2016 No. 1s: Lukas Graham Frontman Shares the Songwriting Tip That Inspired '7 Years'

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Christopher Patey
Morten Ristorp, Mark Falgren, Cameron Strang [chairman/CEO, Warner Bros. Records] and Lukas Forchhammer photographed on Nov. 17 at The Foundry at SLS Las Vegas Hotel & Casino.

“7 Years” -- Radio Songs (4 weeks), Mainstream Top 40 (1 week), Adult Top 40 (3 weeks)


It took Warner Bros. Records chairman/CEO Cameron Strang three years to break Danish act Lukas Graham’s Grammy-nominated smash “7 Years.” The Copenhagen group -- led by partial namesake Lukas Forchhammer, 28 -- went quadruple-platinum with the wistful anthem, crowning several Billboard airplay charts and peaking at No. 2 on the Billboard Hot 100. But not everyone thought it was the obvious runaway hit. “There is nothing in the song to make it a Billboard song -- and that’s why I’m thrilled it got that traction,” says Forchhammer. “No matter what comes next, it will be swallowed up by the mother lode. But I’ll take a quadruple-platinum single and a gold album in a year!”

STRANG (chairman/CEO, Warner Bros. Records​):
Lukas is a brilliant, thoughtful writer, and he was making a very personal album. We all set a very high bar for what we wanted the band to accomplish.

FORCHHAMMER:
After meeting with Cameron, I canceled all the other label meetings. I had an instant connection with the guy. He encouraged us to be broader in our songwriting. My father had just died and I remember he said, “Just like you can’t make a memorable record that’s only about partying, you can’t make one only about your dead father.” He was right.

STRANG:
Radio station KROQ [Los Angeles] was an early believer. Conan also took a chance and put them on the show last December after seeing them at a tiny showcase in Hollywood. Things turned a corner in January, after we had them play at our Burbank headquarters for key radio folks. Programmers were raising their hands while Lukas performed, signaling they were in.

Lukas Forchhammer talks about becoming a father and writing "7 Years" after waking up from a nap.

This article originally appeared in the Dec. 17 issue of Billboard.

Billboard Year in Music 2016

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