What’s the deal with Sweden? It’s a ridiculously beautiful country filled with ridiculously beautiful people who, when they’re not busy designing affordable and stylish flat-back furniture, are dazzling everyone with their apparently-effortless pop songwriting skills.
This month is the Midsommer festival, when people all around the country gather to frolic in the sunshine, consume copious amounts, and get a little bit frisky when the sun goes down.
In honour of this tradition – and because we kind of just want to be there right now — here’s a list of Sweden’s best things. Skål!
Northern summers are short, so the Swedes like to make the most of what they’ve got. On the Friday after the summer solstice, towns all around the country throw Pagan-inspired midsummer celebrations, with salted fish, beer and a locally-made spirit called aquavit. During the day, people wear floral crowns and children dance around maypoles; at night, the celebration becomes more of a rowdy free-for-all.
Also, this is a thing:
Robyn once opened for Katy Perry; in a right and just world, it should have been the other way around.
Her three Body Talk EPs were stupidly, staggeringly good, taking in an array of styles from electro pop to hip hop and dancehall, and serving them up with irresistible hooks and real lyrical heart. Her songs put a singular twist on standard subject matter – take ‘Dancing On My Own’, which became an anthem for anyone who ever had a crush didn’t work out, or ‘Cry When You Get Older’, an upbeat pop song about how “love hurts when you do it right”. The teeny tiny pop powerhouse that is Robyn makes some of the finest tunes that Sweden has to offer.
If this is how Swedish people dance, that’s where I belong:
Pelle Svanslös Is The Best Cat:
You need some Pelle Svanslös in your life. The kind-hearted cat, otherwise known as Peter No-Tail, was the hero of a series of Swedish children’s books that began in the 1930s. Pelle lost his tail when a rat bit it off, but he wasn’t about to let that get him down! He defended the town of Uppsala from Nazis – allegorically, at least – and eventually hooked up with a cute female cat called Maja Gräddnos (or Maya Cream-Nose).
Pelle Svanslös has appeared in movies and even an opera, but sadly, he hasn’t made much of an impact outside of Sweden.
Ikea Cafe Is The Best Cafe:
Ikea leads the world in affordable and stylish modular furniture, but let’s not kid ourselves: the highlight of any trip is a stop at the cafe. The Swedish meatballs, served next to a bed of chips and drowned in gravy, with a dollop of lingonberry sauce on the side, are an unbeatable delivery system for fat and carbs. (Yes, there have been some fairly unsettling revelations about the ingredients of Ikea Café’s meatballs in recent times, but that’s not enough to deter me. THAT’S LITERALLY HOW GOOD THE DAMN THINGS ARE.)
(image via norainezamshah)
When you’re done eating what may or may not be horse meat, the colourful princess cakes provide the sugar hit you need before returning to the fray, to face an afternoon of Flärdfulls, Knutstorps and crazed, trolley-wielding suburbanites.
TV and film have offered up no shortage of brooding, handsome vampires over the last few years, but True Blood’s Eric Northman kicks all their stupid pointy teeth in.
He’s played by the ridiculously handsome Alexander Skarsgård, who spent some time in the Swedish military before his big break came on the show. How sexy is Eric? He’s so sexy that he can throw a hissy fit about getting blood all over the foils in his hair and you still want him to sink his teeth into you. It’s not just Skarsgård’s good looks that get us; it’s his puckish sense of humour, and the adorable way he draws out the letter ‘s’. As in ‘I am very ssssexually attracted to you’. His father Stellan can get it, too.
The Nobel Prize:
The Swedish philanthropist Alfred Nobel established the Nobel Prize in 1895, to reward cultural and scientific advances across a variety of categories. Physics, Chemistry, Physiology or Medicine and Literature were all predictable enough categories, but then he added one more: Peace.
Did you enjoy Backstreet Boys’ ‘I Want It That Way’ and ‘Everybody’? What about Britney Spears’ ‘Baby One More Time’ and ‘Oops, I Did It Again’, or Kelly Clarkson’s ‘Since U Been Gone’? Max Martin — real name Karl Martin Sandberg — co-wrote all of them, as well as hits for the likes of Pink, Katy Perry, Taylor Swift and compatriot Robyn. If you’ve sung along loudly to something in the car, blasted it for some motivation on the elliptical trainers, or ground up against a cute stranger to it at a party, there’s a fairy good chance Max Martin had a hand in the writing.
He’s also responsible for this.
All Of The Online Music:
A surprising number of the world’s most popular online music services originated in Sweden. The streaming platform Spotify was developed by a team in Stockholm, and SoundCloud, one of the most popular social media tools for musicians, also got its start there. But it’s not all sunny and utopian – in 2003, the Swedish anti-copyright organization Piratbyrån started a little file-sharing service. It translates to “Pirate Bay”.
Have you ever found yourself torn between the pizza place and the kebab shop at the tail end of an epic night out? In Sweden, YOU DON’T HAVE TO CHOOSE. Kebab meat is the most popular pizza topping in Sweden, along with all the regular fixings like onion, cheese and garlic sauce. Some places will do what’s called a Viking, which is a kebab meat pizza, folded and baked so it resembles a Viking ship. This could be the best thing that has ever been invented.
(image via mma1)
Alasdair Duncan is an author, freelance writer and video game-lover who has had work published in Crikey, The Drum, The Brag, Beat, Rip It Up, The Music Network, Rave Magazine, AXN Cult and Star Observer.