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Nordic popular music

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Nordic popular music, also referred to as Scandinavian popular music, includes pop and rock music of the Nordic countries. The musical scene is known for its biggest bands like ABBA, Roxette, A-ha, Michael Learns to Rock, Ace of Base, and Aqua. These are by far the biggest non-metal acts to come out of Sweden, Norway and Denmark.

The popular music of the Nordic countries exhibits great diversity. Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden[1] have all had successful domestic record industries for many years. Because Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania were under Soviet control for several decades after World War II, at the time when recording technology and popular music spread around the world, those three countries have in the recent past had a more tenuous connection with the popular industries of Finland, Sweden and the rest. In the 21st century, however, Western popular music (particularly popular music from United Kingdom and United States, as well as more "local" music from other Nordic nations) has continued to gain audiences in the whole Nordic and Baltic region.

The Nordic metal scene is highly visible compared to other genres from the region. Many big names such as Dimmu Borgir, Lordi, Mercyful Fate, Blind Channel, Skálmöld, Hamferð, Mnemic, Opeth, Meshuggah, Children of Bodom, Amon Amarth, Lamori from Åland and to an extent Estonia's Metsatöll—if considering Estonia as Nordic, hail from Nordic nations. Nordic or Scandinavian metal bands have had a long and lasting influence on the metal subculture alongside their counterparts in Great Britain and The United States.

Nordic number-one hits on the Billboard Hot 100[edit]

Year Artist Song Country
1974 Blue Swede "Hooked on a Feeling" Sweden
1977 ABBA "Dancing Queen"
1985 A-ha "Take On Me" Norway
1989 Roxette "The Look" Sweden
"Listen to Your Heart"
1990 "It Must Have Been Love"
1991 "Joyride"
1994 Ace of Base "The Sign"

Nordic number-one singles in the UK[edit]

Year Artist Song Country
1974 ABBA "Waterloo" Sweden
1976 "Mamma Mia"
"Dancing Queen"
1977 "Knowing Me, Knowing You"
"The Name of the Game"
1978 "Take a Chance on Me"
1980 "The Winner Takes It All"
"Super Trouper"
1986 A-ha "The Sun Always Shines on TV" Norway
Europe "The Final Countdown" Sweden
1993 Ace of Base "All That She Wants"
1994 Whigfield "Saturday Night" Denmark
1995 Rednex "Cotton Eye Joe" Sweden
Cher, Chrissie Hynde and Neneh Cherry with Eric Clapton "Love Can Build a Bridge" United States, Sweden and United Kingdom
1997 Aqua "Barbie Girl" Denmark / Norway
1998 "Doctor Jones"
"Turn Back Time"
2000 A1 "Take on Me" United Kingdom / Norway
"Same Old Brand New You"
2004 Eric Prydz "Call On Me" Sweden
2005 Crazy Frog "Axel F"
2007 Robyn with Kleerup "With Every Heartbeat"
2008 Basshunter "Now You're Gone"
2012 Swedish House Mafia featuring John Martin "Don't You Worry Child"
2013 Avicii with Nicky Romero "I Could Be the One" Sweden and The Netherlands
Icona Pop featuring Charli XCX "I Love It" Sweden and United Kingdom
Avicii "Wake Me Up" Sweden
2014 Nico & Vinz "Am I Wrong" Norway
2016 Lukas Graham "7 Years" Denmark
Major Lazer featuring Justin Bieber and "Cold Water" USA, Canada and Denmark
2017 Clean Bandit featuring Zara Larsson "Symphony" United Kingdom and Sweden

Some notable artists by country[edit]


Faroe Islands[edit]




By 2016, Norway had the 20th largest global music market.[2][3] Currently four Norwegian artists have achieved a Top 10 placement on the Billboard Hot 100, including A-ha's "Take On Me" which went to 1st place in 1985, Ylvis' "The Fox" which went to 6th place in 2013, Nico & Vinz's "Am I Wrong" which went to 4th place in 2014, and Kygo's "It Ain't Me" which went to 10th place in 2017.


Further reading[edit]

  • White, John David; Christensen, Jean, eds. (2002). New Music of the Nordic Countries. Pendragon Press. ISBN 1-57647-019-9.
  • Holt, Fabian; Kärjä, Antti-Ville, eds. (2017). The Oxford Handbook of Popular Music in the Nordic Countries. New York: Oxford University Press.