The Cardigans! Not cardigans, though I love those too, but The Cardigans, the Swedish pop rock band formed in 1992 and made up of vocalist Nina Persson, guitarist Peter Svensson, bassist Magnus Sveningsson, drummer Bengt Lagerberg, and keyboardist Lasse (frequently listed as Lars-Olof on other sites, however, on The Cardigans official website it is Lasse) Johansson.
Why do I want to talk to you about The Cardigans? Well, I really like their third album, first band on the moon, released in 1996. For about a year, I would always check any second-hand store CD section for it, but it's not a huge album. Many in the United States first heard their one major U.S. hit song in 1996's Romeo + Juliet, directed by Baz Luhrmann, so many opted simply to get the soundtrack for that film rather than explore more from the band. However, today, at a Half-Price Books near my childhood home, I found it! And in good condition, too.
But speaking of their one hit* (*on the U.S. pop charts), you know it. You don't believe me? Lovefool by The Cardigans can be found here (even if you don't recognize the name, take a listen, it shouldn't take you very long).
As previously mentioned, Lovefool became a huge international hit after being featured in Romeo + Juliet, but nothing else by the band took off, and much was not even released, outside of their home country of Sweden; and Japan, for some reason. They had one additional cross-over success in 1998 with their song My Favorite Game, but this did not hit the pop charts, only the rock charts, in the U.S., so most still consider them a one-hit wonder, when combined with the fact that Lovefool is the only song anyone in the U.S. remembers. I, however, think the rest of their discography is worth checking out! They have some incredibly interesting Black Sabbath covers in their own style, such as this one of Sabbath Bloody Sabbath:
Lovefool itself had such a huge impact on U.S. music, and a revival of bubblegum pop: an upbeat, "sugar sweet" style of music aimed at teenagers in the 1960s-70s, and later, the 90s. Many "bubblegum" artists also ended up being one-hit wonders. The strange thing about Lovefool, however, is... it is not a happy song. There is no mutual attraction in it's lyrics. It's... bargaining. "So I cry, and I beg for you to love me ... pretend that you love me." This is a woman in a codependent relationship with a man who does not want her in his life. "I don't care if you really care as long as you don't go..." Bubblegum seems a strange way to describe the song, but that's how it has been categorized! It seems The Cardigans weren't necessarily the biggest fans of this contextualization, however, given that they never chased the fame and success of Lovefool. They kept making music for themselves, their fanbase in Sweden, and more niche audiences in Japan and the UK; before breaking up in 2006. In 2012, they reunited, however Peter Svensson, guitarist and songwriter for the band, would never return, and all other bandmembers shot down ideas of making new music without him.
The band seems to prefer playing their album Gran Turismo, but do still perform Lovefool from time to time, including, most recently, in 2022.
I would recommend listening to more of their discography to anyone, but especially if you like the artists Frente!, Garbage, Mitski, or other female-led pop rock acts with a bittersweet edge, give it a listen! I'm obviously partial to first band on the moon, especially the songs Your New Cuckoo, Been It, and Step on Me; but their other albums, especially Gran Turismo, are good as well!
Until next time!