When Nordic countries started dominating the Happiness Index a rash of articles and books appeared telling Americans to do things the Nordic way (eat more chocolate! take a walk! drink grog!) and get happier. Interviews with actual Nordic people find them puzzled about being referred to as happy. It turns out the Happiness Index is really about political stability and having a high standard of living across the entire society (Sorry, fellow Americans – we are doomed!). Nordic people aren’t happy — they just aren’t stressed about healthcare, retirement, paying for education, or the future of their democratic system.
Instead of outright joy many Nordic people have a more (grimly sardonic??) realistic view of life and smaller expectations that don’t involve some life-transforming BIG WIN that always hangs over the horizon, just out of reach, somewhere in the future. Norway’s Sondre Lerche sums this up in his Dan In Real Life movie theme, “To Be Surprised” — I’m not gonna lie/Saying everyone will be all right/And fine until we die/What else can you do but hope and pray/And say that we’ll get by/Better be prepared to be surprised.
While the sweet Dan In Real Life family rom-com initially did anemic business at the box office it became a sleeper hit on DVD and cable. Surprisingly, it was the Sondre Lerche soundtrack album that over-performed in the States as it went all the way up into the Billboard Top 10, ultimately reaching No. 6 and staying on the American album charts for 16 weeks.
It would be great to have this one released on vinyl with the god-awful pancake-face movie art changed out to something better.