Witpop is a term
one of us came up with when trying to describe our musical style. ‘Wit’ would stand for a certain cleverness, inventiveness or wittiness. ‘Pop’ is the general category, defined by harmonic melody and catchiness. But what we’re playing is hardly so unique that we’re entitled to our own genre. Our music is partly a result of what we ourselves have enjoyed listening to. Witpop should depict artists and groups who sought fame and fortune without compromising their wish to be different, even difficult, seeking a certain complexity, an unexpected twist, in order to achieve a stranger but richer harmony and beauty.
Because witpop is also pop
– silly and lovable, within limits – it competes all the time with its slickier sibling, mainstream pop to make the catchiest refrains, always losing, still appealing to someone out there. Compared to witpop, mainstream pop often lacks complexity and depends more upon emotion (less wit). the kinks
While mainstream pop
is all about making (hit) songs, witpop is more about making albums. Sure, witpop makers can have a hit or two (or more), flirting with mainstream pop (and often influencing and renewing it), but their finest moments remain unheard, unless you buy the record. And play it again and again.
Witpop also puts more emphasis
on lyrics than mainstream pop does. While listening to mainstream pop lyrics is much like popping valium, thereby directing the brainless attention to the melody only, witpop is defined by a clear affinity for words and meanings, and the way they are expressed through the music. The lyric is a message, an opinion, a poem, a story or a joke to be told, significant in its own right. Motorpsycho
Witpop holds a middle position
between mainstream pop and indie. The major difference with regard to indie is that witpop competes with mainstream pop, a competition indie takes no part in. That’s why a lot of music from innovative and well respected artists, like Brian Wilson, David Bowie or Elvis Costello, can be labelled witpop, but not at all indie. Prefab Sprout
Our praise of witpop

should not give the impression that we try to fit all the great music in the world into this genre. Neil Young, R.E.M or Led Zeppelin are not representatives of witpop. Not the Beatles, either (The Kinks, yes,and certainly the Move). Witpop can’t represent or be everything; it may even have a distinct sound and limits that we ourselves have difficulties grasping.


So is witpop actually just britpop?
Hardly. At least not if it refers to certain British pop groups from the 90’s. They may serve as good examples of bad witpop, overdoing the wittiness and irony. As all pop, witpop needs to get impulses from the outside – some feeling, patos or emotions, some flirting with other musical genres, to get some flavour. But there is still something British about witpop, with regard to important bands like Squeeze, Prefab Sprout and XTC. Or the more mainstream ones from the seventies, like Supertramp and ELO. xtc
So what do these have in common?
Elaborate songs with clever lyrics, lots of chords, choirs and refrains, lots of different tempos and bars, and flirting with other musical genres. david bowie witpop-icon1
Speaking of limitations,
what does witpop tend to lack? Simplicity and feeling. Two qualities that are fully present in, say, blues music. While witpop is neither based on simplicity, nor on feeling or expressivity, it doesn’t mean that it lacks these qualities entirely – that would end up in dull britpop. They’re simply not governing principles. Witpop is more about carefully composed songs, where every note has a purpose, building up and down to this or that highlight.
Sure, but stick to the plan! marit larsen og tom hell
We try to live up to
our new legacy, and it seems we are on the right track since we’re not being played on the radio; we put less emphasis on emotion and simplicity, replacing it with the beauty of 24 chords in one song; we stubbornly listen to clever bands from the seventies and eighties; we can’t stand hit songs, but try to make one every time; we write lyrics based on something we’ve read in the Economist; we dislike blues, but not the way Robert Plant sang it; in short, we play witpop.