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Norwegian artist Sigrid is on the threshold of an international breakthrough after winning BBC Music’s Sound of 2018 poll. Here are some of the artists ready to follow her lead.

Published: 19 January 2018

As a global exporter of pop music, Norway is a fairly young country. In the 80s, a-ha saved the nation’s international music reputation with their sophisticated and catchy synth pop. Some decades later, Röyksopp and Kings of Convenience captivated the world’s music lovers with electronica and folk music, respectively.

The last few years, however, the international interest in Norwegian music has had a massive boost – both within the pop mainstream and more experimental genres.

Right now, one rising star shines brighter than anybody else – a young musician described as possessing “a confidence and charisma that belies her 21 years” by none other than BBC.

Sigrid’s great year

The Norwegian artist you’re bound to get to know this year – if you’re a pop lover – is Sigrid Raabe from the town of Ålesund in Fjord Norway. The 21-year-old has been a name to reckon with outside of her native country for quite some time already, but in 2018, her major breakthrough seems inevitable.

Forthcoming festival gigs at Coachella and Eurosonic, a performance on the BBC talk show The Graham Norton Show and a giant leap on the British singles chart with her tune “Strangers” are amongst the goals accomplished just two weeks into the new year.

In Norway she’ll be headlining festivals such as OverOslo, Pstereo and Stavernfestivalen this summer.

In addition, she recently came out on top of BBC’s prestigious poll The Sound of 2018, where previous winners include Adele, Sam Smith and 50 Cent. She received the big news in her hometown Ålesund, and took the opportunity to praise the city and its surroundings: 

“Look at this! This is amazing. This is where I grew up, and it’s beautiful. It makes me really emotional”, she says, pointing at the fjords and the sea surrounding Ålesund.

Kathrine Synnes Finnskog is the Managing Director of Music Norway, a foundation working with Norwegian artists abroad. She explains why this particular moment belongs to Sigrid.

“Sigrid is accessible, smart and conscious. Her media profile is likable, and her timing has been impeccable. She has used all of the opportunities coming her way wisely, and you feel like rooting for Sigrid. This work ethic combined with solid pop hits equals gold.”

Ruben Gran, DJ and host of the music show “Ruben” on the Norwegian youth radio station NRK P3, often plays songs before they become hits. He has been following Sigrid’s career years and considers her success well deserved.

“She’s capable of making hits, is backed by a great support team, and has a winning personality.”

Female artists gaining momentum

The last few years, to young gentlemen from Bergen – Kygo and Alan Walker – have been Norway’s hottest musical exports.

This year, however, it’s the up and coming female artists we should keep our ears open to, Kathrine Synnes Finnskog tells Visit Norway.

“Just as Kygo and Alan Walker have become role models for several electronic artists and producers, the girls have gotten their own role models, such as Susanne Sundfør, Aurora, and Astrid S. We’ve had more Norwegian artists leading the way and raising the level of ambition in our national music business. This year it’s Julie Bergan, Fieh, Anna of The North, and Amanda Delara – to mention a few.”

Another exciting artist making her way to several “look out for these in 2018”-lists is Halie, a young pop talent emerging from the constantly rewarding music scene of Bergen. DJ Ruben Gran predicts a breakthrough. 

“This 17-year-old has something special that could very well appeal abroad. Her music reminds me of lots of other stuff, yet her signature as an artist is distinctive and unique.”

The bands keep on playing

Even though solo artists dominate many of the predictions for 2018, young folks still get together and form bands. Several of these will leave their impressions on the music year as well, according to Ruben Gran and Kathrine Synnes Finnskog.

They both highlight one of them – a colorful and explosive live band who made their first splash in the Norwegian talent contest Urørtfinalen in 2017.

“Pom Poko is poised to impress a lot of listeners as one of the most bad-ass and refreshing Norwegian guitar bands these days”, he says.

Synnes Finnskog elaborates:

“I’m very charmed by Pom Poko as well. Jazz musicians based in Trondheim with a playful approach to their genre have found their way into listeners’ hearts before, and these guys may hit an indie nerve this year.”

Just before Christmas, the American music and lifestyle magazine Fader published their list of Scandinavian artists most likely to succeed in the near future. Amongst their 15 picks, 10 are Norwegian.

Here, more experimental groups such as Sassy 009 and Smerz appear, while Jakob Ogawa and Boy Pablo represent the male Norwegian solo artists.

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