i Hose’ achieved near-ubiquity in the group’s native land and won a fair few fans abroad – even being utilised as regular interstitial music in a hit UK sitcom. And no wonder. Bouncing synth rolls over echoing bass to produce one of those musical instances where simplicity begets almost infuriating addictiveness.

7. Matoma – ‘Old Thing Back’ (2014)
Norway’s international musical influence this decade has been dominated by the rather unfortunate trop house phenomenon, with a thousand spring break frat parties soundtracked by Kygo’s pallid pan flutes. But sometimes snobbery has to be put aside in favour of a congratulatory pat on the back in acknowledgement of a genuinely first rate achievement. That ‘good thing’ is this ‘old thing’ – Matoma perking up a middling Notorious B.I.G offcut to make one of the most joyously infectious summer anthems of recent years. It may want for credibility, but boy is it undeniable!

8. Kvelertak – ‘Mjød’ (2010)
They may have pissed off black metal purists, but has devil worship ever been quite this fun? A lusty Viking drinking song that barrels along on a feast of massive fur-and-chainmail clad riffs and shrieked tributes to Odin’s gift of alcohol, before the testosterone-swollen choir stands to attention to bellow the anthemic chorus and we all raise our horns in tribute.

9. Röyksopp & Robyn – ‘Monument (2014)
Röyksopp followed the joyous pop statement of Junior with a couple of full length duds – the tame Senior and the disjointed and flabby The Inevitable End, but their sparkier EP collaboration with Robyn picked up where Junior highlight ‘The Girl and the Robot’ left off, and this sleek slice of chilly widescreen pop serves as a microcosmic nostalgia trip back through the downtempo duo’s glittering back catalogue, dissolving at its close into strains of mournful saxophone that tie Röyksopp’s (possible) last act back into the neon noir of Melody AM’s ‘She’s So’.

10. Shining – ‘Fisheye’ (2010)
Former jazz act Shining completed their bestial transformation into muscular black metal method actors on their screeching thesis Blackjazz, and this terse belter found them petulantly comfortable in their new demonic skin. Melting together Nine Inch Nails-inflected industrial synth hammer blows with twisted call-and-response vocals alternately barking or stuttering out a hypnotic and frightening cryptic verse, this kind of quasi-pop economy set the template for their next whistle-stop album One One One, but they’ve never been quite as damn catchy as they were on ‘Fisheye’ before or since.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: