Supporting the development of professional music recording studios in Sweden, and Stockholm in particular, are the international hits that Swedish music artists had.
The Spotnicks presented their shuffle guitar music to an international music audience, especially during the 1960s.
Blue Swede was the first Swedish music act to reach number one in the US on the Billboard Hot 100 chart with “Hooked on a Feeling” in April 6, 1974 (a B.J. Thomas cover). This recording had a revival after being played in TV series Ally McBeal, reaching a new generation of listeners. It was getting renewed attention in 2014 through the soundtrack for the movie Guardians Of The Galaxy.
Another song launching the Swedish music fame, also on 6th of April 1974, was “Waterloo”, winning the European Song Contest in the Brighton Dome where it was performed by ABBA. In 1977, ABBA got a number one spot on the Billboard Hot 100 chart with “Dancing Queen”.
Harpo did a reversed breakthrough with “Moviestar” as the song first became a hit on the charts internationally in 1975 and then the year after releasing the song in Sweden. Moviestar was in the absolute top of the charts in Austria, Australia, Germany, The Netherlands, New Zeeland, Norway, Switzerland and Sweden. It was also did well in Ireland, United Kingdom and other countries. Contributing to the breakthrough was an individual employee at the German record company who used his own private money to finance the initial PR tour with an amount less than 1500 DM. Showing that a great song can get far on limited resources. Anni-Frid Lyngstad of ABBA did background vocals on the song, as did Lena Ericsson. Harpo had other another hit with “Horoscope” in 1976 and a prior Swedish national hit with “Sayonara” in 1973.
Rock group Europe followed with “The Final Countdown” that topped as number one in 26 countries. Army of Lovers had a hit with “Crucified” in 1991 and their stardom led them to model on Jean Paul Gaultier’s catwalk and other fashion shows.
The Cardigans had their breakthrough in Japan with their 1995 album “Life”. They followed up later with the song “Lovefool”. The hit song became a soundtrack to the 1996 movie Romeo + Juliet, staring Leonardo DiCaprio and Clare Danes. It received massive radio play globally. The Cardigans also performed “Lovefool” in the cult TV series Beverly Hills, 90210, where they performed on stage during the post-graduation party organized by the character father of Kelly Taylor (Jennie Garth). Further films with the song includes “Cruel Intentions”. Other The Cardigans songs are in the TV series Grey’s Anatomy and Mad Men.
Emilia performed the song “Big, Big World” that she had cowritten with Lasse Andersson. The song skyrocketed in 1998 on its own merits, with great songwriting combined with a matching artist. This in spite of the very limited resources the independent record company Rodeo Records had when the song was released. Big, Big World sold gold in Sweden after only six days, given the physical formats at the time it is a hard to beat achievement. The neighboring countries got the song breaking to the top and it was followed by country after country. Lasse Andersson is a son of Stikkan Andersson, a songwriter and ABBA’s manager.
Ace of Base, Eagle Eye Cherry, Meja, Robyn, Roxette, and others also reached international fame. A-Teens got their break through with the album “The ABBA Generation”, selling 3 million copies worldwide and once again proving the qualities of Swedish music by another recycling.
A new insight into the songs of Benny Andersson, the former ABBA member, is gained through the album “Piano” released on Deutche Grammophone on 29th September, 2017. If features 21 songs written by Benny Andersson, many of them cowritten with ABBA member Björn Ulveaus. All songs on the album are performed on solo piano with Benny Andersson playing in his own recording studio. With this unlayered sound, a new closeness to the melodies is apparent. Benny Andersson is “one of the finest contemporary composers of our time”, appraises Universal Music Groups CEO Sir Lucian Grainge.
Several Swedish hit songs are present in the international pop music history, such as:
- “Hooked On A Feeling” (1974) – Blue Swede
- “Waterloo” (1974) and “Dancing Queen” (1976) – ABBA
- “Moviestar” (1975) – Harpo
- “The Final Countdown” (1986) – Europe
- “The Look” (1989), “Listen to Your Heart” (1989), “It Must Have Been Love” (1990), and “Joyride” (1991) – Roxette
- “No Coke” (1990) and “Hello Africa” (1990) – Dr Alban
- “Crucified” (1991) – Army of Lovers
- “Trust Me” (1993) – Pandora
- “All That She Wants” (1993), “The Sign” (1994), “Don’t Turn Around” (1994), and “Living in Danger” (1994) – Ace of Base
- “Here We Go” (1993) – Stakka Bo
- “Cotton Eye Joe” (1994) and “Old Pop in an Oak” (1994) – Rednex
- “Lovefool” (1996/1997), “Erase/Rewind” (1999), “Hanging Around”, and “My Favorite Game” (1998) – Cardigans
- “Save Tonight” (1997) – Eagle-Eye Cherry
- “Show Me Love” (1997), “Do You Know” (1996), and “With Every Heartbeat” (2007) – Robyn
- “Big, Big World” (1998) – Emilia
- “All ‘Bout the Money” (1998) – Meja
- “Crying At The Discoteque” (2000) – Alcazar
- “Call on Me” (2004) – Eric Prydz
- “Now You’re Gone” (2007) – Basshunter
- “Levels” (2011), “Wake Me Up” (2013), “Hey Brother” (2013) – Avicii
- “I Love It” (2012) – Icona Pop
- “Lush Life” (2015) – Zara Larsson
- “Never forget you” (2015) – Zara Larsson featuring MNEK
Eurovision Song Contest, Swedish Winners
- “Waterloo” (1976) – ABBA
- “Diggi-loo diggi-ley” (1984) – Herreys
- “Fångad av en stormvind” (1991) – Carola Häggkvist
- “Take Me to Your Heaven” (1999) – Charlotte Nilsson
- “Euphoria” (2012) – Loreen
- “Heroes” (2015) – Måns Zelmerlöw
More Top Music
There is much more! Not to be forgotten are great Swedish artists and bands in less hit oriented music genres: Clawfinger, Entombed, Hammerfall, In Flames, Millencollin, The Hives, The Hellacopters, The (International) Noice Conspiracy, Sahara Hotnights…
Looptroop Rockers is since a several years Europe’s biggest hip hop group.
As Swedish music was trailing only the USA and the UK in international sales in around 1990s and beginning of 2000s, there was also movement in the other direction. Artist after artist came, and still come, to Sweden from all over the world to record in Sweden. All combined, it created great studios, producers, technicians, and writers. The experience and capability today is massive and still growing in Sweden.