Jesse Kornbluth on Lukas Graham, fathers and sons.
I first watched the YouTube video of “7 Years” two days ago.
I watched it again today.
In two days, it’s been viewed 4 million times.
This isn’t surprising — “7 Years” is the hottest song on the planet. In the United States, 150 radio stations a week are adding it to their playlists. It’s number 4 on the United States Top 50 chart on Spotify. [To buy the CD of “Lukas Graham” from Amazon and get a free MP3 download, click here.]
The group is called Lukas Graham. If the band and the song are unfamiliar, there’s a reason. As music blogger Bob Lefsetz has quipped, “Lukas Graham seems to be everywhere but the news.” This is music to hear, fall in love with, and tell your friends. A genuine hit, not manufactured to sound like somebody else’s last hit and then massaged by mass media. Look at the schedule for the band’s first American tour — every show is sold out. [I bought tickets — for the May 11th show at Rough Trade in Brooklyn — from StubHub. Original price: $20. I paid $56. By May, they’ll be higher. Consider yourself warned.]
The lyrics of “7 Years” are clear, but if you want them, click. Here’s the song:
Feel anything? I do, every time. And so do many, many others. Some random listener comments:
In school I put it on, but nobody liked it. They said put on something everyone likes and I said just listen to it you will love it and by the end they told me to put it on again because they now love it.
I might only be 14 but to listening to this song makes me feel like I’m watching the world and feeling everybody’s emotions.
This year I have lost so many people I loved, and this song says everything that I always wanted to say.
Kids? Of course. It speaks to them — as a love song to the most important people in their lives: mother, father, family, friends. What don’t you find in this song? Rage. Alienation. Teenage lust. Instead, and in abundance: solidarity, community, affirmation. As Lukas Graham Forchhammer, the band’s founder, songwriter and singer, has said, “I write real stories about real people, not about bitches in the club.”
The back story explains a lot. Forchhammer is Danish. He grew up in Christiania, an “autonomous community” in Copenhagen a chip shot from Noma, the restaurant often said to be the world’s best —and the government castle that is the main location in my favorite binge watch, Borgen. Christiania is a remarkable place: a utopian community that’s also a major tourist attraction. Not by utopians seeking brethren, but because it’s “perhaps the world’s biggest open-air hash, weed and drug paraphernalia market.” The drug trade is run by biker gangs. And yet everyone — 800 people, 200 cats, 200 dogs — co-exists. The band filmed a video here. I have to think money changed hands for that to happen.
Forchhammer began his professional career at 11, as a singer in the Copenhagen Boys Choir. At 20, he spent six months in Argentina, where he realized that “writing songs is one of the most fun things in the world.” He returned to Denmark and gathered allies. By 2013, the band was performing 60 concerts in 10 weeks. An American record deal followed. At 27, he’s a big deal.
Or is he? He’s got the audience he’s long craved — “When I said that I wanted the deal in Hollywood/ I told them I’ll be singing on TV/ The other kids were calling me a wannabe/ The older kids they started bugging me/ But now they all standing right in front of me” — and yet there’s a hole in his life. His father shared his dream and encouraged him. And then, just as the band was taking off, his father died. In a documentary, he says, “My heart broke. It keeps on breaking. It happens every morning.” And then he cries.
In “Happy Home,” he sings: “My family comes first before everyone/ I had the perfect dad, I wanna be the perfect son/ Though I really feel sometimes I am on my own/ I know I got a lot of love and a happy home.”
Okay, I’m a father. Susceptible to this kind of sentiment. Maybe not forever. But for right now, when the airwaves are filled with bullshit and hate, I’m thrilled that Lukas Graham exists. Three cheers, kid. Keep it coming.
A stunning version of Adele’s “Hello.”
This article originally appeared on Head Butler
Photo credit: Getty Images