USA: 318 million people, UK: 60 million people, Sweden: 10 million people
Swedish songwriters and producers are powering the biggest performers in the world. During 2014, 25 per cent of the No.1 hits on the American Billboard pop chart were written by Swedes. When Katy Perry performed at the Super Bowl in January 2015, the first five songs she performed were written by Sweden's Max Martin.
How is that possible?
The fact that a peripheral, out-of-the-way country like Sweden – with an obscure language understood by nobody outside the Nordic region – could take such a position in the English-speaking music world is as unlikely as Albania or Uruguay doing it. The story of Swedish pop exports starts with ABBA. The super group was a phenomenon, demonstrating for coming generations of Swedish musicians that it was possible to come from Sweden and achieve international success. Groups such as Roxette, Europe and The Cardigans followed, and in more recents time, Swedish House Mafia and Avicii has become an international favourite. The foundations for today's Swedish pop exports were really laid in the 1990s with the songwriters and producers congregating around Denniz PoP (1963–1998) and Cheiron Studios at Stockholm's Fridhemsplan. PoP, who's first No.1 was with Ace of Base, created a non-hierarchical way of working, songwriting as teamwork, which influenced the way modern international pop music is created and sounds today.
Many of the world's biggest stars today – Katy Perry, Taylor Swift, Ariana Grande, Britney Spears, Maroon 5, Pink, Madonna, Lady Gaga, Jennifer Lopez, Adam Lambert, One Direction – perform songs created by Swedes. On several occasions during the 2010s, half the songs on the US Top10 list have been written by Swedes.
Swedish pop in the 2010s is dominated by women: Tove Lo, Robyn, Lykke Li, Seinabo Sey, First Aid Kit, Say Lou Lou... the list could be three times as long. When it comes to songwriters and producers, men are in the majority, but women are making inroads there too. There are numerous Swedish songwriters among the best in the world today.