Saturday, 6 February 2010

Top 20 Ace of Base

These gloomy sods have released some of the best 90s pop music, and now that both Linn and Jenny have officially pissed off, here is a quick run down of their best tracks.

01. The Sign
Linn's unmistakably constipated gurning and gloomy deadpan 'eurika' lyrics are oddly uplifting. As a 9 year old I was 'OMG obsessed' with this song. It was the first single I bought, and I totally was in love with Ulf (and, yes, I still would). Amazing to think this was a US #1.

02. Life Is A Flower

Seemingly coming from nowhere, I never expected a comeback from these guys - the video was horrendous and yet its melody attracts all the attention away from it, completely sweeping you of your feet. This one really flies.

03. Never Gonna Say I'm Sorry

'I am like a clown and I know I'm not normal' kind of rings true with me - I know what it's like to ingratiate myself without many people noticing what I am doing, all the while second-guessing yourself as to who the joke is even on. Ahh well, I'm self-obsessed and love singing the defiant lyrics, and the melody is their strongest along with The Sign. Their nasal, bleeding vocal style is extremely strong here. I am pretty sure they are aiming to be self-deprecating, but you just can never tell with these guys.

04. Travel To Romantis

A criminal flop and 'too European' for their British label to pass a UK release for. The bridge is their best (oddly that album wasn't a concept record). The best dance track off Flowers, or the only one rather.

05. Blooming 18

Just divine, at moments I feel it is the best they ever recorded. A naff rap can't even hinder it's progress, the dual-bleeding vocal and celtic hippy bits are stunning, plus I love hearing anyone rap 'c'mon wash your mouth, c'mon wash your mouth' at the best of times.

06. All That She Wants

We all know this one. Despite not having aged very well, I still remember singing this in class all day back in the day. It was all over the radio like AIDS in an 80s gay club in Nigeria and I for one was taking notice.

07. Cecilia
I won't go there with the concept of the track, but this is one of their most boyuant melodies and yet another missed opportunity for a single from their career-best Flowers album.

08. Don't Turn Around

After the arousing 'I will survive' talky bit the song might not quite keep up the excitement, but low and behold 'walk out that door, see if I care, go on and go' goes and tops it. Sad and gorgeous, it is not until 1998's Don't Walk Away that they revisit the avenue of MOR balladry with any success.

09. Beautiful Life
Top 20 in the UK after their unbelievable success previously was disappointing, especially when the track is so pulsating and rampantly serious about life being wonderful.

10. Young & Proud

The most emphatic they ever did sound, with the guitars and gutsy beat making it their most unlfinching dancefloor pursuit. The wailing chorus sneers about how good it is to be young and stuff about 'anyway you do it boy'.

11. Dr. Sun
Slinky vocal sections that just slide onto the next hook, with a glistening guitar chorus that requires sunglasses it's so shiny. This was my summer of 2007 cycling song - apparantly there is an 'in joke' regarding the lyric, at which point you just want to scream at them for not telling such is their need to allow us to find them remmotely funny.

12. Tokyo Girl

Ahh yes, another dance track from Flowers. I lied. I just forgot. This should have been a single - it even beats Danny's similarly themed single, which itself was amazing anyway.

13. Da Capo

The title track from an album that following the exuberance of Flowers 5 years later just felt far too vanilla for my liking: this was the only song that could justify their claim that the album was a return to the vintage Ace of Base sound.

14. Lucky Love

Following a UK top 20 with another one proves my point that they still had a fan base worth exploiting in the UK, but whatever. Life Is A Flower might be a re-write of this, but both are bright and gloomy and infinitely seductive.

15. Always 21

Continuing where they left off with Flowers, my furstration at their record company not releasing this is higher than Kerry Katona having a quiet night in watching Atomic Kitten's Top 40 Hen night Anthems on MTV.

16. Unspeakable

Another Da Capo highlight, with a stunning video clip it incredulously bombed in Sweden where they very rarely had properly big hits anyway.

17. Don't Go Away

A Flowers album track that totally married them to the possibility of a new audience being a MOR Celine Dion style ballad not a million miles off her song A New Day Has Come, but then regular readers might have sensed I sometimes stretch my imagination a bit too far.

18. Donnie

A soft vocal, a tender song with a sweet innosense to it. The strings are lush, and predictably, it was good enough to be a single. Just buy the flaming album Flowers if you don't have it already - their macbre art of being miserable will improve your life immeasurably.

19. Wheel of Fortune

Thier first single, I love the maudlin reggae feel which is totally authentic and quite a feat for po-faced white Scandinavians. Linn's foreboding vocal is marvelously insipid.

20. Hey Darling
Another air-surfing track (think Geri's pivotal balancing moment in the Spice Up Your Life video and back me up on this). Charming, life-affirming pop from them as ever, and yes 20 songs has meant no room for both the amazing Always Have, Always Will and actually sensational Voules-Vouz Danser.


QH said...

We have very, very similar pop music loves. Which I always knew, but this sort of cements it. I think I've developed a crush, lol.

I'm a big, big fan of AoB, unlike their predecessors ABBA (whom I adore), they worked in reverse. They went from dark to light, whereas ABBA went from light to dark.

That said, "Da Capo" is my favorite album. I think it combines the lyricism of "The Bridge" (one of the best follow-ups, so unsung), the pop breadth of "Flowers," with that reggae-cum-Euro-beat that pounded on a few numbers on "Happy Nation/The Sign."

I also have "Cruel Summer," the U.S. version of "Flowers." Owning both, both have some interesting turns. I prefer the meatier Ole' Evenrude turn on "Donnie," though the strings on the "Flowers" version are a revelation. I prefer the CS version of "He Decides," it's darker & thematically fits. I do, like you, love TTR, that is just lush, very oceanic and fairy tale like. "Everytime It Rains," Linn's last major lead, she was agoraphobic by that point, as they alluded in the art, is really moving. That is on CS.

It bothers me that people kinda try to boil them down to tripe, when they actually had great work. "Ravine," "Captain Nemo," "What's the Name of the Game," "Young & Proud," "Da Capo" (OMFG, that song knocks, I love Ulf's backgrounds on that). They were so deep and equally sugary when they wanted and needed to be. Great piece.-Quentin

Diva Incarnate said...

I love the title track of Da Capo, but can't say the album is a big favourite (Unspeakable, Hey Darling and Show Me Love are also very good).

I've not given the recent Ace of Base album a chance as the concept seems too cheapskate.

The Sign was the first ever single I bought, and first CD. The only time I have actually been to America I bought (the American) The Sign and the first two Roxette albums.

In the UK, the record company didn't really bother as much with The Bridge - Lucky Love and Beautiful Life were both top 20 hits, but like TTR they never bothered with Never Gonna Say I'm Sorry (they were fantastic at moody pop, which they are not really given much credit for).

Linn still remains one of the most beautiful women in pop.

QH said...

I like Malin too, though Jenny was always by favorite. I think "The Bridge" has a really cool, dark atmosphere. "Ravine," which I'm not sure if you know this, is about Jenny being attacked by a stalker. Out of that, her faith was jump started, the song handles the story very well.

When will you come back Stateside? Did you like it?-Quentin

Diva Incarnate said...

As a kid, I was always intrigued by Jenny and wondered why she didn't get as much focus as Malin, but of course when Linn got all willingly airburshed and blurred out I soon became more drawn to Linn. If I were to be a bit scornful I'd ask if she thinks she's the Nico of euro-pop, but I guess fame must be a real nightmare for many people.

The stalker incident sounds harrowing - at least she didn't do an Agnetha and marry the guy!

A real shame that the new and not improved AOB have no real trace of their vintage melodic power.

Blooming 18 is a huge, huge favourite of mine. The Sign is perfection, and a better song than All That She Wants (but I agree with the order in which they were released - I do like how both songs were top 2 hits on both sides of the Atlantic, but in the opposite order).

QH said...

"Don't Turn Around" was written and recorded, as a b-side for Tina Turner's "Foreign Affair" album if I'm not mistaken. AoB made it a hit though. I always felt the way they handled Linn's agoraphobia during "Flowers" was creatively creepy.

"Blooming 18" is nice, especially since we've all been there as teens.-Quentin