You don’t hear much about Norway musically or in other pop culture arenas, do you? I used to travel through the Oslo airport on my way to a nearby destination a couple times a year. It resembled a prefab house; not very impressive. Then, Gardermoen was built in 1998, awash in wood and steel.
Ironically, the new airport had been in the planning stages for many years and broke ground in 1994, six months after the Winter Olympics. The games were perhaps the biggest thing since oil, skiing, and salmon for Norway, drawing our attention to the city of Lillehammer and all the sports that cold weather can bring. And those Olympic Games were the first ever to be “green”, placing emphasis on energy conversation, recycling, reuse, even a tree planting program.
Were people drawn to Norway as a vacation destination as a result of the Olympics? Hard to say; stats are few and far between on the internet.
And now, for the last few years, there’s a quiet rumbling coming from there; both from one man. Steve Van Zandt. Yeah, you know him as Little Steven, a member of Bruce Springsteen’s E Street Band. And you probably know him as Silvio from The Sopranos too.
And maybe, just maybe, you’ve heard of Little Steven’s Underground Garage, one of the grooviest Sirius/XM stations on the planet. The playlist is vast, ranging from 60’s garage to girl groups old and new, to Bruce. There’s lots of new stuff too; most of it with a psychedelic spin. Little Stevie even has a record label, Wicked Cool, that some of those artists are on. And the music is good. But wait! Some of the bands are from…drum roll, please…Norway! The Cocktail Slippers, a girl band that’s very poppy and a little bit punky, stand a good chance of having success in the states, success not seen by a Norwegian group since A-ha and their hit “Take on Me” in 1985.
Little Steven is doing more than importing bands to the states. His most recent project is a TV series called “Lillyhammer” and Netflix has an exclusive on it. Surprise! The main character is a New York mobster, played by (surprise), Little Steven Van Zandt. The premise? He squeals to authorities and gets a re-lo package. His choice? Norway. He drives a Th!nk, buys a bar and signs away the ownership, meets a pretty blonde, busts people up, and demonstrates outlandish behavior, all while it’s snowing outside.
Personally, I think this show is a winner. It is a bit more comedic than The Sopranos ever was, perhaps because of the absurdity of the situation. Don’t move your eyes away from the screen; not all the dialog is in English. Little Steven’s character appears to understand the language, but responds mainly in American tough guy.
And The Cocktail Slippers appear to be the local house band at the bar on the show; nice cross-promotion there!
Will this show raise some fresh awareness for all things Norway, that sometimes forgotten Scandinavian country next to the one that produces cars and boasts the band Abba as its biggest export? It could become the next cult hit. Give it time to grow; it’s already been renewed.
This is "N" in the Blogging A to Z Challenge. Here's L and M.
A video with the Cocktail Slippers is below; enjoy!