Mixing it with pop and art
British pop music industry is alive and well. No doubt about it, as "the most incredible creative output per capita" keeps producing bands like Oasis, Pulp and Blur to communicate that pop message around the world. While paying homage to their ancestors from 60s, 70s and 80s, these bands revive Britpop's whole history to new generations of fans from Tokyo to Helsinki.
Finland's contribution to British pop music scene and to its related fields has been minimal. The British notion of Nordic "nul points" countries of pop music only applies to Finland anymore. Our dear neighbour Sweden is now regarded as the third largest exporter of pop music in the world. That does not mean only familiar names like ABBA, Roxette or Ace of Base but a diversified variety of world class performers like Cardigans, Wannadies and Stakka Bo. Tiny Iceland has their excellent pop ambassador in Björk and even Norway and Denmark have had their chart topping pop hits in the UK with A-Ha and Whigfield respectively.
What about Finland then? Hanoi Rocks still remains the only Finnish act worth to be mentioned in the history of British pop music. Their song 'Up Around the Bend' hit the UK singles chart for the first and only time in 1984. Since Hanoi Rocks split in 1985, 22 Pistepirkko has produced some occasional positive sparks in the indie rock scene, but Britain has been an extremily tough market for Finns to break in.
Very recently there have been signs for a brighter future for Finns. Jimi Tenor and Panasonic will both be releasing their second albums on British labels in January. Mika Vainio's (Panasonic) contribution to Björks's new remix album and the Helsinki-based Sähkö record label's cult success in the club scene are tangible results from original and consistent work in their genres of music.
It has become a cliché to say that "boundaries are blurred" in contemporary culture. British popsters Jarvis Cocker and Blur may share a similar pop and art sensibility with Damien Hirst, but one cannot deny the facts that Jimi Tenor's short films have been shown along with top British artists, Panasonic's Mika Vainio has contributed to a major European arts biennale, Sähkö label's Tommi Grönlund's graphic work has been covered in Graphics International and his installations have been shown in museums. It seems quite obvious that the most promising Finnish pop names do mix it with the arts.
The Finnish Institute has supported Panasonic's and Jimi Tenor's residency in London in November/December 1996.
Jimi Tenor's new album will be released through Warp Records in January 1997. Panasonic's new album will be released through Blast First Records in January 1997. Sähkö Recordings are available in specialist record shops throughout the UK.
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