Theater of Cruelty

A dance on dandelion

Norwegian dance bands are out of the Swedish shadow, but are not yet invited by the good company.


[dance music] – I do not come home so suddenly, now I have it so great, sings Eirik Johansen.

It is six o'clock in the morning, and Scandinavia has to go through sound test and makeup. After 18 years in the dance band top, they are used to giving the audience what they want, and today it is TV 2's Good Morning, Norway that demands theirs. Because although the Norwegian dance band Scandinavia has sold ice on the North Pole in the form of more than 10.000 plates sold in the dance bands' home country, Sweden, the media does not come running when they release the album All Mann to the pumps. They get to know breakfast TV and Nitimen carefully.

- The interest is greatest from local radios and local newspapers, but things have changed since we started in 1988. We do not have to defend the music we play, and more and more people come out of the closet as dance band fans, says songwriter Steinar Storm Kristiansen.

Not so hip

There are good times for Norwegian dance bands. The most popular ones sell 25.000-30.000 albums, but struggle with visibility on the VG list. Last year Anne Nørdsti sold 25.000 copies of Bygderomantikk, but did not reach higher than 19th place. Scandinavia sold 7500 plates to the store in its first week. That was before the TV commercial got underway, but they didn't get higher than 42nd place. By comparison, Mira Craig was in the top ten for six weeks, although her total record sales have not yet passed 20.000.

Scandinavia debuted in 22nd place on VG's new Helnorsk album list, which makes the dance bands more visible. But Leif Hemmingsen, sales manager at Bare Bra Music, believes the VG list and media still do not reflect reality.

- When Ole Ivars sold 30.000 of Vi tar det tel manda'n last year, more than half went from grocery stores, petrol stations and post offices that do not report to the VG list. In addition, the multinational record companies and the national media have for years focused on the club environment in the big cities, while dance bands for 10-20 years have been the most important entertainment in the village. We are not as hip as we think here in Norway, says Hemmingsen.

But the dance bands laugh all the way to the bank. The gaming jobs are queued. Ole Ivars has won six spellman awards since the genre got its own award in 1997, while Christer Sjögren in Vikingarna was recently named 1st class knight by the Royal Norwegian Order of Merit. Even before, urban record chains such as the Record Company and Free Record Shop sell dance bands from their center stores.

Dance fever

NRK's ​​dance band offerings are also popular. Within interactive TV programs, where the audience chooses the content via SMS, Danseband jukebox smashes both Switzerland, Mess TV and Autofil Jukebox with an average of 23.000 viewers every night to Sunday.

- It is the most popular program of its kind. We have a very dedicated viewer group, where over 80 percent are older than 40 years. But among the performers who submit music videos, we see a whole new generation of musicians, says project manager Åsa Formark.

Earlier on Saturday night, At Dance Foot at NRK P1 gathers around 250.000 listeners. It is the most popular radio show in the evening, and with the exception of the local radios, On dancefoot is alone in the market.

- I understand that the other nationwide channels do not prioritize dance bands when they want to reach as wide an audience as possible, but I think neither P4 nor Kanal 24 would lose by playing one Ole Ivars or Scandinavia song a day, says host Erik Forfod .

Forfod uses the term "folk music" to refer to dance bands, country (or køntri), Norwegian-language pop and artists such as Åge Aleksandersen and DDE

Out of the Swedish shadow

Like blues and heavy metal, dance bands are a conservative genre. Scandinavia swears by the following formula: An everyday story with catchy and danceable melody, sung in Norwegian. The music style is deeply rooted in Sweden and Norway, with German dance music and American country as closest relatives.

The Norwegian dance band scene was long a pale copy of the Swedish, with bands playing cover versions of Swedish hits. In the late 1980s, the environment began to grow larger and more confident.

The popularity led to an explosion of dance galleries, bands and recordings. Bobla burst in the mid-1990s, but over the last six to seven years, Norwegian dance bands have returned with renewed vigor and their own songs. On the way, they have buried the "Swedish peak" concept, and Scandinavia is now selling plates in both Sweden and Denmark.

- Now there are lots of Swedish bands that record versions of our songs, says guitarist Finn Jacobsen.

Off the radar

The country band Vassendgutane from Førde is another example of how things happen off the radar. After their first two albums sold 2000-3000 locally, they were picked up by Bare Bra Music last year and sold over 18.000 copies of Ungkar with double bed. Almost no newspapers reviewed the record.

- So who is Norway's leading dance band-


- Critics? wonders Steinar Storm Kristiansen in Scandinavia, and takes a very long break.

- It's like sending a vegetarian to a steakhouse. They have declared the menu inedible in advance. Before we were not reported, but now we are at least slaughtered. It is also a kind of progress.

You may also like