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The Scene in Six Sounds: Sweden

Europe, the band

Europe, the band

If you believe international stereotypes, Sweden is filled entirely about busty blondes with experimental social outlooks, saunas, snow, and dodgy Eurovision-influenced pop bands (which may, or may not include ABBA, depending on your definition of ‘dodgy’). More recently, though, this particular corner of Scandinavia’s been home to some enviable rock, too. James Hendicott braved the cold to give it all a quick once over.

Eurovision Stars Come Good: ABBA

The American public are fortunate enough not to be subjected to the yearly televised tedium that is the Eurovision song contest. The international singing competition (slash schlockfest) in which unknown artists from across Europe compete to impress each other and gain telephone votes had one real claim to fame before descending into ludicrous pseudo political comedy: ABBA. The Swedish couples might have been cheesier than a Swiss mountain foundue, but they were certainly catchy, too.
Thrashy Garage Rock Takes on Europe: The Hives

With a penchant for throwing themselves from speaker stacks, melodramatic guitars and angst-ridden garage rock, The Hives took their sound across Europe in the early 21st century, and continue to be a force on the rock circuit. Known for their black-and-white suited stage imagery as much as their sound, The Hives once sarcastically declared themselves to be ‘your new favorite band’. Oddly enough, for many they already were.
Skate Punk Superstars: Millencolin

Swedish skate punks Millencolin went through their most popular period when indulging in a more rocky sound, with international hit on the iconic Epitaph punk label ‘Pennybridge Pioneers’. Hugely popular on the UK underground punk scene, Millencolin have an accessible, toned down punk sound that nevertheless maintains a sincerity beyond that of most pop-punk bands.
Heartfelt Pop-Rockers: Roxette

A massive 50 million estimated worldwide album sales have helped Roxette become one of the most recognizable names in European pop music. While their popularity peaked in the late ’80s and early ’90s, helped by their music’s role in the film ‘Pretty Woman’, the duo still receive ample radio play, and are known for their soaring ballads and infectious hooks. They continue to perform to this day.
Sweden’s Eurodance Superstar: Basshunter

Jonas Altberg to his friends, Basshunter is a euro dance star, finding chart success across the continent with a series of accessible and infectious dance melodies. While Basshunter’s style is certainly more suited to pop lovers than clubbers, and has made him the star of a mainland Europe’s warm, cuddly brand of dance.
Glam Metal Superstars: Europe

Currently going through a reformation, tuneful 80s metal stars Europe are best known for their catchy and heavily played hit ‘The Final Countdown’. Associated with bands like Journey, Bon Jovi and Skid Row, the band encountered plenty of problems starting out for refusing to sing in Swedish, but soon found themselves right at the heart of the scene. These days they’re taking on a more ‘classic rock’ vibe, and have recently released their eighth studio album.
James Hendicott is a travel and music writer living in Ireland, and your guide to Celtic punk in the Music+Travel Worldwide from Museyon Guides. More of his work can be found at hendicottwriting.com. And be sure to tune in every Wednesday, for a new local playlist.

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