Tag Archives: Rednex

Wake Up Call: The Reemergence Of Countrified Dance

Where did you come from? Where did you go?

Where did you come from? Where did you go?

One of the newest songs to make onto the dance scene this summer is a bit of a surprise to those who know some previous material by Swedish DJ and EDM artist Avicii. His latest single features a vocal by California-born soul singer Aloe Blacc, best known for a song called “I Need A Dollar”. It never made it to the United States, but it went to #2 in the United Kingdom in the summer of 2011 and was generally big in Europe. Well, the two appear together on a new song entitled “Wake Me Up!”, which is already #1 on iTunes in Australia, Sweden, The Netherlands and four other countries, with a top ten placing in many others. However, it’s not strictly a soul record or a dance anthem, it’s a… folk meets house thingamajigger? I guess that’s the best way to describe it even if it’s not the clearest.

“Wake” begins as a guitar-driven track with Blacc delivering his verse, which leads into a steady handclap beat about 40 seconds in, only to transition into a full-out dance song a quarter of the way in. Yet, there’s a simplicity about it as it returns to its original arrangement, and even when you’re ready to rage when the energy of the song kicks in, that portion doesn’t seem as layered or as overbearing as a normal dance song on the radio or in the club. It’s actually pretty likable and will certainly appeal to a broader audience than who the two appeal to individually. So, what gives? With its huge popularity out of the gate, including a decent ranking in the United States, could we be seeing a successful new period mixing the two polar opposite genres? It could very well happen.

Combining the dance and country genres isn’t a new concept, but it doesn’t exactly come around that often, and when it does, the results are somewhat mixed. Country legend Dolly Parton did disco once – a song she recorded called “Baby I’m Burning” was a minor hit in 1979. In early 1980, Joyce Cobb just missed the top 40 with a song I quite like, “Dig The Gold”, which became the first disco song to prominently use a fiddle line. (You first hear it around the 1:05 mark.) Remember when The KLF and Tammy Wynette provided us with one of the oddest collaborations in music history? “Justified And Ancient” was even bigger, going to #11 on the Hot 100 in 1992. Then, of course, there was the novelty single “Cotton Eye Joe” by the Swedish band Rednex, which I still encounter at bar/bat mitzvahs, reunions, weddings, etc. The fiddle-full floorfiller was an international smash in 1995, though it only got to #25 here. Say it ain’t so, “Joe”. (I still know the dance routine. No, there will not be video to back that up.)

There are some holes that I’ve missed along the way, but that brief history shows why this fusion of two distinct styles doesn’t even have a name. It’s so scattered about that anybody could give it something and it would catch on. It also shows that “Wake Me Up!” is a totally different case; there are no country acts involved, each genre has an equal place in the composition and it’s not meant for consumption as a novelty song. So, wipe that slate clean, because this is a new beginning for everyone involved, and it’s beginning to pick up rather quickly.

With the rise in folk music in the mainstream consciousness thanks to acts like Mumford & Sons, Phillip Phillips and The Lumineers, among others, it makes sense that it would continue to influence acts and producers creating new material. That being said, no one could have expected this to come out of either act. While the song has its dissenters on both sides of the musical spectrum, reaction seems to be fairly positive, and the early signs of good download numbers in our neck of the woods likely means that the transition onto radio and other outlets may be easier than I’m thinking. At the same time, Blacc has never cracked the U.S. market and Avicii has had some minor chartings on a few radio formats without a true breakthrough. That could change later this year, and if it blows up like it has been internationally, this movement won’t be over for some time. Stay tuned… and don’t fiddle around in the meantime.

How do you feel about this new sound from Avicii and Aloe Blacc? Are you a fan? Do you think that country and folk has a place in dance music? Let me know! Comment below or find me on Twitter: @AdamFSoybel.

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How Swede It Is: The Icon(a)ic Hit Parade

I like it, "I Love It".

I like it, “I Love It”.

Whether it’s on the radio or in an advertisement, you know the sounds of Icona Pop and their hit song called “I Love It”. It’s currently #33 on the Hot 100 and #21 on mainstream radio. The all-female duo of Aino Jawo and Caroline Hjelt represents the 20th act from Sweden to hit the airplay chart (Radio & Records/Mediabase 24/7) since it began in 1973, though most of these artists also made the Hot 100 in one form or another. (I’ll be listing the peaks from both charts in some cases.) How swede it is to be loved by our American audience. From ABBA to Roxette to Swedish House Mafia, here’s the full list of acts who have charted with the times.

ABBA / AGNETHA FÄLTSKOG / FRIDA
By far the most successful act on the list, the quartet formed in Stockholm amassed twenty hits on the Hot 100 from 1974 to 1982, fourteen of them becoming top-40 entries. Of those, four made the top ten like “Waterloo” (1974) and “Take A Chance On Me” (1978), with “Dancing Queen” rising to #1 in 1977, their only chart-topper. After the group disbanded, the two female singers in the band each had one top-40 solo hit. Frida (Anni-Frid Lyngstad) went to #13 in the spring of 1983 with “I Know There’s Something Going On” (co-produced by Phil Collins) and Agentha Fältskog managed a #29 peak for “Can’t Shake Loose” during the fall of that same year. Fältskog has a new solo album due later this spring. The group has never performed together since they parted.

ACE OF BASE / YAKI-DA
Four performers from Gothenberg were all over the radio in 1993 and 1994 with songs like “All That She Wants”, “Don’t Turn Around” and “The Sign”. Five of their singles went top ten at CHR radio, but “Sign” was the only one to top the Hot 100, holding there for six weeks. Eight of their songs made the big chart, the final two coming in 1998. They’re currently together, but the two female singers were replaced during their most recent album in 2010. In 1995, member Jonas “Joker” Berggren put together the duo Yaki-Da, also from Gothenberg. Their lone hit, “I Saw You Dancing”, went to #52 on the Hot 100 and #20 on the CHR chart.

AVICII
The 23-year-old DJ from Stockholm has been mixing it up for several years now. Last year, his “Levels (ID)”, sampled in the arrangement of Flo Rida‘s “Good Feeling”, only reached #60 on the Hot 100 and #34 on CHR radio, largely overshadowed by the rapper’s hit. His current single, “I Could Be The One” (credited to Avicii vs. Nicky Romero), is top 40 at the radio format, but has yet to make Billboard’s list.

BLUE SWEDE
Ooga chaka, ooga ooga. The band from Stockholm led by Björn Skifs took their version of “Hooked On A Feeling” to #1 for a week in 1974. Four of their singles charted on the Hot 100, the last of them a medley of “Hush” by Deep Purple and “I’m Alive” by Tommy James & The Shondells, which went to #61 in 1975. They haven’t appeared together since then.

EAGLE-EYE CHERRY / NENEH CHERRY
The half-siblings of the Cherry family saw their biggest success in different decades. Neneh Cherry is best remembered for her 1989 hit “Buffalo Stance”, which climbed to #3 on the Hot 100. Five of her songs made the chart, four as a main credited artist. Eagle-Eye Cherry‘s biggest single was “Save Tonight”, which went to #5 on the Hot 100 and #1 on CHR radio in 1999. Two more of his songs garnered some airplay, the latter one peaking in 2002, but neither is remembered today. Neneh now performs with a band called The Thing; Eagle-Eye still records as a solo artist.

EMILIA
Emilia Rydberg, who recorded as Emilia, scored a huge hit in Europe with 1998’s “Big Big World”, which impacted the United States at end of the year. It barely cracked the Hot 100 at a peak of #92, though it rose to #19 on CHR radio before falling quickly falling out. She performs today as Emilia Mitiku.

EUROPE
How can you deny the epic synthesizer line in “The Final Countdown”? A classic in the world of pop, it reached a high of #8 on the Hot 100 in 1987 for the quintet from Upplands Väsby. Power ballad “Carrie” went to #3 later that year. A total of five of their songs reached the Hot 100, the last of them coming in the fall of 1988. The band is still active today with a different lineup.

LEGACY OF SOUND / MEJA
Dancing onto the scene in 1993, the group had only one song hit the U.S. market, “Happy”. It managed a lowly #68 on the Hot 100 and a #25 peak on CHR radio. Vocalist Meja cracked the CHR chart twice as a solo artist with “All ‘Bout The Money” (#36, 1999) and a duet with Ricky Martin, “Private Emotion” (#29, 2000). “Money” failed to make the Hot 100; “Emotion” rose to #67. She still sings today.

REDNEX
What the folk is going on? Marrying bluegrass with a eurodance beat, the novelty hit “Cotton Eye Joe”, based on the nineteenth-century southern song, went to #25 on the Hot 100 in 1995. It was certified Gold. They never charted again here, but they’ve hit the top ten in Sweden as recently as 2008. The group remains together.

ROBYN
The sweet pop sounds of Robyn were all over the U.S. by 1997 including “Do You Know (What It Takes?)” and “Show Me Love”, both going top ten. An additional airplay-only single, “Do You Really Want Me?”, made the top ten at CHR radio in 1998. She made a triumphant return with a dance sound in the 2000’s, scoring a handful of hits across Europe, but nothing charted nationally here. She last put out a series of EPs in 2010 and no new material has been announced as of yet.

ROXETTE
The duo of Marie Fredriksson and Per Gessle out of Halmstad took the U.S. by storm in 1989 with their #1 hit “The Look”, followed by two other #1’s: “It Must Have Been Love” in 1990 (featured in the movie Pretty Woman) and “Joyride” in 1991. Six of their songs made the top 2 in a two-year span, which gives the largest amount of top ten singles for a Swedish act. In total, twelve of their singles hit the Hot 100 through 1994, with a few additional releases receiving Adult Contemporary airplay in the years since then. The two continue to record, both solo and together, last putting out original material as a duo in 2012.

SEPTEMBER
Petra Marklund, who took the stage name September, started her career in Sweden in 2003, but the performer from Stockholm didn’t reach the Hot 100 until 2008 when “Cry For You” peaked at #74. It also spent three weeks at #29 on CHR radio, two of them dated on September charts. She hasn’t hit nationally since, but continues to make the top ten in her native country under her given name.

SWEDISH HOUSE MAFIA
The trio of DJs Axwell, Sebastian Ingrosso and Steve Angello have been together since 2008. They first made the the CHR chart in 2011 with “Save The World” (#37), but it failed to make the Hot 100 by just a few positions. Last year, “Don’t You Worry Child” became their biggest hit ever in almost every territory, including a #6 peak on the Hot 100 and a better #2 at CHR earlier this year. They’ve broken up for the time being.

THE CARDIGANS
From the city of Jönköping, this quintet led by Nina Persson scored an international hit with “Lovefool”. It wasn’t eligible for the Hot 100 at the time due to a rule barring airplay-only singles from charting, but it did climb to #1 on the Hot 100 Airplay survey and spent six weeks at #1 on CHR radio during the spring of 1997. They had several other hits in Europe, but broke up in 2006 before reuniting last year.

Who is your favorite act from Sweden to break in America? Let me know in the comments or on Twitter: @AdamFSoybel.

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