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The ten best non-Danish songs about Denmark

Many Danish artists have paid tribute to their nation through popular music, but did you know that Denmark has worked its way in to all kinds of songs by international artists?

The ten best non-Danish songs about Denmark
A screenshot from 'Copenhagen' by Lucinda Williams. Screenshot: YouTube
It should come as little surprise that a long list of Danish artists have penned songs about their beloved home country. From iconic rock band Gasolin's 'Langebro' and 'Rabalderstræde' to the sorely missed reggae singer Natasja's 'Gi' mig Danmark tilbage', there are no shortage of Danish-language songs that have earned a special place in the hearts of Danes. 
 
But what if you were to remove the obvious choices and search for the best songs about Denmark that aren't in Danish? The Local decided to do just that and scoured the web for the best tracks. Here are the ten songs we came up with, in no particular order. Do you have a favourite we should have included? Let us know in the comments below. 
 
1. Danny Kaye – 'Wonderful Copenhagen'
 
This song is included in the 1952 Hollywood musical film Hans Christian Andersen, in which Danny Kaye portrays the famous Danish writer. 'Wonderful Copenhagen' is one of the film's most famous songs of the film, even though the pronunciation of the Danish capital as Cope-en-HAH-gen has long since been replaced by Cope-en-HAY-gen.
 
 
 
2. Tom Waits – 'Tom Traubert’s Blues (Four Sheets to the Wind in Copenhagen)'
 
The American musician Tom Waits wrote 'Tom Traubert’s Blues' as the opening track of his album Small Change released in 1976. The lyrics narrate Waits's alcohol abuse and experiences in Los Angeles and Copenhagen. The subtitle ‘Four Sheets to the Wind in Copenhagen’ refers to the time he spent in Copenhagen while on tour in 1976, where Waits met Danish singer and violinist Mathilde Bondo. The song is also known as 'Waltzing Matilda'.
 
 
3. Lucinda Williams – 'Copenhagen'
 
'Copenhagen' is the veteran country singer Lucinda Williams first-ever music video, released in 2011. 'Copenhagen’ is a sad song about the death of William’s manager, Frank Callari, while Williams was on tour in Denmark in 2007. The animated video features scenes of Nyhavn and even a conference sign for 'Avancerede Robotteknik Akademi for Forskere' – an impressive use of Danish considering Williams sings about “hearing unfamiliar laughs and lovely language I don't understand” while in the Danish capital.
 
 
 
4. Sun Kil Moon – 'UK Blues'
 
The folk rock American singer Mark Kozelek, aka Sun Kil Moon, works in references to both Aarhus and Copenhagen in this song before concluding that in Denmark “everybody's white, everyone rides bikes”. The nation gets off pretty lightly compared to Bristol, where Kozelek bemoans all the “people missing teeth”. 

 
5. Sods – 'Copenhagen'
 
Sods is widely viewed as the first Danish punk band. Formed in the Danish capital in 1977, Sods would later rename themselves Sort Sol and are still going strong today. Their track Copenhagen comes from the 1979 release Minutes to Go and the sparse lyrics reference “city centre boredom” and “leather jackets shootin’ daddies”.
 
 
6. John Grant – 'Queen of Denmark'
 
'Queen of Denmark' is the title track of American singer-songwriter John Grant's critically acclaimed 2010 album. The song has less to do with Queen Margrethe II than it does Grant's battle to come to terms with himself, however.  Still, the Danish monarch is probably okay with lending her title to what the BBC called “one of the most deeply satisfying debut album of recent times”.
 

 
7. Vetusta Morla – 'Copenhague'
 
The Spanish band became massive after the release of their 2008 their album 'Un día en el mundo' (A day in the world). ‘Copenhague’ became one of their most recognizable songs and one of the biggest hits of indie music in Spain. A poll from Spanish public radio station Radio 3 chose 'Copenhague' as one of the three best indie songs in Spanish of the past 30 years.
 

 
 
8. Van Morrison – 'Vanløse Stairway'

 
‘Van the Man’, the Northern Ireland singer-songwriter, recorded this song in 1981 in honour of his Danish girlfriend, Ulla Munch. Apparently, she lived in Copenhagen's Vanløse district in a fourth floor flat with no lift, forcing the troboudour to ascend a “stairway that reaches up to the moon/ And it comes right back to you”.
 
 
 
9. Tina Dickow – 'Copenhagen'
 
The Danish songwriter Tina Dickow wrote her personal ode to Copenhagen for her 2010 album Welcome Back Colour. Also know as Tina Dico, the artist now resides in Reykjavik. In December 2014 she released a six-song digital-only EP composed of Danish-language cover songs including a take on Ulige Numre's track København, which would certainly make our list of the best Danish language songs about the capital.  

 
10. Jeremiah Clarke – 'Prince of Denmark’s March'
 
We went far back in time for our final item on the list. Also known as the Trumpet Voluntary, The Prince of Denmark’s March was composed by English organist Jeremiah Clarke around the year 1700. Popular as wedding music, the march has been played during royal weddings including the union of Lady Diana and Prince Charles.
 

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MUSIC

The Danish death metal band that became reality TV stars

The Aarhus band Baest is poised for an international breakthrough thanks to a recent documentary and an injection of taxpayer money.

The Danish death metal band that became reality TV stars
Baest is Sebastian Adildsten, Svend Karlsson, Lasse Revsbech, Mattias Melchiorsen and Simon Olsen. Photo: Nikolaj Bransholm
Death metal is a genre defined by growling vocals, blistering distorted guitars and blast beats. The sound is typically accompanied by dark imagery that borders on the downright evil. In a music world dominated by sugary pop and hip-hop, it’s about as far away from the mainstream one can get. 
 
But a young Danish death metal band is upending all of that. The Aarhus-based Baest found its way into the homes of ordinary Danes nationwide thanks to a documentary series on public television that chronicled their attempt to make music their full-time gig.
 
The series, ‘Den Satans Familie’, follows the young band as they leave Aarhus and embark on their first real European tour. It paints an intimate picture of the five members’ relationships, both with each other and the families they left behind while on the road. Baest only formed in 2015, so the documentary captures how members Sebastian Abildsten (drums), Svend Karlsson (guitar), Mattias Melchiorsen (bass), Simon Olsen (vocals) and Lasse Revsbech (guitar) in some ways still seem to be working out how to co-exist, something that's not always easy when crammed inside a small tour van. 
 
The DR3 series meant that these young, long-haired, heavily-tattooed metal dudes were suddenly reaching a much larger audience, including many who were not necessarily fans of their sound but couldn’t help but be drawn in by their personalities and their raw struggle to make it in the music business. 
 
 
But getting featured in a reality TV show wasn’t the only boost for Baest. The band was named 'best new Danish act' by highly-respected music magazine Gaffa, which also declared their debut album Danse Macabre the best metal or hard rock album of 2018.
 
Baest was also granted 250,000 kroner from the Danish Arts Foundation, a state-run fund for supporting Danish arts abroad. The financial boost is likely to come in handy as the young Aarhusians prepare to hit the road again in support of their upcoming second album, Venenum, which is due on September 13. 
 
Following the band’s standout performance at Copenhell, the annual heavy metal festival in Copenhagen, I caught up with guitarist Lasse Revsbech to talk about the band’s whirlwind success. 
 
First of all, I really enjoyed your performance at Copenhell. What was that like for you? 
 
“We’ve never played a crowd that big before, it was amazing. We’ve been building up over the past few years in Denmark, so to see where it’s gotten to now makes it all worth it. At Copenhell, we shared the stage with some fucking true legends. Sometimes I have to pinch myself to make sure I’m not dreaming. It’s insane.”
 
How do you describe Baest?
 
“Baest is an intense band, with high energy and raw power but with an enormous smile.”
 
How did the reality show come about? 
 
“Our manager was in a dialogue with [public broadcaster] DR and they decided to send a crew to cover one of our gigs at VoxHall in Aarhus. We told them we were on the verge of going on this tour and everyone just thought it would be fun to do it.”
 
The metal world can often seem overly concerned about image and authenticity and in the documentary you come across as this group of really nice, down-to-earth guys. Did you have any concerns about how this might affect your image? 
 
“We were definitely nervous about the metal community’s reaction and how things would be edited and presented but fortunately we really think that DR hit the nail on the head. There’s been such a great response. A lot of true metalheads and touring musicians have told us that it painted such an honest picture of the music industry. A lot of metal bands have a hard time with this concept of selling out but we’ve not been told once – not yet, at least – they were are sell-outs.”
 
You also received a grant from the Danish Arts Foundation. Isn’t it a bit crazy that public money is going to a death metal band? 
 
“Haha, it makes you happy to pay your taxes! It’s so Danish! But really, it’s all about people supporting people and it’s something I think other countries should do.” 
 
What are you hoping to achieve with the release of your new album? 
 
“First and foremost, we’re hoping it allows us to tour more. This autumn, we’ll be heading out for our biggest European tour thus far, as main support for an Entombed AD & Aborted co-headling tour. Entombed are one of the pioneers of death metal, so it’s insane to go on tour with those guys. 
 
“Even if the new album doesn’t make us explode, we hope it will get us one step closer to that. We’re a band that likes to dream big, so we want to play on the biggest stages all around the world. Hopefully, this is a step in the right direction.” 
 
 
Baest’s tour in support of Entombed AD and Aborted kicks off on October 18 in London and will take them to 28 cities throughout Europe, including a November 1 stop at Vega in Copenhagen. Venenum will hit stores and streaming services on September 13 and lead single ‘As Above So Below’ is out now. The four-part documentary on Baest is available to stream here.
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