Top ten Swedish songs of the decade
Paul O'Mahony · 18 Dec 2009, 12:04
Published: 18 Dec 2009 12:04 GMT+01:00
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One of very first phrases I learned in Swedish informed me in no uncertain terms that taste is like the buttocks - divided (Smaken är som baken - delad).
Here then, in no particular order, is a predictably divisive list of the top ten songs of the decade by Swedish artists. Listen with extreme prejudice.
Listen on Spotify: Top ten Swedish songs of the 2000s
bob hund - Tinnitus i hjärtat
Arguably the best Swedish band of the past twenty years, bob hund laid low for much of the 2000s before making a delectable return to form in 2009 with the album Folkmusik för folk som inte kan bete sig som folk. Though a calmer affair than much of their nineties output, it retains all the band's trademark lyrical dexterity, effortless riffery and musical singularity. Flagship single Tinnitus i hjärtat has all the above and more besides.
The Plan - Mon amour
Out of the ashes of legendary Gothenburg band Broder Daniel rose the occasional phoenix. One such creature was bassist Theodor Jensen who soared to unheralded heights as the man with The Plan. Pacy debut single Mon Amour warmed up many a dancefloor in 2001 with its desperate and repeated cries of merde as it railed against the insufficiencies of love. The song is what the French might term a tour de force.
Håkan Hellström - Känn ingen sorg för mig Göteborg
Another of the Broder Daniel brigade, it's hard to describe the enormity of this former drummer's solo breakthrough back in 2000. Clad in a sailor's uniform, he took to the stage with rare abandon: the critics lapped it up, teenage girls fainted, teenage boys, well... they fainted too. Känn ingen sorg för mig Göteborg gets the nod here not only because it's still one of his very best songs but also because it was the one that made him an overnight superstar.
The Hives - Hate to say I told you so
The Hives were such a breath of fresh air when they stepped out of their home town of Fagersta and onto the global arena. While they clearly knew their musical history, they didn't take themselves too seriously, and in Howlin' Pelle they had themselves one of the generation's great entertainers. And the songs weren't half bad either, as proven by this corker first released at the dawn of the decade.
Love Is All - Busy Doing Nothing
Propelled forwards by Slits-inspired front woman Josephine Olausson, Love Is All back up their lead singer's punky vocals with all the right noises. Though not considered one of Sweden's bigger bands domestically, this Gothenburg group has built up a loyal fan base in the United States and beyond. They're tight, loud and eclectic, and as a live band they're absolutely electric.
The Tough Alliance - Koka-Kola Veins
The hits just kept on coming from Gothenburg, as homespun labels pumped out a steady stream of idiosyncratic innovators. The Tough Alliance divided opinion with the thuggish imagery of their baseball-wielding live shows but most were won over by the forward-looking dance music built on a foundation of past greats.
Peter Bjorn and John - Young Folks
Three evergreen figures on the Stockholm gig circuit, Peter Bjorn and John struck international gold with a song prefaced by the catchiest bit of whistling this side of The Dock of The Bay. They couldn't have done it alone though: a good song was made great with the vocal assistance of former voice of The Concretes, Victoria Bergman.
José González/The Knife - Heartbeats
Brother and sister Dreijer, aka The Knife, wrote this finely crafted song, later recorded by Jose González. The Knife's version set dancefloors alight in Sweden but canny González had the last laugh as a million coloured balls tumbled down a hill to the accompaniment of his dulcet tones in a TV ad seen worldwide. Each version is engaging, infectious and worthy of a top ten place. Let's call it a draw and stick them both in...
Bear Quartet - Put Me Back Together
Luleå in the far north of Sweden is home to one of the country's finest indie pop bands. In fact, at one point it seemed everything good in Swedish music was drifting down from colder latitudes, and the Bear Quartet were as prolific as they were consistently excellent songwriters. The output slowed down somewhat in the latter half of the 2000s as singer Mattias Alkberg sidled off on a series of solo ventures that were also marked by the stamp of quality. Below is the video for Ask Me Don't Axe Me, another song from the same album, 2004's Angry Brigade.
Robyn - With Every Heartbeat
Having shot to fame for her part in the soundtrack of Lukas Moodysson's fantastic coming of age drama Fucking Åmål, there seemed a danger that Robyn might be destined for a career of capable but ultimately uninspiring production line pop. When her label hinted that this was in fact the path mapped out for her, the artist took a brave stance and cut the safety net, establishing Konichiwa Records and never looking back. If there were ever doubts about the move, they were swiftly dispelled in 2007 when this collaboration with production wizard Kleerup earned her the top spot in the UK charts.
Listen on Spotify: Top ten Swedish songs of the 2000s