Monday, December 11, 2017

Northern highlights

If I'd appeared on Episode 23 of Sounding Bored, which focuses on the music of Scandinavia (specifically, Finland, Norway, Sweden and Denmark, but not Iceland), I would have guaranteed one thing: more than just a cursory mention of the mighty ABBA. That said, Amy does implicitly credit them with kickstarting Sweden's extraordinary contribution to pop music, which continues to this day with the proliferation of middle-aged men like Max Martin who are the puppeteers standing behind much mainstream American pop, and there's the prospect of a whole episode dedicated to Agnetha, Bjorn, Benny and Anni-Frid in the future.

As usual, the episode finds each member of the panel talking up a different act: Rob and Amy plump for dreampop duo The Radio Dept and The Sound Of Arrows, while Brian's pick are Motorpsycho, Norwegians with an unbridled enthusiasm for music but a pathological fear of ever being pigeon-holed. Genres specifically identified with Scandinavia (indiepop, black metal) are considered, and there's a nod to the region's assortment of best-forgotten chart-botherers (Dr Alban, Whigfield, Rednex).

Discussion of The Knife leads on to some thoughts on Fever Ray's new LP Plunge - a difficult listen, by all accounts, though fascinating all the same, and lyrically filthy to boot.

As for news, Brian mentions the ongoing saga that is the Freddie Mercury movie Bohemian Rhapsody, Amy recommends pop history podcast The Hit Parade and Rob pays tribute to Johnny Hallyday, a rock 'n' roller adored in his native France but largely ignored elsewhere.

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