Nordic breeze 


In a perfect world -- one where Mary Kate and Ashley operate as pink and purple yin and yang, ruling over all that is well and good -- teen magazines would replace Time and Newsweek as the periodicals of choice; global leadership would be decided by a pageant, and I would be queen. Friendship bracelets would cover my arms and legs; and my neck would be layered with diamond chokers, glimmering beneath a head of gloriously well-conditioned hair and well-intentioned cliches.

Pretty. Perfect. Popular.

By the sight and sound of it, that's exactly where Norwegian pop hopefuls M2M are delicately floating. Their current opus, "The Big Room" (following their 2000 introduction, "Shades of Purple"), offers blissed out ABBA optimism strummed into summer-camp confessionals. I swear, just listening to these two girls makes my toenails paint themselves. I'm sooo serious.

I caught up with 17-year-old Marion Raven, half of the precious twosome with Marit Larsen, following their Hard Rock opening for Jewel. Unlike Jewel, who is old, used to sleep in a van with Flea and might consider dental work, Marion is fresh, young and (yes) perfect.

So, dear, what is M2M all about?

"It's all about being real and organic," she summer breezes. "We have tons of real instruments, a real band, all the song lyrics are about real things -- all about ourselves. Yeah, we're all about that."

All about yourselves? Really? Me too! But how did you get from being all about yourselves to being all about yourselves for a global audience?

"Well, we've been doing a lot of music in Norway since we were little. We had a children's album when we were 11 and 12," she Mary Kates. (Note to self: Record children's album.) "We started writing songs, and we met our manager who liked our songs and brought [them] to Atlantic Records."

Fancy. What was your life like before modest celebrity?

"Pretty normal," she dabs, then smoothes. "Well, it wasn't really normal, because I was always doing theater and stuff like that. But I was still going to school and just being with friends ... doing homework."

Yeah. Um, me too. Except that was a good 20 years before she was doing it, which Marion is quick to point out. Too quick.

"Do you know who the last Norwegian pop sensation was?" I ask, acting my age.

"Uh, a-ha?"

Oooooh, I love you!

"But I was born the year they came out, so ..." she slaps.

Oooooh, I hate you!

"They did have a comeback this year in Norway, and it's really good," she fixes.

Thanks. Let's talk industry pressures, then, and see if maybe we can squeeze some dirt out of this daisy. Otherwise, my student-council campaign is going to fall completely flat, and they're totally going to laugh at me in the cafeteria.

"There's gotta be a lot of pressure to be something you're not," I snide. "I mean, pretty little girls in a dirty old man's industry."

"We've been very lucky," she coohs. "antic is a good company and, y'know, they respect who you are. We can be ourselves. We wear the clothes we want to wear and say the things we want to say."

Any bad European TV shows with greasy fat men and talking llamas?

"No, it's been OK."

So, you're a part of the Nu-Teen Pop, where people say things like, "We actually play our own instruments, and sometimes write our own songs?" Oh, wait. You did actually say that already.

"Yeah, I think we're a part of that. Vanessa Carlton and Michelle Branch," she drifts. "Michelle being a personal friend of mine, so ..."

Not so! That's just two degrees away from Madonna! Still, it's a fine new tradition of sincerity that matches such "big" thoughts as Branch's "Everywhere" with M2M's "Everything" in pubescent overstatement. Everything is the new nothing. Nothing being Britney Spears.

"I think it's just cool that young people get to be out there and do this," Marion Miss-Americas. "You're always going to need that entertaining side of the music business where it's just more ... fun."

The sweetness is getting sickening. I haven't had this much heartburn since I drank eight Boone's Farms in the back of Jewel's van. Do you even have teeth? Not like Jewel, but do you have any creatively tense teeth?

"Well, I guess we argue just like everybody else. But it's not like a big thing."

So no angry M2M album? No big third-record surprise of mud wrestling and bitch slaps?

"Well, we do have some angry songs on the album. Like 'Leave Me Alone' and 'Sometimes.' But I don't think you're going to get any Alanis Morissette."

But what about growing up? Getting cheated on? Discovering drugs? Hating men?

"I really want to do music all of my life," she evades. "It's really great."

Obviously, she's winning.


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