• Sweden's news in English
 
app_header_v3

Why Swedish women rule planet pop

The Local · 30 Apr 2014, 07:39

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

Story continues below…

 

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
Brexit vote
Sweden opposition cools talk of 'Swexit' poll
Anna Kinberg Batra, of the largest opposition party, the Moderates. Photo: TT

"This is a sad day for the British and for Europe."

Brexit vote
Swedish PM swats aside calls for EU renegotiation
"Sweden will now lose an important partner in the EU," Löfven said. Photo: TT

Left Party calls "totally irresponsible."

Brexit vote
'Devastated' - Brits in Sweden shocked by Brexit vote

Expat Brits in Sweden have reacted with shock, despair and uncertainty to the result of the EU referendum in the UK which was won 52-48 by the Leave campaign.

Brexit vote
'A morning of sorrow': Sweden reacts to Brexit vote
Photo: TT

The former Swedish EU minister, Birgitta Ohlsson declared that it was 'a morning of sorrow', after British voters opted to leave the European Union on Thursday.

The Local Recipes
How to make Karin's delicious Midsummer cake
Karin's cake. Photo: swedishfood.com

"We are very tolerant of other cultures except when it comes to strawberries."

Sweden named the world's 'most reputable' country
The flag of the world's most reputable country – at least according to one report. Photo: Fredrik Sanberg/TT

Sweden has been ranked as the most reputable country in the world by a new report. Find out why.

Why most students don't finish Swedish for Immigrants
More students are taking Swedish for Immigrants classes, but completion rates are low. Photo: Pontus Lundahl

Only four in ten students finished their courses at Sweden's state-funded Swedish for Immigrants classes in 2015, according to new statistics from a national agency.

Swedish police nab drunk-driving lawnmower man
Lawnmowers: dangerous, in the wrong hands. Photo: Hasse Holmberg/TT

A man in southern Sweden is at risk of having his licence revoked after drunkenly driving a motorized lawnmower.

Sweden has EU's second highest food prices
A shopper prepares for the inevitable fleecing. Photo: Fredrik Persson/TT

If your loaf of bread seems ridiculously expensive that’s because it is.

Here's how much alcohol Swedes drink on Midsummer
Systembolaget is a busy place around Midsummer. Photo: Fredrik Sandberg/TT

Swedes are known for letting loose on Midsummer, but the most recent figures from the country's state-run alcohol monopoly may surprise you.

Sponsored Article
How to find student housing in Malmö: 5 tips
Culture
How do Swedes celebrate Midsummer?
Sponsored Article
'Sweden gives artists the space to follow their dreams'
Culture
Coming soon: Sweden’s smelly fermented fish
National
Assange lawyer: Sweden should recognize UN opinion
Blog updates

17 June

Queen’s Birthday Stockholm 2016: 9th June. 90th Birthday. 900 Guests! (The Diplomatic Dispatch) »

"What do you do when you read that the Queen’s 90th Birthday in London will be…" READ »

 

10 June

i lördags, på lördag – time phrases for present, past and future (The Swedish Teacher) »

"Hejsan! Swedish time phrases can be difficult to master. It takes a lot of practice to…" READ »

 
 
 
Sponsored Article
5 reasons you should try dating with The Inner Circle
Private
The Local Voices
Why is this Syrian dentist who hugs like a Swede worried about undies?
Sponsored Article
The man behind Sweden's biggest music festival
Swedish nationalist 'shot and ate' lion and giraffe
Analysis & Opinion
'Sweden's residency revamp is harmful and inhumane'
Photo: The Local
The Local Voices
UNHCR boss: 'It's hard to start your life without your family'
Sponsored Article
US expats: Have you met your tax deadlines?
Politics
VIDEO: Brits in Europe say why UK should stay
Sponsored Article
Education abroad: How to find an international school
Photo: Marko Risović
The Local Voices
World Refugee Day: Searching for safety in Europe - in pictures
National
Is Swedish nationalists’ foreign food ban bananas?
Sponsored Article
Why you should attend an international job fair
Gallery
Property of the week: Söråker
Sponsored Article
Malmö: Home to the best food in Sweden?
International
Poll shows huge support for EU in Sweden
The Local Voices
How a Syrian scuba diver mobilized Sweden's biggest asylum centre
Sponsored Article
Avoid hidden fees when sending money overseas
Sport
Zlatan: 'If we'd been fighting for real, he'd be in hospital'
Sponsored Article
VIDEO: Why Malmö is the world's 6th best city for biking
The Local Voices
Orlando reflections: Is it possible to be gay and Muslim?
Sponsored Article
5 reasons you should try dating with The Inner Circle
Sweden to go ahead with migrant age tests
Sponsored Article
US expats: Have you met your tax deadlines?
Gallery
People-watching: June 17th-19th
Sponsored Article
Stockholm school celebrates Nepal Project success
National
Will you be hit by changes to Sweden's residency laws?
Sponsored Article
6 simple travel hacks that will make your life easier
The Local Voices
Why an Iraqi who won Swedish lottery won't quit his restaurant job
Gallery
People-watching: Midweek revellers
National
Why this pizzeria is giving elderly Swedes free meatballs
3,341
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