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Scratching  the  Surface  
 

Marit  Larsen  and  Marion  Ravn:    
Popular  Music  and  Gender    
in  a  Transcultural  Context  
 
 
 

Jon  Mikkel  Broch  Ålvik  
 
 
 
A  thesis  submitted  in  partial  fulfilment  of  the  requirements  for  the  degree  of  PhD  
 
 
 
 
 
 
Department  of  Musicology  
Faculty  of  Humanities  
University  of  Oslo  

 
2014  

 

1  

 
 

 

2  

 
Table  of  Contents  
ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS ................................................................................................................. 5  
CHAPTER  1 ........................................................................................................................................ 9  
INTRODUCTION:  SCRATCHING  THE  SURFACE....................................................................... 9  
BACKGROUND:  CRITICAL  AND  POPULAR  MUSICOLOGY ............................................................................ 12  
ON  SINGING  (AND  WRITING)  IN  ENGLISH:  GLOBAL  LANGUAGE  AND  THE  PARADOX  OF  
AUTHENTICITY................................................................................................................................................. 14  
AN  INTERSECTION  OF  DISCIPLINES:  INTERTEXTUALITY,  PHENOMENOLOGY,  PERSONA .................... 32  
OUTLINE  OF  THESIS ........................................................................................................................................ 35  
CHAPTER  2 ..................................................................................................................................... 37  
GROWING  UP  IN  PUBLIC:  SOCIAL  BACKGROUND  AND  THE  EMERGENCE  OF  
SUBJECTIVITIES  IN  M2M............................................................................................................ 37  
CONTEXTUALISING  BACKGROUND ............................................................................................................... 38  
A  SHOWCASING  OF  TALENTS:  MARIT  &  MARION  SYNGER  KJENTE  BARNESANGER ............................... 40  
THE  THINKING  PERSON’S  TEEN  POP:  SHADES  OF  PURPLE  (2000)........................................................ 45  
”Don’t  Say  You  Love  Me” .........................................................................................................................47  
”Give  A  Little  Love” ....................................................................................................................................55  
M2M  IN  THE  MEDIA ....................................................................................................................................... 60  
“DANCE  TO  THE  PRETTY  NORWEGIANS”:  M2M  ON  DAWSON’S  CREEK ................................................ 62  
UP  CLOSE  AND  PERSONAL:  THE  BIG  ROOM  (2002)................................................................................ 66  
”Don’t” .............................................................................................................................................................68  
DIFFERENCES:  STEREOTYPING  LARSEN  AND  RAVN ................................................................................. 71  
CHAPTER  3 ..................................................................................................................................... 75  
TOUCHING  FROM  A  DISTANCE:  FAKE  NAIVETY,  FEMALE  STEREOTYPES  AND  
BANALITY  IN  MARIT  LARSEN’S  MUSIC  AND  PERSONA .................................................... 75  
MASKING  AMBITION:  IMAGE,  PRODUCTION,  VOICE .................................................................................. 79  
THE  PRODUCER ............................................................................................................................................... 83  
Vocal  costume..............................................................................................................................................88  
FAKE  NAIVETY ................................................................................................................................................. 91  
”HAVE  YOU  SEEN  MY  CHILDHOOD?”:  THE  GIRL-­‐CHILD ............................................................................ 94  
ETERNAL  SUNSHINE  OF  THE  QUIRKY  MIND:  THE  GIRL  NEXT  DOOR .....................................................106  
“SWEETNESS,  BEAUTY,  AND  POISE”:  THE  HOUSEWIFE ..........................................................................114  
“WILL  YOU  TAKE  ME  AS  WHO  I  SAY  I  AM?”:  THE  SINGER-­‐SONGWRITER ............................................127  
DREAMS  OF  AMERICA  (1):  MARIT  LARSEN  AND  ELWOOD  CAINE ......................................................136  
DREAMS  OF  AMERICA  (2):  MARIT  LARSEN  IN  NEW  YORK  CITY .........................................................144  
(UN)SETTLING  THE  POP  SCORE:  OF  OTHER  READINGS..........................................................................150  
THE  LURE  OF  BANALITY:  “UNDER  THE  SURFACE”..................................................................................154  
CHAPTER  4 ...................................................................................................................................165  
“WHO  DOES  THAT  GIRL  THINK  SHE  IS?”:  MARION  RAV(E)N  AND  SUBJECTIVITY  
THROUGH  EXCESS......................................................................................................................165  
INTRODUCTION .............................................................................................................................................165  
A  REVERSE  SUCCESS  STORY:  HVER  GANG  VI  MØTES ................................................................................167  
DISENTANGLING  THE  DICHOTOMY:  RAVN  AND  LARSEN  AS  FIXED  COUNTERPARTS .........................173  

 

3  

“WHO  FRAMED  MARION  RAVN?”:  CONSTRUCTING  EXCESS .................................................................177  
THE  EXCESS  OF  PERSONALITY:  HERE  I  AM  (2005) ...............................................................................179  
MELODRAMA  AND/AS  SPECTACLE:  ”FOR  YOU  I’LL  DIE”  AND  “LET  ME  INTRODUCE  MYSELF”.....184  
EXCESS  AND  SPECTACLE:  “HEADS  WILL  ROLL” .....................................................................................187  
EXCESS  AND  SOLIDARITY:  “HEADS  WILL  ROLL”  –  THE  VIDEO ............................................................192  
PLEASURE  IN  EXCESS:  ”IT’S  ALL  COMING  BACK  TO  ME  NOW” ...........................................................198  
EXCESS  DISCIPLINED:  “CASANOVA” ..........................................................................................................204  
CHAPTER  5 ...................................................................................................................................207  
CONCLUSIONS..............................................................................................................................207  
M2M...............................................................................................................................................................207  
MARIT  LARSEN..............................................................................................................................................208  
MARION  RAVN...............................................................................................................................................209  
WORKS  CITED..............................................................................................................................213  
DISCOGRAPHY.............................................................................................................................223  

 

 

4  

Acknowledgements  
 
This  study  was  made  possible  by  a  three-­‐year  PhD  grant  from  the  Faculty  of  
Humanities  at  the  University  of  Oslo.  I  am  grateful  to  the  Faculty  for  this  
opportunity,  and  to  the  Department  of  Musicology  for  providing  a  stimulating  
and  hospitable  work  environment.  
 
During  this  time  I  have  benefited  from  being  included  in  the  research  project  
Popular  Music  and  Gender  in  a  Transcultural  Context,  also  at  the  University  of  
Oslo,  and  led  by  Professor  Stan  Hawkins.  I  express  my  gratitude  to  my  colleagues  
on  the  project,  PhD  student  Birgitte  Sandve,  postdoctoral  fellow  Mats  Johansson,  
and  research  assistant  Mari  Paus,  for  an  inspiring  and  adventurous  time  together  
on  the  project.  
 
My  research  was  considerably  enhanced  by  a  research  visit  to  Canada  in  the  
autumn  semester  of  2012.  I  am  especially  grateful  to  Professor  Susan  Fast  at  
McMaster  University  and  Associate  Professor  Jacqueline  Warwick  at  Dalhousie  
University  for  offering  feedback  to  my  research,  and  for  allowing  me  the  
opportunity  to  present  portions  of  my  work-­‐in-­‐progress  to  their  students  in  
designated  seminars.  Thanks  also  go  to  Professor  David  Brackett  at  McGill  
University  for  feedback  and  fruitful  discussions.  My  warmest  thanks  to  Craig  
Jennex  and  Alyssa  Watt  for  housing  in  Hamilton  (and  an  extra  cheers  to  Craig  
and  crew,  notably  Simon,  Matt  and  Jordan,  for  memorable  evenings),  and  to  
Steven  Baur,  Sophie,  and  Adam  for  their  hospitality  in  Halifax.  Christina  Baade,  
Lesley  Brechin,  Mariana  Costa,  Ryan  McNutt  and  crew,  and  Laura  Wiebe  also  
contributed  to  making  my  stay  in  Canada  so  enjoyable;  thank  you  all  for  your  
generosity.  
 
I  have  also  had  the  opportunity  to  present  my  work  in  seminars  and  symposiums  
in  Paris,  Turku,  Berlin,  Kristiansand,  and  aboard  the  Color  Line.  I  wish  to  thank  
Susanne  Binas-­‐Preisendörfer,  Barbara  Bradby,  Terence  Cave,  Tor  Dybo,  Nina  
Eidsheim,  Steven  Feld,  Erling  E.  Guldbrandsen,  Karin  Gundersen,  Thomas  Hilder,  

 

5  

Jakob  Lothe,  Susan  McClary,  Michael  Rauhut,  John  Richardson,  Derek  B.  Scott,  
Odd  Skårberg,  Erik  Steinskog,  Will  Straw,  Robert  Walser,  and  Peter  Wicke  for  
providing  feedback  and  advice  in  various  stages  of  the  project.  
 
Thanks  go  to  my  fellow  PhD  students  in  Oslo,  Ragnhild  Brøvig-­‐Hanssen,  Kjetil  
Klette  Bøhler,  Bjørn  Morten  Christophersen,  Mari  Romarheim  Haugen,  Erlend  
Hegdal,  Anita  Høyvik,  and  Thomas  Erma  Møller,  and  postdoctoral  fellows  Peter  
Edwards  and  Yngvar  Kjus,  for  inspirational  discussions.  On  that  note,  I  wish  to  
express  special  thanks  to  Eirik  Askerøi,  Marita  Buanes  Djupvik,  Lars  K.  Norberg,  
and  Eystein  Sandvik  for  valuable  conversations  and  advice.  
 
Thanks  also  go  to  my  colleagues  at  large  at  the  Department  for  their  kindness  
and  support,  notably  Professor  Arnfinn  Bø-­‐Rygg  for  his  inspirational  courses,  
Professor  Rolf  Inge  Godøy  for  offering  insights  into  phenomenology,  Professor  
Even  Ruud  for  advice  on  identity  studies,  research  assistant  Ragnhild  T.  Solberg  
for  helping  out  with  the  project,  and  Professor  Ståle  Wikshåland  for  sharing  his  
knowledge  on  music  journalism.  
 
Outside  the  academy,  thanks  are  due  to  Thomas  Brun  and  Marius  Graff  for  
generously  giving  of  their  time  to  answer  questions,  and  to  everyone  from  the  
world  of  publishing  who  has  provided  material  for  my  research:  Hanne  
Danielsen  (Elle),  Espen  Holtestaul  (No  Comprendo  Press),  Kjersti  Kvam  
(Kamille),  Heidi  Sinding-­‐Larsen  (Woman),  and  Maria  Kvalheim  Steen  (Henne).  
 
Merci  encore  à  Monique  et  François  for  their  hospitality  in  Antibes.  Thanks  also  
go  to  Arve  T.  Thorsen  and  Lokomotiv  ZEB  for  quiz  nights,  and  Morgenbladet  for  
providing  a  platform  for  my  research  in  the  form  of  record  reviews.  
 
Several  individuals  have  contributed  in  various  ways  to  my  project  at  one  time  or  
another,  and  I  wish  to  extend  my  gratitude  to  the  following  people:  Nina  Ring  
Aamundsen,  Njål  Hole  Albrechtsen,  Pål  Angelskår,  Per  Holger  Broch,  Terje  
Engen,  Synnøve  Engevik  and  the  staff  at  Rockheim,  Andy  Evans,  Flamme  Forlag  
(Nils-­‐Øivind  Haagensen  and  Bendik  Wold),  Ole  Martin  Halck,  Happily  Ever  After  

 

6  

(Tommy,  Janne,  and  Marius),  Stig  Rune  Haugen  (and  the  wonderful  
Smekingarna),  Hildebrand  (Thomas,  Gjermund,  and  Gaute),  Mette  Karlsvik,  
Ingrid  Lamark,  Kyrre  Tromm  Lindvig,  Einar  Lukerstuen,  and  Nina  Odegard  and  
Øyvind  Risberg  and  their  very  musical  family.  
 
Special  thanks  to  my  closest  friends  for  keeping  me  on  track:  Ola  Alnæs,  Karim  
Bennis,  Mari  Blekastad,  Ola  Hansen,  Christine  Hoel,  and  Karstein  Volle;  and  to  the  
masters  and  mistresses  of  IDL  for  their  significant  contribution.  
 
Thanks  to  my  close  family,  Nina  Broch,  Siri  Dennis,  and  Trond  Ålvik,  for  being  
there  even  when  I  keep  them  at  arm’s  length  for  the  sake  of  research;  and  my  
family-­‐in-­‐law,  especially  Inger  Anne,  Yaya,  Jan,  Andreas,  and  Eva,  for  their  
support.  
 
Finally,  two  people  deserve  special  mention,  as  the  completion  of  this  project  
would  not  have  been  possible  without  them.  My  supervisor,  Professor  Stan  
Hawkins  at  the  Department  of  Musicology,  University  of  Oslo,  has  provided  sharp  
readings  of  my  material,  ample  advice  and  encouragement,  and  retained  his  faith  
in  my  ideas  from  the  start;  my  deepest  appreciation  goes  to  you  for  your  
generosity,  your  support,  and  your  unwavering  confidence  in  me.  
 
Mari  Barwin  remains  my  best  conversation  partner,  my  staunchest  critic,  and  my  
greatest  supporter,  and  has  provided  every  possible  means  for  inspiring  and  
encouraging  me  throughout  the  period  –  a  husband  could  not  wish  for  more,  nor  
can  he  imagine  being  able  to  complete  this  thesis  without  your  efforts.  With  all  
my  love  and  gratitude:  This  one’s  for  you.  
 
 
Oslo,  27  February  2014  
Jon  Mikkel  Broch  Ålvik  

 

7  

 

8  

Chapter  1  
Introduction:  Scratching  the  Surface  
In  the  late  summer  of  2002,  Norwegian  newspapers  broadly  documented  the  
break-­‐up  of  the  duo  M2M.  The  members,  18-­‐year-­‐old  Marion  Ravn  (listed  as  
Marion  Raven  on  the  duo’s  record  covers)  and  19-­‐year-­‐old  Marit  Larsen,  had  
been  the  subjects  of  extensive  press  coverage  in  Norway  during  their  four  years  
as  a  band,  starting  in  1998  with  the  much-­‐published  news  that  they  had  been  
offered  a  recording  contract  with  the  Atlantic  Recording  Corporation  in  the  USA.  
In  the  space  of  the  next  two  years,  M2M  rose  to  worldwide  fame  thanks  to  the  
inclusion  of  their  first  single,  “Don’t  Say  You  Love  Me”,  on  the  international  
soundtrack  to  Pokémon:  The  First  Movie,  and  the  release  of  their  first  album,  
Shades  of  Purple,  in  2000.  After  the  release  of  their  follow-­‐up  album  The  Big  
Room  two  years  later,  the  media  peddled  stories  of  dwindling  sales  and  
unfulfilled  expectations,  but  also  interviews  with  the  two  artists,  who  insisted  
that  nobody  told  them  what  to  do,  and  that  they  were  doing  what  they  wanted  as  
a  band,  regardless  of  what  their  employer  decreed.  Then,  in  late  July,  came  the  
news  that  the  duo  had  been  taken  off  their  summer  tour  of  the  USA  as  support  
act  for  singer-­‐songwriter  and  label  mate,  Jewel.  In  at  least  one  interview,  they  
stressed  the  fact  that  this  was  a  decision  taken  by  the  company,  and  that  they  
had  no  control  of  the  situation.1  
 
Shortly  afterwards,  the  newspapers  wrote  that  the  duo  had  disbanded.  Almost  
immediately,  the  news  broke  that  Atlantic  had  offered  Ravn  a  solo  contract.  The  
press  jumped  at  the  chance,  and  Ravn  became  the  subject  of  equally  intense  
press  coverage  for  the  next  couple  of  years.  In  2005,  she  released  her  first  album,  
Here  I  Am,  which  received  favourable  reviews  overall,  but  journalists  also  
remarked  the  lack  of  global  success  that  they  expected  such  a  release  to  
generate.  
                                                                                                               
1  Grimsæth,  Andreas  &  Hansen,  Espen  A.:  “M2M-­‐turneen  avbrutt”,  Verdens  Gang  22  July  2002,  p.  

42.  

 

9  


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