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A Decade of Scandipop

Fri, Feb 12, 2010

Columns, Features

By Karl Batterbee | Photo: Alphabeat

Scan Magazine’s music fanatic Karl Batterbee takes a look back at the decade gone by in Scan pop hits. Who makes his list of nougthies’ greatest export hits? Find out below where you can also take a glimpse into the Scandinavian pop future!

Scandinavia has by now earned itself a reputation for being one of the world’s most reliable regions when it comes to exporting top-notch pop music! Remarkable in itself, given the small size of the area’s population, but especially impressive when you consider that the well known hits that have been embraced by every nation in the world, were composed by songwriters that don’t even use English as their primary, or sometimes even secondary language. Any music lover in any country will be able to sing you the songs that came from Scandinavia in the seventies, eighties, and nineties, from acts like Abba, A-Ha, Aqua, and Ace of Base.

But as we commence a new decade, we wanted to look back to find the noughties’ most prolific Scandinavian musical exports and see if Scandinavia still has that special something when it comes to crafting pop music that can be loved the world over.

So here they are, the ten biggest Scandinavian artists of the last decade!

Alphabeat

These guys burst onto to the UK music scene in 2008 and took firm occupancy in the sizeable gap that exists between pop music and indie music in the UK. Visually unique, they bopped around in headache inducing fluorescent videos, to music that they penned, produced, and played themselves. Hailing from Denmark, they consist of five gents and a lady, a factor which has contributed to the sound that has made them so popular – male and female perfectly layered harmonies. Their debut album, This Is Alphabeat, went top ten in the UK and spawned three top twenty hits, all four releases totalling half a million sales in the UK alone. Biggest Hit – Fascination

Robyn

Perhaps Scandinavia’s most extreme pop chameleon, Robyn started out in the nineties as a manufactured pop puppet – only to cut the strings in the early noughties, leave her record label, and record the music that she wanted to make independently, releasing it on her own record label. Her native Sweden loved her for it, but even they were surprised when the rest of the world went mental for the beat heavy, dark electro that she produced. Such was the quality of the album Robyn – her fourth as an artist, first doing it her own way – it went on to become by far her most successful. Biggest Hit – With Every Heartbeat

Eric Prydz

You may not know the name, but you’ll know the hits! Call On Me exploded around the world in 2004, and not only became one of the biggest selling dance hits of all time, it also started a brand new trend within dance music that was imitated by everyone with a synthesizer for the next three years! With Call On Me, Eric had sampled an eighties rock track, and tailored it for the noughties’ dancefloor – and thus a new formula was born, and somewhat thoroughly bred! His most recent concoction was Pjanoo, a piano-led house track which was the biggest selling dance single of 2008. Eric is also partly responsible for the worldwide reputation that Swedish house music has, along with the famed ‘Swedish House Mafia’ – Axwell, Steve Angello, and Sebastian Ingrosso. Biggest Hit – Call On Me

The Ark

This Swedish embodiment of glam rock had their first number one album at the turn of the decade, and went on to have three more chart topping albums throughout. Loved for their outlandish rock n’ roll glamour, they have courted controversy as if it was a love-struck groupie! From lyrics contrary to the morals of society, to ill-thought out comments about the 9/11 terrorist attack when they commenced their US tour, a tour which was short-lived as a result. A new album, their fifth, is due sometime this year. Biggest Hit – The Worrying Kind

Agnes

Scandinavia’s newest pride and joy, Agnes released three albums in her native Sweden after winning their version of Pop Idol in 2005. But in 2009, it was a single from the third album that catapulted Agnes to fame in every corner of the globe. Release Me took up a permanent residence on every radio, dancefloor, and singles’ chart last summer. Knowing that “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”, Agnes is working on her new album with the exact same producers that she struck gold with for her current record! Biggest Hit – Release Me

Röyksopp

The Norwegian Gods of electro can probably also lay claim to the moniker of Gods of music synchronisation! Their music is as famous as it is critically acclaimed, thanks to placements in adverts from the likes of Apple, BBC, Virgin, T-Mobile, and computer games from EA Entertainment. Ever since their debut album Melody AM in 2001, the duo have spawned songs that are recog­nisable to millions of television lovers, and revered and respected by millions more music lovers.
Biggest Hit – Eple

Alcazar

Camp, kitsch, and never ever taking themselves too seriously, this trio have enjoyed a full decade of success around the world since their debut album in 2001. When manufactured pop was at its most cherished in the UK at the turn of the century, they boarded an Easyjet flight to London and infected dancefloors with their ode to drunken drama, Crying At The Discotheque. Since then they have taken great pride in making ridiculously crafted pop music whilst looking as fabulous as their (usually low) budget allows. Biggest Hit – This Is The World We Live In

Annie

Born and raised in Bergen, Norway, Annie enlisted the help of UK super producer, Richard X, to make two of the most acclaimed electro pop albums of the decade. Anniemal and Don’t Stop marry insecure vocals to irresistible melodies and industrial beats. Annie’s ability to craft the perfect pop song has earned her a massive following online, and when her second album took five years in the making, it became one of the last decade’s most eagerly anticipated albums by music fans and critics alike.
Biggest Hit – Heartbeat

BWO

Self-proclaimed Godfather of Scandipop, Alexander Bard’s most recent project, after giving the world Army of Lovers, Vacuum, and Alcazar, BWO released four studio albums and a Greatest Hits in the space of six years – treating fans to both quality AND quantity! Their melodious electropop is as catchy as it is cool, and they can count Coldplay and Mika as celebrity fans who have taken inspiration from them. Biggest Hit – Sunshine In The Rain

Basshunter

Love him or loathe him, you can’t deny that this Swedish chap, real name Jonas Altberg, has well and truly conquered the UK. Well over a million sales of his singles, and half a million sales of his albums in Britain alone, have ensured that no casual music fan isn’t aware of Basshunter. His detractors were bitterly disappointed to find out that he was actually a thoroughly nice and likeable guy, when he competed in television show Big Brother last month. Biggest Hit – Now You’re Gone.

So that was the noughties – now here is our quick round up of ten acts from Scandinavia that we’re expecting to blow up in this coming decade!

Gravitonas – the creator of Army of Lovers, Alcazar, and BWO, tries his hand at forming a rock group.
Le Kid – Alphabeat peering at their ­reflections in a mirrorball.
Jonas Oakland – young synthesiser prodigy.
Daisy – dancefloor diva with killer hooks in each of her club tracks.
Eric Saade – clean-cut, Disney-esque heartthrob who’s about to become very famous in Sweden.
Rosanna – has got the tunes and the voice to compete with Annie and Robyn.
Medina – after taking up a year long residency in the Danish singles chart, she’s ready to look further afield.
Belle – cartoon pop music, but oh so sophisticated with it.
Erik Hassle – just about to blow up in the UK with debut single Hurtful.
Lisette Vares – melody driven pop ­music that’s dancefloor friendly.

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