Credit to my pal JN for introducing me to my latest Swedish crush. JN, during his year-long Scandinavian culinary adventure, spent a good amount of time in Sweden, honing his craft, his butchering knives, and his understanding of the vitality of dairy.
Over ramen the other night, while recounting his experiences, and conscious of my obsessive interest in all things Swedepop, he told me, “There’s so much good Swedish music you never hear. Because it’s all sung in Swedish.”
He didn’t mean it as a slight; he wasn’t trying to criticize my narrow only-in-English musical tastes. He meant that, because of the music business, we’re prevented, in many ways, from hearing a lot of great, international music.
Of course that’s all changing, and I’m embracing the world scene as much as I’m able. But to demonstrate his point, as it pertains to Sweden, he mentioned Veronica Maggio, a Swedish pop star of Italian descent, charting hits in her native land since her debut in 2006. While some of her earlier albums are available stateside, her latest album, Handen i fickan fast jag bryr mig (which Wikipedia offers, as a seemingly stilted, direct translation: “Hand in my pocket though I care”) has yet to see a U.S. release. Even the first single, released late in 2013, is blocked on YouTube (“The uploader has not made this video available in your country”), grayed out on Spotify, and non-existent on Amazon, eMusic, or iTunes.
There’s this “Lyric Video” of the single, which looks fan-produced, and there are some remixes on Soundcloud.
I like it more for what it represents than the song itself (although the song’s okay too). Separated from an American audience, popular music thrives and evolves internationally, new-bud growth in the radioactive wasteland of commercialized radio culture. It happens in Sweden; it happens in Portugal; it happens in Taiwan and it happens in Argentina.
It’s been more than a decade since “Noodles” spoke to me and opened the door to a Nordic love affair that hasn’t ebbed in the slightest. But I know that for every Love Is All, there are a pair of Hemstads. Every Lykke Li, maybe three Veronica Maggios to captivate my interest. Enough musical exploration to keep me busy for another decade-plus.
And how wonderful it is to be busy.