Experimental Music Love

March 18, 2008

Swedophilia – Or How Swedish Pop Deserves to Take Over

Filed under: Features — by Free Edinburgh Podcast @ 5:13 pm

Ever since Arcade Fire captured the imagination of all eager music lovers with their magisterial debut, Funeral, Canada has found itself as the country of choice for music artists who break new ground and capture the public’s imagination. The likes of New Pornographers, The Dears, Broken Social Scene, Feist, A Silver Mt. Zion and Rufus Wainwright all made music so very rightly revered and brought the expulsion of the demons brought about by Bryan Adam’s hollow strums and Celine Dion’s various abominations.

But with the release of the convoluted pretention that is Neon Bible, and the comeback of Nickelback to bore the masses once again, Canadian music has lost its way somewhat and it’s no longer the prime country to turn to when it comes to music that matters.

Instead, Sweden, a country previously only renowned in musical terms for ABBA and two songs by Ace of Base is now leading the way when it comes to crafting imaginative pop tunes that the rest of world is growing to love.

Robyn may have been in the industry for a while now, but it’s only in the last year she has finally achieved the international success her classy, slickly-produced pop songs deserve. Fantastic singles such as Be Mine and With Every Heartbeat have filled dance floors up and down the country and shown up the plodding r’n’b and hip hop of the UK and US for the tired, misogynistic waste of time it really is. Yet, with such talent and success, Robyn was shockingly left without even a Brit nomination, but it surely can’t be long until Sweden’s biggest female pop star is the world’s biggest female pop star.

As for Sweden’s most popular male vocalist, Jens Lekman and Jose Gonzalez stand out from a bustling crowd. Lekman’s intelligent lyrics and clever samples creating a wonderful sense of imagination that translates into any culture, whereas Gonzales owes much of his success to a whole load of coloured balls being thrown down a San Francisco street. But there is more than some balls to such a talented songwriter, and his own wistful take on one of Sweden’s most wonderful songs has helped bring one of Sweden’s most interesting acts to people’s attention.

The Knife originally recorded the flawless electronic pop of Heartbeats in 2002 before the Gonzales’ acoustic version created demand for a much warranted re-release. The duo also managed to pick up six accolades at Sweden’s biggest music awards, the Grammis, last year after the success of their 2006 album, Silent Shout. The album found success outside Scandinavia as well and was voted Album of the Year by American on-line music magazine Pitchfork.

International acclaim has also come the way of melodic pop trio Peter, Bjorn and John whose 2006 single Young Folks saw many lips sore from imitating its haunting whistling and numerous high placings in various song of the year awards.

More pleasingly joyous pop sounds can be heard from I’m From Barcelona who are confusingly enough from Jonkoping, Sweden. Their 29 members are as fun a live act as you could hope to find in the world as horns, flutes, balloons, confetti and childish glee combine to entertain in a very Swedish way.

A real sense of fun is something that runs throughout Swedish pop, with bouncy melodies and the sort of enthusiasm for a variety of instruments that’s getting harder and harder to come by for American and British acts. And the latest Swedish hopes are only confounding this further.

Hello Saferide have the eccentricity and whimsy to make OCD sound like the most cheerful thing in the world in blissful pop song If I Don’t Write This Song, Someone I Love Will Die, and are not adverse to recording the odd song in an elevator. Those Dancing Days too give off such a joy for life with organ driven pop and energetic female vocals that bring to mind Kenickie amongst others. And the lush rhythms of Sambassadeur should not be overlooked either as their creativity sparkles through in such wonders as The Park.

So, just as with affordable furniture stores, it’s the Swedes who are leading the way when it comes to creating some of the most intriguing pop music in the world. Free of the pressure of decades of pop heritage faced by British and American artists, the Scandinavians can flourish in bright ideas and fresh melodies without resorting to the cynicism of trying to be cool and the benign staples of pointless indie and dull r-n’b. Pop music is universal, but Sweden is just doing it that bit better than anyone else.



  1. Seconded. I’m so glad someone else realises this.
    You did miss out the amazing Loney, Dear.
    They are fantastic.

    Comment by Tom — March 22, 2008 @ 8:31 pm |Reply

  2. Don’t miss out on more great Swedish singer/songwriter music.


    Jonas Westin
    Makaki Music

    Comment by Makaki Music — March 25, 2008 @ 2:28 pm |Reply

  3. Check out Anna Leong, lovely lads from the cold north


    Peace out!

    Comment by White Weekend — March 27, 2008 @ 10:58 am |Reply

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