09 March 2009

Pop! Straight Out of Scandinavia

When it comes to our choices of music, we all have guilty pleasures. During my formative years, I was a huge New Kids on the Block fan. I tortured my parents to purchase every poster, cassette tape (yes, it was that long ago), and piece of merchandise I could get my hands on. My love of NKOTB even helped me to become elected to my intermediate school student council. However, as time moved on, so did my taste in music. By the time high school arrived, I had abandoned pop music in exchange for alternative bands like Nirvana and Depeche Mode.

As Disney powerhouses The Jonas Brothers, Miley Cyrus, and the High School Musical gang take the youth by storm, I often wonder what type of music their listeners will tune into next. Not being a huge fan of the “emo” genre, I hope that many reformed Radio Disney listeners will turn to the sweet sounds of indie pop. Independent pop music is steadily trickling into the mainstream, with exposure ranging from iPod commercials to prominent spots in teen dramas. Leading the charge of the indie pop invasion is a group of artists who have descended from the North with world domination in mind.

With increasingly more complex lyrics, catchy hooks, and hand claps, Scandinavian pop artists are taking the musical world by storm. The infectious beats and joyous refrains that have infiltrated the contemporary Scandinavian pop world is reminiscent of disco favorites Abba. The trademark sound of Abba consisted of cheesy, synthesized melodies that were infused with slightly ominous lyrics. Following in their footsteps, artists such as Alphabeat, Lykke Li, and Peter, Bjorn, and John are creating the soundtrack for a new generation of dancing queens.

As a sucker for hand claps and whistling, I could not resist the Peter, Bjorn, and John gem Young Folks. Young Folks, like many great pop songs, makes me want to jump out of my seat and start dancing. After listening to the album Writer's Block, it is easy for me to see that they were able to achieve what many pop artists' continuously strive for. Many critics, however, have viewed Peter, Bjorn, and John as a one hit wonder that has yet to deliver another song as successful as Young Folks.

With a co-opted eighties sound, Alphabeat is swiftly becoming one of my favorite pop groups. Their debut album, This is Alphabeat, features songs that would set the perfect backdrop for the upcoming revival production of Fame. The single Fascination brings to mind crowded school halls, acrobatic dancers, and bespectacled schoolteachers. Although the song Public Image is intended to be a commentary on the trappings of stardom, it is easy to envision a cheerleader who longs for life after secondary education. The icing on the cake is Fantastic Six, which features an enthusiastic chorus and handclaps. Check out the video for Fascination and more about Lykke Li, after the jump.

My boyfriend has a word for female artists with voices like Lykke Li: precious. Upon hearing her breakout song, Dance Dance Dance, I was quick to dismiss Lykke Li as just another cutesy pop star trying to coo her way to the top. Then, I heard the single Breaking it Up from the album Youth Novels. Dark and filled with edgy lyrics, Breaking it Up sets the tone for other songs on the album. As demonstrated during her mtvU performance, Lykke Li is perfectly capable of playing a woman on the verge of self destruction. Hailing from Sweden her quirky style is more remisicent of German electronica artist Ellen Allien.

As eighties music makes a huge comeback, I realize that I have missed listening to The Right Stuff while jumping around in Wigwam socks. Although, Scandinavian pop is not New Kids on the Block, it satisfies my craving for pop. As for my transition to Depeche Mode, my love of Dave Gahan and company inadvertently led me to my current boyfriend. Upon seeing him in a black Violator tee shirt, I knew I needed to talk to him. Afterall, we shared a guilty pleasure.

Fantastic Six-Alphabeat
Public Image-Alphabeat

No comments:

Post a Comment