Denmark is a Nordic country that has long been a centre of cultural innovation. Its capital, Copenhagen, and its multiple outlying islands have a wide range of folk traditions, while an extensive recording industry has produced pop stars and a host of performers from a multitude of genres.
Danish music has long been dominated by a fiddle and accordion duo, much like its northern neighbours in Scandinavia. An important difference, however, is that Danish fiddlers almost always play in groups, and so there is no tradition of virtuoso fiddle players capable of solo performance; Danish bands also tend to feature the guitar more prominently than the other Nordic countries, especially in recent years.
Fiddle and accordion duos play generally simple rhythmic dance music. The oldest variety is called pols, and it is now mostly found on Fanø and includes even smaller variety likes sønderhoning from Sønderho. Sønderho has produced a family of widely-respected musicians in Søren Lassen Brinch and his descendants. Another dance from Fanø is called fanik, while Danish dance music included its own versions of polka, waltz, schottisch, trekanter, firtur, tretur and rheinlænder, displaying its multicultural influences from Germany, Poland, Austria, Bohemia, Sweden, England and Norway.
The first Danish popular songs were printed ballads called skillingstryk, which grew popular in the 16th century. In the 1960s and 70s, a wave of roots revivals swept across Europe and soon mixed with American rock 'n' roll, blues and jazz to make new forms of popular music. Denmark remained largely unaffected by this trend, which hit all of its neighbours, including Finland, Sweden, Norway and Germany. Instead, Denmark hosted numerous music festivals celebrating Scottish, Irish and American folk musicians. Danish folk music was still alive, though, recorded by folklorists like Thorkild Knudsen. Knudsen's most important find was Himmerland fiddler Evald Thomsen.
The Danish new folk scene didn't become mainstream until the 1990s. The biggest catalyst for this change was the founding of several organisations to promote folk music, the most important of which was the Danish Folk Council. Performers of regional styles include Fanø's Jæ' Sweevers and East Jutland's Mølposen and Rasmus. Other influential musicians who play a multitude of styles include fiddler Michael Sommer, Benny Andersen, Erik Grip, Phønix, Baltinget, Danish Dia Delight, Carl Erik Lundgaard, Povl Dissing and perhaps the biggest star of the Danish roots revival, Morten Alfred Høirup.
The Danish bands that have had the most impact outside of Denmark itself, are pop group Aqua, who had a number of hits around Europe including "Barbie Girl" and "Doctor Jones". Another band popular outside of Denmark are rock and rollers D.A.D. (formerly Disneyland After Dark) who had a hit with "Sleeping My Day Away" in the early 90s. Perhaps the most popular Danish musician is Lars Ulrich of the otherwise American thrash metal band Metallica.