Time of the 'Babses': About Idols and the search for their local counterparts in the 1940s


The complete blog post by Bertel Nygaard, Aarhus University, is only available in Danish. A short summary in English is provided below

Having recently become a youth idol in her native country, the 17-year-old Swedish swing jazz singer Alice Babs suddenly rose to stardom in occupied Denmark, too. This also launched an intense search for local Danish counterparts to Babs, with competitions held in numerous Danish towns. Such counterparts weren’t necessarily close copies, in the manner of present-day Elvis Presley impersonators or a local band performing U2 songs as close to the originals as possible. On the contrary, such counterparts would often very obviously rework some features of the international idol into new expressions of individuality of locality, and some of those counterparts might well end of having showbiz careers of their own.

This type of search for local counterparts was a particularly prominent feature of celebrity and fan culture around the middle mid-20th century, reflecting a pop-cultural geography characterized by an opposition between, on the one hand, a strong fascination with foreign idols and, on the other hand, an urge to integrate such idols in more familiar, local settings (with the latter urge often also reflecting a limited access to such idols and their media representations).