Hyundai Nordic Music Prize 2019 Nominees

January 22 2020

Hyundai Nordic Music Prize, is an annual award for the Best Nordic Album Of The Year. Inspired by the British & Irish Mercury Prize, the prize was introduced in 2010, and initiated by the by:Larm Conference.

In setting up The Hyundai Nordic Music Prize, by:Larm has several aims: first, to create even stronger unity across the regions industry; second, to further increase international interest and awareness of what the region has to offer musically; and, last but not least, to refocus on the full length album as an art form. This year’s winner will also receive a cash prize of 10 000 euros.

Previous winners have included Jónsi, Goran Kafjes, First Aid Kit, The Knife, Mirel Wagner, Band of Gold, Jenny Hval, Susanne Sundfør and Robyn.

The Nordic jury, comprising Audun Vinger (NO), Arnar Eggert Thoroddsen (IS), Ilkka Mattila (FI), Annah Björk (SE) og Anna Ullman (DK), collectively prepared a shortlist of 12 nominees for this year’s Hyundai Nordic Music Prize. The international jury – consisting of Jeanette Lee (Rough Trade), Jude Rogers (The Guardian), Eric Deines (Jagjaguwar) and Stuart Maconie (BBC) will decide which one that would end up as this year’s winner.

Now in its tenth year running, picking a shortlist for the Nordic Music Prize continues to be a highly enjoyable challenge. The quality and diversity within the Nordic region dazzles like never before and cutting a 25 album longlist down to a 12 album shortlist was an ardous process. We feel that the list manages to juggle an enticing variety, be it style, age, region or gender wise, running the gamut from accessible indie-pop to experimental avant-garde.

This year’s nominees are the following:


Jada – I Cry A Lot

Emilie Molsted Norgaard has won over teenagers and critics alike with her perfect harmonies, endearing personality and ice cold producer skills. Chill and warmth combined in a modern and spacious r&b pop sound. This honest and honey-voiced diva has made one of the most convincing debuts seen in ages. After a massive surge of media hype, Norgaard withdrew temporarily from the music industry due to acute stress and has since then committed to running her career on her own terms, building strong female communities and relying on radical self-care. A deeply touching live performer, Jada is known for connecting with her audience and adding tolerance and empathy to the pop industry.

Lowly – Hifalutin

Second album from experimental five-piece pop collective Lowly. Dreamy, playful and ethereal pop songs composed as a result of a collective and anti-hierarchical effort. Probably one of Denmark’s best bands and best kept secrets at the moment, mastering the album format to perfection. This album plays like a stream in constant motion, calmly taking its twists and turns in a wonderfully surprising manner and drifting from brilliant songwriting to deeply immersive synthetic soundscapes and softly interweaving vocals. Overall, Hifalutin feels like a large and ambitious orchestral vision, yet retaining a sense of lightness, bliss and serenity that keeps you coming back.


STINAKO – Ikuisuus

Ikuisuus (Eternity) is one of the most impressive debut albums in Finnish music scene for a while. STINAKO (Stina Koistinen) builds stunning atmospheres mostly just with her voice and piano she played in her summer house.
Her first solo album is full of songs about hope, longing, loneliness and fear of death, like in Ihoni on pehmeä (My Skin Is Soft) where she sings, voice alienated with pitch transposer ”my skin is soft / though no one knows it”.

The Hearing – Demian

The Hearing aka Ringa Manner has become a key figure in Finnish alternative pop music. Among all her bands and contributions The Hearing remains the most personal and ambitious platform for her musical ideas.

The Hearing was nominated for Nordic Music Prize also in 2017. On Demian, the musical spectre is even wider, stretching from dreamy soundscapes to bittersweet pop with hints of electronic punk.


Cell7 – Is Anybody Listening?

A true veteran of the Icelandic hip-hop scene and a living legend, Cell7, or Ragna Kjartansdóttir, was a member of Iceland’s very first possé, the multi-cultural Subterranean in the late 90s. Is Anybody Listening? is a bold and brazen album that could only be made with the hindsight of experience. Cell7’s flow and delivery is impeccable, where she trudges classic hiphop compositions and more poppy/r&b infused material.

Countess Malaise – Hystería

An artist that has been on the Icelandic hip-hop periphery for quite some time, releasing tracks sporadically on Soundcloud. HYSTERÍA is her first full-length album, a grim affair that never lets up as it details struggles with mental health, violent outbursts and gender issues. Brave, angry and empowering album from a unique artist. Lord Pusswhip, the king of the small but very active Icelandic underground hip-hop scene, produced the album.

Hildur Guðnadóttir – Chernobyl

Classically trained, but cutting her teeth in the Icelandic underground rock/pop world, Hildur released her first solo work on the respected Touch label. She started to work alongside much missed composer Jóhann Jóhannsson a few years ago but Chernobyl was her breakthrough work, an incredible amalgam of music and sound-art that has won her quite some accolades, including an Emmy award. Her soundtrack for Joker has received similar adulation, and got her a Golden Globe for Best Original Score.


Erlend Apneseth Trio with Frode Haltli – Salika, Molika

Traditional folk music is anything but traditional when in the presence of these three amazing musicians. The spellbinding sound of the Hardanger fiddle in Apneseths unique style, prepared guitar and electronics from Stephan Meidell, and sublime percussion from Øyvind Hegg-Lunde, makes totally unique contemporary music that is both hard to grasp within a pop context, and very easy to intuitively love and groove to. Sonically very exciting, with archival found voice sounds massaged into the material, and acclaimed accordionist Frode Haltli guesting. Released on Norway’s most open minded label Hubro.


Norway’s most popular and also most culturally important hip hop/pop act in the last decade, always on the vanguard stylistically, politically and business-wise, decided to make their last album into a 29 minute radio drama, programmed as one long song with interludes. Excellent production, strong melodies, an artful concept and peculiar lyrics makes this something else indeed. They’re using their platform to experiment, educate and analyze, and in doing so bridging the gap between the mainstream popstar life and contemporary art.

Pom Poko – Birthday

This debut album album is a breath of fresh air, combining high tech jazz chops with the intensity of clean cut hardcore punk and technicolor pop melodies. The four piece band fronted by energetic singer Ragnhild Fangel Jamtveit have toured non-stop internationally since the bands birth just a few years back, making them a super tight unit with an energy that also translates in the studio. They met as jazz students at the world famous Trondheim Conservatory of Music, like many great Norwegian pop and rock musicians before them. But the sound is their very own.


Jenny Wilson – TRAUMA

Jenny Wilson’s last outing, Exorcism, explored the aftermath of rape in the most personal and honest ways possible.

On Trauma she takes it several steps further by singing in Swedish for the first time, and the songs grow even more explicit and inescapable.

Moreover, the Swedish queen of synth collaborates with the famous conductor Hans Ek and Norrköping’s symphony orchestra. Her harsh, cold synthesized sounds and beats combined with the bombastic, organic and blooming classical orchestra creates contrasts and rare soundscapes. It’s a brave step for a pop star like Wilson to stray this far off the beaten path both artistically and personally. And the result is totally unique.

Nadia Tehran – Dozakh: All lovers hell

Nadia Tehran moves between genres such as punk, rap, pop and grunge – yet the mix feels refreshing, perfectly logical and coherent. Born in the small town of Jönköping to Iranian immigrants she was torn between Swedish norms and her parents heritage and cultural roots. Back in 2014, her song “Refugee” prompted music writers to call her the Swedish M.I.A – at a time when a mainstream pop artist with an obvious political message was a real controversial deal.

On her debut album she reflects on feeling rootless, life and death, love, war and humanity. Dozakh is the Persian word for the emotional hell lovers find themselves in when separated from each other.