‘He’s as handsome as a Greek Adonis’

A Swedish singing quartet is wowing Scandinavia with a tongue-in-cheek a cappella ditty extolling the sundry manly virtues of Norwegian cross-country skiing giant Petter Northug.

'He's as handsome as a Greek Adonis'

A constant thorn in the side of Sweden’s skiers, Northug has earned a reputation for showboating arrogance twinned with dazzling virtuosity on the ski track.

Anders Svensson, a member of the DEO quartet, explained how the group came to focus the lyrics on Northug after stumbling on the bombastic score for the William Tell Overture.

“We came across the piece and decided we wanted to make it about a hero,” he told The Local.

First they toyed with the idea of singing about Swedish footballing stars such as Zlatan Ibrahimovic or Olof Mellberg, or even the American martial arts expert Chuck Norris. But with the winter sports season looming, it was eventually Northug who got the nod.  

“And he seemed to fulfil all the attributes for the archetypal male hero," Svensson said.

The Swedes wrote the song during the autumn, recorded it over Christmas and recently released the video to an enchanted audience. 

Now, the question remains as to whether the all-conquering Norwegian has seen the finished product.

“We think so, I tweeted the song and hashtagged with the account name that I presume is his private account. That account retweeted my tweet, but he hasn’t got back to us or anything,” Svensson said.

But the group is hopeful that Northug is pleased to have had a song made about him.

“It is a tribute, even if it is done a bit tongue in cheek,” Svensson said.

Svensson doesn’t think DEO are letting their home country down by choosing a Norwegian over a Swede, but he said they may think differently next time if faced with a World Championship.

“But we can’t do another song on the same topic. The world’s second biggest hero wouldn’t be the same,” Svensson told The Local.

Click here for The Local's English translation of the lyrics.

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‘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.