Thought only Swedes sang in Swedish? Well, you are wrong. Ever since the 1950s, pop and rock stars of the world have tried to sing in the language of the Vikings. The latest is the American psychedelic band The Brian Jonestown Massacre. It's really nothing new for foreign superstars to sing Swedish songs—Swedish songwriters like Max Martin and others have produced many hits for American superstars like Britney Spears, Madonna, Pink, Nicki Minaj and others, not to mention the boy bands.
But let's look back at those who have braved our language in music:

1951—The Delta Rhythm Boys had a success with their version of ”Flickorna i Småland.” Listen to a 1951 recording at youtube:


1965—The American sibling group The Osmonds toured Sweden with Lasse Lönndahl and sang ”Fem smutsiga små fingrar.” The 1965 recording is at

1969—Australian Rolf Harris had a breakthrough in Sweden when he recorded Swedish versions of his own funny songs. Remember songs like ”Jag är Sven Gren (med ett extra ben)” and ”Släpp min känguru ut, Rut!”?

1978—The British punk group The Stranglers differed by not trying to win the Swedish audience. Singer Hugh Cornwell studied at Lund University, and his stay in Sweden inspired him to do a malicious portrait: ”Sweden (All Quiet on the Eastern Front)” on the ”Black & White” album. He also released the song in Swedish: ”Sverige (Jag är insnöad på östfronten).”

1995—Frigöra and 2003—Ferocious X. Did you know there’s something called ”scan disco” in Japan? Neither did we. But the coolest scan disco lovers wear army boots and carry Swedish names and sing in a Swedish that we maybe would not understand. Frigöra sang in Swedish back in 1995, while Ferocious X released records like ”Våga tänka själv” (Dare to think for yourself) in 2003, and ”Befria från vånda” (Deliver from agony) in 2006. Ferocious X is still an active band.

2004—British guitarist Graham Coxon (a member of the pop group Blur) enjoyed Swedish group Bob Hund so much that he tried to become a member of it. In 2004, he sang one of Bob Hund’s songs, ”Min trampolin,” in Swedish on BBC.

2005—Is Swedish a difficult language? Hmm. If you doubt it, then listen to The Mediæval Bæbes’ album ”Mirabilis," on which the rocking girls are trying to sing Carl Michael Bellman’s ”Märk hur vår skugga.” Not that easy.

2013—The Brian Jonestown Massacre, a psychedelic band, is taking on Swedish. Song writer and producer Jocke Åhlund from Teddybears STHLM has helped with both Robyn’s and Håkan Hellström’s careers, and he is the one who has made The Brian Jonestown Massacre members realize that singing in Swedish is the way to go. Well, we already knew that, didn’t we?

Is Swedish then a “small” language?
I.e., spoken by only a few and, other than the occasional artists, on its way to disappearing? Not likely. Swedish is larger than you may assume. Of course, far behind the top languages of Mandarine or English, Spanish or Japanese but nevertheless, relatively significant. Ethnological linguists estimate there are at least 6,000 languages in the world and Swedish is among the one hundred most spoken.
Some say it’s in 20th place among the world’s languages, which in essence means just over 1.5% of all languages have more native speakers than Sweden. Put another way, the Swedish language is used by more people than over 98% of all other languages.