Not Your Average Hit List

© This link for the illustrations.

© Per A.J. Andersson for the texts. Written September 2005, updated November 2011.

Music Up North

In the north of Europe there are ice and snow. And polar bears roam the streets. Everyone knows that. Some people have also heard of a pop group by the name ABBA. I was born in the land where it was formed.

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Sweden is sometimes called the 51st United State. This to point out our willingness to accept and adapt to an English-speaking culture. And we often find it diffucult naming any artist (musical or not) hailing from any neighbouring country. To us Finnish, Danish and Norwegian stuff seem more foreign than the Anglo-Saxon one. Still we are Scandinavians, with a common history and common cultural traits. And languages that we - if we try - can learn to understand (apart from Finnish, which is a whole different ball-game).

Some local artists have even gotten recognition beyond the national borders. By singing in English... During the 80s and 90s, Sweden has changed from being a major music importer to become the number three exporter of music (as measured with royalty income) world-wide, the US and the UK being first and second on that list. A good command of English and lots of musical inspiration from immigrants is only a part of that story.

But this is not the place for such a story. Instead I'll content with showing some artists that have followed me around inside my head during the years – besides Gina Jacobi and Stina Nordenstam...


Formed: 1979 (Stockholm, Sweden)
Disbanded: (1985)
Members (1983): Nike Nojja, Kajsa Grytt, Malena Jönsson, Liten Falkenholm

My discovery: 1983

An all-female new-wave outfit who combined the punk-era energy with an intimate and emotional approach, presenting songs which oozed with both longing and pride. The former group members launched solo careers after 1983, Kajsa Grytt being the most successful of them.


Formed: 1978 (Sweden)
Members (1979): Lorne Munthe de Wolfe, Ingrid Munthe, Claes Palmqvist and Dick Hansson.

My discovery: late '70s

With its roots in the Swedish folk movement of the early 70s ("Contact", "Vargen"...), HdWU developed as a more stream-lined outfit. A studio group with jazz-scented pop tunes performed in Swedish only (featuring gentle and personal lyrics) and geared towards a grown-up audience.


Formed: 1973 (Sweden)
Members: Tomas Adolphson and Anders Falk

My discovery: 1982

Quite alike the HdWU type of adult pop sung in Swedish. Only with a bit more synthesizers in the mix. A studio production duo filling the Swedish airwaves in the 80s with hits such as "Blinkar blå" and "Mer jul".

Born: 19?? (Sweden)
My discovery: 1985

This founder-member of the Swedish-Norwegian folk-rock group "Folk & Rackare" made a stunningly good solo record in 1985. It combined covers of Fairport Convention songs with exciting originals, arranged and played in a more rockish style.


Born: 1960 (Umeå, Sweden)
First album: 1978

My discovery: c. 1986

One of the major Swedish pop/rock names during the 80s and 90s, she started out as a teenager singing her own folk-oriented pop. Although presenting an almost flamboyant public persona, Eva's private life was indeed kept private. Her marriage to fellow artist Efva Attling in 1996 eventually let her speak and sing about life with a renewed force and clarity.


Born: 1953 (Århus, Denmark)
First album: 1975

My discovery: late '80s

The grand old lady of Danish rock music started out as a folk singer, subsequently encompassing many bands and lots of the other big names on the Danish scene along the way. In the 80s she experimented with a hard-edge rap-funk music and the group Marquis de Sade.


Formed: 1982 (Gnosjö, Sweden)
Members (1988): Arne Johansson, Mats Johansson, Sam Johansson and Uno Svenningsson

My discovery: late '80s

With their finely crafted pop songs of faith, doubt and love, this group eventually made it big in 1988. In the early 90s Uno Svenningsson's trademark warm and husky voice went solo, continuing his own career in a very similar style.


Formed: 1987 (Stockholm, Sweden)
Members (1990): Alexander Bard, Jean-Pierre Barda and Camilla Henemark

My discovery: 1990

This dance music outfit, the most successful of Alexander Bard's many projects, was/is patently vulgar, politically suspect, shrouded in non-factual rumours - yet a visual feast with a kick-ass attitude and some really good melodies.

Born: 1965 (Reykjavik, Iceland)
First solo album: 1977

My discovery: 1993

This original and uncompromising rock singer debuted as a recording artist already at age 12. Surrounded by music, she was part of group the Sugarcubes before making it big - internationally - with her "Debut" album in 1993.

Regina LUND

Born: 1967 (Vasa, Finland)
First album: 1997

My discovery: late '90s

With multiple TV appearances, film roles and theatrical productions to her belt, Regina Lund's musical career is but one of her many artistic experiences. Her often soft yet firm singing style has found its best match in Johan Norberg's music, composed in a style reminiscent of Rickie Lee Jones. Regina's own compositions carry a more distinct hard edge.


Born: (1979?) (Finland)
First album: 2001

My discovery: c. 2002

As a young rock singer and guitarist covering all her own material, she came as the big revelation of 2001 (in Finland, that is). Her energetic yet harmonious style lends to comparisons with similar names such as Sam Brown and k d lang.


Formed: 1994 (Bergen, Norway)
Members: Inger Lise Størksen, Christine Sandtorv and Jannicke Larsen

My discovery: 2003

An all-female trio hailing from the west of Norway, they nowadays successfully manages their own record label. Their happy and sweet compositions have won hearts both in faraway Japan and back home (multiple wins of the Spellemann Prize).
Not Your Average Hit List 43 minutes... Alla är Ambition Consequences Door to Door The Dreaming Dzien i noc État d'urgence In the Spirit of Things Kaze no tani no Naushika Lights in the Night Martwa woda Nuit d'amour Once in a Million Open Door People Are Strange The Royal Scam Stationary Traveller Victim of Love Whore Music Up North Music Out West Music Far East Music Down South Films I Like a Lot Comic or Not On and Off TV About Me There's so much more out there ...