On any given week on the Hot 100 these days, Swedish songwriters pop up on a minimum of 20 percent of the whole chart.
Led by Shellback (Maroon 5's "This Summer's Gonna Hurt"), Tove Lo ("Habits," "Talking Body"), Cirkut (Maroon 5's "Sugar"), Carl Falk (Ariana Grande's "One Last Time") and the unstoppable Max Martin -- who claimed his 20th chart-topper last month with Taylor Swift's "Bad Blood" -- the Swedish invasion is at peaks unseen since the late '90s heyday of the Backstreet Boys, 'NSYNC, Britney Spears and Celine Dion.
What's contributing to the resurgence? Increasingly, Stockholm itself. The Swedish capital was the subject of the panel "Music Production Mavericks" at Spotify founder Daniel Ek and Avicii manager Ash Pournouri's Brilliant Minds Conference, held at Stockholm's Grand Hotel on Friday (June 12). In this exclusive video of the discussion, moderated by Billboard's Andrew Hampp, we learned five things about pop music's biggest export city:
· Andreas Carlsson, who co-wrote many of Martin's biggest early hits in the late '90s alongside the late Denniz Pop, says the political unrest of the early aughts were tough on the Swedish pop boom. "During the pre-9/11 years, everybody would come to Sweden. The parties were crazy -- you know, the Backstreet Boys, the 'NSYNCs, the Britneys and everything. And then after 9/11, nobody wanted to get on a flight."
· Wyclef Jean has already cut more than 20 tracks at Avicii's studios in Pournouri's At Night offices in downtown Stockholm, working on his next album -- Clef-acation, his forthcoming debut release for new indie label Heads Music (to be distributed by Warner's ADA and Pournouri's PRMD.) "Being a studio with Tim [Bergling, a.k.a. Avicii], it reminded me of when I used to hear about Michael Jackson and Teddy Riley, or Quincy Jones. You're combining two different styles."
· Peer Åström, a veteran writer-producer for Dion, Enrique Iglesias and Jennifer Lopez who shares the Hot 100 record for most chart entries ever for his work as the music producer for Fox's Glee, credits Stockholm's nine-hour time difference behind Los Angeles as a unique advantage to productivity. "We could finish the music, send that over, so when [the cast] wake[s] up they have a finished track, they do the vocals awhile we're asleep and when we wake up the vocals are done, edited and ready to go."
· Though Carlsson was among the first Swede writers who moved to L.A. to keep up with his American pop-star clients, he eventually found himself relocating back to Stockholm. "If you're the first man in, you gotta be the first man out. I'm starting to feel more and more passionate about Stockholm. … I just think Stockholm has become a hub for amazing tech companies, innovation, great producers -- it's a fantastic community. We just have to expand the city a little bit, it's just a little too cramped. But I love it. It's really a great place."
· After a bailed bid to become president of Haiti, Wyclef found himself at a career crossroads that ultimately led him to Stockholm, where he wrote his first global hit with Avicii, last fall's "Divine Sorrow." "Running for president is hard. Being a rock star is easy… So like, you go from like 'Hips Don't Lie' with Shakira to putting a president in place -- you're f---ed up after that. Completely confused. So you come back to America, you're like, 'Yo what I'm gonna do now?' and I'm like, 'Yo, I'm going to Sweden!'"