In the world of pop music, Scandinavia has always been a source of successful imports. From ABBA to Ace of Base, these acts have remained unapologetically "pop," climbing to the top of the U.S. charts. While the latest Norwegian starlet Annie shares a lot with her forerunners -- a danceable sound, bubbly disposition and very blonde hair -- she has also garnered unusual hipster credibility that makes it OK to enjoy pop music again.
With its tight production, sharp and at times cutting lyrics and overall dance-pop attitude, Annie's debut full-length Anniemal has been achieving critical and commercial success in Europe. In America, even Pitchforkmedia.com, with its hipper-than-thou credo, named "Heartbeat," the number one single of 2004.
"The first time I heard that something started to happen with my music in the U.S. was with [Pitchforkmedia]," Annie says. "It's very interesting to see what kind of people are listening to my music. I'm not totally sure who the typical Annie fan is. At my shows there have been lots of young girls, older men and cool students."
Annie grew up in Bergen, Norway, where she was "obsessed with music," as she says. "I remember sneaking out in the night to take the train to Oslo to see lots of gigs. I took music very seriously." She took advantage of a small, but supportive music scene, singing in local bands, DJing and occasionally laying down nighttime studio tracks when she could afford to. She enjoyed moderate success in Europe back in 1999 when she released the Madonna-sampled "Greatest Hit" produced by her boyfriend DJ Tore, Andreas Kroknes, who died of a heart defect shortly thereafter at age 23. Annie was able to gather herself together and write virtually all of Anniemal's smart, poppy and danceable tracks, linking up with fellow Norwegians R‹¨«yksopp and England's Richard X for the album's production.
"I've been writing all the songs myself," says Annie. "It's very important to be as involved as possible. I would never want to be completely a singer with no input."
Annie plans to expand her already diverse audience with a North American tour throughout September, which makes a stop at Philadelphia's North Star this Saturday. "I would like every person to hear my album," she says. "I want to reach out to everyone, no matter where they are from"