Swedish teen bags summer’s hottest song

What was your summer anthem? Swedish teenager Zara Larsson's track 'Lush Life' was the most played on Spotify across Sweden, the streaming site has revealed.

Swedish teen bags summer's hottest song
Swedish teenager Zara Larsson performing at Bråvalla festival this summer. Photo: Pontus Lundahl/TT
Former talent contest star Zara Larsson, 17, set the charts on fire with her latest track, which went straight to number one in her home country in June and went on to clock up more than 1.5 million hits on YouTube.
The Stockholm-born singer's hit was also the most-streamed song by Swedish subscribers of Spotify between June 1st and August 31st, the music company revealed on Thursday.
If Larsson's name doesn't sound familiar, 'Lush Life' almost certainly will if you've spent any time listening to Swedish radio or in bars and clubs over the past few months, thanks to its catchy lyrics and distinctive whistle sample. The Local's resident music guru Paul Connolly has even suggested that the teenager could be described as a Nordic Rihanna.
Spotify's streaming figures put two other Swedish artists in focus, with superstar Avicii's hit 'Waiting for Love' the second-most streamed track of the summer, closely followed by the more divisive club anthem 'Shots & squats' by newcomers Vigiland.
The biggest non-Swedish song of the season, measured by Spotify streams was 'Lean on', which combines the work of American group Major Lazer and French producer DJ Snake and features vocals from Danish singer MØ. 
Spotify, which was launched in Stockholm in 2008, is the biggest music streaming site in the world and has more than 60 million users. But it has faced strong criticism from some singers, including Taylor Swift, who argue that it should give a larger slice of its income to artists.
Sweden – which has a population of under ten million – is the third largest exporter of music in the world, just behind the US and the UK.
The most-streamed tracks of summer 2015 in Sweden

1. Zara Larsson – Lush Life

 2. Avicii – Waiting for Love

3. Vigiland – Shots & squats

4. Axwell ^ Ingrosso – Sun is shinning

5. Major Lazer (feat. Mo and DJ Snake) – Lean on

6. Jakob Karlberg – Damn good

7. Lost Frequencies – “Are you with me”

8. Samir & Viktor – Saxofuckingfon

9. Felix Jaehn – Aint nobody (loves me better)

10. Otto Knows – Next to Me


Is football next for Spotify’s billionaire CEO? 

The owner of Spotify, Daniel Ek, has offered to buy Premier League club Arsenal amid supporter backlash against their unpopular American owner, Stan Kroenke.

Arsenal play to an empty stadium
Spotify's owner has set his sights on Arsenal. Photo: Adrian Dennis/AFP

Spotify’s billionaire CEO, Daniel Ek, who revolutionised on-demand music listening for millions of people now hopes to bring his business acumen to “the beautiful game”.

The 38-year-old, known for his no-nonsense attitude, has offered to buy Premier League club Arsenal amid supporter backlash against unpopular American owner Stan Kroenke.

Ek co-founded Spotify with Martin Lorentzon in 2006, and the company which made its debut on the New York Stock Exchange in 2018 now has a market capitalisation of $56 billion.

The Swedish billionaire 

Bald, bearded and usually seen in sneakers, T-shirt and a blazer, Ek is known for his reserved style and pragmatism. He’s a shy problem-solver with a creative streak who takes long walks to think things through and prizes collective teamwork over the individual.

Ek got into computer programming as a young child, and was a dollar millionaire by the age of 23 when he sold his online advertising company, Advertigo, in 2006 for a reported $1.25 million.

“But he’s more of a businessman than a tech nerd,” Sven Carlsson, co-author of “The Spotify Play”, told AFP, painting him as a visionary.

“He’s always thinking six months ahead. He’s not into the details. He’s known for having ambitious, lofty goals, with no understanding for how unrealistic they are,” he said.

“He thinks big, and he has patience” to see those projects through to fruition.

Ek was raised in Stockholm’s working-class suburb of Rågsved. His father left the family when Daniel was young.

“He’s always had something to prove… Being left by his dad was a formative experience,” Carlsson said.

Pelle Snickars, co-author of “The Swedish Unicorn: the Story About Spotify”, describes Ek as “quite Swedish in terms of values”.

“We don’t see him on magazine covers alongside celebrities, he’s not hierarchical and does not hesitate to showcase his collaborators,” Snickars told AFP.

With around 9 percent of Spotify’s capital and 37 percent of voting rights, Forbes put Ek’s fortune at an estimated $4.8 billion in April 2021.

“Innovations are never entirely new”

In 2006, Ek and Lorentzon came up with the idea of creating a platform to distribute music online legally, a practice that was dominated by illegal file sharing sites at the time.

The duo experimented with sharing MP3 music files between the hard drives on their computers. In October 2008 Spotify was finally ready to go live after Ek pleaded with music labels to open their catalogues.

“Innovations are never entirely new,” Ek told the Royal Institute of Technology (KTH) in Stockholm during a 2013 visit.

“The success comes from combining things that already exist and trying to solve a problem that one is really involved in,” he added.

Ek reportedly dropped out of the university’s engineering programme to pursue an IT career – though his enrolment at the school has never been proven, Carlsson noted.

He said Ek’s former colleagues nicknamed him “Spice.”

“They thought he always spiced up his stories a little to make them more interesting,” Carlsson said, adding that it wasn’t necessarily a bad thing.

“Storytelling is something Spotify and Daniel Ek have always been good at.”

Football next? 

Ek’s perseverance may have led to the remarkable rise of the start-up, but artists have over the years complained of it paying them too little and cannibalising sales from their albums.

Ek has repeatedly argued that streaming is a better alternative for artists and that “piracy doesn’t pay (them) a penny – nothing, zilch, zero.”

Snickars and co-author Rasmus Fleischer dispute the idea that Spotify was founded to end piracy and force consumers to pay for music.

They claim that neither Ek nor Lorentzon “had any experience with working professionally with music”, but they had a common background from digital advertising.

“They weren’t particularly interested in music…they could have worked on skin products instead,” Snickars told AFP.

Now, Ek is ready to dive into the football arena.

“As a kid growing up, I’ve cheered for Arsenal as long as I can remember. If KSE [Kroenke Sports Enterprises] would like to sell Arsenal I’d be happy to throw my hat in the ring,” Ek wrote on Twitter on April 23.

Kroenke has however insisted Arsenal is not for sale, despite growing supporter unrest at the American billionaire’s ownership of the club, whose last Premier League title came in 2003/04.

Article by AFP’s Pia Ohlin.