Sweden National Day requires a special playlist

As the title says, it’s Sweden National Day and this blog couldn’t let it go blank…I mean, “I ♥ Sweden” is actually a category here!

Sweden National Day

I’ve loved Swedish music pretty much for as long as I’ve loved music, even if unknowingly. And it probably started with Ace of Base and Roxette (happiest gig I’ve ever been to back in 2011 at Wembley Arena!). Although it was “Lovefool” and my brother’s First Band on the Moon CD that  The Cardigans - First Band On The Moon (1996)made me listen to The Cardigans at first, I’ve long transcended that underrated gem of a song and have loved pretty much everything they’ve released since, even going into Nina Persson‘s no-longer-in-existence parallel project, A Camp and, most recently, her solo album, Animal Heart.

Sweden is not only a stunning country with a cool hippie vibe, IKEA and Pippi Longstocking, but it’s always been one of the main exporters of music, whether it be bands, singers or songwriters. I mean, having written numerous hits for some of the biggest popstars in the world, Max Martin is probably one of the most important pop songwriters of all times.

To celebrate Sweden Nationaldag, I put together a selection of tracks of some of the country’s most popular artists ranging from obvious classics such as Abba and my dearest Cardigans to iconic Robyn and the latest up-and-coming gems such as Matilda Gratte (with whom I’ve been in love since I first heard her at Camden’s best hidden treasure, Spiritual Bar). Sadly, she’s only got two songs on Spotify, so I’ve added a video down here too.

Although all the artists are deserving of more than a mention, I’ll keep this brief but give you a heads up on this one great musician I was introduced to on a trip to Stockholm: Tingsek. It was love at first listen and I was lucky enough to get to see him play East London’s Cargo a few years ago when opening for Allen Stone. I can’t exactly describe his music…it’s just stunning! And he recorded probably the best version I’ve ever heard of Depeche Mode‘s “Shake the Disease”.

I’ll stop here so you can carry on to more important matters: the actual songs!

If you feel like I’ve missed someone important or want to suggest some new artists, please do feel free, comments are very welcome!

Eurovision is, indeed, about politics and that’s what makes it great!

As a non-European, I wasn’t very much aware of what the Eurovision Song Contest was until moving to these shores and thought the history was very cool (music doing what it does best: bringing people together. In this case, during the war – times worse than most of us in the West have got now with Trump and all). However, I didn’t get much into it until I happened to watch it the year of Conchita’s win, when I saw exactly that: music bringing people together to show homophobes that they’re assholes and, fortunately, a minority.

I’ve read so many people complaining about Ukraine winning it last night because people should vote for the best song, not the person nor the country…granted, it is a bit like the X Factor and such as in what’s judged is not the music per se. In this case, though, songs and performers represent their countries and their struggles and voting is used to show solidarity so I don’t really see what’s wrong with that. The issue around Crimea hasn’t been covered in the news since f*ck knows when! and millions of people last night got to have a bit of a refresher. I felt bad for the Russian team, the singer dude was so emotional and, although the song wasn’t great either, the stunt he pulled off required serious skills. Nonetheless, having Ukraine beat the Russians was a big slap in Putin’s face from the rest of Europe. Ukraine could’ve sung the Macarena as far as I’m concerned and I still would’ve been happy for the win.

But politics aside, in my (and millions of others!) heart, Justin Timberlake obviously won all the points! 🇺🇸

From a music business point of view, I think this tweet from Popjustice sums it up quite nicely:

Other than that, the hosts were nothing short of greatly entertaining! Especially when they taught us how to write a hit song – they really know their stuff! Probably why Sweden has so many great bands and some of the world’s top songwriters! (here’s looking at you, Max Martin)

Fun fact: in 1988, it was Celine Dion who represented Switzerland – and won! 🇨🇭