marshtide: (Oscar - a-ha!)
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FOR THE RECORD: Super video-heavy post.

So the topic for today is Swedish music, which I'm afraid is one I'm spectacularly unqualified to talk about in many ways.

Branch asked, basically, what the Swedish music scene is like right now.

I do at least listen to P3, which is the younger-people national radio station, because it has shows like Tankesmedjan (that one which Liv Strömquist is often on), and am by proxy exposed to current music, but to be honest, it mostly doesn't stick. One does notice, basically, that:

1. almost everyone sings in English, presumably in the hope of making some kind of international breakthrough. If they do not sing in English, they are Kent, who gave up on such hopes about 10 years ago. (No, OK, there are others who sing in Swedish right now. But not that many who're showing up on the radio!)

2. there are lots of girls singing very hesitantly/softly. I do wish the ladies in mainstream music would just go for it a bit more often, you know? Prettiness is all well and good, but damn. It seems to be the only option!

3. Unless you're Robyn I guess. Who has a robot fetish. Your mileage on this may vary, but I am kind of endeared by the robots, even though I am pretty sure all my music cred will be taken away the second I admit to liking anything about Robyn. (Here is the thing: I do not care about my music cred. I think I acquired it completely by accident anyway.)

[Video embed: Robyn singing Robotboy, no actual video image, just music & stills]

So, you know, so much for my pop culture awareness.

Also: although I spent my childhood playing instruments and was pretty good at some of them I'm really not that musically inclined, which means that I can listen to music without the same kind of analytical approach I often have to reading - which is lovely, I can just listen. It does mean, though, that I tend to file things as "like this" or "don't like this" without much deeper thought about technical skill etc. This will make detailed thoughts tricky; I'll mostly be presenting artists quite briefly and then giving out some music links.

But! I do listen to quite a bit of Swedish music. Let's start by just pulling a list from my profile, and I'll work from there!

Ane Brun

Oops - Ane Brun is actually Norwegian, not Swedish, but she lives in Stockholm & has kind of been adopted; it's all very confusing. There are quite a few people like this, including some writers that Norway and Sweden have been falling over each other to nominate for stuff. Scandinavia: it's kind of inbred.

Ane Brun has a kind of great voice, basically. Singer-songwriter, like a lot of the female artists who're coming up on this list.

[Video embed: Ane Brun sings To Let Myself Go, accompanied by one fucking creepy video, goddamn.]

[Video embed: Ane Brun sings Gillian, no video, just stills]

Anna Ternheim

Like Ane Brun, a singer-songwriter based in Stockholm. She's often pretty melancholy, and when she's romantic it tends towards a bit warped anyway. She can be conventional, but at her best? Naaah.

[Video embed: Anna Ternheim sings Today Is a Good Day. Video of someone wandering around Stockholm dragging a big pile of stuff behind them]

[Video embed: Anna Ternheim sings Girl Laying Down, which needs some kind of warning for... mental health stuff? and has another creepy as fuck video which doesn't really help, but I'm kind of fascinated by this song without being able to pick apart exactly what it's getting at... hmm. But Anna is wearing some kind of military dress jacket! Hee!]

Broder Daniel

Valborg describes Broder Daniel as "the best worst band ever". They're not around anymore - they split up following the death of one member - but when they were around the critical response was to bitch about how they couldn't play their instruments and it was all basically crap. And now all the music critics miss them and think they were great? I guess that's how it goes! Rock group, sometimes great, sometimes hilarious. They're from Gothenburg, Sweden's second city, which is known to have a pretty good music scene as far as I remember.

[Video embed: Broder Daniel perform Shoreline with video footage from a live show. I love this song - which has also been covered brilliantly by Anna Ternehim, by the way, adding a whole new twist to the line "I'm not the boy I used to be". :D]

[Video embed: Broder Daniel perform Underground, with footage of them performing mixed with footage from the film Fucking Åmål/Show Me Love, which they were on the soundtrack for]

P.S. In association with posting about Broder Daniel I feel the need to point out that Fucking Åmål is a brilliant film. About growing up in a tiny shitty town and already feeling trapped and then you are also a lesbian! AND IT'S NOT ONE OF THOSE TRAGEDIES WHERE EVERYONE DIES! It's brilliant. Sometimes uncomfortable, since, you know, teenagers, but it left me pretty :D :D :D.

Ebba Grön

Oh look! The first band on the list to actually sing in Swedish!

Ebba Grön were a Swedish punk band. Their first album was called We're Only In It For The Drugs. I'm not sure I actually need to say much more.

Well, Ok then. They're also kind of associated with the Swedish progg movement, which isn't to be confused with progressive rock. Progg was basically extremely political music from the 60s/70s, with not much of a unifying style at all, but closely tied to the political left. Nationalteatern, who I'll be coming back to later, also fall into this category.

So they have songs like "Staten & Kapitalet"). Which. Well. Yeah.

Classic 70s left wing.

[Video embed: Ebba Grön perform Staten & Kapitalet. No video, just stills.]

Uh-huh... I'm a bit dubious on exactly how to translate some things, but it's basically full of evil capitalists collaborating with the state to screw the workers.

It's a cover of a song by Blå Tåget, an earlier Progg band. But yeah!

Frida Hyvönen

I actually have posted about Frida Hyvönen before. But. She's one of my favourites. She sings love songs to cities! She casually slips queerness in all over the place, of many different kinds! Her way of singing about love is basically like no-one else's! She sings amazingly! The actual music can be really eccentric sometimes!

[Video embed: Frida Hyvönen performs Djuna! live]

[Video embed: Frida Hyvönen sings Valerie. No video, just stills.]

[Video embed: Frida Hyvönen's music video for The Modern]


Right, well, Kent I've posted a lot about before. They're a group of guys from Eskilstuna, which is a terrible industry town and which produces a lot of musicians, most of whom get out as fast as they can. Kent are now based in Stockholm.

[Video embed: video for Kent's song 2000, which was released as a single to raise money for a charity helping the homeless.]

[Video embed: Kent perform "På Drift?". No video, just stills.]

På Drift is the Swedish title of Kerouac's On The Road, which the song gives a good kick, by the way. It also contains the lines:

November är en mur av våt betong
där en löjlig dröm om flykt föds
för att krascha och sen dö


November is a wall of wet concrete
where a stupid dream of running is born
to crash and then die

Which, well. Have we established how I feel about November yet? Goddamn, I hate November.

They've been around for a long time now; they released their first album in the mid-90s, and they're still going. A couple of their albums are double-released, with a Swedish and an English version, when they had a period of trying to become more widely known, but it didn't work out; otherwise they sing entirely in Swedish. For this reason they're really well-known across Scandinavia ("World famous in Scandinavia", says Unni) but kind of unknown otherwise.

They have pretty great lyrics in Swedish which don't translate entirely, but hey.

[Video embed: "Stop Me June (little ego)" by Kent. No video footage. This song is better in Swedish, but I like it in English too.]

I am not linking many of their actually music videos, because for some reason most of them are terrible.

Maud Lindström

Maud Lindström is, well. Let's take her own words. "Sweden's only official love-critical bisexual feminist singer, writer and poet!"

You can already tell why I love her, right?

I'm afraid it is basically more for the lyrics than the actual songs, so this one is a bit of a problem to include, especially since I'm not sure I can translate her humour!

[Video embed: Maud Lindström performs "Strategivisa för kärlekskritiker"/"Strategy for love critics" live; not great quality recording but hey, she seems to be having fun :D]

[Video embed: Maud Lindström talks a bit and sings a bit. This is basically for people who can understand Swedish, I'm afraid, but she's pretty damn funny.]


Nationalteatern were first a theater group and then a rock orchestra. As mentioned eariler they were part of the progg movement, so very very left-wing and political.

If I have a complaint about them it's probably that they are largely blind to gender politics, although there are one or two times when they nail that aspect anyway. But yeah, that wasn't really their thing. They're more, you know, 70s-style marxists. Anyway, the kind of fun thing is that they still get new fans who feel like the stuff they're singing about is perfectly relevant to their lives. (Apparently they've heard from teenage fans who think that no-one understands their generation better, not realising that this stuff was written about their parents' or even grandparents' generation. I think that's kind of adorable. *g*)

Disclaimer: I know people who were involved in this group, so am not unbiased.

[Video embed: Nationalteatern's rock orchestra perform Kolla Kolla live.]

Kolla Kolla is a song about... well, you can twist it in different ways, but it's basically a critique of social structures which don't give people low down and in shitty situations (in this case involving drugs) any kind of positive way out.

Also covered by The Ark, for once singing in Swedish:

[Video embed: The Ark perform Kolla Kolla]

...I have to admit I think the Ark's version is pretty awesome.

And then there's a play they did called Kåldolmar & kalsipper, which a huge amount of our humour in this flat comes from.

We also burst into song regularly. Jag är Jenny! Jenny havens skräck! (I am Jenny! Jenny terror of the seas!)

[Video embed: Nationalteatern perform Jenny havens skräck]

The Knife

The Knife are a brother & sister duo who're often really experimental and are considered to be some of the more exciting musicians in Sweden just now. I really like a bunch of their stuff and then others just freaks me the hell out; they tend towards the eerie or the outright disturbing.

[Video embed: music video for The Knife's "Heartbeats"]

[Video embed: music video for The Knife's "Marble house". Features tiny mouse-creatures.]

This post is basically really long now already, damn.

OK, I'll just leave you with a couple more.

The Ark, since they're so iconic among Swedish bands and one of the few current ones that's really well-known overseas. Although they did recently announce that they're quitting this year. And then they released a single.

The single is called "Breaking Up With God".

This strikes me as very representative behaviour.

[Video embed: The Ark perform Breaking Up With God live at Melodifestivalen]

Jakob Hellman only released one album, at the end of the 80s, but has been influential for Swedish pop. Kent are fans; you can catch a lot of references back to him in their songs.

[Video embed: Jakob Hellman's "Vackert Väder"/Beautiful Weather, no video footage]

Which traces of can be found in a bunch of different early Kent songs! (Kent love referencing stuff, for the record. I think it's a hobby.)

Monica Zetterlund - jazz icon!

[Video embed: Monica Zetterlund performs Some Other Time]

Fidget were a 90s indie band I think? I don't listen to them all that much generally but I have this one song which I love:

[Video embed: Fidget perform Stop Losing]

Håkan Hellström

[Video embed: Håkan Hellström sings Känn ingen sorg för mig Göteborg, which is basically, Don't cry for me Gothenburg. Footage of him and Gothenburg. Yeah, Gothenburg again!]

Make of all this what you will! That's a range of music, though nowhere near definitive, from several different genres and decades. (I will note that I'm pretty sure that Swedish music cannot actually be this overwhelmingly white, since Sweden isn't this overwhelmingly white, damn it, but... *headscratch*)

& if anyone wants to rec me more Swedish musicians that I really should be listening to, then please! Go for it!
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