David Bentley’s 'Singles of the Year'.
I’ve been privileged to review many singles and album tracks from Nordic artists this year. All of them have been good, some very good indeed, and I can’t remember a bad one.
Now comes the time to make a decision on the best three, with one as my overall ‘Single of the Year.’ The cut-off date for consideration was 10th December.
Unfortunately, we can’t feature all of them here. So here are the contenders – there are 16 of them in the long list - I had to draw a line somewhere, in alphabetical order:
Bonander (Sweden) – Backseat
Das Body (Norway) – Scared
Ellen Krauss (Sweden) – Silver Spoon
Frida Sundemo (Sweden) – Anything
Gaeya (Sweden) – Contact
Gurli Octavia (Denmark) – X-Ray
Jelena Ćirić (Iceland) – In Time (from the EP ‘Shelters One’)
Lena Anderssen (Faroe Islands) – Aimee
Katharina Nuttall (Norway) – Lethe
Lydmor (Denmark) – Someone we used to Love
Marianne Sveen (Norway) – Look Away
Misty Coast (Norway) – In a Million Years
POOLS (Sweden) – Walk
Skott (Sweden) – My Name
The Slow Painters (Norway) - Egon
ViVii (Sweden) – Fool Alone
It’s no coincidence that the majority of them are the work of female singer-songwriters. I’ve long thought that is where the really big talent is, and not only in the Nordics. Sorry, chaps.
The only country that doesn’t get a look in (allowing for Greenland, which is a semi-autonomous Danish dependency, here endeth today’s geography lesson) is Finland. That isn’t because there weren’t any great singles there this year, just that they didn’t make this very tough, rigorous cut.
Anyways, pour yourself a Carlsberg and flavour it with a glass of Brennevin and take a listen to them all if you can, while you’re locked up over Christmas. You won’t be disappointed. Many genres are represented here. You can find them all on the Nordic Music Review website, by using the search facility (so you get to read what I think as well as to listen to them). And some may be on the current NMR Spotify playlist, which is always worth checking out.
And so to the top three. This really was hellishly difficult.
In third place is Lydmor – Someone we used to love
Jenny Rossander wasn’t originally in my top three because an artist I’ve previously rated as the most innovative in Europe seems to have drifted more mainstream with the two singles which followed this one. But the more I listened to it the more it reminded me of what she’s capable of and of what she did on her last album, ‘I told you I’d tell them our story’. She’s always at the cutting edge of the business, using smart lyrics to convey an alternative spin on human relations. But more than anything else is the knowledge that if she felt like it she could just sit down at a piano in the middle of a gig like this one and deliver an ad-hoc soft ballad version of this song which would be every bit as good if not better.
In second place is Katharina Nuttall – Lethe
A wonderfully powerful, atmospheric, and evocative song from the part-Norwegian, part-British ladywith a background as a film music composer. And can’t you tell she has; it would fit the soundtrack of innumerable films and especially those with a ‘conflict’ theme. And it effortlessly combines traditional and electronic instruments.
And the Single of the Year is Gurli Octavia – X-Ray
We reviewed this only a week ago but ‘recency’ didn’t play a part in the decision. This song has got everything, a catchy melody that comes in early on, a great voice, innovative musicianship and a sublime trumpet part to play it out. Well, I say ‘everything’ but in truth that’s not the case. This is a radio edit so the trumpet part is cut short. But if you read the review there is a link to a video with the full ending. The best complement I can pay it is to say that if any radio DJ with a big following over here was to play it I’m sure it would be a big hit in the UK.
So, that’s it. Make sure you bookmark Nordic Music Review and follow us on social media. There is top-class music like this featured every day.
Next week Andy Wors will feature his Singles of the Year. If he finishes writing it.