Swedish hits 8: Now You’re Gone

Sweden is one of the world’s largest exporters of pop music and has a huge industry of songwriters and musicians. Today we look at the Euro dance hit ‘Now You’re Gone’ by singer, producer and DJ – Basshunter. Did you know he was Swedish?

In 2006, Jonas Erik Altberg, known as Basshunter, released a song in Sweden called ‘Boten Anna’. The song became a massive hit and reached number 1 in Sweden and many other European countries.

In 2008, an English version was released. The title was ‘Now You’re Gone’, and it shot to number 1 in the UK and is the second longest Swedish song to remain in that position on the British chart. Only . ABBA’s ‘Dancing Queen’ has been number 1 longer. Eventually he was dethroned by Duffy’s mega hit ‘Mercy’. The YouTube video to ‘Now You’re Gone’ has been viewed over 200 million times.

Basshunter was more famous in the UK, and around the world, than many Swedes might realise – in 2010 he was asked to participate in the British Celebrity Big Brother. In the end, he came fourth. He carried out several sold-out tours in Europe, UK, NZ and Australia. He also performed at the Sochi Olympics in 2014.

Although he released 6 albums, he never achieved as viral a success as ‘Now You’re Gone’.

Swedish hits 7: Wake Me Up

Sweden is one of the world’s largest exporters of pop music and has a huge industry of songwriters and musicians. Today we look at the infectious dance hit Wake Me Up by legendary Swedish producer, songwriter and DJ – Avicii.

Written by Avicii et al, Wake Me Up was released in 2013 and was the highest charting dance track of the decade. It peaked at number 1 in 22 countries and was in the top 10 in many more. This thumping dance song was the first ever dance/electronic song to sell over 4 million copies in the USA. The vocals on the track are written and sung by American soul singer Aloe Blacc.

In 2014, the song passed 200 million streams on Spotify, making it the most streamed song ever at that time. To date, the song’s YouTube video has been watched almost 2 billion times!

Avicii, whose real name was Tim Bergling suffered from depression and committed suicide in 2018. He left a legacy of many hit songs such as Hey Brother, Without You and Addicted to You. As such he is the fifth most successful artist from Sweden in terms of record sales.

In May 2021, Stockholm’s Globe Arena changed its name and is now officially called the Avicii Arena. This isn’t only a tribute to Avicii but also a symbol for an initiative that works to prevent mental illness among young people throughout the country. Avicii Arena will be the beacon of hope and meeting place for the initiative. Hopefully it will help to wake us all up.

Swedish hits 6: All That She Wants

Sweden is the third largest exporter of pop music after the USA and the UK. Today we look at Sweden’s third most-selling band of all time, Ace of Base, and their biggest hit All That She Wants.

Ace of Base were a 2 men, 2 women construction in classic Abba style. Three of the members were siblings and they took their name from the fact that they rehearsed in a basement. The single All That She Wants was released in 1992, and hit the top of the charts in thirteen countries including UK and Australia. It sold platinum in USA.

The song was written by Jonas Berggren and Ulf Ekberg and was part of the album The Sign, which is one of the most successful debut albums of all time. It was the first album to ever spawn three number 1’s on the USA Billboard chart – The Sign, Don’t Turn Around and, of course, All That She Wants.

The song’s lyrics say ‘all that she wants is another baby, she’s gone tomorrow’ and depict a promiscuous woman looking for another lover. It’s has a predatory tone that doesn’t really age well, today it could be accused of ‘slut shaming’.

That said, Ace of Base’s music has influenced many of today’s artists. Stars such as Lady Gaga, Katy Perry, Robyn and Clean Bandit have all cited them as sources of inspiration.

Swedish hits 5: The Look

Sweden is the third largest exporter of pop music after the USA and the UK. Today we look at iconic duo Roxette’s biggest hit – The Look. You knew they were Swedish, right?

Swedish double act Roxette had numerous number 1 hits including ‘It Must Have Been Love’, ‘Joyride’, ‘Listen to Your Heart’ and ‘Dressed For Success.’ However, it was their 1989 hit ‘The Look’ that became their biggest – marginally. Topping the charts in 25 countries, the song was the biggest selling song of the year and their first US Billboard number 1.

Roxette consisted of Per Gessle and Marie Fredriksson, both from small towns in southern Sweden. Per Gessle wrote The Look and the song has been covered by several artists and in several languages including Cantonese. According to Gessle the strange lyrics of the first two verses were just scribbled down for something to say and then somehow were never changed. That explains weird lines such as ‘she’s a juvenile scam’, ‘tasty like a raindrop’ and ‘kissing is a colour’.

Roxette is Sweden’s second most successful music group of all time, after Abba. However, both singers also had successful careers outside of Roxette – Marie as a soloist and Per mostly with his Swedish-singing pop rock band Gyllene Tider.

Marie Fredriksson died in 2019, aged 61, from health issues relating to a brain tumour diagnosis. She left behind her a legacy of strong hits, and the lasting image of this leather-clad woman with cropped peroxide hair. She certainly had The Look.

Swedish hits 4: Cotton Eye Joe

Sweden is the third largest exporter of pop music after the USA and the UK. In this series, I will include hits that you may not even know are Swedish and ones that are so Swedish, they almost smell of meatballs and aquavit. Today we look at legendary euro dance country song Cotton Eye Joe. Did you know it was Swedish?

Cotton Eye Joe was released by Swedish euro dance band Rednex, and based on the traditional American song Cotton Eyed Joe. The year was 1996, and the song reached number 1 in 15 countries, scoring gold in the USA, platinum in Sweden and the UK, and double platinum in Norway and Germany.

Although the Rednex released other singles, Cotton Eye Joe was by far their biggest success. Band members Mary Joe, Bobby Sue, Ken Tacky, Billy Ray and Mup were really called the very Swedish Annika Ljungberg, Kent Olander, Arne Arstrand, Jonas Nilsson and Patrik Ardenberg. They dressed as cowboys, chewed on straw, danced on hay bales and took the world by storm.

Swedish hits 3: The Final Countdown

Sweden is the third largest exporter of pop music after the USA and the UK. In this series, I will include hits that you may not even know are Swedish and ones that are so Swedish, they almost smell of meatballs and aquavit. The third hit is the classic rock anthem The Final Countdown. Did you know it was Swedish?

The Final Countdown was written by Joey Tempest and released by Swedish rock band Europe in 1986. The song is as synonymous with the band as their 80’s poodle haircuts. It achieved number 1 position on the charts in 25 countries and top 10 in many others. The album, The Final Countdown, sold over 15 million copies and is still today frequently streamed.

Joey Tempest, who’s real name is Joakim Larsson, wrote many other successful songs such as Rock the Night, Cherokee and Open your Heart for Europe, but The Final Countdown was their biggest hit. In an interview Tempest said that the song was inspired by David Bowie’s Space Oddity, although the similarities evade me I have to say.

The band Europe were, and remain, enormously popular and no after ski drinking session, anywhere in the world, would be complete without the iconic tunes of The Final Countdown belting out into the night.

Swedish hits 2: Lovefool

This series is about hits that you may not even know are Swedish and ones that are so Swedish, they almost smell of meatballs and aquavit. In the first post, we talked about Waterloo by Abba. This time we focus on Lovefool by The Cardigans.

This song, written by Peter Svensson and Nina Persson, was released in 1996 and marked the international breakthrough for this Swedish rock band. It was a massive hit in the UK and USA and was featured in the film Romeo and Juliet starring Leonardo DiCaprio. Tne Cardigans also appeared in an episode of Beverly Hills 90210 where they performed Lovefool at a graduation party.

The album which contained Lovefool sold platinum within three weeks in Japan, and gold in the US. The Cardigans were a very successful band selling over 18 million albums. They still tour occasionally today. They had several other hits such as Erase/Rewind and My Favourite Game but nothing achieved the huge global success of Lovefool.

Swedish hits 1: Waterloo

With the Eurovision contest over, it is safe to say that Sweden’s song won’t be an international hit. Sweden does generally well in the competition, partly because they take it very seriously and partly because they have many talented song writers, singers and musicians. In fact, Sweden is the third largest exporter of pop music after the USA and the UK.

So this has inspired my next series – Swedish hits. I will include hits that you may not even know are Swedish and ones that are so Swedish, they almost smell of meatballs and aquavit. The first hit – an obvious choice – is ABBA’s Waterloo.

ABBA represented Sweden in 1974 in Brighton and won the competition. It was Sweden’s first win of six, and it catapulted ABBA into a legendary career. The song itself was a huge international success, achieving number 1 chart positions in 8 countries and the top 10 in countless others.

The song, written by Andersson, Ulvaeus and Anderson was originally given the much worse title of ‘Honey Pie’. The song was voted the best Eurovision song from the competition’s first 50 years and has somehow come to symbolise the contest because of its catchy tune, memorable lyrics and ABBA’s camp outfits.

Waterloo wasn’t ABBA’s most successful song however. Dancing Queen is their undeniable biggest hit, followed by Super Trouper and Knowing Me Knowing You.

After a decades-long hiatus, ABBA has announced that they will be releasing new music this year. This has been met by ecstasy from fans all over the world. Let’s hope that the songs are not a disappointment and that Abba finally faces its waterloo.

Swedish ‘Pingst’

This weekend is ‘Pingst’ in Swedish – known as Pentacost or Whitsun in English. Today is Pingst Eve, and tomorrow Pingst Day. Monday used to be a public holiday in Sweden, as it still is in many other countries. However, in 2004, the Swedish Government removed it, and replaced it with the secular National Day on June 6.

So although it is still an official ‘holiday’ in the calendar, it is no longer a day off. Consequently it has been forgotten by many and is just an ordinary weekend for most people, other than those with religious convictions.

The name Pingst, as the name Pentecost, comes from the Greek word for 50, and refers to the feast of 50 days in Jewish tradition. This is also known as Shavuot and celebrates God giving the Ten Commandments to Moses on Mount Sinai. In the Christian faith, Pentecost commemorates the descent and appearance of the Holy Spirit upon the apostles of Jesus as they celebrated this tradition. By many historians, this moment is considered to be the birth of the Christian religion.

In Sweden, this is popular weekend to christen babies and to get married, sometimes both at the same time.

Swedish museums

Today, 18 May, is Museum Day. While most are still closed down due to the pandemic, some are open with restricted hours and pre-booking. In total there are around 170 museums in Sweden, many with free entrance. Stockholm has over 100 museums, making it one of the most museum-dense cities in the world. According to statistics from Sweden’s Museums, here were the top 5 most-visited in Sweden in 2019.

1. Vasa Museum – the restoration project of a large galleon that sunk in Stockholm’s harbour in 1628. Amazing place, and my personal favourite.

2. Skansen – Stockholm’s open air museum depicting Sweden’s historical architecture and culture. Has also a zoo and a large stage for outdoor concerts.

3. National Museum – Sweden’s art and design museum, situated opposite the Royal Palace.

4. Nordic Museum – museum about how people in the nordics have lived, eaten, dressed throughout the centuries

5. Natural History Museum – biology and geology museum with a popular 760 meter dome shaped cinema screen.

All of the above are in Stockholm. Outside the capital, the most visited museums were Frilufts Museum in Linköping, Malmö Museum in Malmö, Wadköping in Örebro, Dunkers in Helsingborg and Gotland Museum on the island of Gotland.

There seems to be a museum for most things in Sweden. Some unusual examples are the Matchstick Museum, the Abba Museum, the Spirit Museum, the Lenin Spa Museum, the Newsagent Museum, the Thermos Flask Museum, the Amber Museum, the Leather Museum, the Cannibal Museum and the Video Game Museum.

Whatever your preference there is a museum to suit everybody in Sweden. Once the doors are open again, I strongly recommend a visit to at least one of them!