You’re definitely into Swedish music – even if you can’t name a single Swedish band post ABBA or a pop star that’s not Robyn. How do we know this for sure? If you’ve found yourself humming any of Taylor Swift’s ear-worms, singing some Rihanna in the shower or tapping an insouciant foot to one of Katy Perry’s biggest chart hits, you’re unofficially a fan of Swedish songwriting.
Swedish producer Max Martin is the well-documented, but limelight-shy, ghostwriter on some of the biggest American pop songs of all time. In fact, his sense of Jantelagen, the Scandinavian disdain for individual celebrity, makes him an ideal puppeteer. Martin, who co-wrote half of Taylor Swift's 1984 album and The Weeknd’s "I Can’t Feel My Face", was also behind Britney Spear’s iconic “ . . . Baby One More Time” and “Oops! . . . I Did It Again” anthems. In fact, Martin's songwriting has made American pop music what it is today, delivering Swift's first number one hit in 2012 with "We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together".
There are a litany of other Swedish hit-makers including Mikkel Eriksen and Tor Hermansen who are behind some of the biggest chart-toppers of the last decade. It might be shocking for all the Beliebers and Navy fan-kids out there, that their idols’ illusion of creative control is maintained by the fig leaf of a songwriting credit, and that their idol's songs are in fact being penned by middle-aged, leather-clad Scandi blokes in plush LA studios.
Thanks be then, to the new guard of Scandinavian pop stars who are stepping into stage centre to bring Swedish music the recognition it evidently deserves. Where does all this talent come from? In part, it may be down to Sweden’s excellent state-sponsored music-education programmes (30% of Swedish schoolchildren go to publicly funded after-school music programmes), maybe there's something ion the meatballs, maybe they just know something we don't. Whatever it is, we're listening... Here's our guide to the best female pop stars coming out of Sweden and Denmark.