True story: here at the West Coast Sound Headquarters we have a whiteboard where we write down story ideas and one of the items for a while has been "Sweden: WHY?"
We're truly puzzled about all these Scandinavian acts that sing in English and their friends, the frosted-tipped producers who have stealthily taken over a good chunk of US pop.
That's right: while the rest of the world was busy making fun of ABBA (and ABBA was busy counting the cash that was pouring in from the "ironic" ABBA tribute bands), the Swedes created a Volvo-quality (ie, durable, kind of boring) music factory that churns out everything from the people who make beats for every conceivable Disney popette to "indie" acts that get pimped by Jason "Soothing Sounds for Liberals" Bentley week in week out (memo to self: write on whiteboard "The Tallest Man on Earth: WHY?").
And then there's the missing link between Benny and Bjorn and Max Martin: Ace of Motherfucking Base.
We were wondering where they had gone and why the supremely canny Jonas "Joker" Berggren (the sketchy Aryan one) and his buddy Ulf "Buddha" Ekberg (the odd-looking Joey Fatonesque one) weren't cashing in amidst all this covert Swedomania.
Well--they're back! They've disposed of the two female singers (who had committed the horrible, unforgivable mistake of aging at exactly the same rate as Joker and Buddah) and they've released a new single with two younger Fergie-like creatures.
To celebrate the return of this inexplicably successful Swedish nightmare (go to any wedding anywhere in the world and see what happens when the guy controlling the iTunes playlist busts out "The Sign") we have collected a handy list of
Top Ten Bizarre Facts* About Ace of Base
10. Ace of Base was originally called Tech Noir, which is not a very appropriate name if you heard the kind of pop Joker an Buddah like to make. Tech Noir was a nightclub in Terminator, apparently. Thus, James Cameron is partially to blame for Ace of Base.
9. Ace of Base was renamed Ace of Base because Joker thought they were the best in the studio and the studio was his base and the ace is the best card. Seriously. (Swenglish is an unexplored field for those amused by Engrish. Look up the story behind the title of "Hit Me Baby One More Time" if you doubt it. It has to do with Swenglish and pagers.)
* And by "facts" we mean satire!
8. Joker started off as a punk/harcore/New Wave guy but by the time Ace of Base got on the charts his musical vision had morphed into a pop-reggae sound. Yes. Reggae. Listen carefully.
7. Much like the Osmonds and the Beach Boys, Ace of Base was originally a family act. Joker's sisters Linn and Jenny were the two girls from the original lineup who were recently replaced by younger clones.
6. Ace of Base broke big in Europe in 1992/1993 with an album called Happy Nation. Never heard of it? That's because Arista's Clive Davis, the Godfather of US Radio Pop in the '80s, made them rerecord part of it and add new material to re-release it stateside as The Sign.
5. The Sign (1994) is listed among the Top 100 Bestselling Albums of All Time by the RIAA. If you know any ladies in their mid-to-late 30s right now, look inside the drawer where they keep the crap they don't want around the house yet can't bear to throw away and you'll find a smudgy-covered CD of it from the Columbia Record Club. Also, Goodwill (if said ladies die young or some crackhead jacked their CD collection).
4. During their heyday, they were credited with bringing reggae (yes, reggae) back to the charts and were even invited to play in Bob Marley tributes.
3. Oh, the Nazi thing. People had noticed "Happy Nation" (the song) featured some peculiar lyrics:
laudate omnes gentes laudate
magnificat in secula
et anima mea laudate
magnificat in secula translated:
(praise, all people praise)
(the greatest in all time)
(and praise my soul)
(the greatest in all time)
happy nation living in a happy nation
where the people understand
and dream of the perfect man
a situation leading to sweet salvation
for the people for the good
for mankind brotherhood
we're travelling in time
They seemed bizarre though harmless, until some tabloids started publishing stories that in his youth Ulf "Buddha" Ekberg had been connected to a Swedish Nationalist party that was more than a little Nazi-onalist. When the scandal threatened Ace of Base's career, Buddha acknowledged the involvement and issued an apology (for his actions, not of Nazism).
2. Paradoxically, the Nazi rumors gained new respect for Ace of Base from little right-wing shitheads. Check out the comments on this video for Buddha's early jam, a sort of Swedish reggae Louie Louie for the master race:
You don't need more than basic Swedish to translate: "Länge leve National-socialismen =)" (smiley emoticon included)
1. Oh, the new song: it's called "Mr. Replay." It sucks ass. It's like they're trying to re-invent the lambada with basic ProTools
The lyrics are brilliant Swenglish poetry, though:
Hey, Mr. Replay, I like your inner vision
But there's too much competition for me
Hey, Mr. Replay, ease up and try to listen
You're not on television
This bird has flown away
Na na na...You're lost in your illusion
If Mr. Replay is a figure for Hitler (
as it very clearly is), this could mean Buddha is rejecting his Nazi past once and for all, even if he might still be enamoured of the Fuhrer's "inner vision." Or something.