OSLO -- With support from the might of Atlantic Records, two 16-year-old Norwegian girls are on an international campaign trail. Their mission: to tap into the constituencies of pop mainstays from Britney to the Backstreet Boys.
M2M, comprising New York-based Marion Ravn and Marit Larsen and signed and A&R'd directly by Atlantic in the US, were in London last Thursday (27) to perform for the media at Tokyo Joe's. It was one in a series of showcases in the first of three scheduled European promo jaunts in the first quarter of the year, as the buzz about the duo and their Don't Say You Love Me single grows ever louder.
Already certified gold in the States, peaking at number 21 on the Hot 100 and number five on the Singles Sales chart, the song was the lead-off for Atlantic's Pokemon: The First Movie soundtrack, a 2.3 million-seller in the US due for release across Europe in March. Don't Say You Love Me, already hot across Scandinavia, will get a UK release on March 20 on East West; the album Shades Of Purple is due in Europe in mid-February, and in the US on March 7, with British release still to be scheduled.
The Pokemon movie will open in Belgium, France and Switzerland on April 5 with the rest of Europe to follow, but the association of Don't Say You Love Me with such a hot property has only heightened pan-European interest in the single, which is number five this week on M&M's Major Market Airplay chart for Scandinavia, not to mention that it has already topped the sales chart in Thailand and gone top ten in Australia, New Zealand and Indonesia.
Norway's public CHR/alternative station NRK Petre A-listed the song on the day it went to radio in November and has been playing it ever since. "It's a very well-written, well-produced pop song, they're young and potentially the largest Norwegian pop success ever," enthuses Petre music director Marius Lillelien. "The song is best suited to an audience aged 10-16, but in my opinion it won't scare away older listeners."
M2M are the latest in a succession of Norwegian acts which Atlantic has floated internationally, including Sons Of Angels, Bel Canto and, of late, Babel Fish (M&M, September 19, 1998). But the teenagers are a different proposition, according to the label's Fran Lichtman, senior VP, international. "Atlantic never really had an act in this `super pop' world," she says. "They are instrumental in writing their songs, they have no manufactured look or sound, and we're very proud of that. We feel they will have a long career with Atlantic."
Additional reporting by Paul Sexton.