“I let the music take me home to the streets where I belong.“
Hey Annie, well…look at you.
It’s been 16 years since the Norwegian crooner first burst onto the scene with 2004’s critically hailed Anniemal, chock full of instant classics like “Heartbeat,” “Me Plus One” and, of course, “Chewing Gum.”
A lot has changed since those dancing days. And lately, Annie’s looking back.
“The Streets Where I Belong” is the latest offering from Annie’s forthcoming record Dark Hearts, a more cinematic, moody venture than the effervescent dance-pop of her debut, 2009’s follow-up Don’t Stop, “Anthonio,” and all the fierce EPs and one-offs she’s supplied ever since.
This latest release is also, possibly, her Most Personal Release to Date – and that’s a great way, rest assured.
“Annie, Annie, they’re playing our song, and for a moment I’m transported to where I’m from,” she wistfully croons across the driving, ’80s-inspired synth pulse, best built for a contemplative night drive.
“Teenage lovers, when we were young / All of the parties under the midnight sun / That’s when I met the love of my life / He was a DJ and we danced all through the night / Tell me, tell me, why did you go? / I can still hear our songs on the radio…”
The song is beautifully nostalgic and largely self-referential, from the opening “Annie, Annie” (her self-callouts date all the way back to “Chewing Gum”) to “our songs on the radio,” a nod to “Songs Remind Me of You.”
Annie recalls her teenage days in Bergen, Norway where she fell in love with Tore Kroknes, also known as DJ Erot. The two worked together on her debut in 1999 with “Greatest Hit,” the Madonna-sampling underground club hit that eventually kicked off her career. Sadly, her boyfriend – who was born with a heart condition – fell ill, and passed away shortly thereafter at just 23 years old.
“After that, I was so depressed I just wasn’t able to do anything. I stayed at home, away from everyone, completely in my own world. I wanted to make the album with Tore—that was the plan. After he died I just didn’t think I had the heart. But then I thought, ‘Right, you’re really depressed now but you have to make this album. Tore would be quite pissed off if you just stopped doing anything,” she told Clubbing Magazine.
Deeper into the song, Annie fills out the verses with tales of the faces and places she grew up with and their respective fates, either in abandoning local life or staying put, from the rock star to the poor beauty queen next door who met an untimely demise.
“She used to tell me, ‘Annie, don’t stay / Go sing your songs, or if not you’ll fade away.’”
“Walking through the city where you grew up. Coming back to Bergen after spending almost 10 years in Berlin. ‘The Streets Where I Belong’ is one of the more personal songs on the album. Inspired by Bruce Springsteen. Moving back home was both great, but also left me with a bit of a sentimental feeling, thinking of all the things I experienced growing up in Bergen. Stories of love, stories of loss. A song that is really about going home,” she explains of the song.
Despite being penned with Annie’s own experience in mind, “The Streets Where I Belong” is an entirely fitting and relatable anthem for the present moment, considering the way many people have also returned to their own hometowns, often by necessity (myself included), capturing the familiar, yet haunting feeling of settling back into old routines once again.
How much, and how very little, has changed.
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