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Sweden shares the tradition of Nordic folk dance music with its neighbouring countries, including polka, schottische, waltz, polska and mazurka. The accordion, clarinet, fiddle and nyckelharpa are among the most common Swedish folk instruments. This instrumental genre is the biggest one in Swedish traditional music. In the 1960s, Swedish youth sparked a roots revival in Swedish folk culture. Many joined Spelmanslag (folk musicians' clubs) and performed on mainstream radio and TV. They focused on instrumental polska music, with vocals and influences from other traditional genres becoming more prominent since the 1990s.

Since the fifties Swedish popmusic made a start with the instrumental surfband The Spotnicks from Göteborg who were founded on 1957. They were joined by local rock ‘n roll hero Jerry Williams and beatgroups like the Hep Stars and Tages. Later on the Hep Stars will ad members to Svenne & Lotta as well as to Abba. But before Abba hits the international music scene there is a political influenced folkmusic at the start of the sixties working through in the seventies. This music scene is known as Progg (not to be confused with progressive rock). It was a movement that was influenced by the hippie ideals and mixed them with left wing ideology. They mixed folklore with rock and pop. Groups like International Harvester, Träd, Gräs och Stenar and singers like Mikael Wihle, Björn Afzelius and Ulf Dageby openly criticized the war in Vietnam and other social and political mishaps. Their highpoint was in 1970 with the two day festival Diaphragm i Stockholm. Though not keen on commercial labels a number of artists who often tend to belong to progg movement moved during the seventies to a commercial record label. Artists like John Holmes, Ola Magnell, Peps Persson, Mikael Ramel, Bernt Staf, Hoola Bandoola Band, and Lasse Tennander gained some broader recognition this way. Young singer Ulf Lundell wasn't even picked up by the progg labels but turned out to be the Bruce Springsteen of Sweden and start a career in the Seventies that would span four decades.

But then in 75 Abba wins the Eurovision. With ABBA, Sweden entered into a new era, in which Swedish pop music gained international prominence after winning the 1974 Eurovision Song Contest. They sold a total of 380 million records around the world, making them the second-most successful group ever, after The Beatles and continue to sell 3000[minimum] albums a year worldwide. Abba turned to be a blessing and a curse for the swedish popmsic scene. It seems that everything was and is still related to the blueprint that Abba laid out. To the still active Progg movement, kicking against commercial sell out of Swedish culture, Abba's succes was a abomination. It drove singer Ulf Dageby to record the protest single 'Doin' the omoralisk schlagerfestival' under the name "Sillstryparn". Singer Magnus Uggla didn’t bother at all about the ABBA influence and made his own style of glamrock based rock ‘n roll. And some Swedish easy listening/contemporary groups and artists who are not as well-known internationally but are recognized in Sweden include Peter Jöback, Lill-Babs Svensson, Ted Gärdestad, Gyllene Tider, Helen Sjöholm, and Patrik Isaksson

In the eighties there were forming more exceptions. There are the Cardigans and Roxette who score international recognition and still have a individual style. Although maybe Roxette has that Abba feel it’s the solo and swedish sung work of Marie Frederikson that stands out as an individual catalogue. Her sister counterpart who evolves a strong artistic and individual pop-style during her career is Eva Dahlgren. Electronic new romantics music is made by the duo Ratata. Later its singer Mauro Scocco would have a successful solo career as a performing artists and as a songwriter for other artists like Irma Schultz. MOR-rock in Swedish is picked at the start of this decade by Niklas Strömstedt, Orup and Dan Tillberg. An alternative band that does make a convincing career in the nineties with Swedish languaged rock is Kent. The darker side of pop and rock is explored by Joakim Thåström. First with a punk-vibe in bands like Ebba Grön and Imperiet. From the nineties he builds and impressive solo-carreer on dark bluesrock. But it is the dancemusic scene that gets the most international recognition. Acts like Ace of Base, Army of Lovers Dr. Alban and Leila K score huge hits at the start of the nineties. Later followed by trance act Antiloop and downtempo of the Knife. In the new age singers like Robyn, Petra Marklund and Veronica Maggio form the new generation of popular singers.

In fact one might say that the Swedish popscene needed to dig into the extreme to escape from the Abba millstone. They found it in death and doommetal for instance. Within our definition of popular European music groups like Candlemass, Entombed, Meshuggah and Opeth cannot stay unnamed in this overview. For instance Opeth's dominant style of music is metal, but the band combines their genre with folk, jazz, and blues influences that grab bag to the Nordic folk dance music. Less extreme but more mixing psychedelic progrock with Scandinavian folk and Swedish lyrics is Gustav Ejstes' group Dungen.

Other artists left of the mainstream that must be named here are singer Stina Nordenstam and folk group Hedningarna. The first because of with her distinctive, breathy manor of singing she is without a doubt typical for the Scandinavian countries. The latter for mixing electronics and rock with elements from old Scandinavian folk music. Their music features Yoik or juoiggus, a traditional Sami form of song





 

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