When the Danish singer Rasmussen takes the stage in Lisbon in May with the song Higher Ground, he’ll be riding a wave of viking nostalgia unlike anything seen in the last millennia. But who is the man behind the song – and why are the rugged Northerners of yonder suddenly so in vogue again?…
With his long, red beard and hair, Rasmussen’s appearance closely mimics our idea of how Vikings looked – something his stage show on Danish TV, with square sails and a rugged band of sailors behind him, only served to underscore. And with good reason – TV shows like the worldwide phenomena Game of Thrones and Vikings have put the Northern warriors firmly back on center stage. Characters such as Ragnar Lothbrok from Vikings, and Euron Greyjoy and Tormund from GoT (who shares an uncanny resemblance with Rasmussen) have become sudden mainstream heartthrobs; a trend Rasmussen is undoubtedly set to continue.
The Viking that didn’t want to fight
Higher Ground, Rasmussen’s entry to the Eurovision Song Contest 2018, is inspired by the Viking Magnus Erlendsson and his refusal to fight in the Battle of Anglesey Sound in 1098. Contrary to standard depictions of Viking inclinations, Erlendsson believed in non-violence, and would have none of the fighting, looting and pillaging. He defied his king and code of conduct, and took a stand for something he believed in. These are values reflected in Higher Ground – to listen to and tolerate one another, and to solve conflicts through peaceful means instead of violence – very much in line with the theme of Eurovision 2018, All Aboard.
As Rasmussen says: “Higher Ground is the story of a Viking who had the guts to take a stand against violence, a message I hope can inspire people to seek peaceful solutions to conflicts. Eurovision is the perfect venue for a song with a message of understanding and non-violence. That is what Eurovision is all about – to come together in peace and celebrate diversity!”
The man behind the beard
In his daily life, Rasmussen lives with his wife and two kids in Jutland, Denmark, where he works as a performance and song coach for young adults. He holds a master’s degree in music and theatre, and has sung in a range of bands and productions. On-stage in Lisbon, Rasmussen will be joined by his ‘unit’ – a tightly knit crew of backup singers.
Here’s hoping that Rasmussen will ride the viking wave all the way to victory in Lisbon – a feat another band of vikings also managed in 844, albeit in a slightly less non-violent manner.
Rasmussen on social media:
Facebook: @rasmussenofficial // https://www.facebook.com/rasmussenofficial/