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Swedish popular music

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Title: Swedish popular music  
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Swedish popular music

Music of Sweden
Media and performance
Music charts Sverigetopplistan
Music festivals
Music media
Nationalistic and patriotic songs
National anthem Du gamla, Du fria (de facto)

Sweden has had a long history of music.[1] Many Swedish artists have enjoyed success on the British and American charts and in other English speaking countries.


  • 1970s: ABBA 1
  • 1980s: Europe, Roxette 2
  • 1990s: Ace of Base, The Cardigans 3
    • Dance music 3.1
    • Swedish pop music 3.2
  • 2000s: A*Teens, Alcazar, September 4
    • Indie pop and rock 4.1
    • New successful artists 4.2
  • 2010s: Swedish House Mafia, Avicii, Loreen, Icona Pop, Tove Lo 5
  • Swedish heavy metal scene 6
  • Notable musicians and acts of Swedish origin 7
  • Charts and sales 8
    • Top 5 biggest selling Swedish acts 8.1
    • Album sales by country 8.2
    • Biggest hit singles 8.3
    • US and UK number one singles 8.4
    • Top selling Swedish studio and compilation albums 8.5
  • References 9
  • External links 10

1970s: ABBA

In April 1974, Blue Swede went to number one on the Billboard Hot 100 with the B. J. Thomas cover "Hooked on a Feeling". The band was renamed Blue Swede for the US.

Also in April 1974, ABBA won the Eurovision Song Contest in Brighton, England, with "Waterloo". It was a big success throughout Europe, and reached number six on the Billboard Hot 100. Over the next few years ABBA had 18 consecutive top ten hits in the UK, nine of them reaching number one. Having sold an estimated 370 million units worldwide, ABBA became the best-selling band of the 1970s. In 1977, "Dancing Queen" became ABBA's only number one hit on the Billboard Hot 100. ABBA and Led Zeppelin are the only acts to have had 8 consecutive UK #1 albums.[2]

Shortly after the release of Super Trouper, Benny Andersson and Anni-Frid Lyngstad of ABBA decided to end their marriage, just as Björn Ulvaeus and Agnetha Fältskog had done two years prior. This event did not stop the foursome from working together. Their eighth album "The Visitors" was released in November 1981. Feeling that the energy was running out of the group, they decided to take a break in 1982; the band members have not reunited since. Fältskog and Lyngstad then both pursued solo careers. In 1982, Lyngstad released her first solo album in English, Something's Going On, produced by Phil Collins. Lyngstad's secong album "Shine" failed to reach the commercial success of the first solo record after the break-up. After ABBA Agnetha Fältskog recorded 5 successful English albums and 2 Swedish ones, one of them with Christmas songs. Agnetha's latest album in 2013 named "A" has been one of her most successful, earning her Gold Records in UK, Australia, Germany and Sweden.[3]

Andersson and Ulvaeus collaborated with Tim Rice on the musical Chess which premiered in London in 1986. Two songs from the musical were hugely successful singles: "One Night in Bangkok" reached number three on the Billboard Hot 100, and "I Know Him So Well" topped the UK singles chart in February 1985.

1980s: Europe, Roxette

In 1986, a hard rock band from Upplands Väsby, Europe, hit number one in 26 countries (including the UK) with the song "The Final Countdown". The album of the same name also charted around the world and sold more than 6 million copies worldwide, 3 million copies in the United States alone. The single has sold 8 million copies. The following year included successful tours through Europe, Japan and the US. Their next album was Out of This World which produced "Superstitious" as its biggest hit. This album sold about 4 million copies worldwide. These two multi-platinum albums placed Europe as one of the most successful hardrock bands in the world with album sales of more than 20 million records. After the release of Prisoners in Paradise, which sold only 1 million copies, Europe decided to take a break in 1992. They reformed in 2003 and produced 4 albums so far. They continue to record and tour.

Marie Fredriksson and Per Gessle formed the band Roxette in 1986. Four of their songs, "The Look", "Listen To Your Heart" (both 1989), "It Must Have Been Love" (1990) and "Joyride" (1991), reached #1 on the Billboard Hot 100,[4][5] while two further singles, "Dangerous" (1990) and "Fading Like a Flower" (1991), both peaked at #2 on the Billboard Hot 100.[5]

Roxette's "Join The Joyride World Tour 91-92" attracted 1.7 million people around the world.[4] In 1993, they became the first non-English speaking band ever to play at MTV Unplugged.[4] In 1995, they became the first Western band to be allowed to perform in China since Wham! in 1985.[6]

In 2003, the duo was honoured with achievement medals by Swedish King Carl XVI Gustaf "for appreciated achievements in Sweden and internationally".[7] To date their best selling albums are Joyride (11 million) and Look Sharp! (9 million).[8] Overall, the duo has sold more than 45 million albums and 25 million singles worldwide.[9][10][11]

1990s: Ace of Base, The Cardigans

The 1990s brought a new wave of international success for Swedish pop productions. Swedish pop was represented abroad by the likes of Ace of Base and The Cardigans. There are a number of popular music artists from Sweden from different genres who gained a name in the international music scene in the 1990s: Dr. Alban, Leila K, Army of Lovers, Yaki-Da, Stakka Bo, Rednex, Robyn, Eagle Eye Cherry, Emilia, Teddybears and Meja.

Dance music

Ace of Base had the world's biggest-selling debut album with 23 million in sales for Happy Nation .[12] They achieved major success in the 1990s with popular songs such as "All That She Wants" (1993), "The Sign", "Don't Turn Around" (both 1994) and "Cruel Summer" (1998). All four songs reached the Top 10 of the Billboard Hot 100; "The Sign" spent six weeks at number one.

In the early 1990s the Swedish dance scene was very vivid. Denniz Pop was Sweden's most wanted producer of that time . In 1990 he produced Dr. Alban's first record "Hello Africa" together with Leila K. The song became a hit in mainland Europe peaking at #5 in Germany.

In 1992 Denniz Pop produced the second album by Dr. Alban, One Love which includes the worldwide hits "It's My Life" and "Sing Hallelujah". .[13] That same year Leila K released her hit single "Open Sesame" (UK #23, Germany #5). This was followed in 1993 by a cover version of Plastic Bertrand's "Ça Plane Pour Moi" (Germany #13).

1994 saw the release of Dr. Alban's third album Look Who's Talking; the title track was a big hit throughout Europe (Germany #3).[14]

Rednex had several hit songs mixing country music and eurodance. The song "Cotton Eye Joe" was an international hit in 1994 reaching number one in the UK. The ballad "Wish You Were Here" was released in 1995.

The Hellacopters, a garage rock band that was formed by Nicke Andersson, was also formed in 1995.

Swedish pop music

In 1996 The Cardigans released their third album, First Band on the Moon. The song "Lovefool" was included on the soundtrack of William Shakespeare's Romeo + Juliet by director Baz Luhrmann. It found international success peaking at #2 on the UK Singles Chart. The following album, Gran Turismo (1998), was more electronic in style and contained the hit singles "My Favourite Game" and "Erase/Rewind".

"You and Me Song", by Swedish group The Wannadies, was a huge radio hit in the UK and Ireland in the mid-1990s. This song also ended up featuring on the "Romeo + Juliet" soundtrack.

Robyn was 17 years old when her pop singles "Show Me Love" and "Do You Know (What It Takes)" were released in 1997. Both singles were Top 10 hits on the Billboard Hot 100.[15]

In 1998 Meja's second album Seven Sisters was released. It contained the radio hit "All Bout The Money", which was peaked at #12 in the UK. In 1999 she recorded the duet "Private Emotion" with Ricky Martin, which reached #9 on the UK singles chart.

Eagle-Eye Cherry released his debut album Desireless in 1998. Propelled by the hit single '"'Save Tonight" (UK #5, US #6), the album sold over 4 million copies worldwide.

Emilia Rydberg is well known for her 1998-1999 international hit "Big Big World".[16] The song peaked at #5 in the UK.

Andreas Johnson had a UK #4 hit in 2000 with "Glorious".

Swedish songwriters/producers Denniz Pop and Max Martin have written worldwide hits for pop artists like Britney Spears, Backstreet Boys and later Celine Dion, Kelly Clarkson, Katy Perry, P!nk, Avril Lavigne, Leona Lewis and Jessie J.

2000s: A*Teens, Alcazar, September

With "Crying at the Discoteque" the band Alcazar achieved success across Europe in 2000. It peaked at #3 in Germany and #13 in the UK. The following singles failed to reach this success.

A*Teens were formed in 1998 as an ABBA tribute band. Their 1999 debut album The ABBA Generation consisted purely of ABBA covers and was a great success around the world. The album sold 3 million copies worldwide. The singles "Mamma Mia" (UK #12) and "Dancing Queen" (UK #21) topped the charts in Sweden. Their second album Teen Spirit (2001) contained new songs and was certified Gold in the United States. "Upside Down" from that album became their biggest hit. After two records which were less successful internationally, the band split up in 2004.

Bubbles was a Swedish girl group, also known as Bless. The group's original lineup consisted of lead singer Mari Caroline Ljungström (born 26 June 1987), twin sisters Patricia and Sandra Joxelius (born 7 April 1987), Jenny (Yenny) Andersén (born 10 October 1988), and Hannah Steffenburg (born 14 April 1988).

2003 saw Bubbles make their media breakthrough by reaching the Eurovision Song Contest final of Sweden with the hit single "T.K.O. (Knock You Out)". Covers, centerfolds and headlines in the papers and in TV everyday for several weeks made them well known throughout Sweden. The largest Bubbles tour ever began on 18 May and ended on 30 September, comprising 35 concerts with a total audience of more than 120,000.

Another band which had success overseas were Lizzie McGuire series.

The electronic dance project Antiloop also reached international success; the song "In My Mind" was featured on the FIFA 2003 soundtrack.

The Swedish/Moroccan songwriter/producer RedOne made during the late 2000s had huge success worldwide working alongside Lady Gaga, and later other American stars. He has been nominated eight times but also won two Grammy Awards.

Indie pop and rock

In the 2000s some indie bands from Sweden found their way to the international music scene.

Singer Nina Persson from The Cardigans launched a solo project in 2001 under the name A Camp. The lead single "I Can Buy You" was a minor hit in the UK peaking at #46. In 2003, The Cardigans returned with their album Long Gone Before Daylight, a quieter, more ambient collection of songs. In Sweden it was certified 2x Platinum and the band won two Swedish Grammy Awards.

José González is a Swedish indie folk singer-songwriter of Argentine descent. His cover of "Heartbeats", originally by his fellow Swedes The Knife, was a hit on the UK singles chart where it peaked at #9 in 2003.

The Tallest Man on Earth is the stage name of Swedish folk singer songwriter Kristian Matsson.

Indie band The Concretes first appeared in the UK Singles Chart in 2004 with "You Can't Hurry Love" (#55) and "Seem Fine" (#52). Lead singer Victoria Bergsman left the group in 2006 and, with Peter, Bjorn and John, recorded the single "Young Folks" the same year. This reached #35 on the UK singles chart, and was re-issued the following year, this time peaking at #13.

Other notable artists include Air France, bob hund, ceo, Dungen, Eskobar, Fever Ray, First Aid Kit, The Hives, Jens Lekman, Kent, The Knife, Komeda, Life on Earth, Little Dragon, Lykke Li, The Radio Dept., Shout Out Louds, The Soundtrack of Our Lives, The Sounds, The Tough Alliance, The Field, and Avner.

New successful artists

In 2004, Swedish DJ and producer Eric Prydz topped the UK charts for five weeks with "Call on Me",[17] while its 2007 follow up "Proper Education" was a #2 success. In 2008 Prydz had a hit with "Pjanoo", which also reached #2 in the UK (on download sales alone).

Robyn reappeared in 2007, after an absence of 10 years from the international music scene, with her #1 hit in the UK "With Every Heartbeat". The self-titled album was certified Gold in the UK and Platinum in Sweden.[18] The following singles reached the charts as well: "Handle Me" (UK #17), "Be Mine" (UK #10) and "Who's That Girl" (UK #26).[19] "Dream On", the follow-up with Christian Falk, was originally released in 2006 on his album People Say. It was re-released in the UK in November 2008 peaking at #21. Robyn also collaborated with Norwegian duo Röyksopp for the single "The Girl and the Robot" in June 2009.

Crashdiet are an all Swedish rock/glam metal band starting out in the early 2000s. They released Rest in Sleaze in 2006 which debuted at number 12 in Sweden. Following the death of frontman and singer Dave Lepard the band released two more albums, reaching number three with Generation Wild (2010). Crashdiet are still currently a world touring band.

Basshunter is a Swedish singer, music producer, songwriter and DJ. "Boten Anna" is a song with Swedish lyrics that had some success in continental Europe in 2006. In 2007 it reached number one in the UK[20] with lyrics performed in English under the title "Now You're Gone". In 2008 the second single "All I Ever Wanted" peaked at number two in the UK.

September is a Swedish dance-singer whose song "Cry For You" reached number five in the UK in 2008.[20]

Mando Diao is a garage rock band from Borlänge. They were very successful in Europe in 2009 with their song "Dance With Somebody" from the album Give Me Fire. It reached number three in Germany and was a major hit in Europe peaking at number 8 on the Billboard Eurochart Hot 100 Singles.[21]

Another competitor in Swedish Idol 2005 was pop singer Ola Svensson. Although not known in the UK, he is known throughout Sweden as 'A Swedish Success Story'. Ola came eighth on Idol and has gone on to produce three studio albums. He is a Double Platinum Artist with songs such as "Natalie" and "Feelgood". In 2009 he received a Rockbjörnen award, the most prestigious music award in Sweden. Four of Ola's singles have reached number one in Sweden, and all of his own singles charted within the top 5.

2010s: Swedish House Mafia, Avicii, Loreen, Icona Pop, Tove Lo

The 2010s started off with the releases and success of Agnes and Robyn. Agnes, the runner up of Sweden's Idol 2005, succeeded in Europe and especially the UK market in 2009/2010 with the single "Release Me", which entered the charts at number three and sold over 300,000 copies. It peaked at #6 on the Billboard Eurochart Hot 100 Singles. Carlsson was also signed to Universal Music/Interscope in the US, and started the promotion for the forthcoming album Dance Love Pop during the summer 2010.[22] Robyn returned with her Body Talk series.

2010 also saw the rising success of the Swedish House Mafia, a collaboration between the Swedish DJs and producers Axwell, Steve Angello and Sebastian Ingrosso. Another DJ, Avicii got a smash-hit with "Seek Bromance", and was ranked as sixth on the Top 100 DJs list.[23] Both Swedish House Mafia and Avicii went on to achieve further chart success in numerous countries.

In 2011 the Swedish indie-artist Lykke Li released her second album Wounded Rhymes, and continued her success from her earlier Youth Novels with singles like "Get Some" and "I Follow Rivers", which topped the charts in Belgium and Romania.

Stockholm based electro-pop group Niki & the Dove emerged in 2010, coming fifth on the BBC Sound of...2012 list. They released their first album, Instinct, to great critical acclaim that year.

In 2012, Swedish Eurovision Song Contest 2012 winner Loreen charted at number one in several countries across Europe, making her one of the most successful winners of the contest in recent years.

In 2013, Swedish duo Icona Pop reached the top ten on the Billboard Hot 100 and number-one on the UK Singles Chart with their song "I Love It". The song was certified gold in the United Kingdom and 2x platinum in the United States, selling 400,000 and 2,025,000 copies, respectively.

In 2014, Swedish singer/songwriter Tove Lo charted at number 3 on Billboard Hot 100 with the song "Habits". The song was certified Platinum in the United States.

Swedish heavy metal scene

In the late 1980s and early 1990s Sweden became one of the major pioneering countries behind death metal. From Swedish death metal emerged the subgenre melodic death metal which sometimes referred to as Gothenburg metal because of the city in Sweden where it became popular. Famous bands include among others Meshuggah, At the Gates, In Flames, Dark Tranquillity, Entombed, Dismember, Opeth, Amon Amarth, Arch Enemy and more. Swedish Bathory is regarded as a pioneer of both black metal and Viking metal and had a huge influence on the Norwegian Black Metal scene.

Notable musicians and acts of Swedish origin

Yngwie Malmsteen was musically trained in his native Sweden, though his professional career started in the US.

Janne Schaffer initiated his career in various Swedish acts in the late 1960s, and soon became a much in-demand session-man, playing lead guitar for ABBA both in the studio a well as live. He also keeps up a successful solo career, merging jazz and folk influences into his playing.

Per-Olov Kindgren is a classical guitar teacher and performer known for his transcriptions of popular contemporary music.

Charts and sales

Top 5 biggest selling Swedish acts

The sales figures are estimated and count together album and single sales.

Rank Swedish acts Sold Genre Years active
1. ABBA 300 million + Pop 1972–1982
2. Roxette 70 million + Pop rock 1986–present
3. Ace of Base 50 million + Eurodance 1990–present
4. Europe 20 million + Glam metal / Hard rock 1979–1992; 1999; 2003–present
5. The Cardigans 15 million + Alternative rock 1992–present

Album sales by country

This tables shows the album sales by country. The worldwide album sales are estimated while the album sales for UK,[24] US[25] and Germany[26] are counted by the gold and platinum certifications for the albums in that country. For Germany, the old certifications were used for albums released before September 1999 with Gold (250,000) and Platinum (500,000).[27]

Rank artist worldwide album sales UK album sales US album sales German album sales
1 ABBA 120,000,000 7,160,000 10,500,000 9,800,000
2 Roxette 45,000,000 1,660,000 2,700,000 4,900,000
3 Ace of Base 32,000,000 660,000 10,000,000 1,750,000

Biggest hit singles

The following songs achieved the highest aggregated positions in the charts in their respective years. The following list shows the Swedish hits that ended up in the top 5 end of year charts worldwide.[28]

# Artist Title Year
3 ABBA "Waterloo" 1974
2 "S.O.S" 1975
1 "Dancing Queen" 1976
4 "Fernando" 1976
4 Roxette "The Look" 1989
5 "It Must Have Been Love" 1990
3 "Joyride" 1991
4 Ace of Base "All That She Wants" 1993
5 "The Sign" 1994
3 Rednex "Cotton Eye Joe" 1994

US and UK number one singles

This is a list of songs which reached the top of the UK singles chart or the Billboard Hot 100, as well as other notable global hits.

Year Title Peak Chart Position Artist
UK[20] US[29]
1974 "Hooked on a Feeling" - 1 Blue Swede
"Waterloo" 1 6 ABBA
1975 "Mamma Mia" 1 32
1976 "Fernando" 1 13
"Dancing Queen" 1 1
1977 "Knowing Me, Knowing You" 1 14
"The Name of the Game" 1 12
1978 "Take a Chance on Me" 1 3
1980 "The Winner Takes It All" 1 8
"Super Trouper" 1 45
1986 "The Final Countdown" 1 8 Europe
1989 "The Look" 7 1 Roxette
"Listen to Your Heart" 6 1
1990 "It Must Have Been Love" 3 1
1991 "Joyride" 4 1
1993 "All That She Wants" 1 2 Ace of Base
1994 "The Sign" 2 1
"Cotton Eye Joe" 1 25 Rednex
1995 "Love Can Build a Bridge" 1 - Cher, Chrissie Hynde & Neneh Cherry
1997 "Lovefool" 2 9 The Cardigans
"Show Me Love" 8 7 Robyn
2000 "Upside Down" 10 93 A-Teens
2004 "Call on Me" 1 - Eric Prydz
2007 "With Every Heartbeat" 1 - Robyn
"Now You're Gone" 1 - Basshunter
2008 "Cry for You" 5 74 September
"All I Ever Wanted" 2 - Basshunter
2009 "Release Me" 3 - Agnes
2010 "Miami 2 Ibiza" 4 - Swedish House Mafia
2011 "Save the world" 10 105
2012 "Euphoria" 3 - Loreen
"Don't You Worry Child" 1 6 Swedish House Mafia
2013 "I Could Be the One" 1 101 Avicii
"I Love It" 1 7 Icona Pop
"Reload" 3 Sebastian Ingrosso and Tommy Trash ft. John Martin
"Wake Me Up!" 1 4 Avicii
"Under Control" 1 103 Calvin Harris & Alesso (feat. Hurts)
2014 "Anywhere for you" 7 - John Martin
"Habits (Stay High)" 6 3 Tove Lo

Top selling Swedish studio and compilation albums

Rank Year Album Artist Sales
1. 1992 Gold ABBA 28 million +
2. 1993 The Sign / Happy Nation Ace of Base 23 million +
3. 1991 Joyride Roxette 12 million +
4. 1976 Greatest Hits Vol. I ABBA 11.3 million +
5. 1976 Arrival ABBA 10 million +
6. 1988 Look Sharp! Roxette 10 million +
7. 1980 Super Trouper ABBA 7.5 million +
8. 1979 Voulez-Vous ABBA 7 million +
9. 1978 The Album ABBA 7 million +
10. 1992 Tourism Roxette 7 million +


  1. ^
  2. ^ "Charts Records UK". Retrieved 2008-09-29. 
  3. ^ "Frida Lyngstad Bio". Retrieved 2008-09-29. 
  4. ^ a b c "Roxette Biography". Retrieved 2008-09-29. 
  5. ^ a b "Roxette's Billboard chart history". 
  6. ^ "Gessle bio. on Sirus Satellite Radio". 
  7. ^ "BBC News: Roxette get king's honour". 2003-01-30. Retrieved 2010-05-24. 
  8. ^ "Expresson's article on Roxette's history (part 3)" (in Swedish). Archived from the original on 2001-06-05. Retrieved 2009-09-28. 
  9. ^ "MTV Germany's bio. of Roxette". 
  10. ^ "'s bio. of Roxette". 
  11. ^ "EMI Germany's bio. of Roxette". 
  12. ^ "Ace of Base News 22.10.08". Retrieved 2008-10-23. 
  13. ^ "Dr Alban Biography". Retrieved 2008-09-29. 
  14. ^ "Chart History Germany Dr Alban". Retrieved 2008-09-29. 
  15. ^ "Billboard Charts History Robyn". Retrieved 2008-09-29. 
  16. ^ Emilias världAftonbladet 12 mars 1999 -
  17. ^ "Eric Prydz homepage". Retrieved 2008-09-09. 
  18. ^ "BPI". Archived from the original on 2008-04-24. Retrieved 2008-09-09. 
  19. ^ "UK Singles Charts". Retrieved 2008-09-09. 
  20. ^ a b c "British Album Chart". Chart Stats. Retrieved 2008-09-03. 
  21. ^ "Mando Diao official site". Retrieved 2009-01-19. 
  22. ^ "Agnes Carlsson homepage". Retrieved 2009-06-04. 
  23. ^ "DJ Mag". DJ Mag. Retrieved 2011-12-13. 
  24. ^
  25. ^
  26. ^ "Bundesverband Musikindustrie: Gold-/Platin-Datenbank". Retrieved 1 February 2012. 
  27. ^
  28. ^ unattributed (13 December 2008). "Songs from the Year 1995". Steve Hawtin/TsorT. Retrieved 2008-12-19. 
  29. ^ "American chart positions".  

External links

  • — Sweden's official music room – A music player with contemporary Swedish music
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