Tag Archives: Sweden

Eurovisions Of Paradise: From The Song Contest To The States

Thank you for the music.

Thank you for the music.

Once a year, dozens of European nations come together for the Eurovision Song Contest, in which each country picks an act who performs their song live on television, after which they are voted upon and a winner is crowned. This year, the Contest is being held in the city of Malmö, Sweden, with a tagline of “We Are One”. 39 countries are participating in this event, and after two semi-finals earlier this week, that pack is down to 26, who will perform in the live final later on today. You can stream it at Eurovision’s official website or if you’re outside of North America, you can probably find a national broadcaster that will air the show on television.

In the U.S., we generally aren’t in the loop with what goes on at Eurovision. We don’t even have our own Amerivision where all fifty states could participate in a contest such as this. (Wouldn’t that be fun?) Despite this, we’ve seen established acts in the United States go onto success at the annual contest. Cliff Richard and Katrina & The Waves have both scored highly for the United Kingdom with their original songs, though those specific compositions were never issued in the States. In 1988, future superstar Celine Dion, representing for Switzerland, won that year’s contest with the French song “Ne Partez Pas Sans Moi” (“Don’t Leave Without Me”), competing against Luxembourg’s Lara Fabian, best known for her 2000 single, “I Will Love Again”. This year, German dance and electronic act Cascada, who hit the top ten here in 2006 with “Everytime We Touch”, will be competing for Germany with “Glorious”, which has yet to see a release here. There have also been a few cases of songs that did well at Eurovision that became hits in the United States in an alternate version or cover. For example, fourth-place entry at the 1967 Contest, “L’amour Est Bleu” by Luxembourg’s Vicky Leandros, became a #1 on the Hot 100 the following year in an instrumental version by Paul Mauriat, “Love Is Blue”.

To date, only four finalists from the Eurovision Song Contest have ever made the top 40 on the Hot 100 in their original form by the original artist or band. Remember these pop ditties?

“Nel Blu Dipino Di Blu (Volare)”, Domenico Modugno (#1, 1958) [English: “In The Blue-Painted Sky (I Will Fly)”]
Though the Eurovision Song Contest began in 1956, it gained worldwide popularity two years later when this song competed in it. Though Italy’s entry only made it to third place, it became a smash hit in the United States, spending five non-consecutive weeks at #1 on the then-newly created Hot 100, becoming the top song of the year. Furthermore, it also received Record and Song Of The Year honors at the very first GRAMMY Awards in 1959. Modugno would only ever chart one other song in the U.S., his next year’s entry in the Contest: “Piove (Ciao, Ciao Bambina)” (#97). [English: “It’s Raining (Bye, Bye Baby)”.]

“Waterloo”, ABBA (#6, 1974)
Here’s the biggest act to come out of Eurovision with the amount of international success that the group has had. Back in 1974, the quartet competed with their debut single, “Waterloo”, and it won the Contest by six points, giving the country their first ever win. Released in both English and Swedish versions, the song did very well all over Europe and also cracked the top ten in the U.S., going as high as #6. ABBA would have a total of fourteen songs hit the Hot 100’s top 40, with “Dancing Queen” going to #1 in 1977, their biggest single. They last charted in 1982 and have never created new material together since that date.

“Save Your Kisses For Me”, Brotherhood Of Man (#27, 1976)
You may recall that this group first made the top 40 in the U.S. as a quintet with their song “United We Stand”. It went to #13 during the summer of 1970. Six years later, a totally revamped group reduced to a quartet, all new members, won that year’s Eurovision Song Contest for the United Kingdom, and became so popular that it registered a minor charting here nationally, as well as a #1 on the Adult Contemporary chart. Though it reignited their career in their homeland for several more years, this was it for them in the U.S., and the song quickly faded away. The quartet is still together today and play live on occasion.

“Ooh Aah… Just A Little Bit”, Gina G (#11, 1997)
Australian-born Gina G was the United Kingdom’s pick for the 1996 Eurovision Contest, though her song ranked in 8th place when all was said and done. However, it did climb to #1 in the United Kingdom, the last single (thus far) by any participating act from the U.K. to hit #1 on that country’s Singles Chart. Several months later, the song charted in the United States, becoming a top ten radio hit and a #11 smash on the Hot 100. Though she had a string of large singles overseas, she only charted one more time here with the #46 “Gimme Some Love” in the summer of 1997. She’s largely done with recording and performing.

Check out the 2013 Eurovision Song Contest when it airs later today. I’m personally rooting for Denmark, Finland, Ireland and the United Kingdom! Let me know your picks in the comments or 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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