• Sweden's news in English
 

Why Swedish women rule planet pop

Published: 30 Apr 2014 07:39 GMT+02:00

If you look around the Swedish pop landscape today, one thing becomes obvious – it is dominated by the female of the species. The most recent successful Swedish export, Tove Lo, who we've been banging on about for a year, has just hit the UK top ten with her debut single, Habits.

Tove Lo - Stay High (Habits Remix)

Last year's big exports included Icona Pop, the female-fronted NONONO and Frida Sundemo (all tipped by thelocal.se). Only the cheesy country-house of Avicii has kept the flag flying for Swedish men.

This year's most eagerly anticipated Swedish albums are almost all due from women. Robyn, Lykke Li (see below) and First Aid Kit will all drop albums over the next couple of months. It's not just the fact that women are making popular, big-selling albums either. All of the above have enjoyed critical acclaim too – these are artists making seriously good pop, music that will have a long shelf-life.

First Aid Kit – My Silver Lining

Men, conversely, are not faring too well. Apart from the estimable Håkan Hällström and Jose Gonzales, and the creaking bones of Kent, perhaps, men just aren't making very interesting music. Indeed it appears to be male artists who seem to be mainly responsible for the cheesier, less imaginative, pop hits – Darin, Robin and Erik Saade all spring to mind here.

Why is this happening? Why is it women who are revitalizing pop music by ripping it up and starting, seam by seam, to construct something new, exciting, and ultimately, innovative? And why are men being left behind?

One of the reasons is that most of the new breed of women are writing their own music and their own lyrics. These women address sex and love in new ways. Not in the clichéd way of male artists, who seem to have run out of gas when it comes to writing about relationships. For the likes of Tove Lo and Lykke Li writing about sex isn’t something to be feared but to be tackled head on and with crippling honesty. Both Lo and Li share a kind of desperation that not only feels authentic, it feels new.

With the music itself, women also seem to have the courage to try different things. Perhaps inspired by some of the wondrously unconventional music produced by Karin Dreijer of The Knife and Fever Ray, female pop artists such as Alina Devcereski and Robyn don't slip easily into stereotypes – their music sounds like nobody else's. Crucially, however, they always remember the importance of a big, fat tune. As Gothenburg singer Frida Sundemo says, “I definitely feel like it's women's turn to claim some space in the music industry. Not only as singers but as songwriters, producers and musicians as well. I guess I share this feeling with most women in the business and hopefully our efforts have now started to pay off.”

Robyn & Röyksopp - Do It Again

The interesting thing is that where Sweden goes, so the world follows. Today, a greater proportion of women than men complete upper secondary education in Sweden. Significantly more women than men also participate in adult education. Women comprise roughly 60 percent of all students in undergraduate university studies and almost two-thirds of all degrees are awarded to women. Sundemo agrees that Sweden's focus on women's rights is paying off: “I've really felt the winds of women's rights blowing in Sweden lately.”

Women are enabled and emboldened in Sweden, so Swedish pop is unlikely to become less female-heavy. The same could well soon be true of the global pop market. Where does that leave men? Behind the mixing desk, perhaps? Strumming a guitar in a session band providing music for a female star? But making great, original pop music? No, Swedish sisters are doing that for themselves.

ALBUM OF THE MONTH

Lykke Li

I Never Learn

LL Recordings ****

Lykke Li is fast becoming Sweden's most fascinating pop star. 2008's Youth Novels was sparkling electro pop writ large, while 2011's Wounded Rhymes moved towards 50s and 60s-tinged indie rock. I Never Learn, the third in Li's trilogy about life for a modern twenty-something female, is different again, a collection of utterly heartbroken ballads that veer from the forlorn sparseness of Love Me Like I’m Not Made of Stone through the Phil Spector-meets-Rihanna pomp of No Rest For The Wicked to the rain-drenched, tambourine-driven sob of Never Gonna Love Again.

Li has tried to disguise her pop smarts with a coat of heavy melancholy but be warned – the songs here are every bit as addictive as those on her first two albums.

Lykke Li – No Rest For The Wicked

 

Also out:

Rebecca & Fiona

Beauty Is Pain ***

Uneven but occasionally brilliant electronic pop from Stockholm duo.

Rebecca & Fiona – Candy Love

 

GIG OF THE MONTH

Frida Sundemo

May 7th, Södra Teatern, Stockholm

Sundemo promotes her terrific new EP of glacial pop, Lit Up By Neon.

Frida Sundemo – Drawn To You

Paul Connolly

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Local (news@thelocal.se)

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Women in Tech
'Swedish women are strong and ambitious'

'Swedish women are strong and ambitious'

The second annual Women in Technology conference took place on Friday. The Local spoke to the founder and participants about why such an event is both necessary and popular – even in gender-equal Sweden. READ  

Finland MPs vote to keep Swedish in schools
Swedish will still be mandatory in Finland's schools. Photo: Shutterstock

Finland MPs vote to keep Swedish in schools

A proposal to abolish mandatory Swedish in schools was rejected by the Finnish parliament with an overwhelming majority on Friday. But a motion to teach Russian as a second language in eastern regions was voted through. READ  

Norwegian ultimatum: accept our terms or leave
Norwegian aeroplanes at Arlanda airport. Photo: Johan Nilsson/TT

Norwegian ultimatum: accept our terms or leave

UPDATED: Swedish pilots have been given an ultimatum on the seventh day of a Norwegian pilots' strike: agree to the new terms or lose your jobs, reported Norway's broadcaster NRK. READ  

Swedish Roma woman tells of fear after lawsuit
Roma people have filed a lawsuit at Stockholm District Court. Photo: Jessica Gow/SCANPIX

Swedish Roma woman tells of fear after lawsuit

A member of the Roma community says she is afraid of repercussions as she, alongside ten others, sues the Swedish state for human rights violations over an illegal Roma database. But in an interview with The Local, she vows to stand firm in the face of hatred. READ  

The Local List
The Local's top Swedish songs of the month
Death Team are one of the acts on our list this week. Photo: Death Team

The Local's top Swedish songs of the month

The Local's resident pop music guru, Paul Connolly, has a bumper selection of great tracks to welcome in the warmth of spring. READ  

Badger puts Stockholm hotel in lockdown
Another day, another badger. This one was spotted on the prowl in Solna in 2009. Photo: Henrik Montgomery/TT

Badger puts Stockholm hotel in lockdown

A luxury hotel in central Stockholm came under siege early on Friday by an ill-tempered badger that refused to allow any guests in or out, forcing police to intervene. READ  

Agency hires hundreds after ditching 'jihadists'
The job agency's director general, Mikael Sjöberg. Photo: Jessica Gow/TT

Agency hires hundreds after ditching 'jihadists'

Sweden’s national job agency will recruit hundreds of new people to replace a migrant aide scheme scrapped after the emergence of widespread bribery, serious criminality and alleged attempts to recruit job seekers to fight as jihadists. READ  

'Sweden shouldn't end controversial Saudi deal'
The beach walk in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. Photo: Björn Larsson Ask/SvD/SCANPIX

'Sweden shouldn't end controversial Saudi deal'

Prominent business leaders, including the chairman of Swedish fashion brand H&M, have called for Sweden not to end a controversial military arms deal with Saudi Arabia, in an opinion piece in the Dagens Nyheter newspaper. READ  

The Local Recipes
How to bake traditional Swedish crispbread
Traditional Swedish 'knäckebröd'. Photo: Leif R Jansson/SCANPIX

How to bake traditional Swedish crispbread

The art of baking your own bread has been making a comeback in trendier hipster circles in Sweden. Here, food writer John Duxbury shares his recipe of traditional Swedish crispbread ('knäckebröd'). Sure, it's easy to buy in the shop - but like all bread it tastes so much better when you make it yourself. READ  

Mercury to shoot up to 15C in sunny Sweden
One of The Local's readers snapped this beautiful picture of a sunny Västerås. Photo: Daniel Loureiro

Mercury to shoot up to 15C in sunny Sweden

This weekend you should dig out those sunglasses from the back of the wardrobe, because spring has really arrived – with up to 15C expected in parts of Sweden on Sunday. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
National
Why are Swedish drug addicts travelling to the UK to seek help?
Sponsored Article
'Sweden needs to get its act together'
National
Will new military deal push Sweden to seek Nato membership?
Gallery
People-watching: March 4th
National
Why Swedish pensioners are having better sex than ever
Blog updates

6 March

Editor’s blog, March 6th (The Local Sweden) »

"This week travellers faced chaos in airports all over Scandinavia as hundreds of pilots went on..." READ »

 

18 February

The mysterious -s, part 2 (The Swedish Teacher) »

"-s expressing “each other” (reciprocal verbs) You have most likely used this form of the verbs..." READ »

 
 
 
Sponsored Article
Ten tips for succeeding as a start-up in Sweden
National
Just four Pegida supporters turn out to anti-Islam rally in Sweden
Accelerated for Ice Music
Dylan guitarist makes music history in Sweden
National
Could March bring record-high temperatures to Sweden?
Sponsored Article
Expert US tax preparation for Americans in Sweden
Gallery
Property of the week: Eknäs, Nacka
Lifestyle
Madonna set for first Stockholm gig
Technology
How you could soon be charging your phone from Ikea furniture
Sponsored Article
Tourist or lifer: what sort of expat are you?
Gallery
People-watching: February 27th - March 1st
Business & Money
Ten Swedish start-ups you haven't heard of (yet)
National
How could Swedes' passion for 'fika' help cut nerve disease?
National
IN PICTURES: Swedes in 'ring of peace' protest
National
Why Copenhagen attacks led a Swedish uni to cancel artist's lecture
Gallery
IN PICTURES: Super cute sloth twins charm visitors to Swedish zoo
Lifestyle
Meet Sweden's first woman chef to win a Michelin star
Lifestyle
What's on in Sweden: February 26th - March 5th
Accelerated for Ice Music
What is Bob Dylan's guitarist doing in northern Sweden?
Features
How well do you know Sweden's top celebrity couples?
Business & Money
Are company boards 'too white' in Sweden?
Gallery
People-watching: February 25th
Technology
Sweden is dubbed second most 'digital' nation in European Union
National
Why more Swedes want a sex change
National
The return of Sweden's Ace of Base
National
Why has Julian Assange's case been going on for so long?
National
'21' or 'IS'? Swedish police confuse birthday with Islamist extremism
National
Spring has sprung in Sweden
Gallery
Property of the week: Ängelholm
National
How to never miss your favourite weekly features on The Local
National
Is Sweden home to the world's oldest living cat?
Gallery
IN PICTURES: The life and career of Fredrik Reinfeldt
Gallery
IN PICTURES: Princess Estelle through the years
National
Why are Swedish Jews worried?
Gallery
People-watching: February 19th-22nd
National
'Racist' bird names banned in Sweden
Lifestyle
What's on in Sweden this week
National
Nobel prize to go under hammer
National
Swede named 'Fanny' banned from getting UK loyalty card
National
Spotlight on the Swedes that could be funding Islamists
Sponsored Article
Are you an American expat? How to face FATCA
Gallery
People-watching: February 18th
National
Is a chocolate crime wave sweeping across Sweden?
National
What we know about the Copenhagen shootings suspect
Sponsored Article
'Immigration is critical' for Stockholm’s future
Sponsored Article
Stockholm job fair helps immigrant entrepreneurs
Latest news from The Local in Austria

More news from Austria at thelocal.at

Latest news from The Local in Switzerland

More news from Switzerland at thelocal.ch

Latest news from The Local in Germany

More news from Germany at thelocal.de

Latest news from The Local in Denmark

More news from Denmark at thelocal.dk

Latest news from The Local in Spain

More news from Spain at thelocal.es

Latest news from The Local in France

More news from France at thelocal.fr

Latest news from The Local in Italy

More news from Italy at thelocal.it

Latest news from The Local in Norway

More news from Norway at thelocal.no

997
jobs available
PSD Media
PSD Media is marketing company that offers innovative solutions for online retailers. We provide modern solutions that help increase traffic and raise conversion. Visit our site at:
psdmedia.se