Fact: The Swedes are a superhuman race sent from the future to make amazing pop music.
Due to this undeniable truth, Swedish pop stars you’ve never heard of snatch wigs from your favorite pop stars for fun — just because they can. In my ongoing series, Amazing Things I’m Listening to From Sweden, I review the best Swedish exports that are currently blowing up the charts (i.e., getting blasted at ear-splitting volume in my apartment).
Le Kid – America
Pop outfit Le Kid first appeared on the scene in 2009 with “Mercy Mercy,” a thoroughly enjoyable pop gem that sounds a bit like a less sultry redux of Girls Aloud‘s single “Can’t Speak French.” But Le Kid’s ensuing singles, like the ebullient “We Should Go Home Together,” were a little too schlagerific for my taste — as evidenced by their particularly high-octane Melodifestivalen entry, “Oh My God.” Their less giddy efforts, including their striking cover of The Killers‘ perennial favorite “Mr. Brightside,” pointed in a direction of greater subtlety â€” and that’s exactly the stride they’ve hit with their newest single, “America.” It belongs to the same category of nostalgic midtempo dance-pop that Xenomania have mastered with Girls Aloud and Mini Viva (see “Call the Shots” and “I Wish” for more) without collapsing into schlager hysterics — and that’s something worth celebrating.
Swedish House Mafia – Save the World [feat. John Martin]
Swedish House Mafia have certainly demonstrated a track record for epic club jams, and “Save the World” is no exception. Instrumentally, it’s ground well traveled, but the dizzying euphoric heights the song builds to work just as well as they ever have. “Save the World” is further redeemed by excellent vocals from John Martin, whose voice â€” like a combination of Miike Snow‘s Andrew Wyatt and Coldplay‘s Chris Martin â€” strikes just the right balance between strength and longing. A surefire summer smash.
Therese – Drop It Like It’s Hot
This dance anthem has been kicking around online for awhile, but it’s just crossing my radar now â€” and I must admit that 2010 would have been a much more enjoyable year if it had included a little Therese. What starts out as by-the-numbers house music turns into a massive singalong smash by the unforgettable chorus. Lyrics are as follows: “Dance, dance, why don’t you dance like a freak/This ghetto place is so much better when you dance with me.” Now featuring a glittery remix package from house kings Wideboys, Therese deserves to join the ranks of September and Velvet among Sweden’s most prized dance divas.
Killabite – Follow Me Home
It’s ironic, yet not altogether surprising, that Los Angeles-based duo Killabite are only releasing music in Sweden, given that their brand of glitchy, gleaming dance-pop is decidedly Scandinavian in its sensibilities. I’d love to see the duo gain some domestic traction, but until then, I can still get some serious mileage out of “Follow Me Home,” a thunderous slice of futuristic pop co-written by famed DJ Axwell. Killabite’s storied pedigree doesn’t hurt, either: female vocalist Chau Phan performed backup vocals for the Holy Spearit herself on “I Wanna Go” and “Criminal.”
Those Dancing Days – I’ll Be Yours
Hipster girl group Those Dancing Days got some blog buzz back in 2008 with the release of their candy-sweet single, “Hitten,” but I would have expected them to garner more hype with the release of their sophomore album, Daydreams & Nightmares. After all, the record was produced by such luminaries as Max Martin & Shellback, as well as Patrik Berger, who has helmed tracks for fellow Swedes Robyn, Erik Hassle, and Icona Pop. Those Dancing Days exist in the same luscious retro space as The Pipettes and, to a lesser extent, Lykke Li â€” and “I’ll Be Yours” is as wistfully charming as anything they’ve done yet.
Release notes: “Save the World,” “Drop It Like It’s Hot,” and “I’ll Be Yours” are all available on US iTunes â€” “America” and “Follow Me Home” are still awaiting US release, but can both be found on Swedish iTunes and 7digital SE.