The Swedish Pop Phenomenon

Welcome to the machine

How Sweden’s domination of the international pop charts started when a failed glam rock front man met a bootleg DJ who couldn’t play a chord (and neither one was in Abba)

Oh, baby baby, I didn’t know Max Martin wasn’t his real name!

Every month I get a care package from Ralph. A legal envelope from the U.K. filled mostly with obituaries, the English do it much better, and ski stories (Did you know you could go heli-skiing in Iceland in June? I’m gonna start a Kickstarter to fund my trip, ha!) and odds and ends like this story from a Norwegian flight magazine about…Swedish music producers!

That’s right, Spotify is not the only Swedish export, the only thing tearing apart the fabric of the American music business. Hell, I learned more reading this piece than in a year’s worth of “Rolling Stone.”


That’s right, Britney Spears’s initial hit, the one upon which she built her career, paying dividends a decade and a half later, was a Swedish production, the Scandinavians not only wrote it, they produced it and played on it!

Do you remember 1998? The tail end of the MTV era? When we were learning the children of the baby boomers were discovering music via Disney? When we heard about a phenom coming down the pike that was gonna sell millions of records?

She did.

Sure, the video was great, where she was shaking her barely pubescent tits, but really it was the track. The keyboard intro. The sultry vocal straight out of the Stones’ “Stray Cat Blues.” It was like the progeny of Mick was showing up to show him up.

Ain’t that the truth. Mick hasn’t done anything memorable since 1998. But that cannot be said of Max Martin. Hell, between “…Baby One More Time” and “Since U Been Gone” he’s assured himself social consciousness and financial longevity, irrelevant of what the nominating committee of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame might believe.

Oh, Max didn’t do “Since U Been Gone” alone, he wrote and produced it along with American Lukasz Gottwald, aka “Dr. Luke.” Nobody uses their real name anymore. Hell, Max Martin is really Karl Martin Sandberg!

You’ll find this out in this article.

And you’ll also find out that credit is given to the funding of the arts by the Swedish government. Music school pays off. The one in which you learn the scales and how to play as opposed to how to market. Because once you’ve mastered the fundamentals, you can go ANYWHERE!

Comments are closed