Thursday, 23 February 2012

Blast From The Past

Recently in Copenhagen for four nights, we popped over the bridge across to Malmo for the day. Walking around Sweden's third largest city prompted the predictable discussion about famous Swedish exports. Naturally being a teenager in the 90s meant Ace of Base were one of the first to get a mention.

Based in Gothenburg, Ace of Base were original comprised of Ulf "Buddha" Ekberg, and the three Berggren siblings - Jonas "Joker", Malin "Linn"and Jenny. Although they released four albums between 1993 and 2002, I only really remember their debut Happy Nation/The Sign. It was this album that dominates our reminiscent discussion. As hard as I try, I'm only able to recall the singles The Sign and All That She Wants doing particularly well, having somehow temporarily wiped Don't Turn Around from my memory.

It is All That She Wants that triggers the most early memories. Described by Wikipedia as a "dark fusion of dub-reggae with pop"and released in 1992 when I was merely thirteen, All That She Wants quickly became the window into my French pen friend's world. I recall the first time I stayed with her, meeting her extended family for an Aunt or Uncle's Birthday. My French was always far more limited that my pen friend's English so communication was generally somewhat stilted. Trying to talk to her cousins proved almost impossible but a universal love of Ace of Base saved the day. Even though we could barely talk, we were all able to sing-along to All That She Wants - my English may not have impressed but my knowledge of the song lyrics clearly made an impression.

Even to this day, I can almost recite all the lyrics and doing so while walking around Malmo raised some interesting previously untouched questions. As a teen, I'm not sure I ever seriously contemplated the meaning of its lyrics:

"She leads a lonely life

She leads a lonely life

When she woke up late in the morning

Light and the day had just begun

She opened up her eyes and thought

O' what a morning

It's not a day for work

It's a day for catching sun

Just laying on the beach and having fun

She's going to get you

All that she wants is another baby

She's gone tomorrow boy

All that she wants is another baby

All that she wants is another baby

She's gone tomorrow boy

All that she wants is another baby

All that she wants, all that she wants

So if you are in sight and the day is right

She's a hunter you're the fox

The gentle voice that talks to you

Won't talk forever

It's a night for passion

But the morning means goodbye

Beware of that is flashing in her eyes

She's going to get you"

On a superficial level, the song seems to be highly inappropriate for influential young children to adoringly parrot and frankly slightly sinister - although "these days" there are of course plenty of artists worshipped by very young kids who release material well-beyond the years of their comprehension. Initial analysis of the lyrics leads to the interpretation that the song is about a sexually promiscuous girl who is actively seeking a baby from a one night stand she has no intention of ever seeing again. Hardly a wholesome or indeed responsible message.

Since returning from Copenhagen, I decided to look-up the lyrics and gauge whether I'd entirely missed the point by visiting: There seems to be little consensus on what the band were actually singing about - some believing "baby" to colloquially refer to the girl in the song's desire for a new man in her life, others actually interpreting the song to mean she's recently suffered a miscarriage and is keen to get pregnant again by any means or that she merely enjoys sleeping around. As a result of my findings, there has of course been further discussion at home, resulting in yet another possible lyric meaning dependent on whether a comma between "another" and "baby was originally intended - the girl in the song is rather horny and wants her baby (boyfriend) to “give it to her” again.

Without interviewing the band it's unlikely I'll ever discover the true meaning but in researching the song, I have at least made another shocking and educational discovery... Apparently after Linn left the band in 2007 (yes, they were still together then!), they continued to perform as a trio right up until 2009 when Jenny left the band. Even more surprising however, is the news a new line-up with half of the original band released an album in September 2010 (The Golden Ratio). Anyone keen to hear how Ace of Base have progressed over the years and whether they brought into the whole Euro-pop sound, will perhaps be disappointed by the Youtube video for their last album track:

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