‘Too sexy’ Tone Damli looks back on seven crazy years

She may have taken a lot of flak in Norway for revealing what many viewed as too much flesh in a music video this winter, but singer Tone Damli says her life has never been better.

'Too sexy' Tone Damli looks back on seven crazy years
Photo: Håkon Mosvold Larsen/Scanpix, YouTube Screenshot

“I have it so good that I'm terrified of losing it. Sometimes I think: 'can things get any better for me than they are now?'"

Not one to hold back when she has something to say, Damli is quick to elaborate.

“There is no reason to be afraid, things are working out both in terms of my career and home life. I have the best home and a boyfriend who is reliable and great. The fact that there have been some ups and downs, with all the drama that has happened, helps you to really value the good things,” she says.

Sitting in Oslo’s Grand Café, the 24-year-old looks poised and graceful despite all the press she has to do in recent days. Her rapid rise to fame means the release of her fifth album is a big deal in her home country.

Damli refers to "Looking Back," the album which comes out this week, as a sort of "summary" of her career so far. Four of the 16 songs are new, while the rest of the album is made up of singles, along with her own favourites, and songs that have garnered plenty of clicks on YouTube.

She admits that the album is a kind of interim project as she prepares to work on an album of Norwegian-language songs. She and manager David Eriksen have always talked about it, she says, but now it’s time to start making that dream a reality.

“Then there will be nothing to hide behind, so the lyrics will have to be good – according to my definition of good lyrics that is, without being able to please everybody,” she says.

Damli found herself very much on the defensive earlier this year after shedding most of her clothes for the video for hit single “Look Back”. While fans leapt to her defence, other bashed our messages from behind their keyboards, filling the comment fields of Norwegian news sites with derisive remarks about the sexy clip.

She’s also used to getting a cool reception from reviewers.

“I've been a bit defensive when attacked. You go through several phases when creating a record. Ultimately, you have a good feeling, and allow yourself to think: ‘this is good.’ Then you can be upset when others don’t like it. But then a few days pass – and I live on and am back to normal again. But good reviews make me very happy,” she says.

Tone Damli has grown up a lot since she first appeared on talent show “Idol” at the age of 17 in 2005. Her debut album came out later that year.  

She’s happy to admit that her life "sounds ultra-perfect", but is also keen to make one point, which she directs especially at her younger fans.

“I have really worked hard to make it happen! I am a little fascinated and horrified when I hear of young people who want to be celebrities. It's a strange goal, if it can be called a goal. Very little is said about all the long hours that go into it when someone does well,” she says.

“But when it’s so pleasurable, it’s not so bad with 12-hour work days,” she adds.

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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.