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Sexy singers ‘worse than porn stars’

A Norwegian social scientist kicked off a lively debate on Monday when she likened some of the country’s best-known female pop artists to porn stars.

Sexy singers 'worse than porn stars'
With her skimpy outfits, Tone Damli is a terrible role model for young girls, argues social scientist Heidi Helene Sveen.

GALLERY: Who are the stars in the firing line?

Writing in newspaper Aftenposten, Heidi Helene Sveen said musicians who played on their sexuality were not only bad role models, they also did more damage to young women than the porn industry ever could.

”It has become traditional for female celebrities to shed their clothes to promote themselves, or their own careers,” she wrote.

”Examples include Tone Damli, Mira Craig and Stella Mwangi, all of whom have allowed themselves to become part of an industry that cynically uses the body and sex to satisfy the male gaze.”

Sveen criticizes two women in particular: Tone Damli, back in the headlines last week for donning only the skimpiest of attire in a new music video, and fellow pop star Hanne Sørvaag, who posed half-naked recently for men’s magazine MANN.

Young girls, says Sveen, look up to such high-profile artists as role models.

“In this respect, these two do more damage by taking their clothes off than any porn actress.”

But as comments poured in to the newspaper’s website, sociologist Kjetil Rolness slammed Sveen’s views as outmoded and irrelevant.

“First I wondered if this was a subtle parody of feminist slogans from the previous millennium, but then I realized it was meant to be taken seriously,” he told Aftenposten.

Rolness said Sveen was regurgitating ideas that “haven’t contributed anything new to the debate since 1982”.

“As a fan of, and commentator on, popular culture, I chuckle slightly at the notion that sex should be driven out of pop music.”

Author Marta Breen said she wouldn’t go as far as Sveen in viewing pop stars as role models, but she did suggest there might be a relationship between the quality of a musician’s output and the amount of flesh she chose to display.

“Perhaps it’s brutal to say so, but the Norwegian artists who use sex most are not the ones with the greatest musical success. Artists like Marit Larsen, Susanne Sundfør and Ane Brun don’t need to take their clothes off – in their case the music speaks for itself,” Breen told Aftenposten.

GALLERY: Who are the stars in the firing line?

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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.

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