#BlastfromthePast: Aqua

Now here’s a blogging DeLorean hop this weekend that will make certain readers – namely around my age – feel old. Can you believe it’s 20 years to the week that a certain group of Danish Europop legends topped the charts with an ode to the world’s most plastic fantastic doll?

The story of Aqua really begins nine years prior to that breakthrough. Under the name Joyspeed, keyboardist Søren Rasted and guitarist Claus Norreen were working together from 1988, with raspy voiced rapper and DJ René Dif joining and lead singer Lene Nystrom joining before they changed name to the one that stuck for the release of their first single in Sweden in 1994.

However, ‘Itzy Bitsy Spider’ was a resounding flop, spending only one week in the charts. Dropped by their record label and management, they regrouped and beavered away on the sound that would make up their debut album ‘Aquarium’, finally signing with Universal Music Denmark in 1996. Success duly followed with their next single, ‘Roses are Red’, which spent two months in the Danish charts and went platinum.

By the time their third single, the Mattel lawsuit baiting, disco pumping Europop anthem ‘Barbie Girl’ was released, they had been catapaulted to super stardom. After becoming a huge top 10 hit in America, that single went to number one in 13 countries, including the UK, where it spent four weeks at the top, and save for Sir Elton John’s ‘Candle in the Wind’ single for Princess Diana, was the biggest selling single in the UK that year.

But anyone convinced they were a one hit wonder in a decade as full of them as the 90s were proved wrong in all respects. With the release of ‘Doctor Jones’ and ‘Turn Back Time’ in January and May 1998 respectively, they joined an elite list of acts to reach the top of the UK charts with their first three singles, with ‘Turn Back Time’ even appearing on the soundtrack to the Gwyneth Paltrow film Sliding Doors.

Quiet for most of 1999, they returned in the new millennium with their second album ‘Aquarius’. Its lead single ‘Cartoon Heroes‘ was another worldwide top 10 smash, but sales and subsequent singles didn’t hold a candle to the huge success and chart topping positions of their debut three years previously.

After performing as the interval act at the 2001 Eurovision Song Contest in their home country (with short lived drumming dance team Safri Duo, no less), they quietly disbanded, with all the band going off to pursue solo ventures.

However, in 2008, they reunited and released and toured a ‘Greatest Hits’ package to good success, and their third studio album, ‘Meglomania’ was another huge hit in Denmark and Europe in 2011. So with two decades now having passed since ‘Barbie Girl’, here’s to Aqua – the band that put brightly coloured Europop on the map.

What are your memories of this week’s #BlastfromthePast? Tweet me now @ThePensmith10 using the hashtag #BlastfromthePast and I may feature some of your Tweets in next week’s blog!

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