...because you thought Sweden was Switzerland!

Monday, June 04, 2007

For our karaoke nights

ABBA (after the members Björn, Benny, Agnetha and Anni-Frid). I was tempted to post one of the silliest pictures of them I could find (in this link) but changed my mind. You would too.

Post 2 of 3 on the SI's culture books. This time, I write about "Swedish Pop".

You may not believe it (I didn't at first) but the Swedes are apparently very popular in the international music scene. I'm not only talking about ABBA, who brought us those good ole karaoke hits "Dancing Queen" and "Take a chance on me" (as well as endowed us with their tacky fashion sense, as you can see in these pictures). You can also throw in Ace of Base, the Cardigans and Roxette in the list of popular Swedes in the music industry, but it doesn't stop there either, apparently.

Let's hear it straight out of this book "Swedish Pop":
What do artists like Britney Spears, Westlife, Backstreet Boys, N'Sync, Celine Dion and Jennifer Lopez have in common? All have had chart-toppers and million-sellers recorded in Sweden, produced by Swedes, using Swedish backing and written by Swedish songwriters. "Baby One More Time" by Britney Spears? Swedish. "Play" by Jennifer Lopez? Swedish. "Bye Bye Bye" by N'Sync? Swedish. "Come On Over Baby" by Christina Aguilera? Swedish. All the Backstreet Boy's world-wide hits? Swedish.
...how absolutely shocking!!!

Apparently, the person behind most of these hits is a guy called Max Martin (real name Martin Sandberg) of Cheiron Records, who had won the title Songwriter of the Year thrice in a row in the U.S. for writing most songs played there for three years running. He and another Swede Andreas Carlsson also composed Backstreet Boys' "I Want it That Way", N'Sync's "It's Gonna Be Me" and Celine Dion's "That's the Way It Is." Besides that, this Martin guy also helped Jon Bon Jovi with his comeback hit "It's My Life"! Yikes!

Aside from Max Martin, there also seems to be a host of other Swedes in the songwriting / producing business that work for (among other artists) Jessica Simpson, 98 Degrees, Cher, Enrique Iglesias (!), Hall and Oates and Christina Aguilera. To think that before reading the "Swedish Pop" book, I was thinking of naming this post "Thank you for the music!" Well, I changed my mind. All those teeny-bopper hits were Swedish? ...Hmmm okay, I could probably forgive them for writing the Backstreet Boys songs though. Hahaha! :-D

Besides the songs composed for American groups, the "Swedish Pop" book argues that Sweden does indeed have a strong music culture and plenty of local bands exporting their music to the U.K., continental Europe and Japan (At the height of the Cardigan's popularity, music stores in Japan had a category "Swedish Music"). The "Romeo + Juliet" OST apparently featured three such bands, even though people rarely reflected on the bands' origins in Sweden. I also discovered that this (English) song played almost daily in the radio here is by a Swedish band called The Ark (they're not that bad actually; I just thought they were Brits), and that another Swedish group called the Wanadees actually composed a football song for the U.K. Other pop groups were mentioned in the book too, but since I'm not the kind to stay tuned to rock-pop bands anyway, I didn't recognize 98% of them. Nevertheless, I'm assured by this book that they're popular, and that Sweden might well be the world's top third music exporter next to the U.S. and U.K.

So why are there so many Swedish bands and songwriters anyway? Good thing the "Swedish Pop" book answers this question. The answer? It's a mix of factors, from being in a country of 9 million (and thus having to export their music to earn), to having state subsidies on music classes and instruments for talented and interested youths (and adults!). Funny... as I was writing this entry, the Norrköping Youth Marching Band just passed the street twice, probably on their exam or something. Music, music everywhere...


Blogger vlado&toni said...

hey that's a good trivia,i didn't know that .. except for britney spears though. saw an mtv feature about her once.

3:44 PM


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