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Music / Ace of Base

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Before they literally grew beards and faded from the spotlight...

Ace Of Base is a Gothenburg-based Europop band with its heyday in The '90s and arguably one of the most prominent Swedish pop music exports right after the likes of ABBA and Roxette.

The greatest merit of Ace of Base was their début Album Happy Nation (called The Sign in certain other markets) that found its way into Guiness World Records in 1995 as the best-ever sold début studio album with, until then, 21 million sold copies (which have become 24 in the meantime). note 

Another peculiarity of Happy Nation was being the first album to represent three top 5 hits at the Billboard chart list, these being "All That She Wants" (their initial breakthrough), "The Sign" (their biggest hit in the US) and "Don't Turn Around", all from 1993-94. Last but not least, these three songs from one and the same album were in the Billboard Top 100 for 48 weeks. This record would only be broken by Katy Perry (who said to be inspired by Ace of Base nonetheless) who made the same stunt for a whole year.


Their subsequent albums The Bridge and Flowers failed to repeat the success of Happy Nation, but were still a commercial success with 7 and 2 million sales respectively. Da Capo was the last album of the traditional line up and only sold about 500,000 copies. The wane of success coincided with the gradual self-disengagement of the perceived face of the band, Malin, leading to her eventual exit in 2007 and the subsequent exit of Jenny in 2009. With only Jonas and Ulf left, they watched for two new female vocalists and eventually found them in Clara Hagman and Julia Williamson who were lost in the meantime after one album (Golden Ratio) and made the band a lone pack of two wolves once again. Ever since, Ace Of Base released a compilation album fittingly called Hidden Gems containing previously unreleased material from every era of the original line-up.


Band members:

  • Jonas "Joker" Berggren (1990-present): Mastermind behind the formation of Ace Of Base (and their precedessors, at one time called Tech Noir) and its major songwriter. More into synth than actual singing, being the lead male voice if singing ever happens.
  • Ulf "Buddha" Ekberg (1990-present): Received some backfire when it became public that he used to be into the neo-Nazi scene in his youth. Even more so than Jonas into synth and the least prominent vocal part.
  • Malin "Linn" Berggren (1990-2007): Once the lead vocalist of the band, if not even face, she went more and more to the background from their third studio album on. While she got herself more and more into the background, first on tours, then in the studios, she eventually quit the band in 2007.
  • Jennifer "Jenny" Berggren (1990-2009): Originally the second female vocalist of the band, she took over the female and vocal lead of the band after her sister Malin got more and more disengaged. Was dissatisfied that the band didn't get to make a new album since Malin got inactive and quit the band in 2009 to pursue a solo career.
  • Clara Hagman and Julia Williamson (2010-2013): Part of the new lineup, filling the gap of the original female vocalists and making way for the last studio album.


  • Happy Nation / The Sign (1992/1993)
  • The Bridge (1995)
  • Flowers / Cruel Summer (1998)
  • Singles Of The 90's (1999)
  • Da Capo (2002)
  • Golden Ratio (2010)
  • Hidden Gems (2015)

Ace Of Base provides examples of:

  • Album Title Drop: The Bridge, from "Lucky Love" to be precise.
  • The Band Minus the Face: More and more so with the gradual retreat of Malin.
  • Band of Relatives: Malin and Jenny in the traditional line-up, sisters of Jonas. Subverted now as he's the last Berggren in the band.
  • "Blind Idiot" Translation: While they certainly aren't the band that's the worst at writing lyrics in English, there are a few instances where the lines don't sound quite right.
    • "It's not a day for work/It's a day for catching tan" and "It's a night of passion/But the morning means goodbye" in "All That She Wants."
    • "How can a person like me care for you?" in "The Sign."
    • "My love is my engine/And you might be fuel" in "Wheel of Fortune."
  • Broken Record: The long version of "Never Gonna Say I'm Sorry":
    I am like a clown and I know I'm not normal
    I am like a clown and I know I'm not normal
    I am like a clown and I know I'm not normal
    I am like a clown and I know I'm not normal...
  • Break-Up Song:
    • "Everytime It Rains"
    • "Don't Turn Around"
    • "Love In December"
    • "Lucky Love"
    • "The Sign"
    • "Wave Wet Sand"
  • Cloud Cuckoo Lander: "Never Gonna Say I'm Sorry"
  • Comically Missing the Point: Many listeners of "All That She Wants" thought that the song was about a woman wanting a child, due to the song's famous 'All that she wants is another baby' line, not realizing that 'baby' here is used as a synonym for 'boyfriend' or 'lover'.
  • Coming-of-Age Story: "Blooming 18"
  • Concept Album: The Bridge has a tropical theme built around it, both in lyrics and musical style.
  • Cover Version:
    • "Don't Turn Around" by Tina Turner (or Aswad)
    • "Cruel Summer" by Bananarama
    • "Wonderful Life" by Black
  • Dark and Troubled Past: Ulf
  • Demoted to Extra: Malin. Best to be seen at the covers of the albums Flowers and Da Capo where she's been suspiciously placed into the background.
  • Early Installment Weirdness: The original Happy Nation album differs from and specifically lacks many later world hits to be found on The Sign which was re-released as Happy Nation (U.S. Version) outside of the US. There's also a visible difference on the album cover: It shows little more than a glitter ball.
  • Ethical Slut: "All That She Wants".
  • Gender-Equal Ensemble
  • Give Me a Sign: "The Sign," making it a quasi-Trope Codifier
  • Hair-Contrast Duo: The blond Malin and the brunette Jenny. If you remember that Malin quit her music career altogether and Jenny pursued a solo career, you may well feel reminded to Agnetha and Frida.
  • Intercourse with You: "Adventures In Paradise"
  • Lonely at the Top: "Living In Danger"
  • Long-Runner Line-up: Type 1 before becoming type 2.
  • Love Nostalgia Song: "Lucky Love"
  • The Münchausen: Lampshaded in "Münchhausen (Just Chaos)".
  • New Sound Album: The Bridge moves away from the reggae fusion of Happy Nation (or The Sign if you live in America) into a more traditional pop sound, even foraying into Eurodance on "Beautiful Life" and folk-pop on "Lucky Love" (the acoustic version, that is).
  • Nostalgia Filter: Discussed in "Perfect World"
    "My father's father said that things were better then, how easy they forget.
    In every page in every book of history, a thousand tears were shed."
  • Ominous Latin Chanting: "Happy Nation"
  • Re-release the Song: "Wheel Of Fortune" got a second chance as a single after the success of "All That She Wants" turned the band into greater spotlight.
  • Story Arc: In the track commentaries of Hidden Gems, Word of God says that the four songs of "Happy Nation", "Perfect World", "Mercy, Mercy" and "Look Around Me" are tied together as a Coming-of-Age Story wherein a Soap Box Sadie eventually finds her meaning of life in hope and love at the very end.
  • Surreal Music Video: "Beautiful Life"
  • Utopia:
    • "Happy Nation"
    • "Perfect World"
  • You Cannot Kill An Idea: "Happy Nation"


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