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My Favourite Scandinavian Pop Groups

Updated on May 17, 2018

Pop groups from Scandinavia

I was working on the computer the other day, listening to some music, when I started to listen to 'Take on Me' by A-Ha. Then I started thinking, "How many Scandinavian pop acts can I name?" and I came up with a surprising amount of successful groups (two of them being my favourite groups ever).

On this lens I will list the ones I came up with along with some recommended music of theirs.

Photo of Scandinavia on a map courtesy of Hayden 120 - wikimedia commons

Scandinavia

Scandinavia is a region in Northern Europe consisting of Norway, Sweden and Denmark, three countries linked historically by their Germanic heritage and related languages. The term Scandinavia is also often confused with the term 'Scandinavian Peninsula' which is the piece of land covering Norway, Sweden and part of Finland.

Although not technically Scandinavian themselves, Finland and Iceland are often associated with the three Scandinavian countries and for the purpose of this lens I will include them along with the other Nordic countries.

ABBA
ABBA

ABBA

Any piece about Scandinavian music has to start with the most successful of them all; ABBA. Formed in 1972, Agnetha Fältskog, Björn Ulvaeus, Benny Andersson and Anni-Frid Lyngstad (the name ABBA comes from the initial letters of their first names) first shot to fame as the winners of the 1974 Eurovision Song Contest with 'Waterloo'.

Since then, ABBA have sold over 370 millions albums and singles worldwide with their music continuing to sell millions each year.

ABBA split in 1982 after a chart career including 9 UK number one hits such as Waterloo, Dancing Queen (which also hit number one in the US), Fernando and Super Trouper and many other top 5 hits. After a brief decline in popularity, ABBA's music made a major come back following its use in the Australian film 'Muriel's Wedding' and ultimately, the musical and movie 'Mamma Mia' based upon their music.

After ABBA, Benny and Bjorn continued writing together, penning the music for 'Chess' alongside lyrics by Tim Rice.

Photo of Abba courtesy of Beeld & Geluid - wikimedia commons

A-ha
A-ha

A-ha

Norway's biggest act and my favourite group ever, Morten Harket, Pal Waaktaar and Magna Furuholmen were A-ha, formed in Oslo in 1982.

A-ha shot to fame with the massive hit 'Take on Me' which reached number one in several countries around the world, including the US (but not the UK, where it was kept off number one by Jennifer Rush and 'The Power of Love'). This was followed up with massive hits such as 'The Sun always Shines on TV', 'Cry Wolf' and 'The Living Daylights' (from the James Bond film of the same name).

A-ha continued to record and perform together until 1994, taking a brief break before reuniting in 1998. A-ha commenced their final world-wild tour 'Ending on a High Note' in 2010, before performing together for the last time in 2011 at a memorial concert for the Norway 2011 attacks.

For me, what makes A-ha so great is the song writing ability of Pal Waaktaar along with the immediately recognisable vocals and range of Harket. 'Take on Me' with its melodic electronic keyboards and innovative video is genre defining.

Photo of A-ha courtesy of Jamesbond raul - wikimedia commons

Take on Me by A-ha

Ace of Base
Ace of Base

Ace of Base

Formed in Gothenburg in 1992, Ace of Base are Sweden's third most successful group of all time (behind ABBA and Roxette) and their debut album 'The Sign' topped the US charts in 1994 and became one of the biggest selling debut albums of all time. The single of the same name was easily one of my favourite songs when I was younger, with its dance-pop beat and reggae inspired rhythm.

Ace of Base had several other big hits such as 'All that she wants', 'Life is a flower' and a cover of Banarama's 'Cruel Summer' and are still performing now, although with a slightly different line-up.

Photo Courtesy of CrushNush - wikimedia commons

Roxette
Roxette

Roxette

My second favourite group after A-Ha, Roxette are Marie Fredriksson and Per Gessle. Formed in 1986 in Sweden, Roxette are the most successful Scandinavian act in the US and second only to ABBA on a worldwide scale. Although they have never reached number one in the UK, they have had four number one hits in the US; 'The Look', 'It must have been Love', 'Listen to your Heart', and 'Joyride', along with many other hits around the world. 'It must have been Love' was the biggest selling single from the 'Pretty Woman' soundtrack.

Roxette have sold approximately 60 million records worldwide and have even appeared on postage stamps in their native Sweden.

Photo Courtesy of Ilya Volkov - wikimedia commons

Aqua

Arguably the biggest thing to come out of Denmark ever; Aqua were huge in the late 90s. Fronted by the Norwegian singer Lene Nystrom, Aqua announced themselves to the world with 'Barbie Girl' in 1997 and went on from their. 'Barbie Girl' and their two follow up singles, 'Doctor Jones' and 'Turn Back Time' all hit number one in the UK with the latter appearing on the 'Sliding Doors' soundtrack.

Aqua sold more than 28 million records worldwide before splitting up in 2000. The world is a duller place without them.

Photo Courtesy of BulsaraAndDeacon - wikimedia commons

The Rasmus
The Rasmus

The Rasmus

I was on holiday in Switzerland in 2003 when I first came across The Rasmus. I regularly had MTV on in the hotel room and 'In the Shadows' was played regularly. I loved it for its catchy chorus, crashing guitars and dark, funky video. As soon as I got home, I went out and bought the album it came from, 'Dead Letters'. I played this album constantly throughout my time and university and it still remains one of my favourite albums.

The Rasmus were formed in 1994 and has some success in Finland, but it was their fifth album, 'Dead Letters' which got them noticed in other countries, going on to sell 1.7 million copies worldwide.

The Rasmus are still together and so far have released 8 studio albums and a further two compilation albums.

Photo Courtesy of Laysha - wikimedia commons

Lordi
Lordi

Lordi

Another product of Finland, Lordi where formed in 1992, but gained large scale form after winning the 2006 Eurovision song contest (becoming the first Finnish act to do so). Famed for their monster costumes and desire to keep their real identities secret, Lordi have released 7 studio albums and their singles include the Eurovision winning 'Hard Rock Hallelujah', 'Would you Love a Monsterman?' and my favourite title 'The Devil is a Loser'.

The members of the band all have monster names and personas which are: Mr Lordi, Amen, OX, Mana and Hella.

Photo Courtesy of Indrek Galetin - wikimedia commons

Favourite Scandinavian group

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      Sarah 3 years ago

      I like this. I love the vocals, the song fits well into the heavy style too (the great song as it is) and this vosiren also honors the original with the 80 s style. I like this more than the dance covers too.

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      Melissa 3 years ago

      I think it's far from the worst Roxette covers I've heard. It's even worse when they try a baalld and want to sound like Marie. No need to mention the noisy D.H.T. trance (dance? house? whatever) versions of LTYH a couple of years ago, I couldn't stand those.One thing is clear: these guys enjoyed playing the song.

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