A Sweet Summer's Night on YouTube: An Incomplete Survey of Swedish Music Videos

From Sweden's Wikipedia entry:
The Kingdom of Sweden (Swedish: Konungariket Sverige) is a Nordic country in Scandinavia. It is bordered by Norway in the west, Finland in the northeast, the Skagerrak Strait and the Kattegat Strait in the southwest, and the Baltic Sea and the Gulf of Bothnia in the east. Sweden has a low population density except in its metropolitan areas, with most of the inland consisting of forests. The country has large natural resources of water, timber, and iron ore. Its citizens enjoy a high standard of living in a country that is generally perceived as clean, modern, and liberal.

As Jules noted in Pulp Fiction: "Oh, man, I'm goin', that's all there is to it -- I'm fuckin' goin'."

But wait... there's more. Over the years, Sweden has given us some of the greatest (and kitschiest) music Europe has to offer. Inspired by The Knife's amazing music video oeuvre, here's an incomplete survey of the greatest Swedish music videos that YouTube has graciously provided, broken down into five mostly meaningless categories: The Knife & its Derivatives, Pop, Rock, Popular or Shitty or Both?, and Classics.

The Knife and its Derivatives
I thank the brother-sister duo of Karin and Olof Dreijer for filling the cold, dark, beat-hungry space in my heart left by Massive Attack's relative disappearance. As you'll see, their videos tend to take Aphex Twin's creepiness, add a little more heart, and subtract a lot of ego.

Here's "Silent Shout", the first track off their new album of the same name. This video is my favorite of theirs (though it's a close competition), and probably the most indicative of their style. And, as Cosmodrome's Dan Smith noted, the people in this video seem taken directly from the Cher/Eric Stoltz joint, Mask.

Taking a step back, here's a video from their self-titled first album, "NY Hotel". The video and song are both pretty sparse, and the cheapness of the animation seems apt for a band's early production.

On their second album, Deep Cuts, the Knife moved in a more poppy direction, and the video for "Handyman", fits into this mode. The band has said they're not keen on using their songs for adverts (although, as you'll see later, this is not set in stone), yet this video seems to be some sort of tweaked-out Craftsman ad. While the talking hammer is pretty cool for about 10 seconds, you'll likely be stopping this video after a little bit.

"Pass This On" also comes from Deep Cuts, and has some serious Hedwigging going on. While it's an OK tune, it's not really one of their best, though the video is. (Note: That is not Karin Dreijer.)

For both the music and the videos, The Knife's most recent album, Silent Shout, is also their most jarring and best. The lead single, "Silent Shout" (above), as well as these two, "We Share Our Mother's Health" and "Marble House", make me shiver. "Marble House" in particular, is positively Lynchian.

Finally, we've come to the last of The Knife videos for this survey. "Heartbeats" may be the best (and poppiest) song in the group's oeuvre. The video doesn't really do much to enhance the song, yet it's worth watching if only to hear the song once more.

Below that, you'll find the video/advertisement for Jose Gonzalez's cover. The cover was probably more widely heard than the original, thanks to its being featured in the minor pop-culture phenomeon that is this Sony BRAVIA advertisement. Yes, they did actually shoot thousands of bouncy balls across the streets of San Francisco. (As a further aside: This became a truly modern pop song: a remix of Mr. Gonzalez's cover scored high on the UK charts.)

Finally, rounding out "The Knife and its Derivatives," is Royksopp's "What Else is There" featuring Karen Dreijer. Again, that is NOT Karin Dreijer featured in the video, BUT, she is the woman sitting at the dining table chomping on a delicious (symbolic?) apple.

Continue to Part II, featuring the Pop, Rock, Popular or Shitty or Both?, and Classics collections.

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