There is a recurring aversion on the part of American labels to foreign singers, and it sometimes amounts to a mutual distrust. Kylie Minogue, the tiny Australian who has annexed most of Europe, has had only three hits here. Girls Aloud, the devilishly clever flagship act of the producer Brian Higgins and his Xenomania production team, generally doesn’t release records outside Britain. For many such acts, the American mountain can sometimes appear like too much bother, since even superstars can’t gain purchase. But given the retro-eighties feel and Euro-friendly nature of the year’s biggest female star, Lady Gaga, why not admit an actual European, who is even more fond of the eighties, into the game? Anne Lilia Berge Strand, a Berlin-based Norwegian singer-songwriter known as Annie, has no American label behind her. Her second album, “Don’t Stop,” a brash, bright, and easily absorbed pop effort, was completed in 2008 but is only now being released, jointly, by Annie’s Totally Records and an independent label in Norway called Smalltown Supersound. (After working on an earlier version, Annie was dropped by Island in Europe.)
more from Sasha Frere-Jones at The New Yorker here.