Countless music industry observers have asked themselves this question: what is it about Sweden that brings out irresistible hooks and sing-along choruses -- in English, no less? For the answer, THR went to the source: the Scandinavian homeland which gave birth to Britney Spears' timeless "... Baby One More Time," Backstreet Boys' "I Want it That Way" and Kelly Clarkson's "Since U Been Gone," among many more chart-topping hits.
Enlisted for the task: Two members of Stockholm's own Peter, Bjorn and John, Björn Yttling and Peter Morén, who offer:
Ten Reasons (Cliches and Rumors) Why Sweden is the World’s Third Largest Pop Music Exporter*
*some more true than others
1. The many illegitimate children of Abba, Robyn, Max Martin, Miike Snow and Peter Bjorn & John.
2. A long tradition of melancholic Scandinavian folk-music-melodies resurrected for more commercial reasons. Or: Yes, we had good pop bands way before internet.
3. Internet. This explosion would never have happened without the new distribution channels & the shrunken (mental) planet. Plus: Sweden's got super fast broadband, making it easier to find songs to rip-off.
4. A-kassa: when you’re out of a job you can still get paid if you actively apply for new jobs. Even if you’re not so active, you can get away with it. That gives you time to practice with your still-not-successful band.
5. Obligatory English lessons in school starting in third grade and no dubbed American TV shows.
6. Another school mandate: first-graders have to play the recorder, which makes everyone real eager to play an actual instrument or quit music. Read: we get rid of wannabes early.
7. Long, cold winters and boredom (and there's no people to disturb while rehearsing).
8. Swedes like to rhyme in English. Like: “Hate to say I told you so / Let's go!”
9. High cheek bones?
10. Hair metal: Most of Sweden’s more commercial pop-masters used to play in hair metal bands. That must be the secret.