Black metal star’s family says no to Norwegian tailfin honour

In line with the wishes of his family, murdered black metal musician Øystein Aarseth will not have his picture painted on the tailfin of a Norwegian airline plane despite topping an online poll.

Black metal star's family says no to Norwegian tailfin honour
Photo: Hans Olav Nyborg/Mayhem

The airline was faced with a potential selection headache after legions of international fans propelled the controversial Mayhem guitarist to the summit of a list of candidates for the Oslo region.

Seeking a tailfin hero of whom Norwegians could be proud, the airline had allowed voters to nominate their own favourite personalities. Norwegian launched the campaign to celebrate its first ten years in the air.

A jury appointed by the airline has now presented its Oslo shortlist after sifting through the nominees with the highest number of votes. But Aarseth never made it to the final list of candidates after his family spared Norwegian’s blushes by requesting that he be taken out of the reckoning. The family declined to give a reason, newspaper Dagbladet reports.

“Naturally we respect their wishes,” Norwegian spokesman Lasse Sandaker-Nielsen told the newspaper. 

A leading figure in a black metal scene notorious in the 1990s for church burnings and vicious in-fighting, Aarseth died in 1993 at the age of 25 after being stabbed 23 times by his erstwhile understudy and bandmate Varg Vikernes.

Known also as Euronymous, Aarseth had previously earned notoriety for allegedly taking photos of Mayhem member Per “Dead” Ohlin immediately after his gory suicide in 1991, before making necklaces from pieces of the ex-vocalist’s skull.

Aarseth wasn’t the only nominee to pose a problem for Norwegian. The airline announced on Monday that it had taken the deceased military commander Trond Bolle out of contention for security reasons.

Rewarded posthumously with the prestigious War Cross, Bolle was killed by a roadside bomb in Afghanistan in 2010.

Norwegian’s commercial director Daniel Skjeldam explained the decision in a statement.

“Norwegian currently has flights to a number of areas where the war in Afghanistan is considered controversial.

“This makes it a risk, since it could be considered provocative if were to have the war hero Trond Bolle on the tailfin.

“This is a risk we just can’t take. We know that many people will be disappointed but we hope people will understand that we always put flight security first,” said Skjeldam.

The Oslo jury has whittled its selection down to five final candidates: influential 19th century revivalist minister Hans Nielsen Hauge, marathon runner Grete Waitz, actress Wenche Foss, impressionist painter Johan Fredrik «Frits» Thaulow, and popular Romany preacher Ludvig Walentin Karlsen.

The finalists for the Bergen, Trondheim and Stavanger regions will be presented on Tuesday.

Member comments

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


‘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.