As with the US and all other countries, Norway has given the music industry a number of singers. Some were only popular in their homeland, while others gained quite the international following.
Music from Norway are varied. From dance to hard rock to folk, it has carved its own place in music history, greatly influencing fans and other musical artists who followed them.
In this post, we’ll take a look at 10 of the greatest and most famous Norwegian singers to hit the charts. Let’s get started.
1. Anni-Frid Lyngstad
While ABBA is internationally famous as a Swedish pop group, co-founder Anni-Frid Lyngstad is technically Norwegian-born. Her mother is also Norwegian.
Lyngstad joined three other band members to form ABBA in the 1970s. This group became one of the best-selling groups in history, selling more than 150 million albums worldwide. Their songs, like “Dancing Queen,” “Lay All Your Love On Me,” and “Mamma Mia,” is still iconic to this day.
In the early 1990s, Lyngstad married a prince. Today, the former ABBA star holds the title of Princess Reuss and Countess of Plauen with the form of address of Her Serene Highness.
Writing and recording her first songs at the age of six, Norwegian singer Aurora released her first album in 2016. This album, All My Demons Greeting Me as a Friend, went double-Platinum in her home country of Norway and charted in other European nations.
Reminiscent of the heavenly landscapes and Aurora borealis of Norway, Aurora’s voice has an ethereal beauty to it. The singer has increasingly become involved in more aspects of her music, from percussion to piano and music production.
Aurora’s soaring vocals have appeared on prominent soundtracks, like Disney Animation Studios’ Frozen II and the HBO television series Girls.
3. Morten Harket
From southern Norway, we have Morten Harket. He lent his signature vocals, including an impressive falsetto, as the lead singer of the band A-ha.
A-ha dominated the 1980s with their energetic electropop sound. Their unique style provided an essential soundtrack to this decade of music. They are remembered for its heavy use of synthesizers.
Songs like “Take on Me” earned them early recognition, including a nomination for a Best New Artist Grammy Award in 1985. Harket’s other teammates (also Norwegians), Magne Furuholmen and Paul Waaktaar-Savoy, are notable singers as well as musicians too.
4. Martinus Gunnarsen
One-half of the identical twin duo Marcus & Martinus (usually simplified to just M&M) is Norwegian Martinus Gunnarsen. The twins rose to fame in 2012 after winning a televised singing competition in Norway. The Gunnarsen twins were only ten years old when their talents got discovered.
This talented duo has continued to develop and grow its dance-pop music style. Martinus received multiple Spellemannprisen nominations, or Norway’s equivalent of the Grammy Award.
Popular songs of M&M include “Electric,” “Girls,” and “Light It Up.” Martinus and his brother, Marcus, performed for the Nobel Peace Prize Concert and at the 40th birthday celebrations of the Swedish Crown Princess.
Related: Check out our list of the best Swedish singers here.
5. Lene Nystrøm
During the 1990s, Lene Nystrøm burst into fame with the infectious international pop hit “Barbie Girl” by the band Aqua, which Nystrøm served as the lead singer. The group was largely a one-hit wonder in the United States but had more staying power in Europe.
Nystrøm embarked on a solo music career and acted in multiple Norwegian films and television shows. Some of her notable singles include “It’s Your Duty” and “Pretty Young Thing.”
The Tønsberg-native singer makes numerous television appearances to this day, including as a judge on reality shows like Denmark’s version of the singing competition The Voice.
6. Lene Marlin
The next Lene on this list made history in the late 1990s. Lene Marlin‘s single “Unforgivable Sinner” was the fastest-selling single in Norwegian music history and stayed at #1 in Norway for eight weeks.
Marlin’s fame extended well beyond Norway. Her music appeared in soundtracks for films in France and Norway, and she achieved top 5 hits for several singles in the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, and Italy.
The singer has penned songs for international superstars like Rhianna and also earned multiple Spellemannprisen awards, equivalent to the Grammys in Norway.
7. Kurt Nilsen
No reality-singing television show competitor has reached greater heights in the genre than Norwegian Kurt Nilsen. He not only won the first season of Norwegian Idol in 2003 but also the World Idol competition to follow in 2004.
The singer had to beat out the winners of other Idol contests around the world, including superstar Kelly Clarkson. His winning song was a cover of U2’s song “Beautiful Day.”
Nilsen released seven albums in his career, including a Christmas album. His most notable singles are “She’s so High” and Meatloaf’s ballad “It’s All Coming Back to Me Now.”
8. Ane Brun
If you are looking for a voice you can picture bouncing off the glaciers and fjords of the extreme northern lands of Norway, Ane Brun holds that iconic, haunting vocal tone.
Brun is a Norwegian vocalist, guitarist, and songwriter. She hails from the northernmost territory of the Nordic region, known as the Sami people or Laplanders.
She is a prolific musician from a musical family and has released 10 studio albums since 2003. This Norwegian singer crosses genres, offering a covers album, an acoustic collection, and a live album.
Brun is also an environmentalist. She organized the No More Lullabies concert to draw awareness to climate justice. This event featured artists like Robyn and members of the band ABBA.
Born Vegard Sverre Tveitan in Notodden, Norway, Ihsahn has performed since 1990 across a diverse array of genres and instruments. He includes elements of the classical, progressive, and industrial genres in his music and has helped develop the genre of symphonic black metal.
In 1991, Ihsahn formed the notable bands Emperor and Peccatum, refining his black metal sound. More than a decade later, he would focus on various solo albums—gaining international acclaim with his third album, After—and guest appearances.
Ihsahn likes to incorporate elaborate concepts and narratives into his music. He counts Pink Floyd and Iron Maiden as influences.
10. Einar Selvik
From the Norwegian island Osterøy, we have next Einar Selvik, who is best known as Kvitrafn in his homeland. He started as a drummer of Gorgoroth, a black metal band, before fronting the folk band Wardruna.
The group was created by Selvik back in 2003 with another ex-member of Gorgoroth named Gaahl. Their sound focuses on Norse culture and often uses traditional Nordic instruments.
Known for their earthy, ethereal sound, Wardruna gained popularity for their work in creating the soundtrack for season two of the TV series Vikings. This helped push their third album, Runaljod – Ragnarok, to the top of the Billboard World Albums chart.
Summing Up Our List Of Famous Norwegian Singers
That concludes our Norwegian singers list. These singers show us that music from Norway does not have to be just folk. The blend of various genres in their songs, some influenced by their culture, have earned them wide acclaim and many followers.
We hope you have enjoyed learning about these singers from Norway and perhaps even found new favorites. However, this list is far from comprehensive. Who have we left off that should be added? Let us know!