The nation-specific category at MTV’s Europe Music Awards has arguably become the most prestigious prize towards which Norwegian artists can aspire, barring the rare few who make it into the international categories. Marit Larsen is an artist who used to belong to the latter group as half of the international success duo M2M. But since then she has thoroughly reinvented herself, successfully so, and bringing home the nation-specific prize as a solo artist is the highpoint, so far, of the tremendous lift she has experienced with her debut album “Under the surface.”
Some might say that the Norwegian category at these awards only matters in Norway itself, which is largely true, but that being said the prize is becoming all the more coveted and the competition this year was truly fierce including several acts that could well have reaped the honors.
Marit Larsen herself was convinced she would not win, she held other candidates as strong favourites and was just in Copenhagen for the show; as a glamorous stopover in a week that took her from India to Denmark and on to Norway in consecutive days.
“But winning it is something I’ll always remember” she says, “it’s my first prize as an artist on my own and it feels like a great affirmation of something that’s been part of me all along; my true musical personality.”
Her surprise perhaps reveals that she has not yet fully grasped the impact her music has had back home. Its reception is a special and interesting piece of “art history,” for with Marit Larsen’s first album the response was not just directed at the music –which has been warmly embraced by critics, buyers and live audiences alike- there was something more and deeper to the praise, something involving much more of the person and her human appearance.
It is fair to say, at least that’s our impression, that with Marit Larsen, people feel exposed to a special truthfulness and honesty. It is reminiscent of that quintessential motion picture narrative where a leading character leaves the story on an unfulfilled note, but returns, empowered to say what she really meant all along, which is exactly what the viewers knew was true and which secures the happy, courageous ending.
Not that Marit Larsen’s career is ending in any way, indeed it is only beginning; her first record, one feels certain, is just the premiere of a long and delightfully shimmering musical enterprise.
The essence of these impressions is the wonderfully light maturity and the lustrous self-knowledge that this artist seems to radiate; in her songs –even in their production- and as a person. Despite a mere 22 years of age, she comes across as someone connected to the true sources of her self, and this manifests as an artistic superfluity that is simply irresistible. With this girl people get a feeling, consciously or not, of some kind of sun-blurred guidance; musical directions to good things and maybe even happiness.
Everybody knows the story: she was the less exposed and soon-to-be-forgotten one of the M2M’s, and after the break-up she was silent and private for a few years. So when she reappeared it was in a way contrary to expectations. But it was with an attitude of self attuned smiling zeal and with a record of remarkably original and sunny-truthful songs. Thus her return was as much a human narrative –a presentation of how to do the right thing, when you’re young and life is unwieldy and expectations loom- as it is a huge and wholesome musical success.