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Music / The Cardigans

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"Rise and shine, my sister..."
The Cardigans are a pop group formed in October 1992 in Jonkoping, Sweden. Their big US airplay hit was "Lovefool" from their third album First Band on the Moon (and perhaps more pertinently featured in the William Shakespeare's Romeo + Juliet soundtrack), though their big hit album internationally was the Darker and Edgier follow-up Gran Turismo, featuring the European hits "My Favourite Game" and "Erase/Rewind".


  • Emmerdale (1994)
  • Life (1995)
    • The international edition of Life is a selection drawn from both of the above albums.
  • First Band on the Moon (1996)
  • The Other Side of the Moon (1997)
    • A collection of b-sides and rarities, only released in Japan and Australia.
  • Gran Turismo (1998)
  • Long Gone Before Daylight (2003)
  • Super Extra Gravity (2005)
  • Best Of (2008)
    • Their first (and so far only) Greatest Hits Album featuring singles and fan-favorite album tracks.

Tropes associated with The Cardigans:

  • A Cappella: They perform a cover of Ozzy Osbourne's "Mr. Crowley" in this style.
  • All Love Is Unrequited: "Carnival".
  • Album Title Drop:
    • Long Gone Before Daylight is a line from the album's closing track "03:45: No Sleep".
    • Life zigzags it. The title drop occurs in the track "Closing Time", which was only featured on the original Swedish issue and dropped from the international releases.
    • Super Extra Gravity is a line from the album's track "Holy Love".
  • Bowdlerize:
    • The "My Favourite Game" video has a tamer version where Nina is just seen driving. Although that version still shows she occasionally lets go of the steering wheel completely. There’s also four different variations of the ending where she crashes into a van carrying the rest of the band (detailed below).
    • The more famous version of the "Lovefool" video, with the band inside a bottle floating over water, is actually the second version of the video. The original, less TV-friendly version features elderly women in lingerie.
  • Alternate Music Video:
    • "Erase & Rewind" features the band in a room where The Walls Are Closing In. Two versions of the video exist: One where they are saved in the nick of time, and another where they are crushed.
    • The more famous version of the "Lovefool" video, with the band inside a bottle floating over water, is actually the second version of the video. The original, less TV-friendly version features elderly women in lingerie.
    • Because the original version is quite violent, five different cuts of the video for "My Favourite Game" were made with varying amounts of censorship and different endings. Three of them end with singer Nina Persson dying in a car accident (in three different ways), while she survives the accident in the fourth version. The fifth version eliminates all of the violence in the video including the accident, and just shows Nina driving down the road the whole time.
  • Break-Up Song: "My Favourite Game", among many others. Giving the brush-off to former lovers seems to be a favourite theme.
  • Clingy Jealous Girl: The narrator of "Lovefool".
  • Clueless Detective: "Travelling With Charley" is about the narrator's "detective darling" who "has never solved a case" but "has always style".
  • Cover Version: Black Sabbath's "Iron Man" and "Sabbath Bloody Sabbath", Ozzy Osbourne's "Mr. Crowley", and Thin Lizzy's "The Boys are Back in Town". Covered in the band's signature lounge-pop style with the exact same lyrics as the originals leads to massive amounts of Lyrical Dissonance.
  • Darker and Edgier: After the Cardigans hit it big with "Lovefool," they decided they wanted to be known for more than just sugary pop songs, so Gran Turismo was an intentional attempt to invoke this.
  • Death by Music Video: In the original video for "My Favourite Game", a suicidal Nina Persson drives recklessly at high speed down a desert highway, causing numerous accidents as other drivers swerve and crash while trying to avoid her, before deliberately plowing head-on into a van carrying the rest of the band. The final shot is of her broken body lying dead on the pavement. Because the original version was so violent, several alternate versions were also prepared, some of which had her survive the final crash or even removed it completely.
  • Drives Like Crazy: The entire point of "My Favourite Game" video.
  • Epic... er, Rocking?:
    • "Cocktail Party Bloody Cocktail Party". Nearly 16 minutes of a lounge piano medley of tunes from Life with cocktail party sound effects in the background.
    • "Closing Time" on the original Swedish version of Life is over ten minutes, while the last three minutes include ambient sound from the recording studio, with snippets of unreleased songs in between.
  • Exactly What It Says on the Tin: The UK edition of "Super Extra Gravity" has a 22 second long bonus track called... "Bonus Track".
  • Foreign Language Title: Gran Turismo, which is Italian slang for "a high performance automobile".
  • Greatest Hits Album: Best Of, taking over a decade into their career to actually get one released.
  • Hidden Track: Technically on the Swedish/Japanese editions of Life. The ten minute long final track, "Closing Time", ends after six minutes, and ambient studio noise plays for three minutes, along with snippets of songs from their future album, The Other Side of the Moon. Then, in the final minute, Nina sings one last verse.
  • Instrumentals: "Laika" and "Emmerdale".
  • Lonely Piano Piece: "After All..." and "Carnival (Puck version)" feature only vocals and piano.
  • Long-Runner Line-up: A shining example; the band's line-up has remained unchanged since 1992, with only a hiatus in-between, and Nina has said that a reunion will only happen if all five members take part.
  • Lyrical Dissonance: Particularly on Emmerdale and First Band On The Moon (and to a certain extent on Life, though lyrically it's somewhat Lighter and Softer then the albums before and after it), the lyrics were often much darker than the music would suggest ("Lovefool" is a prime example). Later on, the lyrics remained dark, but the music was more likely to match them.
  • Multiple Endings: Two of their videos have multiple endings.
    • The video for "My Favourite Game". After placing a rock on her car's accelerator and causing havoc on the freeway, Nina crashes her car into a van coming the other way. You then get one of four endings, depending on the cut:
      • "Walkaway": She is thrown over the top of the van and lands on the road, then gets up and walks away.
      • "Dead": She is thrown over the top of the van and lands on the road, dead.
      • "Stone": She is thrown over the top of the van and starts to get up, but is then hit by the rock and killed.
      • "Head": She hits her own windscreen and is decapitated. Only the head ends up on the road.
    • "Erase & Rewind" features the band in a room where The Walls Are Closing In. Two versions of the video exist: One where they are saved in the nick of time, and another where they are crushed.
  • Murder Ballad: The first two verses of "Closing Time" deal with the murder of a baker. Charley the detective (first mentioned in "Travelling with Charley") solves the case, but we aren't told who actually committed the crime.
  • New Sound Album:
    • Gran Turismo was Darker and Edgier than what they'd done before, and had more of a focus on electronics.
    • Long Gone Before Daylight — if not actually full-on alt-country, then certainly heavily influenced by that style.
  • Non-Appearing Title: "Lovefool" has both "love" and "fool" in it many times, but never together. "Been It" lists many things the narrator has "been" but the title phrase never appears. "Pikebubbles", "Country Hell", "Heartbreaker", and "Happy Meal" are all straight-up non appearing titles.
  • Religion Rant Song: "Godspell" is a Type 3, aimed at a particular strain of evangelical Christianity common in Nina Persson's hometown.
  • Sanity Slippage Song: "After All..." in which a woman slowly goes insane because her relationship is failing late at night.
  • Shout-Out:
    • In its album version, "Black Letter Day" has a spoken verse with a shout out to the astronomer Tycho Brahe.
    • The album Gran Turismo was named after the video game which they played frequently during the tour for First Band On The Moon. And appropriately, the sequel included "My Favourite Game".
    • "Pikebubbles" is based on the Swedish children's book Loranga, Masarin & Dartanjang.
    • The title of their first album, Emmerdale, comes from the popular British soap opera of the same name.
    • The intro and outro to "Heartbreaker" are meant to sound similar to "Black Sabbath" by Black Sabbath.
  • Softer and Slower Cover: A favourite trope, arguably to the point of being a Running Gag. They made loungecore versions of Black Sabbath's "Sabbath Bloody Sabbath" and "Iron Man", Ozzy Osbourne's solo track "Mr. Crowley", and Thin Lizzy's "The Boys Are Back In Town".
  • The Something Song: "Pooh Song", the b-side for the "Sick and Tired" single.
  • Sound-Effect Bleep: A guitar lick stands in for the word "whore" in the "Censored Radio Edit" (well, at least they were honest about it) of "Been It". Something of a *Bleep*-dammit!, since the word rhymes with "more".
  • Spoken Word in Music: "Closing Time", the final track on the Swedish/Japanese editions of Life, features a long middle section in between instrumentals where guitarist/songwriter Peter Svensson tells the listener what happened to some of the characters mentioned in the album's previous songs.
  • Step Up to the Microphone:
    • The band's guitarist/songwriter Peter Svensson has a long, spoken-word section all to himself on the track "Closing Time" from the Swedish/Japanese edition of Life.
      • And he sings lead on the b-side to "Hey! Get Out of My Way", "Carnival (Puck version)".
    • This was how Nina Persson became frontwoman. Way back before they were signed, Svensson was actually the group's lead singer, with Persson doing backing vocals. Then they gave her a Step Up To The Microphone song, "Rise & Shine", which was so well-received that she ended up being promoted to lead vocals full time.
  • Temporary Substitute: Oscar Humlebo has been the group's regular live lead guitarist since 2011, but he is still officially a temporary substitute. Peter Svensson remains, and most likely will always remain, their official lead guitarist even though he no longer performs with them.
  • Uncommon Time: "Pikebubbles" is in 5/4.
  • The Walls Are Closing In: "Erase And Rewind". The video has two versions: In the Video Full of Film Clips version made for The Thirteenth Floor, they manage to stop the walls in time; in the other, they are flattened.
  • Wanderlust Song: "Daddy's Car"
  • "Where Are They Now?" Epilogue: On the Swedish edition of Life, the final track "Closing Time" tells us what happened to some of the characters from the other songs. (In brief: they all lived Happily Ever After).
  • Word Salad Lyrics: "Pikebubbles", being a Whole-Plot Reference to a somewhat surreal children's book, comes across as this even though it's very faithful to the original.