By Peter Elsnab, journalist and Jesper Nykjær Knudsen, music editor og journalist, 2006
In 2005, the Danish R&B singer Alex had a hit with the song ‘Os To’. However, the chorus was actually far older than Alex himself. It was a sample from ‘I Loved You (Dansevise)’, a song that won the Eurovision Song Contest in 1963 and which has remained in our common consciousness and continues to find new listeners despite the fact that trends, times and tones have changed many times since it was first released. But what is it that makes a song stay with us generation after generation?
A common reference point
The Canon committee has collected 12 individual evergreens, with 37 years between the oldest and the most recent. All 12 songs can bring together people across boundaries and have become a common reference point for us.
Who can’t sing along to ‘To lys på et bord’, ‘Så længe jeg lever’ or ‘Kald det kærlighed’? These songs express basic and eternally valid emotions and at the same time are simple and catchy. Popular, to put it simply. However, now there is also room for ambiguity. In the song ‘Danmark’, Shu-Bi-Dua sing: ‘Der findes andre men’sker end dem der er danske/de bor i huler og slås hele da’n’ (There are other people that ain’t Danes/they live in caves and fight all day’). A tribute to one’s country? Or perhaps a nod to Danish self-sufficiency?
Some songs also say a lot about the time in which they were written. The differences in text, composition and performance are clearly heard between, for example, Sven Gyldmark and Erik Leth’s ‘Er du dus med himlens fugle’ and Gnags’ ‘Under bøgen’. There is a quarter of a century between them. However, they have proved their durability. New evergreens are born every year; but the old ones are remembered. And, of course, contemporary technology can be used to keep them alive. The group Outlandish have also taken ‘I Loved You (Dansevise)’ and engaged with it by taking a sample of the song in their own ‘Kom igen’ from 2005. What greater compliment could an old Danish evergreen be paid?
The 12 evergreens
Sven Gyldmark/Poeten – fra Cirkusrevyen 1953. Sunget af Elga Olga.
2. Er du dus med himlens fugle
Sven Gyldmark & Erik Leth – fra filmen Vagabonderne på Bakkegården, 1958. Sunget af Poul Reichhardt.
3. Heksedans (her kommer mutter med kost og spand)
Vidar Sandbeck & Peter Mynte – single, 1960. Sunget af Rachel Rastenni.
4. To lys på et bord
Bjarne Hoier & Ida From – fra Dansk Melodi Grand Prix 1960. Sunget af Otto Brandenburg.
Otto Francker & Sejr Volmer Sørensen – fra Dansk Melodi Grand Prix 1963. Fremført af Grethe & Jørgen Ingmann.
6. Duerne flyver’
Bent Fabricius-Bjerre & Klaus Rifbjerg – fra filmen Jeg er sgu min egen, 1967. Sunget af Cæsar.
7. Så længe jeg lever
John Mogensen – single, 1970, også på albummet John, 1973. Sunget af John Mogensen.
8. Smuk og dejlig
Anne Linnet/Anne Linnet – fra albummet Shit & Chanel, 1975. Fremført af Shit & Chanel.
9. Under Bøgen
Peter A.G. Nielsen/Gnags – fra albummet Er du hjemme i aften, 1977. Fremført af Gnags.
Shu-bi-dua – fra Shu-bi-dua: 78’eren, 1978. Fremført af Shu-bi-dua.
11. Danse i måneskin
Frans Bak & Per Nielsen – fra Dansk Melodi Grand Prix 1987. Fremført af Trine Dyrholm & Moonlighters.
12. Kald det kærlighed
Lars Lilholt – fra albummet Kontakt, 1990 (opr. 1986). Fremført af Lars Lilholt Band.
The committee's justification
By the Committee for Music, 2006
An essential part of Danish music culture is the many schlager and pop songs that have always entertained and delighted Danes. We have therefore listed twelve of them, from the beginning of the 1950s until 1990 – songs that all belong to a newer schlager repertoire and which have been listened to and sung by several generations. At the same time, there are songs whose popularity has primarily been associated with film, radio and TV, i.e. songs from popular films, radio programs such as Goro413 and ‘De ringer, vi spiller’ and from the Dansk Melodi Grand Prix competition shows broadcast on TV to select the nation’s Eurovision entry.
The element common to the songs on the list is that they have brought Danes together across boundaries, and have therefore served as a kind of common reference point, whilst at the same time being enduring works of a high quality. In addition, there are songs that together represent the best of popular music culture. The fact that the selection is so very varied – there is indeed a significant musical gap between ‘I Loved You (Dansevise)’ and ‘Danse i måneskin’ or from ‘To lys på et bord’ and ‘Kald det kærlighed’ – says something about how in any popular music culture, there is always a nuanced range of music. If we were to claim that the 12 songs here represent just the tip of the popular music iceberg, there are few, we believe, who will disagree with us.