The business world is ablaze with talk about Spotify. The Swedish streaming service, which has become popular all over the world, is about to take its place on the stock market, giving people an idea of just how big it is. Since it first appeared on computers in 2008, Spotify has changed the way we listen to music and the way artists interact with their fans. As a service from Sweden, it has an excellent catalogue of Swedish music ranging from artists with worldwide followings to up-and-coming stars and artists adored in Sweden but little known outside of Scandinavia’s biggest counties. Here are 10 Swedish artists to listen to on Spotify.
Arguably Sweden’s most popular current artist, Zara Larsson has managed to hit the mainstream while seemingly remaining the cool and down-to-earth person who first hit the charts back in 2013 at the tender age of 15. She first became famous in Sweden after winning Talang, the Swedish version of ‘Got Talent’ in 2008 at the age of 10. Unlike other talent-show winners, she can be remembered for more than just winning a TV show and has won a number of Grammis (Sweden’s biggest musical awards) for her ability to make interesting and well-developed pop music.
Known across the world for their wonderful pop music, which, for many, first came to their attention during the Eurovision song contest. In those days, winning Eurovision was the kind of thing that could launch careers into the stratosphere, and the fact ABBA won made them European and then global stars. Reports vary about how many records the group sold, but it is in the hundreds of millions. They are still one of the most famous things about Sweden and die-hard fans are still hoping for a reunion.
A real up-and-coming star of Swedish music, comfortable writing and recording in both Swedish and English, though the majority of her music is in English. She recently featured on the New York Times list of ‘10 Songs You Need to Hear’ and she has won a number of awards in Sweden. She was born in Stockholm, but her father was a very successful artist in the Gambia and this has added to her wide range of influences. Her beautiful brand of soul-pop is well worth listening to.
Despite singing almost exclusively in Swedish, Dungen has managed to have an incredible influence on the music world. Both Tame Impala and Fleet Foxes have cited the group as influences. Dungen has managed to play festivals across the world despite people in many countries being unable to understand their lyrics. They make beautifully crafted psych-rock, which can easily be listened to even if you don’t understand the words. They were even featured on Late Night with Conan O’Brien – such is their influence.
Hakan Hellstrom might not be a name that many non-Swedes recognise, however within Sweden, he is one of the most popular and universally loved musicians ever. His tours across the country are always sold out and he draws massive crowds. He is particularly associated with his home city of Gothenburg and when Coldplay came to the city, they covered one of his songs, to huge cheers from the crowd. He even had a film made that was set to his music about growing up in Gothenburg.
Imam is a Swedish rapper and is part of a collective alongside another Swedish hip-hop musician Erik Lundin and rapper Cherrie. Silvana is hugely talented and has made several excellent records. She was born in Lithuania to a Lithuanian mother and Syrian father before moving to Sweden. You can hear the melding of cultures and influences in her music. She performs in Swedish but her flow and music are worth listening to, even if you cannot understand the lyrics.
Tove Lo makes pop music, but it isn’t your classic happy, run-of-the-mill pop music. It is much more multi-faceted and darker than the classic chart-topping hits of today. She has supported a number of massive artists, including Coldplay, Katy Perry and Maroon 5. Rolling Stone magazine once famously dubbed her, “Sweden’s darkest pop export,” while Out magazine called her, “the world’s most brutally honest pop star.” This is because a great deal of her work is autobiographical and covers themes ranging from having her heart broken to making mistakes.
Swedes have something they like to call “Schlager” music. It’s the kind of cheesy music that everyone pretends to hate but deep down they secretly love. It is music which, when put on at parties, everyone sings along to and often cannot wait to hear. Carola is a great example of this kind of music, and her debut album is one of the highest selling albums in the history of Swedish music. She, like Abba, became famous to the world in winning Eurovision but never quite managed to have the same levels of success as them. She is, though, beloved throughout Sweden and many Swedes know every word of her most popular songs.
Often seen as Sweden’s premier rocker, Thastrom has managed to stay popular and relevant for over 40 years and has taken the well-trodden path from energetic and confident upstart to elder statesman. He is best known for his stints in two Swedish bands, Ebba Gron and Imperiet, but his solo career has also been very impressive. He has recorded both in Swedish and English and sounds great in both.
Cherrie is one of the most exciting and freshest Swedish artists and is taking the charts by storm. She has even managed to secure collaborations with some very exciting performers. She currently sings solely in Swedish but that didn’t stop Stormzy from working with her. The two got together to work on the same track and made “Aldrig Igen” which means “never again”. In an interview with radar radio, she noted that she does plan on making a whole project in English but for now, it is worth checking out her excellent Swedish stuff.