'Chewing Gum' girl Annie is oh so cool

"WHEN I started writing for the album I wanted to be inspired by Prince's Kiss," recalls Norwegian Cool-Pop postergirl Annie.

"And while the lyrics came later that's how I Know Ur Girlfriend Hates Me started off."

Released in early June the track is taken from her new album Don't Stop.

Like few other albums of the last ten years, the record makes perfect sense of pop's brilliant extremes.

This is, after all, the work of a woman whose cat Joey was named after her favourite Ramone and her favourite New Kid On The Block.

Annie calls it "pop with strange edges". On her second album it's also pop with twists and eccentricities so surprising that the tunes persistently demand a double take.

Recorded over the last two years, Don't Stop will pull off the tricky task of pleasing Annie's existing fans while, just maybe, making her a bit of a household name.

Her first album sold more than 100,000 copies and established Annie's name as one to watch throughout Europe, America and the Far East.

Complementing Anne Lilia Berge Strand's pick 'n' mix, Pitchfork-to-Popjustice, genrehopping pincer movement are an array of handpicked associates.

'Don't Stop' reunites Annie with Timo Kaukolampi and Richard X - collaborators from the first album – and introduces a host of new friends like Xenomania, Franz Ferdinand's Alex Kapranos, Girls Aloud and Datarock.

Other musical nuggest include Girlfriend which Annnie explains is "about a girl who has a really really good friend, who's a guy, but he also has a girlfriend.

"The girlfriend is not a big fan of this situation. The girlfriend is basically completely hysterical. She needs to calm down. Although she might have reason to be a little worried."

And then the enjoyably ridiculous Breakfast is destined to become a torture device for the world's cooler hangover victims.

"I wrote it while I was making breakfast," Annie confirms. "It's about getting up, starting the day, and just doing what you have to do until the day's over."

"The album works against itself," Annie says. "I like there to be two things happening at once; pop and cool, happy and sad."

Annie's journey this far has been a long one.

It started when she was a teenager living in Norway's tune capital, Bergen, long before she founded the legendary clubnight Pop Til You Drop or her debut single The Greatest Hit sent the planet's online community into a frenzy.

Before all that, during dark days fronting a terrible Norwegian indie troupe called Suitcase, Annie would send her band's demos to Saint Etienne's Bob Stanley.

"Fortunately he doesn't remember them at all because they really were very bad," Annie laughs now, "but by the time 'Anniemal' came around Saint Etienne asked me to tour with them."

Annie's friendship with the band continued as Anniemal and its lead single Chewing Gum put Annie on the brink of global stardom in 2005.

Annie toured America, Japan and Australia, then got down to writing for the second album.

By that point there was only one problem: no record label.

Annie's appealingly diverse qualities – a pop singer with credibility, an indie artist with one eye on the dancefloor – were proving difficult for some people to get their heads around.

"It was confusing for me," Annie remembers, "because nobody had said what I'd been doing was crap.

"If I'd had everyone going 'look, you're not really very good at this, have you thought about working in a shop' it would have been one thing, but… Well, it was a strange situation."

Annie kept writing and touring, and one day Bob Stanley mentioned the producer Brian Higgins, who he'd known for a long time and who was a fan of Annie's breakthrough US hit Heartbeat.

Annie got in touch, and was summoned to Brian's Xenomania studios in the Kent countryside.

She turned up with a stinking hangover after three hours' sleep.

"Brian's very direct and that's great because I'm clear about what I like and don't like, too," Annie explains.

One of the brilliant things about being neither one thing or the other is that, if you want, you can be everything.

Just don't stop, no matter what.

"I'll never give up," says Annie. "I'm like a virus!"

Annie's new single, I Know UR Girlfriend Hates Me, is due to be released on Monday, June 9, on the Island Records label.

http://www.myspace.com/anniemusic