SHARE
COPY LINK

ISLAM

Anti-Islam lyrics no barrier to Norway music prize

A black metal band nominated for Norway’s top music prize has rejected claims that lyrics on its latest album go too far in their criticism of Islam.

Anti-Islam lyrics no barrier to Norway music prize
Photo: Vassil (File)

Taake’s nomination for the Spellemann Prize in the Best Metal Album category has sparked a strong reaction from listeners who find some of the band’s lyrics objectionable, newspaper Aftenposten reports.

In the song Orkan (‘Hurricane’) on its latest album, Noregs Vaapen, the band sings “To hell with Muhammad and the Mohammedans” and their “unforgivable customs”. It ends with the line: “Norway will soon awaken”.

Marte Thorsby, chairman of the prize committee’s board, denied any assertion that the jury must not have listened to the album properly before announcing the nomination.

“We enjoy full freedom of expression in Norway and a Spellemann jury is not going to censor content in any way,” she told Aftenposten.

Didrik Søderlind, of the Norwegian Humanist Association, agreed that criticism of religion was fully acceptable and should not be subject to any form of censorship. But he also argued that the song in question went too far.

Søderlind said the lyrics were presumably written prior to last summer's terror attacks in Norway, “and in the aftermath of July 22nd they’re completely over the edge.”

“I’d imagine Taake aren’t particularly proud of these lyrics after Utøya,” he said, referring to the massacre of 69 young people at a summer camp by anti-Islam extremist Anders Behring Breivik.

In a written response to the newspaper, Taake front-man Ørjan Stedjeberg said his sole intention with the contentious lyrics was to criticize religion.

“Our view, in the name of freedom of expression, is that it is shameful to adhere to Christianity or Islam. Incidentally, Christianity is mentioned in the same lyrics, but that doesn’t seem to have been given any emphasis,” he wrote.

“Taake has never been a political band, and we do not encourage either violence or racism.”  

Stedjeberg previously landed himself in hot water in 2007 when he appeared onstage with a swastika painted on his chest in Essen, Germany, where any use of the former Nazi symbol is strictly prohibited.  

In a statement released after the incident, Stedjeberg said:

“Taake is not a political Nazi band, etc. We certainly didn't expect the current threat reactions, as everyone should know by now that our whole concept is built upon provocation and anything evil- and death-related.”

The Spellemann Prize winners will be announced at a ceremony on January 14th.

Note: This article has been updated (6 Jan) to clarify comments made by Didrik Søderlind.

Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.

YOUTUBE

‘Take On Me’ tops a billion YouTube views: What makes 80s Norwegian hit so enduring?

It’s arguably the biggest success in the history of Norwegian pop, and A-ha’s 1984 pop classic ‘Take On Me’ this week reached a new milestone.

'Take On Me' tops a billion YouTube views: What makes 80s Norwegian hit so enduring?
A-Ha performing in 2015. Photo: AFP

The song combines synthpop with acoustic guitars, keyboards and drums and is indisputably the band’s signature tune and one of the most evocative pop songs of the decade.

That is complemented by a memorable music video which combined live action sequences with black-and-white pencil sketch animated overlays, in what was then an innovative technique called rotoscoping. It won six awards at the 1986 MTV Music Video Awards.

Perhaps the combination of both music and visuals has driven Take On Me into the realms of YouTube royalty. The official video, originally released in 1985, was recently restored and upgraded to 4K resolution to improve visual quality, Warner Music Norway wrote in a press statement.

In any case, A-ha now join a small list of artists with music videos that have tipped the 10-figure mark for total views on the social media website.

While South Korean rapper Psy’s 2012 hit Gangnam Style and Despacito by Luis Fonsi (2017) have famously garnered monstrous numbers of YouTube views, it’s arguably harder for songs which pre-date widespread use of the Internet to rack up those kind of figures.

Take On Me joins two Guns N’ Roses songs (November Rain, Sweet Child o’ Mine), Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody and Nirvana’s Smells Like Teen Spirit in an elite club of just five songs from the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s with over a billion views.

Numb by Linkin Park was the first pre-YouTube video from the 2000s to reach a billion views.

“Obviously the video is unique and it has some features that stand up and stand the test of time,” he shared. “It’s hand drawn which makes it what it is,” A-ha guitarist Magne Furuholmen told Billboard last year.

“The song also seems to resonate with people across time. It’s just very fortunate to have such a big song in our catalogue,” Furuholmen said.

“We probably spent a few years talking it down, trying to get people to focus on new stuff we’re doing. At this point, certainly speaking for myself, I’m just surprised and proud that the song has done so well and still finds an audience,” he added.

SHOW COMMENTS