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ABBA: 50 Years of Pop, 27 April 2024, Channel 4

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Fifty years ago, ABBA won the Eurovision Song Contest with their breakthrough hit “Waterloo”, launching a new era in Swedish pop music. This special documentary, airing on Channel 4 on Saturday 27 April, celebrates the enduring legacy of ABBA and explores the continued impact of Swedish pop on the global charts over the last five decades.

Swedish pop music has a unique and fascinating history. After World War II, it was heavily influenced by American jazz, rock-and-roll, and schlager music from the US and UK. In the 1960s, Swedish youth sparked a revival of traditional folk culture, with groups like Spelmanslag (folk musicians’ clubs) gaining mainstream popularity. This folk revival influenced the development of “dansband” music, characterised by catchy melodies and bright lyrics, which dominated the Swedish music scene in the 1970s.

ABBA’s victory at Eurovision in 1974 was a pivotal moment. They went on to become one of the best-selling music groups of all time, with an estimated 370-380 million records sold worldwide. Their success opened doors for Swedish pop internationally, and they remain an iconic symbol of Sweden’s musical prowess. ABBA’s catchy melodies and vocal-heavy production style influenced countless artists and set a blueprint for Swedish pop that continues to this day.

The 1980s saw the rise of acts like Europe, Roxette, and Neneh Cherry, who achieved international success with hits like “The Final Countdown”, “The Look”, and “Buffalo Stance”. The 1990s brought the “Cheiron phenomenon”, with producers like Denniz Pop and Max Martin shaping the sound of pop music worldwide. Acts like Ace of Base, Dr. Alban, and Robyn became global sensations, with Ace of Base’s “The Sign” topping the US Billboard charts.

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Swedish pop continued to evolve and adapt in the 21st century. Artists like Avicii, Zara Larsson, and Tove Lo have carried the torch for Sweden on the charts. The country has also produced renowned songwriters and producers like Max Martin, who has written numerous Billboard No. 1 hits. Sweden’s early adoption of digital technology and streaming services like Spotify has further solidified its role as a global leader in pop music.

Swedish pop music has had an incredible impact on the world over the last 50 years. From ABBA to the present day, Swedish artists have consistently topped the charts and influenced music trends. With a combination of catchy melodies, English proficiency, and a tight-knit music industry, Sweden has become a dominant force in global pop culture.

ABBA: 50 Years of Pop airs on Channel 4 at 8.50 pm on Saturday 27 April 2024.

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Isabelle aka Izzy Jacobs is the UK previews specialist at memorabletv.com. Isabelle is particularly drawn to crime dramas, but she also has a not so secret love for all things reality TV. In addition to her work at memorabletv.com, Isabelle is also an avid traveler and a devoted foodie.

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