Tuesday, June 1, 2010

10 Days with Europe's Top 10 Pop Music Scenes. #6.

Number 6: Sweden. 9.19% GREEN (9.19% of that country's charting songs earned top marks on my spreadsheet)

A Swede once told me that Sweden, more than any tropical destination, was the land of sun-worshippers, because after the long, dark winter nobody appreciates the return of the sun more. Perhaps that explains Sweden's love for sunny pop (and the frequent use of reggae beats in their pop tunes).

Every Swedish pop group stands in the long shadow of ABBA, but Eurovision's only truly successful band is far from the only well-known Swedish export. Consider Ace of Base and Roxette (which, despite short careers in the U.S., have sustained a loyal following in Europe) and, to a lesser extent (time will tell), Alcazar and Robyn. But that's just looking at the surface. Behind-the-scenes, Stockholm producer/songwriter Max Martin may become as huge a cultural influence as ABBA, having written an astonishingly large number of top 40 hit songs for many American artists.

There seems to be some sort of partnership between the Swedish recording industry and Disney (perhaps distantly related to Max Martin's early work with former Mouseketeer Britney Spears), judging from the appearance of Swedish pop groups on Disney soundtracks (including Play [which have recently regrouped] and The Merrymakers), and the propensity for Disney stars to rework Swedish tunes (such as Hilary Duff, who offered a craven, G-rated take on Swedish singer Sahlene's delightfully raunchy "The Little Voice"*). In other marketing tie-ins, most of us Americans are familiar with Teddybears' "Different Sound" thanks to its effective use in an Intel advertisement which, judging from this, had some pop cultural traction.

I wish I could describe each of the dozens of great Europop artists of Sweden's recent past, but that would be an especially exhausting exercise. Suffice it to say, whether tackling pop dance, rap, rock, heavy metal, or even jazz, Sweden's music artists are always ready to unleash The Big Hook. OK, there have been some misfires as well, but still...

Here are a large number of good/interesting Swedish songs from the last couple of years:

Adiam Dymott - Miss You
Aextra - Himmu and Höll
Agnes [Carlsson] - On And On
Alcazar - Stay the Night
Jazzattacks - Bootleg
Mange Schmidt - Ledig
Maskinen - Dansa med vapen (feat. Marina Gasolina)
Melody Club - The Only Ones
P-Bros feat DJ Trexx and Olga Pratilova- Tingaliin
Sabaton - Cliffs Of Gallipoli
Salem - Astronaut
The Sounds - No One Sleeps When I'm Awake
Veronica Maggio - Måndagsbarn

* "The Little Voice" was written by Patrik Berger, a Swede, and Kara DioGuardi, an American who is now best known as an "American Idol" judge.

The rest of the countdown so far:

#7: Lithuania
#8: Ukraine
#9: Slovenia
#10: The Netherlands

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