Yesterday saw the unexpected return of one of Sweden’s once biggest stars. Go back some twentyish years and Laila El Khalifi, Leila K, was everywhere.
She was discovered in a rap contest in 1989 by duo Rob’n'Raz who were in the jury. They asked her to do the vocals for a few of their songs, one of which was ‘Got To Get’, pretty much the only song I remember dancing to – apart from Snap! of course – at our “school discos”. (Snap! must have had a pretty good run, three of the four singles they put out in 1990 I remember down to the last syllable).
Since then she’s had a particularly rocky journey, going from superstar to scandal queen to homeless to, well, I don’t know because her activities for the last few years – apart from a random visit to Swedish gay club Mums Mums where she sang two songs – have been mostly speculations.
Anyways, along comes ‘Legendary‘, a track by Petter Wallenberg (one of the organizers behind above mentioned club night), featuring Leila K on vocals. The song opens (and continues) with the line “I’m legendary and you’re not”, taken from the cult-documentary Paris is Burning.
So, in tribute to that theme – not fire or Paris but legends – I thought I’d share with you some other Swedish musical legends, past and present.
As always this is a highly subjective list, just the tip of the iceberg and so I’ve taken the liberty to ignore some of our biggest musical exports.
Not all, mind you. There are still some very familiar faces…
…like this one. One of the two A’s in ABBA: Anni-frid, also known as Frida, here solo with I See Red, in 1982. (Produced by Phil Collins!)
..and the other A too of course: Agnetha with Wrap Your Arms Around Me, one year later.
(Those pants really don’t do her hips any favours eh?).
I am a big fan of Karin Dreijer Andersson (of The Knife and Fever Ray) and this is her old band Honey Is Cool and their single Nach Heart, 1997. They also had Håkan Hellström on drums. Håkan is a long story but in short…
…he also played (drums then bass) in Gothenburg’s finest, Broder Daniel, here Underground (1998) accompanying the closing scene of Lukas Moodysson’s brilliant Show Me Love (which, by the way, has a young Robyn singing over the end credits)…
(Note: HUGE spoiler alert in case you still haven’t come round to watching this film)
…and one of Sweden’s biggest treasures, in my book. Jag är Kär i En Ängel, 2008.
Then there is pop legend, Mauro Scocco, here with his biggest hit, Sarah from 1988 (with much quoted chorus: “Sarah come out tonight, I’ll wait on the corner by 7 Eleven“).
…and the guy on the vespa in the opening of that video is Thomas Eriksson, better known as Orup. (Är Du Redo, 1987, above may not be his finest moment, I think this is, but it’s just such a ridiculously eighties video I couldn’t help myself).
and the last pop man I’ll mention is this guy, the two hit wonder that is Jakob Hellman. Vara Vänner, 1989.
(Best comment on youtube: “Harry Potter can sing”).
Over to Neneh who surely needs no further introduction? Love her. Buffalo Stance, 1989.
…and I’ll end on a neat 10 with the one and only Monica Zetterlund.
Trust me, it’s worth learning Swedish for the lyrics to this, Trubbel (1968), alone.