Who: Ida Maria, a 24-year-old Norwegian punky pop hellion whose debut album Fortress 'Round My Heart, stocked with caffeinated rock songs about drinking and one-night stands, is finally coming to America after garnering rave reviews throughout Europe.
Sounds Like: Performing tight garage-pop tunes at a breakneck speed, Ida Maria sounds like a cross between Nico and the Pretenders' Chrissie Hynde. Her Fortress already spawned five singles in Europe, including the bubblegum blitzkrieg of "I Like You So Much Better When You're Naked" and the boozy start-stop of "Oh My God."
Vital Stats: • Ida (pronounced eee-da) Maria, who grew up in the way-northern burg of Nesna, Norway (population: 1,800), has found her success a bit dizzying. "It's all been a blur," Maria tells Rolling Stone. "It was like taking out a really fast car." Even though she moved back to her hometown, Maria, who has a U.S. tour and album release on the horizon, isn't retreating from the spotlight. "I feel like my job is more important than ever," she says, "But I'm not trying to figure out the world. I'll leave that to Bob Dylan."
• Growing up in Nesna was a sheltered experience that didn't allow her much exposure to outside music. "You have to go by car over a mountain to find a record store," Maria says, "and there you might find some local country bands. It's just really hard to find music up there." Luckily, Maria took a job baby-sitting for the town doctor who happened to have a 3,000-plus record collection, introducing her to the likes of Dylan and Kate Bush.
• At her recent show at New York's Mercury Lounge, Maria berated the crowd for being too quiet — and then emptied a bottle of water over her head. Offstage, though, she's more like a polite exchange student than her crazed onstage alter ego. "When you work in a bar, watching people drink all night, all you want to do is have a beer," Maria sheepishly explains.
Hear It Now: Fortress Round My Heart finally hits American record stores in April. In the meantime, check out our Breaking video featuring Ida Maria's video for her single "I Like You So Much Better When You're Naked."