Ace of Base

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Ace of Base
Ace Of Base Toronto 2010 (modified).JPG
Ace of Base, 2010. L-R: Ulf Ekberg, Jonas Berggren, Julia Williamson, Clara Hagman
Background information
OriginGothenburg, Sweden
GenresPop, dance, dance-pop, reggae fusion, Europop, Eurodance
Years active1992–present
LabelsMega Records (Scandinavia, 1992–2002), Barclay (France, 1993–95), Metronome (Europe, 1993–98), Arista Records/BMG (Americas/Japan, 1993–2000), Polydor (Europe, 1998–2002), Universal/Playground (2008–present)
Websitewww.aceofbase.com
MembersJonas Berggren
Ulf Ekberg
Past membersLinn Berggren
Jenny Berggren
Clara Hagman
Julia Williamson
 
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Ace of Base
Ace Of Base Toronto 2010 (modified).JPG
Ace of Base, 2010. L-R: Ulf Ekberg, Jonas Berggren, Julia Williamson, Clara Hagman
Background information
OriginGothenburg, Sweden
GenresPop, dance, dance-pop, reggae fusion, Europop, Eurodance
Years active1992–present
LabelsMega Records (Scandinavia, 1992–2002), Barclay (France, 1993–95), Metronome (Europe, 1993–98), Arista Records/BMG (Americas/Japan, 1993–2000), Polydor (Europe, 1998–2002), Universal/Playground (2008–present)
Websitewww.aceofbase.com
MembersJonas Berggren
Ulf Ekberg
Past membersLinn Berggren
Jenny Berggren
Clara Hagman
Julia Williamson

Ace of Base is a Swedish pop group, originally consisting of Ulf "Buddha" Ekberg and three siblings, Jonas "Joker" Berggren, Malin "Linn" Berggren and Jenny Berggren. They released four studio albums between 1993 and 2002, which sold over 40 million copies worldwide.[1] This makes them the third-most successful band from Sweden of all time, after ABBA and Roxette.

Happy Nation / The Sign is one of the best-selling debut albums of all time, and was certified nine times platinum in the United States.[2] It was the first debut album to produce three number 1 singles on the Billboard Mainstream Top 40 chart: "All That She Wants", "The Sign" and "Don't Turn Around".[3]

Following the formal departure of singer Linn in 2007, the band performed a series of concerts as a trio in Europe and Asia from 2007 through 2009, before Jenny revealed in November 2009 that she would be taking indefinite leave from the band to focus on her own solo career.[4] In 2009, Jonas and Ulf recruited two new female vocalists, Clara Hagman and Julia Williamson, and released The Golden Ratio in September 2010.

Career[edit]

Formation[edit]

Ace of Base formed in Gothenburg, Sweden.

In 1987, following a number of years as part of a new romantic and punk covers band called G Konrad, Jonas Berggren formed a band with two friends, Johnny Lindén and Niklas Tränk for a school project; his sisters Linn and Jenny joined as singers. The new band went through several names: Kalinin Prospect (after an avenue in Moscow); CAD (Computer-Aided Disco); and Tech-Noir (French for black technology, after a nightclub in the film The Terminator).[5] They toured the clubs of Sweden with self-written material, techno inspired by the likes of The KLF and Snap!. Johnny left the group in 1989, and Niklas made his departure known by failing to appear at a performance, instead attending a Rolling Stones concert on the other side of town.[6] Jonas asked his friend Ulf Ekberg to stand in for Niklas. The new quartet sought a new name to make a fresh start. Linn was reported saying: "No one could pronounce the name of the group and nobody could remember it". They settled on Ace of Base, because they were the "masters of their studio", the basement of a car-repair shop.[7]

However, the band continued to struggle to gain any recognition, partly due to the preference of heavy metal over techno in their home town, according to singer Jenny.[8] In 1991 they responded to a newspaper ad by producer John Ballard who was looking for new talent. He was somewhat unsure about their potential, but did pass them on to Klas Lunding at Telegram Records who helped them record an early demo for the song "Wheel of Fortune" in their newly renovated studio. Despite this, it did not convince Telegram to sign the band, and other labels in Sweden still showed no sign of interest. The demo was eventually sold for a small price to the independent Danish label Mega Records in March 1992.[9] "Wheel of Fortune" was re-recorded and released as a single in Denmark in May but failed to hit the charts. A small-budget music video was shot and directed in a small studio by Viking Nielsson[10] and in September, after two failures, the single finally reached the charts.

International success and Happy Nation / The Sign (1993–1994)[edit]

Ace of Base was influenced by Kayo's "Another Mother" to create "All That She Wants".

While "Wheel of Fortune" was a modest success, a different song led Ace of Base to take off internationally. After hearing Swedish top 20 hit "Another Mother" by Kayo, the band decided that was exactly the sound they wanted to create.[11] They contacted the song's producer Denniz PoP and sent him a demo of a song called "Mr Ace". The tape got stuck in the cassette tape player in his car, so he listened to it over and over again, which helped him decide to produce the track. The song became All That She Wants, a dark fusion of dub-reggae with pop which became the band's trademark sound. On release in October 1992, it quickly climbed to number one on the Danish chart while the previous single was still sitting at number two. Keen to rush out an LP for the Christmas market, Mega Records pressed the band for an album and it was hastily recorded, mixed, and released within a few weeks.

The album, titled Happy Nation was an instant hit in Denmark, and its success prompted interest elsewhere in Europe. A Pan-European license was signed with Metronome/PolyGram (now Universal Music) but they were turned down by the American division. Within a few months, "All That She Wants" had reached number three in Sweden and had spent eight weeks at number one in Germany. In various European countries, Happy Nation and Waiting For Magic were released as further singles following the release of the album.

In May, "All That She Wants" continued to be a hit all around the world and topped the chart for three weeks in the United Kingdom. However, despite Mega Records' hard efforts to secure a distribution deal in the United States the response was always the same: "this band will never work in the States". Eventually, however, Clive Davis, founder of Arista Records, thought otherwise, and by the end of 1993 "All That She Wants" had made its way to number two on the Billboard Hot 100.

In order to freshen up the album for US release, Davis insisted that some new tracks were recorded, including "The Sign" which became the new title for the album and the second American single. It was even more successful than the first, spending six weeks at number one and becoming the best-selling single of 1994. It was also a major hit in Europe, peaking at number two in the UK and Sweden and at one in Germany. Due to fears of imports from the US, the original European album was re-released with new tracks under the name Happy Nation (US Version). Collectively, the different versions of the album reached the number one position in at least 14 countries, and sold over 23 million copies worldwide.

Two more singles were released: "Don't Turn Around" and "Living in Danger". The former was originally recorded by Tina Turner on the b-side of her single Typical Male. Davis suggested that the band record the song and it was yet another worldwide hit. The latter was a moderate chart hit in most countries where it was released, and was performed at the first ever MTV Europe Music Awards held in Germany. By the end of 1994, they were an international commercial success.

The Bridge (1995–1996)[edit]

Even though the band was exhausted from two long years of international promotion, they could hardly believe how successful they had become. In April 1994, a crazed German fan broke into the Berggren family's home brandishing a knife.[citation needed] After managing to restrain her, the band decided that from then on they needed bodyguards. However, they were not allowed to take time to reflect before starting work on a second album because their record companies all over the world were demanding a swift follow-up. To speed up the process, instead of Jonas and Ulf writing the bulk of the album, each member was encouraged to submit his or her own tracks for consideration.[citation needed]

In the end, seventeen tracks made the cut of the second album titled The Bridge. It marked a considerable change of direction in sound; out were the reggae and club sounds that made the group so popular in favour of a more experimental sound and several ballads. The lead single "Lucky Love" however was a mainstream pop record and on release in October 1995 became the band's first number one single in Sweden, which came as a pleasant surprise as they had found that their fellow Swedes had been their harshest critics. It charted at a more modest number thirteen in Germany and number twenty in the United Kingdom. Arista Records opted for the pulsating dance beat of "Beautiful Life" for the first single in the US which peaked at number fifteen both in the US and UK. "Beautiful Life" was released as the second single from the album in most countries, while "Lucky Love" was remixed in a new acoustic form along with a new video for the second US single from the album, peaking at number thirty. The Bridge was certified platinum in fourteen countries but the phenomenal success of the band's first album proved difficult to follow. Never Gonna Say I'm Sorry was released as the third single from the album and achieved moderate success in Europe, but failed to chart on the Hot 100 in the US. In February 1996, the band performed at the Viña del Mar Festival de la Cancion in Chile, topping the bill alongside 2 Unlimited.

Flowers / Cruel Summer (1997–1999)[edit]

Linn's image was blurred on the cover art of Flowers and Cruel Summer

After this, Ace of Base disappeared from the limelight for a while, only emerging in July 1997 to perform at a concert to celebrate the 20th birthday of Princess Victoria of Sweden. They were given as much time as they wanted to produce their third album, much of it being recorded in Jonas' own studio "The Barn". When it was finally released in June 1998, the band declared it their best album yet. It was titled Flowers because they believed that the songs, wildly different in style including Motown and gospel influences, resembled a varied bouquet of flowers. Fans were surprised to see that singer Linn had relinquished lead vocal duties to sister Jenny, and on many promotional photos Linn's face was blurred. They were reassured that Linn was happy with her new backing role in the group, and many reasons were given for her decision including her having damaged her voice, fear of flying putting her off from traveling around the world, and her dislike of fame.

The radio-friendly single "Life Is a Flower" was certified the most-played track on European radio for 1998 and sold more than 250,000 copies in the UK, peaking at number five; the colorful video of the same name was produced and directed by Andreas Neumann. British label London Records had requested the band record the 1983 hit "Cruel Summer" by Bananarama and it was selected as the second European single. Deciding that "Life Is a Flower" was "too European in nature", Clive Davis pushed "Cruel Summer" as the lead-off single for the United States and it brought Ace of Base back into the US Top Ten for the first time in four years, being certified gold. The album was also renamed Cruel Summer and featured a different tracklist compared to the European release. For this version of the album, Davis persuaded a reluctant Linn to record a Billy Steinberg ballad "Everytime It Rains". "Life Is a Flower" was re-recorded as "Whenever You're Near Me" and four other songs originally on Flowers were remixed and edited for the US release. "Whenever You're Near Me" was released as the second single from Cruel Summer, peaking at number seventy-six. "Travel to Romantis" and "Always Have, Always Will" were further singles in Europe while "Everytime It Rains" was issued as a single in the UK along with a repackaged edition of Flowers released only in the UK.

Singles of the 90s and Greatest Hits (1999–2000)[edit]

Singles of the 90s, a compilation of sixteen hit singles was released in November 1999. Its first single, "C'est La Vie (Always 21)," charted modestly in most places where it was released and went on to become a surprise number one hit in Spain. Attempting to capitalize on the success of the previous single, "Hallo Hallo" was released with special remixes just for the Spanish market. The album's marketing push closed with the limited radio-only single release of "Love in December". Greatest Hits was released for the American market in April 2000. "Hallo Hallo" was initially planned to be the first single from the compilation, but in the end was not included at all. "C'est La Vie (Always 21)" was the only new recording included on the U.S. release. Two previously released remixes of both "Lucky Love" and "Beautiful Life" were also included. "Everytime It Rains", previously included on the Cruel Summer album, was released in a new remixed form as a radio single in the US, becoming the only form of promotion for Greatest Hits. With minimal promotion, the album and the single failed to chart, with the former selling fewer than 5,000 copies in its first week. Greatest Hits completed the band's four-album contract with Arista Records which was not renewed.

Da Capo (2002–2003)[edit]

Linn of Ace of Base after a performance in 2002.

Ace of Base released their fourth studio album Da Capo in September 2002 in Europe, and in Japan through Toshiba EMI with a different cover and three bonus tracks. The album had originally been planned for release in mid-2000, but was repeatedly postponed due to record company complications. The album is named after the musical term da capo, meaning "back to the beginning". It was intended to be a return to the band's earliest sound.

Although the album entered the album charts in many European countries, it was not as successful as previous releases. Only Jenny and Ulf went on a promotional tour of Sweden, Denmark, Norway, Finland, Germany, Poland, and Austria; Jonas wanted to stay at home with his two children and Linn attended only one performance in Germany. The album was not released in America or Australia, and received only a 'soft release' in the United Kingdom.

The first single release from the Da Capo album was "Beautiful Morning", which peaked at number fourteen in Sweden and number thirty-eight in Germany, where it was followed by "The Juvenile", which was used for a Christmas campaign by German TV channel RTL. "The Juvenile" was previously written for the GoldenEye James Bond movie in 1995. However, Arista, the band's American record label at the time, shelved the idea. In Scandinavia, Edel-Mega released the album's opening track, "Unspeakable", as the second single, but its poor chart performance ended the promotion of the album prematurely.

Hiatus (2003–2006)[edit]

The band remained out of the spotlight throughout 2003 and 2004, although Jenny kept busy by performing solo live performances in several Christian shows with her husband Jakob Pétren, and released an album as a vocalist with the Swedish group Arose.

The band returned at the end of 2005 without Malin for several live performances at the Night of the Proms in Belgium alongside other artists such as Donna Summer.

Reunion (2007–2009)[edit]

Jonas, Jenny, and Ulf performing in Saint Petersburg, 2007.
Jonas, Jenny and Ulf during a concert in Saint Petersburg, 2007.

Ace of Base reunited as a trio to perform their first full-length concert since 1996 in Yekaterinburg, Russia on November 15, 2007. Further concerts followed throughout 2008 and 2009; mainly in eastern Europe and Denmark, although Singapore and the Dominican Republic were visited briefly. The set list included various songs from their past albums and a new remake of their first single "Wheel of Fortune". Linn was absent from the tour, and Jenny confirmed her departure from the band. "She hasn't been part of Ace of Base for several years," she stated in Se & Hør magazine.[12] While touring, the group debuted a new song called "Sparks from a Fire".[13][14]

Ace of Base released a new Greatest Hits CD/DVD, Greatest Hits, Classic Remixes and Music Videos on November 12, 2008. The 3-disc set includes one CD with hits, a second CD containing remixes, and a DVD containing music videos. Four re-recorded songs were released from the album in various forms: "Lucky Love 2009", "Don't Turn Around 2009", "The Sign (Freedom Bunch Mix)", and "Wheel of Fortune 2009", which was released worldwide on October 24, 2008 as a digital single.[15] A fifth reworking, "Happy Nation 2009" was released separately as a remix kit.

Throughout touring, the band recorded new songs designated for a fifth studio album.[16] A new record contract agreement was never reached, and Jenny announced that she was working on her own solo album which later materialized as My Story.[17][18] On November 13, 2009, Ulf, acting as head judge on Idol 2009, announced that the band was negotiating with labels and was planning on releasing a new album in the beginning of the following year.

New members, The Golden Ratio, and Ace Thursdays (2010–present)[edit]

Ace of Base performing in Toronto, Canada (2010).

In late 2009, Ulf and Jonas recruited two female vocalists, Clara Hagman and Julia Williamson.[19][20][21] When this came to the fans' attention, Jonas and Jenny independently stated that the new band would not be called Ace of Base, but have another name.[20][22] This alternative line-up was later presented with a slightly changed name: "Ace.of.Base", but this was mainly a graphical adjustment used on the cover of their releases only.[23][24][25]

Jenny has stated several times that she has never left the band. On the contrary, she declared that all four original members are still band members and own the brand Ace of Base.[17][22][26][27] This was later confirmed by Jonas in an interview where he stated that Jenny never officially quit, but the record companies saw her as a leaving member. Additionally, the record companies wanted a new, but not necessarily younger vocalist.[28] Jenny also commented that she wasn't allowed by Jonas and Ulf to participate in songwriting for the band's album.[29]

The first single from The Golden Ratio, "All For You", was serviced to European radio stations in mid-July 2010 and was released as a single on September 10, 2010. The Golden Ratio was released on September 24, 2010. The album entered and peaked on the German album charts at number twenty. "All For You" reached number thirty-eight in the official German singles chart. No further singles were released in support of the album.

Throughout 2011 to present, Jonas and Ulf have been releasing previously unreleased material to fans via the band's official Facebook page and the website Reverbnation on a semi-regular basis in events called by the band as Ace Thursdays. In November 2012, Jenny was quoted as saying "The rest of the band are doing other things... We’re just wishing each other luck at this stage. I have a dream that we’ll get back together, so I don’t want to bang anyone on the head."[30] Ace Thursdays have been discontinued as of May 2013 but the Facebook page continues to be updated on a regular basis.

The official Ace of Base website became defunct in 2013. In January 2014, Julia announced on her official Facebook page that she had departed from the band in 2012.[31] She later confirmed that Clara was also no longer part of the band, stating on her Facebook page "I never really left the group, one day I just didn't hear anything from them and it's the same with Clara. Like it went up in smoke; really strange."[32] Neither Clara nor Julia have appeared in the group's main Facebook photo since September 2012, although they are both still included as part of the band's description.[33]

Legacy[edit]

Music artists such as Lady GaGa (left) and Katy Perry (right) have cited Ace of Base as influences

A number of musicians and singers have cited Ace of Base as a musical influence. Lady Gaga has claimed that her album The Fame Monster was influenced by the "super pop melodies of the 90s" by acts such as Ace of Base.[34] The song "Alejandro" in particular has been heavily compared to Ace of Base's version of Don't Turn Around. Paul Lester from BBC commented that "[Alejandro] moves at an Ace of Base pace,"[35] and Sal Cinquemani from Slant Magazine described the song as a homage to them.[36] The song "Eh, Eh (Nothing Else I Can Say)" from The Fame has also been linked to the band. Alexis Petridis from The Guardian noted that the song "is the first song in a long time that warrants comparison to the œuvre of Ace of Base".[37]

Katy Perry claimed that she wanted her third studio album Teenage Dream to sound like "The Sign".[38] "It's what I said I wanted earlier," she told MTV. "We nailed it: It's roller-skating! It's '90s! It's Ace of Base! It's Cyndi Lauper! It's like all these colors and more".[39]

Swedish artist Robyn said that she was inspired by Ace of Base for her song Dancehall Queen which was produced by Diplo and Klas Åhlund for her fifth studio album Body Talk Pt. 1. "We were just having fun with that kind of genre music. And the idea of making this song came out of that discussion. It was fun. We really connected on something where music that you might put in one box becomes something else, depending on how you look at it."[40]

Canadian synthpop group Trust has also cited Ace of Base as a musical influence, stating that "the synthesisers they used were of great influence on me... [their] first two albums [in particular]".[41] American indie rock band Yeasayer called Ace of Base "a seminal influence".[42]

Awards[edit]

Discography[edit]

For more on all single and album releases including extended chart information, see Ace of Base discography.

For a complete list of songs, see List of songs recorded by Ace of Base.

Studio albums[edit]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Balls, David (August 10, 2009). "Michael Jackson 'a fan of Ace Of Base'". Digital Spy. 
  2. ^ "Top 100 Albums". RIAA. Retrieved 2010-10-18. 
  3. ^ Trust, Gary (July 13, 2009). "Lady GaGa Makes Mainstream Top 40 History". Billboard.com. Retrieved 2010-10-18. 
  4. ^ Berggren, Jenny (2009-11-30). "@Jenny Berggren". Twitter. Retrieved 2010-10-18. 
  5. ^ "Totally Addicted to Base!". AceofBase.co.uk. Retrieved 2010-10-18. [dead link]
  6. ^ "Ace of Base GBG". HappyNation.net. Retrieved 2010-10-18. [dead link]
  7. ^ "Origins of Band Names[A-E]". HeaThen WoRLD.com. 1996. Retrieved 2010-10-18. 
  8. ^ Happy Nation Home Video, VHS, 1997
  9. ^ Our Story, SVT documentary, 1997
  10. ^ "Ace of Base". MvdBase.com. Retrieved 2010-10-18. 
  11. ^ Beatlab, SVT documentary, 2001
  12. ^ Olausen, Tonny (November 2007). "Vi Elsker Danmark [We Love Denmark]". Se & Hør: 20–21. 
  13. ^ "New song performed at Rock Under Broen". The Ace Boards. June 15, 2008. Retrieved 2010-10-18. 
  14. ^ "Ace of Base - Sparks From A Fire (Live in Vantaa)". YouTube. October 6, 2008. Retrieved 2010-10-18. 
  15. ^ "Wheel of Fortune 2009". Playground Music Scandinavia. Retrieved 2010-10-18. [dead link]
  16. ^ aceofbase (November 16, 2007). "Ace of Base in the Studio Oct 2008". YouTube. Retrieved 2012-04-09. 
  17. ^ a b Marko. "Marko: Jenny Berggren slingrar sig". Marko-saavala.blogspot.com. Retrieved 2012-04-09. 
  18. ^ [1][dead link]
  19. ^ Stefan Westrin 026-15 93 46 stefan.westrin@arbetarbladet.se. "Clara Hagmans spellista - Spellistan" (in (Swedish)). www.arbetarbladet.se. Retrieved 2012-04-09. 
  20. ^ a b "> Official message by JONAS !!". The AceBoards. Retrieved 2012-04-09. 
  21. ^ "> 2nd Official Message by JONAS!! (february 26, 2010)". The AceBoards. Retrieved 2012-04-09. 
  22. ^ a b "Blandat: Jenny Berggren om Ace of Base framtid - TV4 Play". Tv4play.se. Retrieved 2012-04-09. 
  23. ^ [2][dead link]
  24. ^ "QUESTIONS, No. 15...". Facebook. Retrieved 2012-04-09. 
  25. ^ "Biography » Ace of Base" (in (German)). Aceofbase-music.de. Retrieved 2012-04-09. 
  26. ^ "The original...". Facebook. Retrieved 2012-04-09. 
  27. ^ "Oao. You are wrong...". Facebook. Retrieved 2012-04-09. 
  28. ^ "The Ace of Base Interview". www.scandipop.co.uk. Retrieved 2010-11-01. 
  29. ^ "Jenny Berggren om Ace of Base-kollegornas svek: "De ville inte ha med mig" | Musik | Nöjesbladet | Aftonbladet". Aftonbladet.se. October 18, 2010. Retrieved 2012-04-09. 
  30. ^ Garratt, Rob (November 6, 2012). "We speak to Mixtape Rewind '80s and '90s festival headliners". timeoutabudhabi.com. Retrieved 2013-03-03. 
  31. ^ Julia's official Facebook page description, retrieved 2014-01-15 
  32. ^ Julia's official Facebook page, retrieved 2014-03-24 
  33. ^ Ace of Base official Facebook page description, retrieved 2014-03-24 
  34. ^ "Lady Gaga Talks "Fame Monster," Freakishness". Billboard.com. November 25, 2009. Retrieved 2010-10-18. 
  35. ^ Lester, Paul (November 20, 2009). "Lady Gaga The Fame Monster Review". BBC. BBC Online. Retrieved 2010-02-07. 
  36. ^ Cinquemani, Sal (November 18, 2009). "Lady Gaga: The Fame Monster". Slant Magazine. Retrieved 2010-01-31. 
  37. ^ Petridis, Alexis (October 23, 2008). "Lady GaGa: The Fame: Review". The Guardian (Guardian News and Media). Retrieved 2009. 
  38. ^ Elias, Matt (September 23, 2009). "Katy Perry Wants To Make New Music Her Fans Can 'Roller-Skate To'". MTV. Retrieved 2010-10-18. 
  39. ^ "Katy Perry Excited For Her New Summer Record". FMQB. March 29, 2010. Retrieved 2010-10-18. 
  40. ^ Suarez, Jessica (May 10, 2010). "Progress Report: Robyn". Stereogum. Retrieved July 10, 2010. 
  41. ^ "Trust: "Ace Of Base Were A Big Influence On Me When I Was Little"". Playgroundmag.net. June 7, 2012. Retrieved 2013-06-09. 
  42. ^ "Yeasayer's Anand Wilder: Ace of Base is kind of a seminal influence for us". CityPages. August 21, 2012. Retrieved 2013-06-09. 
  43. ^ a b "Grammy Sweden 1990". ifpi. Retrieved 2010-11-16. 
  44. ^ "Bravo magazine archive–Otto awards 1993". BRAVO. Retrieved 2010-02-01. 
  45. ^ "Echo Preisträger". Echo. Retrieved 2010-11-16. 
  46. ^ "BMI Awards". BMI. Archived from the original on February 5, 2010. Retrieved 2010-02-01. 

External links[edit]