Swedish pop presents an interesting conundrum — or, more accurately, a series of interesting conundrums — for American music fans. Older Swedish pop stars (like ABBA or Roxette) are often portrayed as kitschy guilty pleasures, but they’re also foundational icons whose influence continues to be felt in contemporary pop. Meanwhile, current Swedish pop stars, from buzzy diva Icona Pop to pop princess Niki & the Dove to pop punk vixens Sahara Hotnights to synth-poppers The Sounds, find rabid fans among indie-inclined American audiences who might not give their domestic counterparts the time of day should they come across them on a Top 40 shuffle somewhere.
Meanwhile, artists like dance pop diva Robyn and winsome pop ingenue Lykke Li — serious stars in Stockholm (and throughout Europe) who are, stylistically speaking, the kissing cousins of yourGagas and your Rihannas — can’t get onto the radar of American mainstream pop fans to save their single-making lives. In the interest of pop music diplomacy, then, and in honor of Niki & the Dove’s delightful debut album, we present this smorgasbord of Swedish pop, a playlist designed to whet the appetites of American pop fans — and satiate the cravings of die-hard Scando-philes.