13 September 2014
Eirik Bodding Gjendemsjø (aka Eirik Gjen)
It has been a distinct pleasure for me to get to know the music of Eirik Gjen over the last few years. I am not usually taken with a ‘listen-and-review’ of a single play of a music video, but I certainly was in the case of Eirik. When I first created a small YouTube channel for general music promotion, I listened for quite a time to classical-crossover vocalists and one of my favorite musical genres: Classical choral music. Although I do not know precisely how YouTube provided Webber’s “Pie Jesu” by Eirik Gjen, in the ‘try this’ column on my channel, that is how I accidentally discovered his work.
I will provide a link, later on, for the single piece that convinced me that this young Norwegian vocalist had exceptional skills. The video that shows his “Pie Jesu” entry into the competition Norway’s Got Talent, absolutely stunned me. Here is this kid, in braces and tousled hair, that belts out a rendition that would have brought Webber to tears. Now years later, I still occasionally listen again to the music video and marvel at his work as a teenager. It took me a while to discover that Eirik had indeed spent some time as a chorister, but I knew he must have had a rich history in choral work. This particular version alone has received more than 29,000 views.
I suppose like many teen YouTubers, Eirik recorded covers–alone or with an accompanist or collaborators–in some unusual venues: school spaces, his bedroom, a sofa in a family room, etc. Eirik has produced some of the best pop-cover work available anywhere. Selections that come easily to mind include the premier cover of the Bruno Mars hit, “When I Was Your Man.” — Maroon 5 “Payphone” — and Queen “The Show Must Go On.” I would like to think that I had a small part in promoting “When I Was Your Man” to the 5,000; then 10,000; and then 20,000+ YouTube plays. I probably wore out my welcome on Twitter, YouTube, Google+ and Facebook in the process, but I felt then and sill do that Eirik’s work needs to be heard by music enthusiasts around the world.
Eirik’s official video “The Greatest” has rightly generated nearly 186,000 YouTube views. It is among his finest works. I never knew exactly what happened to one or two other official releases that were quite good, but believe there must have been copyright or management issues that eventually prompted their removal from public access. Be that as it may, they too were exceptionally well done. I will gladly provide a link to “The Greatest” as one of his premier pieces.
As with many artists, Eirik has other skills. His ‘amateur’ photography is well done. He routinely posts family and friend photos–including his Springer “Kira”–on Instagram. For several years, Eirik routinely posted on Twitter and Facebook, but his media presence has diminished greatly.
Before I forget, I need to mention that this remarkable young man had performed for First Lady Michelle Obama during her state visit to Norway, before he was 15 years old.
I remain flattered whenever I receive the occasional message from Eirik Gjen and continue to encourage him to create more great vocal music. Eirik has recently entered university at Romerike Folkehøgskole. I wish every success at the start of his academic experience.
— R. Johnson
— p.s. The braces with which Eirik suffered as a young teen worked quite well. He has one of the best smiles in the business.