Marit Larsen heads out on European tour

Pop icon Marit Larsen heads out on European tour supporting Jason Mraz.

Marit Larsen 2006 (photo: Stian Andersen)

Following the successful release of her second album on the domestic market, pop icon Marit Larsen continues her international campaign by touring Europe as an opening act for Jason Mraz on his spring tour.

Once a member of teeny-pop duo M2M, Marit Larsen played the guitar, while Marion Raven played the piano, and did half of the vocals and songwriting. After touring the world and producing two albums with hits such as "Don't Say You Love Me", "Mirror Mirror", and "Everything", M2M was dropped by Atlantic Records in September 2002 and the duo subsequently parted ways.

After the breakup of M2M, Raven set off on her own solo career, while Larsen took time off to reflect on her career. Fan interest was reignited in 2004 and early 2005, as Larsen made several appearances in Norway, showing off a darker-haired image and new music with increased instrumental and lyrical scope.

In fall 2005, Larsen recorded her debut album, "Under the Surface", with her new record label, EMI. The first single, "Don't Save Me", made radio impact on January 3, 2006, and quickly climbed into the top ten on many Norwegian charts and playlists. After the physical single release on February 6, 2006, "Don't Save Me" jumped to #1 on the official Norwegian singles chart in its second week of availability, and then spent five consecutive weeks in the top spot.

Wrote in its track review (four stars) of Don’t Save Me earlier this year: “Marit Larsen-- "the blonde one" from Norwegian prefab twosome M2M-- has publicly deserted her handcuffed history with her solo debut, Under the Surface. The bright, kitchen-sink production on first single "Don't Save Me" twinkles benignly with a sterile, fjord-pop luster. It throws scattershot percussion-- wide drums and handclaps-- next to synths, a Stevie Wonder harmonica, and an ABBA piano refrain. Yet its busy sound is meaningfully busy, redeemed in the tug of war between the song's ebullient veneer and its freighted lyrics. One luscious meme circulating on fan-girl LiveJournals holds that Larsen's second-person jaunt is aimed at her former M2M partner, Marion Raven. Larsen denies it (surprise surprise), but from her opening couplet ("You say we must move forward/ And I say let's not go back"), an anxious fatigue masquerades as friendly consensus, an agreement to leave the past in the past. Adorned with quavering mandolins, the chorus embraces the same passive/aggressive duality: Larsen makes her titular request, confessing amongst aspartame melodies, "Our little castle is a house of cards." Plump with both joy and melancholy, "Don't Save Me" spills over its unbending pop-song borders into grownup territory, probing the thorny process of letting go.”

The second single released from the album was the title track "Under the Surface".

"Under the Surface" became a certified gold record in Norway, selling over 20,000 copies. In late 2006 and early 2007, "Under the Surface" won Larsen other accolades, including the award for Best Norwegian Act at the MTV Europe Music Awards, and the Spellemannprisen (Norwegian Grammy) awards for Best Female Artist and Best Video ("Don't Save Me"). After Larsen's Spellemannprisen victories in January 2007, the album crossed the 40,000 copy mark, qualifying it for platinum certification. It was later announced in May 2007 that the album had reached double platinum status. In addition, Larsen was the most played artist on NRK P3 Radio in 2006, with her three singles ("Don't Save Me", "Under the Surface", and "Only a Fool") being played collectively more than 880 times.

"Under the Surface" was released in India and Thailand in late 2006, and in November, "Don't Save Me" began to be played on MTV Asia. Larsen also began making international appearances, performing at special events in Germany and Spain in September 2006, India in October 2006, and France in January 2007. She appeared in the United States at South by Southwest in March 2007. On May 2, 2007, Right Bank Music announced that Larsen would be managed by them for a possible release in the U.S.

Marit Larsen's second solo album, "The Chase", was released in Norway on October 13, 2008, and in Sweden on November 19, 2008. Like "Under the Surface", it was well-received by critics; in December, it was named as the top album of the year by the Norwegian daily Dagbladet’s reviewers.

The first single from "The Chase", entitled "If A Song Could Get Me You", shot to #1 on the Norwegian singles chart in its first week of sales in August 2008, and was later nominated for the Spellemannprisen award as Hit of the Year. The second single was "I've Heard Your Love Songs" (released October 27, 2008), and another song from the album, "Steal My Heart", was used in the soundtrack of the Norwegian movie "I et speil, i en gåte".

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 two records, 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 25 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.

Marit Larsen’s Youtube channel

Marit Larsen’s site

Marit Larsen’s MySpace site

Marit Larsen's Facebook site

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