The Seven Norwegian Bands You Should Know (Other Than Ylvis)

The viral video hit "The Fox (What Does the Fox Say)" by Norwegian comedy duo Ylvis has exploded on Youtube, earning 151 million views as of October 23rd. The success of this Norwegian duo calls for an audit of Norwegian bands.

Norwegian music is likely influenced by the country's sparse population (42.5 people per square mile -- DFW has 280 people per square mile), natural surroundings and cold climate. Norwegian musicians are not as savvy as Swedish artists like Robyn and In Flames, but in general less full of themselves than Icelandic artists like Björk and Jónsi. Here are a few Norwegian bands that warrant some attention alongside their animal-costume-wearing countrymen.

7. A-Ha A-ha's debut album Hunting High and Low, released in 1985 and featured the song "Take on Me". The song's unique rotoscoped music video won a few awards in the 1986 MTV Music Video Awards, a time when the award was relevant. Like Ylvis, A-ha appeared on American pop music charts via a memorable video proliferated through a popular contemporary media platform.

6. Röyksopp Overshadowed by Sweden's prolific electronic music scene, Röyksopp made their mark in America as light elevator music through smart licensing. Austin's PBS affiliate KLRU-TV uses a sample of the song "Eple" in its station ID. A mix of the song "Remind Me" was also featured in a Geico "offended caveman" ad in 2006. A remix of "The Girl And The Robot", featuring Swedish singer Robyn, was nominated for a Grammy in 2009 in the "Best Remixed Recording, Non-Classical" category.

5. Dimmu Borgir As the most popular symphonic metal band, Dimmu Borgir is also pretty divisive. The band is shunned as inauthentic by "true" metal fans for their ostentatious live shows and high audio quality of their albums. Co-founder and Guitarist Silonez said he listens to Lady Gaga while drunk in a 2010 Dallas Observer interview with Darryl Smyers, something the band's detractors may cite and exaggerate. While the band has settled into mediocrity in the last few albums, Puritanical Euphoric Misanthropia (2001) and Death Cult Armageddon (2003) are still enjoyable gateways to Norwegian metal. 4. Ulver The Norwegian word for "wolves", Ulver started out as a mix of black metal with acoustic folk themes. Like Dimmu Borgir, this band deviated from the early 90's black metal template, adopting different genres in each release since 1999's Metamorphosis EP. Ulver's box of chocolates includes loungey jazz in Perdition City (2000), orchestral scores in Lyckantropen Themes (2002), and progressive rock in Blood Inside (2010).

3. Wardruna Wardruna debuted in 2009 with the first in a trilogy of albums featuring tribal dirges. This grim neoclassical group is influenced by Scandinavian history and uses vintage instruments recorded outdoors. Wardrunna features Gaahl, former member of the black metal band Gorgoroth and the subject of a Vice documentary on black metal. Wardruna's music was also featured in the first season of the History Channel drama series Vikings.

2. Burzum The name Burzum comes from J.R.R Tolkien's fictional language Black Speech, a huge nerd alarm. Nonetheless, the fantasy nerd Varg Vikernes is pretty intimidating. Vikernes' 1993 murder of Mayhem bandmate Øystein "Euronymous" Aarseth and participation in a wave of church arsons illustrated the Norwegian metal scene's devotion to a misanthropic worldview and its struggle for authenticity.

(Vikernes is an avowed white supremacist, but his first lines in the track "War" resemble James Brown's exclamations - methinks he doth protest too much)

1. Jaga Jazzist Before you get the idea all Norwegian musicians are murderous xenophobes with a nostalgia complex, here's Jaga Jazzist for a chaser.This nine-piece band performs a compelling mix of modern jazz, post-rock and progressive rock that manages to sound eager, instead of snobbish. Their landmark album is What We Must (2005), a good median between their prior albums, that featured more electronic clank, and their later post-rock album One-Armed Bandit (2010).

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Shahryar Rizvi
Contact: Shahryar Rizvi