A look into Swedish pop music, with an exploration of 10 of the best acts to surface from the Scandinavian country.
Sweden seems an unlikely haven for pop music. It’s position in Scandinavia makes it seem estranged, torn away from much of modern Western culture. With a language so different to English, the quantity of English-speaking musical acts is phenomenal. Even more amazing is the fact that lots of these acts have gained some degree of popularity across the globe. When you look closely, you almost begin to forget that other countries actually produce music.
Okay, so everyone knows that ABBA came from Sweden, but how about the Cardigans? Try this list of well-known and not-so-well-known Swedish acts for a true treat for your ears.
Worth a mention on this list if only for the name, Suburban Kids With Biblical Name are actually creating quite a stir in the music scene. Their single “Rent-A-Wreck” is so simple, childish in a way, that it becomes something beautiful.
Peter, Bjorn and John are the guys who had the annoying whistling tune stuck in your head for months a while back. The song, Young Folks is one of the most recent examples of the Swede invasion. Featuring yet another Swede on vocals (Victoria Bergsman), the single did amazingly well. Unfortunately, the album was perhaps a bit of a let down. Let’s see what they can come up with next.
Perhaps more a rock act than pop, this girl group combine raw aggression with a real knack for melodies. They’ve been around a while, and perhaps haven’t recieved the exposure that they really deserve. Personally, I feel that the distinction of being an all-girl group has helped them immensely. A band that really has that uplifting energy, their punky attitude is perhaps best shown in the live environment, so here is a live video of them performing the track Alright, Alright.
Quite a Spanish name for a Swede! González’s parents were originally from Argentina, moving to Sweden the year he was born. He is perhaps most famous for his covers of popular songs, including numbers originally by Springsteen, Massive Attack and the Knife (see below). His original work often seems to be overlooked because of this. But rest assured, it is fantastic. Even though it is great, I have chosen a cover to represent José. So here we have a live version of Love Will Tear Us Apart (Joy Division).
The Hives are the best known Swedish act in the UK right now. Their blend of Garage-revival and smart-talking, smart-dressing stylisations has ensured that they have recieved a degree of longevity. From everything down the their stage names (Howlin’ Pelle Almqvist, Dr. Matt Destruction, etc), The Hives are a true calculated masterpiece of a band. Dressing entirely in black and white, their live shows are turly a sight to behold, as are their eye-catching music videos.
“The You And Me Song” – the greatest Swedish song of all time? It certainly gives ABBA a run for their money. Unfortunately they haven’t been heard of much as late, and it really seems that these guys are one-hit wonders. Unfortunate, because this is such an amazing tune.
The Knife’s greatest claim to fame is being the original artists behind the song Heartbeats, a huge hit for none other than José González. This is probably the greatest unfairness in the so-called “Swedish Invasion”. The Knife produce some fabulous electronic music, with the icing on the cake being the fantastic vocal lines used by the duo. One of the most weird acts on the list, this weirdness only adds to the appeal, so check out the song Like A Pen (in the video below).
Loney, Dear, A.K.A Emil Svanängen, is a true songwriting maestro. So far, he’s released four albums, and shows no sign of slowing down. His is a world of relaxation, where nothing seems to matter but the sound of Emil’s voice. His latest offering, Loney, Noir, is a re-release of his 2005 album. However, this time around it’s getting noticed, with many favorable reviews. The video below comes from this album.
The Cardigans enjoyed a fair bit of mainstream success in their time. They’ve gone a bit quiet nowadays, possibly finding it hard to top their earlier pop gems. Like it or not, everyone who has heard their hit Lovefool has had it stuck in their head at some point, and that is why they deserve the number 2 spot.
Certainly the largest band on this list, I’m From Barcelona rack up a total of 29 members. There certainly seems to be strength in numbers, with these guys crafting some of the most perfect pop songs I have ever heard. Their debut album is a complete stormer. I have not been lucky enough to witness a live show with them, but from the looks of it, it is a true experience. This track, We’re From Barcelona, perfectly sums them up as an act.
As you can see, Sweden is providing us with some of the best pop music around right now, with such a wide range, it is as if you need not look any further for your musical fix. Sweden has it all, and long may it continue.