No season is as longed-for as the Swedish summer. This is perhaps hard to understand if you don’t live in a country where most of the year is spent lighting candles and huddling against the cold and the perpetual darkness; it’s not just the regular oh-the-term-is-over or oh-I-have-holiday-at-last relief.
It’s having five hours of nighttime instead of seven hours of daylight. It’s walking home at four in the morning and having the sun already be up. It’s skinny-dipping and picking seven kinds of flowers to put under your pillow to see if you dream about who you’re going to marry (though that last bit only works if you do it on Midsummer Night’s Eve).
Naturally, then, there’s a plethora of summer music. Much of it is traditional, or 20th-century traditional – “Ida’s Summer Song”, written to go with the movie version of one of Astrid Lindgren’s books in 1973, and now such a beloved classic that it’s sung at most end-of-term ceremonies in Swedish schools. And of course there are the newer summer anthems, meant to be sung along with 10 000 others at an outdoor festival during one of those rare, clear and warm August nights.
So here’s a top five in no particular order, for a taste of Swedish summer.
5. Last year’s “I love it” by Icona Pop – well. I dare you not to dance.
4. Kraja, a folk quartet, singing their own arrangement of “Uti vår hage” (Out in the Meadow), which is about binding wreaths of flowers for the one you love (and alludes to the magic of flowers in Swedish folklore). Sometimes sung by children’s choirs who are more cute than skilled, but not so here.
3. Or if your taste runs more towards reggae, here’s Syster Sol (Sister Sun) with “Mad Mad Mad”.
2. Catchy, catchy, catchy retro pop. Miss Li with “Ba Ba Ba.”
1. And last but absolutely not least, Robyn writes the kind of music that inevitably lights up the clubs and the beaches and the radio by the time summer rolls around. “Dancing on My Own” was the summer hit of 2010 and for me, when she sang it under the August sky while the night fell and we danced, danced, danced, oh. That was the summer, right there.