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I know about an old man


He does not read Spirit and does not listen to P3, but possibly works for Ny Tid. The only thing we were worried about when we sat down to finalize the list of nominations for "Norwegian of the time" was that there would be an overly musical politically correct and predictably critical post from some music journalists. The fear turned out to be justified.

When Ny Tid's journalist Øyvind Holen (5.11.05) claims that it has been "a long time" since he has seen "such a skewed and short-sighted picture of Norwegian pop history", we should keep in mind that he has worked a lot with Norwegian pop. and the rock lexicon that came out this fall. A selection of the type Spirit and P3 are now doing is something completely different and far more juicy than listing dry facts. And since the competition is announced via Spirit and P3, both of which have an audience mainly between 15 and 30 years, it should not surprise anyone that the list gets a youthful feel. Had Hjemmet and P1 been the senders, the list would of course have looked different. Nominating Jan Eggum and Wenche Myhre for our nomination might have satisfied the country's lexicon writers, but it would also have been irrelevant, because they would not have had the remotest chance to win.

Holen also claims that we do not "admit" that our readers and listeners are largely born in the eighties and nineties. A strange claim. At least we have not denied it. But for good measure: Spirits readers and P3's listeners are mostly born in the eighties and nineties. So far none of them have, as far as we have registered, called for Åse Kleveland's "I know about an old man".

Holen criticizes us for being nearsighted, which we interpret to mean that there is too much new music on the list. But that's the case with pop music now: Most of it is perishable. When the last five years are represented with 40 of the 100 nominated songs, it is completely in line with the nature of pop music. Fresh produce dominates, with a good selection of classics that fit into the popular cultural plat du jour. And where Holen seems appalled that we left out music made before 1980, we are similarly surprised that he apparently expects the exclusion of songs because they are "too new".

We have no idea whether people will hum on the songs we nominated in five or ten years. Nobody knows. But we know they do it here and now. And this is a list of present as a starting point.

Such lists will always be marked by the time they were put together. In the selection of old songs as well as new ones. For example, TNT and Stage Dolls would hardly have been nominated with their eighty hits in 1993. But now that feels right. It goes as you know in circles, this one. But for Saft and Pussycats, we are afraid that time has passed.

When Spirit invited Norwegian music journalists to be voted the best Norwegian album of all time in 2003, there was not a single album from before 1980 with among the top 30. And hardly anyone among the approximately 150 nominated. And it was a ranking where most of the music journalists from creeping rock and pop oriented media were involved, not just Spirit and P3. Øyvind Holen participated in the award. The oldest album he suggested was from 1981.

With regard to the criticism that Spirit «has become a device in NRK P3's brand building», the following can be said: When Spirit was bought – and allowed to be bought – by NRK, it was of course with the aim of a mutual collaboration with the national broadcaster. It has worked brilliantly so far.

It should be said that Spirit would never nominate "Summer Flirt" when we stood on our own legs.

But only because it was not released at that time.

Thomas Talseth is editor of Spirit.

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