It’s time to take stock of the amazing music year 2015, so YLC’s resident music enthusiast Nina Uddin has put together a throwback special of artists and songs that made a mark during the music year in Stockholm. Nina has also picked some of her photos of each artist from their 2015 live performances.
Putting together a Best of 2015 is no easy task, when there’s been so much great music on the Stockholm live scenes and in our online streams this year. But I’ve picked 15 Swedish artists that stood out in 2015 and will be presenting them in no particular order. Some of them have been my obsessions and earworms at different points of time during the year, some have blown me away with their live performances, and some are already longer-term favorites. So let’s kick this off with…
* Zara Larsson
Zara (pictured above) has just turned 18, but has already established herself as one of the biggest stars in Sweden, with the press at some point reporting about everything she posted on social media. And she should be on the brink of an international breakthrough in 2016. Her Lush Life was the biggest hit of the summer (and also my personal ‘most played song of the year’ according to Spotify). In case you missed it, we did an interview with Linnea Södahl, who was one of the songwriters behind this gem of a song.
* Miriam Bryant
Miriam has been a personal favorite and a bit of an obsession for a couple of years now (people look at me funny when I tell them I’ve seen her live approximately 21 times so far, while they’ve just found out about her…) and it has been an immense pleasure watching her becoming a massive favorite of the masses through the TV show Så Mycket Bättre. All of her versions have fared well on Spotify, iTunes and on the radio. Next year we can look forward to a concert tour (the April show at Cirkus in Stockholm is already sold out, I’m afraid… but you could maybe catch her at Gröna Lund in May.)
* Sabina Ddumba
Sabina Ddumba has probably been the strongest breakthrough artist of the year with Effortless and Not Too Young cementing the position as one to watch, following last year’s strong debut single Scarred for Life. Her soulful voice and carefully crafted tunes carry all the potential for international stardom in the not so distant future.
* Seinabo Sey
The 25-year-old Seinabo Sey was undoubtedly the most important new artist in Sweden in 2014 and she has further strengthened her position in 2015 with the formidable debut album Pretend that came out in October. Her closing show of the Popaganda festival in August was legendary and she has shown she deserves to be an international superstar. Taylor Swift plugged her epic song Poetic, but my personal favorite is the title track Pretend, which has a great Stockholm video.
Elliphant brings a healthy dose of craziness to the Swedish music stages and goes from strength to strength with her brand of pop music. Her Love Me Badder was one of the summer’s most poptastic hits and we can all look forward to a new album in the spring of 2016. Elliphant also released an epic but sad Christmas song called North Star (Bloody Christmas).
* Icona Pop
Icona Pop’s Aino and Caroline seem to have spent a big part of the year abroad, but their Emergency proved to be one of the songs of the year, a total earworm and the perfectly swinging party tune. I caught them at Sommarkrysset where they played the song with Erik Hassle on live TV, only to run off to a boat that whisked them away to perform at Kungsträdgården and run a 10 km race. International stars and their hectic schedules, right…
* Erik Hassle
Erik Hassle deserves a mention of his own, not just for the guest spot on the above-mentioned Icona Pop banger, but for another of the year’s most amazing pop songs, No Words. This one also has one of the best videos of the year, involving Erik showing up at a kitchen throwing around various food items while swooshing around displaying his pretty perfect dance moves. And this song also got a mention on Taylor Swift’s list of ‘songs that will make your life more awesome’.
* Noonie Bao
Noonie Bao’s I’m In Love and Pyramids have been frequenting my playlists this year and her Noonia EP saw it’s release in November. Beside her own music, Noonie has been known to write songs for world stars like Charli XCX or Carly Rae Jepsen… She was also recently featured on The Guardian’s list of Scandinavian artists to look out for.
* Tove Styrke
Tove Styrke’s sophomore album Kiddo was one of the year’s highlights and spawned hits like Ego and Number One. Tove also released a smooth cover of Max Martin’s old Britney Spears hit ...Baby One More Time. It was pretty amazing seeing her happy face at the Popaganda stage, as it had been several years since last seeing her live (as she took some time away from the limelight).
* Little Jinder
Little Jinder broke through with Vita Bergens klockor in 2014 after having changed her singing language to Swedish. In 2015 she has had a summer hit with Sommarnatt and is now making waves with Hångellåten (ie her make-out song). She is at her sensual best in live settings, so be sure to catch her if you can.
* Maja Francis
Maja Francis released her debut single Last Days of Dancing in March of 2015, and she has described her music as ‘Fantasy Pop’. With a little help from Swedish pop’s superstar Veronica Maggio, she has made her way to the music scene, and is among Spotify’s ‘Spotlight on 2016’, ie one of their Nordic artists to watch in the new year. Her Space Invades My Mind has been one of my recurrent earworms this year – and her performance along with Seinabo Sey and Amanda Bergman was one of the highlights at the Hela Sverige Skramlar charity show at Globen.
With a background in Tensta Gospel Choir (like Sabina Ddumba), Elias took the music circles by storm with his debut single Revolution, which came out in May. His dark, expressive and soulful voice makes him sound older than his 19 years, and that voice really sounds pretty magical when heard live. Elias is also among Spotify’s ‘Spotlight on 2016’ artists to watch.
* Ace Wilder
Ace Wilder hasn’t been busy doing nothin’ this year either, she released the excellent The Wild Card EP in the summer, jam-packed with powerhouse pop. She’s always fun to watch, so it’s been a pleasure having caught her at a few live performances during the year. Look out for her second shot at the Melodifestivalen crown in early 2016, she’s in the first heat in Gothenburg on the 6th of February.
* Nadia Nair
A huge personal favorite, who is still to make it big on the Swedish music scene. Always an intense live presence with a formidable voice. She released two amazing singles this year, Beautiful Poetry and Hardships. So do yourself a favor and have a listen – and go see her live if you get the chance.
* Maxida Märak
The übercool Maxida Märak is my latest obsession, having seen her at two charity shows this fall – first at the massive Hela Sverige Skramlar gala at Globen and later at the very intimate Vi Vänder Vindarna at Triangelkyrkan. At the latter Maxida hosted the whole evening and made a huge impression with her passion for the Sami people’s rights. I can’t get over how multi-talented she is, being a human rights activist, music producer, singer, song-writer, actress, and more… In terms of music she’s done her Sami people’s jojk, very street-credible rap in Swedish, pretty amazing bluegrass and soulful pop in English. If you did not see her in the excellent documentary series Sapmi Sisters, be sure to check it out.
All photos (c) Nina Uddin