Erik Hassle – No Words
There’s a school of thinking that says Scandinavian pop is the best kind of pop, and with Måns Zelmerlöw taking the Eurovision trophy back to Stockholm for the second time in four contests this weekend past, it’s clear we are – as a nation and continent – thirsty for Swedish pop in particular.
Look at the sales figures and this country of 9-or-so million people must have the best per-capita hit rate of any nation on earth. Think back over the years and there’s been no end of success: ABBA, Ace of Base, Alcazar, Avicii, Agnes. Probably even others that don’t start with the letter A.
It’s not just acts themselves; top producers like Max Martin, RedOne and the late Christian Falk all call this great nation home.
But Swedish pop of the modern era has met a fork in the road and pursued two very different paths; gone is the schlager of the A*Teens, and in its place are (ultimately forgettable) rave o’clock EDM specials from the likes of Swedish House Mafia, Eric Prydz and Basshunter. Take the other road and you instead fall into cerebropop territory from Tove Lo, Lykke Li and Niki and the Dove, which is all very well and good until someone puts them on at a party.
This divergence has left a pure pop vacuum once occupied by artists of Erik Hassle’s ilk. Think Alphabeat (alright they’re Danish but go with it) and you’re on the right track:
And No Words is, in many respects, the right track. A beautifully uptempo, sun-dappled and summery love song, this beaut sees Erik sings about being so in love that he’s lost for words, and it has the sweetest, most heartfelt middle 8 I’ve heard in considerable time. It’s not complicated; it’s not to be over-analysed; it’s not overwrought with artistic ‘inspiration’ (I’m looking at you, Gaga) or suffocating under layers of hidden meaning. It’s just a proper, old-fashioned pop song, hitting that prime 3:30 – 3:40 runtime zone straight on the kisser.
At a time when the charts are awash with derivative eurobangers, urban tracks lazily sampling derivative 1990s eurobangers, and something called ‘Hozier’, it is time for pop’s latest star recruits – Ariana Grande, Years & Years, and Jess Glynne – to reclaim the top 40 with songs of this very kind.
Let’s hope Erik and the rest of Sweden’s finest can ride on their coat-tails.
Entered chart: did not chart
Who could sing this today and have a hit? I’m earmarking this for an Olly Alexander of Years & Years solo project.