So how did Sweden come to the forefront of the global pop movement, rivalling and sometimes even bettering the UK and the US at their own game? Perhaps it lies in the Swedish public's continuing love of pure pop music. The Eurovision Song Contest and it's preceding national final Melodifestivalen are more or less the most watched TV shows in the country every year, with up to half of the population tuning in. The Swedes of course hosted a fantastic Eurovision themselves two months ago after Loreen won with the stunning Euphoria in 2012. The Swedish charts are still full of bubblegum pop, the likes of which faded out of view in other countries years ago. Dansband artists can still score huge hit albums regularly (dansband being a genre of schlager/pop music with country and western and jazz influences), where they would be ridiculed anywhere else.
Looking across to neighbours Norway and Denmark, it's clear that whilst both have produced their fair share of successful international artists - A-Ha, Madcon, Lene Marlin and Röyksopp amongst others for the former and Aqua, Whigfield, The Cartoons, Infernal, Alphabeat and Junior Senior for the latter, they don't have the same global reach that Sweden seem to in general, and their brands of pop seem to be more serious in Norway or more novelty in Denmark, whereas Sweden have the pure joyous power pop genre down to a tee, without coming across as being kitsch in most cases.
It's probably fair to say that ABBA opened the door for Swedish acts to do well globally. After winning the Eurovision Song Contest in Brighton in 1974 with Waterloo, they went from strength to strength to become arguably the second biggest pop band ever worldwide, after The Beatles. 8 of the 20 Swedish chart toppers in the UK are from the super troupers, including classics such as Mamma Mia, Dancing Queen and The Winner Takes It All. Further 80s and 90s Swedish chart toppers in the UK came from Europe, Ace Of Base and Rednex whilst duo Roxette managed four in the US, despite never having one here.
It's since the turn of the century however that Swedish pop has started to dominate once again, in a way not seen since ABBA's glory days. 1999 saw an ABBA resurgence with ABBA Gold going back to No.1, Charlotte Nilsson winning the Eurovision for Sweden with the schlager stomper Take Me To Your Heaven and Westlife and other major pop artists scoring UK chart toppers with Swedish penned songs. In the following years these hits continued with the likes of Gareth Gates, Shayne Ward, Hear'Say and Steps all scoring big hits with songs written by Swedish pop maestros.
The Swedish dance scene has improved greatly over the past decade and in the last decade there have been UK No.1 hits from dance acts Eric Prydz, Basshunter, Shapeshifters (half Swedish), Crazy Frog (yes, Sweden were responsible for that!), Robyn with Kleerup, Swedish House Mafia and Avicii. The latter looks increasingly likely to score his second UK No.1 in quick succession with new single Wake Me Up, which is already dominating charts worldwide and is released in a few weeks in the UK. Icona Pop, a feisty female duo from Stockholm, are just the latest in a long line of Swedish stars hitting the big time abroad. And that's without mentioning those Swedish acts that went global but never managed a UK chart topper - Loreen, Agnes, September, The Cardigans, Roxette, Nena Cherry and her brother Eagle-Eye, Alcazar, Emilia, Sunblock and Andreas Johnson, amongst many others.
Producer RedOne practically revitalised pop music in in the last five years, responsible for global smashes such as Bad Romance, Poker Face, Just Dance, On The Floor, I Like It, Remedy, Fire Burning, Poison, Starships and Pound The Alarm. Swedish artists, songwriters and producers are arguably the third most influential on a global scale, only after those from the US and the UK. A pretty incredible feat for a country tucked away in northern Europe with a population of less than 10 million with no logical reason as to why they should have any more influence than their neighbours other than the fact that they live and breathe pop music, and it shows.