A funny thing happened a few weeks ago as I was putting together my post Amazing Things I’m Listening to From Sweden, Vol. 5.
There was so much amazing fucking music from Sweden that I literally died.
And then I was brought back to life in time to write Vol. 6 of my ongoing series, Amazing Things I’m Listening to From Sweden.
John Dahlbäck – One Last Ride [feat. Erik Hassle] (Radio Edit)
It is an incontrovertible truth that everything Erik Hassle does is amazing. That said, he does lean more on the MOR/adult-contemporary end of the pop spectrum, which makes this dance single an even more welcome change of pace for the ginger-haired whiz kid from Katrineholm. A collaboration with remix king John Dahlbäck — whose remix of Nicole Scherzinger’s “Right There” was the best thing about the whole Killer Love campaign — “One Last Ride” combines the wistful yearning of all of Erik’s work with house-friendly beats and a can’t-get-it-out-of-your-head chorus of Erik’s honeyed voice repeating “Your love is sweet” ad infinitum. As packaged on Beatport (you can buy this one, y’all!) with some bonkers remixes from Tommy Trash and Felix Cartal, “One Last Ride” has serious stateside potential for club play. Fellow Swedish great Robyn once memorably said “I really don’t want no hassle.” When that Hassle is Erik, however, I’m always willing to make an exception.
Ask Embla – Northern Light
Between the two of them, Icelandic scribe Arnthor Birgisson and Norwegian singer-songwriter Ina Wroldsen have produced some of the finest pop of the last few years: Ina wrote “He About to Lose Me” for Britney Spears and “You Make Me Feel” for Cobra Starship; Arnthor penned hits for Jessica Simpson and Samantha Mumba during the millennial teen pop boom; together, they are responsible for Shontelle’s “Impossible” and “Higher” by The Saturdays. But after performing at near-Stargate levels of excellence for several years, the pair (who work out of Stockholm, making their inclusion on this list justifiable) have formed their own group: The electropop duo Ask Embla. As their frontwoman, Ina Wroldsen’s voice is rich and a little dissonant, with a lovely vibrato — which perfectly fits the icy ballad “Northern Light.” Unsurprisingly, all the other tracks on their SoundCloud are superb, too, especially “Father’s Eyes” and “Winter.”
Melanie Wehbe – Irresistible
Melanie Wehbe was a finalist on this year’s Swedish Idol, but got an early boot because, according to an explanation from the great blog Scandipop, she “doesn’t have the right look for an artist in 2011.” This, obviously, is bullshit — because Melanie Wehbe looks just like Rebecca Black! (Doesn’t she, sort of?) Regardless, her first single, “Irresistible,” is a hundred different kinds of excellent — a big, American-sounding kiss-off to a lover who’s “irre-irre-irre-irresistible,” like a slightly lusher “Domino” by Jessie J. Most importantly, it contains the following lyric (unless my ears are fooling me): “I’d better post a tweet.” Good luck resisting this one, folks.
Serenades – Come Home
Christmas is still a few months away, but it’s never too early to start preparing — and “Come Home” is exactly the right kind of holiday ditty that could also serve as a perennial favorite. Criminal Heaven, the debut album from Serenades — a duo formed of Adam Olenius, frontman of the ever-amazing Swedish indie popsters Shout Out Louds, and Laakso vocalist Markus Krunegård — combines Beach Boys surf-rock with ‘80s synths and hooky melodies for a sound that’s simultaneously modern and referential. “Come snow, come home,” Adam urges, before unleashing a sweetly sad chorus: “I don’t want to know what it’s like to spend/The holidays on my own/I don’t want to hear another Christmas song/About love when I’m on my own.”
Amanda Mair – Doubt
The fact that Amanda Mair is the latest artist to sign to Labrador Records — home of The Radio Dept, Club 8, and formerly the Sound of Arrows — is more than enough to pique my interest. She’s also 16, gorgeous (in a young tangle-haired femme fatale Sky Ferreira kind of way), with the kind of high, ethereal voice that mysterious teenage girls from remote Swedish islands probably tend to have. Her label describes her as “Dusty Springfield produced by Kate Bush,” and I think this is a very apt description. Precocious, with piercingly honest lyrics — in the bridge, she asks simply, “Will love destroy me?” in the song’s most haunting moment — she’s one to watch out for.
Sam Lansky is a contributor to MuuMuse.