Nordic Women Lead the Pop Industry

MØ // Photo: Jacob Gøtzsche

MØ // Photo: Jacob Gøtzsche

Ever since ABBA took to the stage in the seventies, the easily recognisable, female pop vocal has been a trademark of the Nordic sound on the international scene, and to this day, the female Nordic singers still have something special about them. We asked industry influencers, how artists like MØ, Sigrid and Aurora are continuing this tradition and paving the way for the next generation of women.

 By Mille Raaby Jensen

Nordic music is thriving outside the Scandinavian countries right now, and one of the reasons why the world is taking a keen interest in the North is a group of talented and inspiring women with control over their own careers and music.

Nordic female singers such as MØ from Denmark and Sigrid and AURORA from Norway have enjoyed international success over the last few years, and they are the perfect examples of the Nordic female sound that is so popular right now.

Danish MØ has evolved from playing small venues with her punk duo “MOR” to being an international pop star with plenty of hit singles and collaborations with some of the biggest musicians and producers in the industry. More, her Norwegian counterparts AURORA and Sigrid, have also attracted attention from the industry as well as the public. Each with their own take on pop music AURORA explores the delicate, folky part of the genre while Sigrid is the new girl in class with her infectious pop songs.

AURORA // Photo: Christian Rosenlund

German journalist Klaus Fiehe from WDR Radio 1Live, Köln, got to experience MØ’s early days as a pop artist. He was impressed by her behaviour, self-consciousness and coolness – keywords that are also used when talking about Sigrid. According to Fiehe the female singers from Nordic countries have a very natural and unpretentious approach to making music and being popstars. All three women come from very ordinary backgrounds but they all got the opportunity to explore their love of music early on, and that has had an impact on their journeys to where they are today.

The approach to being a popstar from the start and the way these females come on to their audiences are interesting things about them. As Ed Nash from The Line of Best Fit says:

“Some artists feel really manufactured and you can see their labels want them to wear specific clothes and write these words and say these things but take someone like Sigrid or AURORA they don’t do that, they are just themselves and I think that’s A: why they are brilliant and B: why people connect with them because there is a genuineness to it.”

To him these Nordic women have such a natural and unpretentious approach to the way they present themselves. They are ambitious about their careers and they want to make it big but it shouldn’t compromise their personalities. To Klaus Fiehe that’s also the thing he sees as unique and for him it’s a sort of formula:

“Not only are they young women who are very successful but maybe here and there it starts to become a formula. I mean the formula is about young girls and young women singing about their doubts, their questions and their concerns about life but in the end saying yes and being optimistic.”

The Nordic sound

The female singers emerging from the North represent a wide span of expressions and sub-genres. However, at the end of the day pop remains a common denominator. Andrew Hannah from The Line of Best Fit agrees,

“Pop. That’s the big one. There are so many great pop artists around right now.

Fiehe shares the same perspective and draws some historical parallels back to ABBA to describe this Nordic sound of pop, also known as Scandi-pop.

But is it just great pop as the one unique factor that binds the Nordic female together as a power group? To Andrew Hannah it is a yes. He says these Nordic female singers have not got anything on the surface to link them other than pop, great performance skills and top-class song writing. Fiehe disagrees. He sees some similarities in these female popstars, mainly in the way they present themselves and their music. Ed Nash backs up this point with an example from Sigrid’s early career:

“There’s an interesting story with Sigrid where she got signed to Petroleum Records when she was 16 and then she just thought “I’m not ready, this isn’t what, I’m not quite where I wanna be and I really love this and I know exactly who I want to be but I’m not there yet”

This is a true example of how strongminded and how much in control these Nordic female artists are. They are ambitious about their careers right from the start but they want to hold on to their personalities even if it means not being on stage right away.

Sigrid // Photo: Francesca Jane Allen

How to be relevant in the future

According to Niloufar Behradi-Ohnacker from the German site Blogrebellen, the combination of ambition, knowing what’s trending in the business and a touch of their own unique personalities is the reason why these Nordic females will last in the industry.

“You know it’s always useful to look at what is successful to others but you shouldn’t forget yourself,” says Niloufar Behradi-Ohnacker.

To Behradi-Ohnacker. the fine balance between being you and being popular as an artist is indeed the way you stay relevant.

MØ and AURORA are established on the music scene and Sigrid has created a massive buzz this last year, so who and what is the next big trend? SPOT has already got some interesting artists in the line-up who have the potential to join the club of popular Nordic females: Frida Sundemo from Sweden, Danish Ea Kaya and the trio Sassy 009 from Norway are just a few to be aware of and to see on SPOT this year and maybe one or more of these acts will be the next influential Nordic female pop stars.

Ea Kaya

Frida // Photo: Linnea Sundemo and Joel Humlen