"What do you think I should do? Should I deny that I had breast surgery? Or, like Britney Spears, say that I got them from God?" - Lene Nystrom(Singer- Aqua)
Aqua - Euro Pop Stars
Danish dance-pop quartet are easily one of best bands from the Scandinavian pop scene to burst out into mainstream success. They would surely be recognized for their global smash hit "Barbie Girl" and the high production videos. Aqua never pretended to be anything but themselves; their music was about having fun with many sexual references. The band has sold nearly 36 million albums and singles world wide.
Aqua notched up #1 hits all over the world including US, UK and Japan. Their music has come to symbolize the Euro bubblegum pop which relies heavily on production and campy lyrics. Nevertheless, the band did show glimpses of their serious song writing talent when they recorded "Turn back Time". However after 2 albums and countless touring the band decided quit suddenly. Speculation on their break up seems to have increased interest in the band. A hugely successful Euro-Pop band, Aqua has reunited and is planning as third album and a world tour.
The roots of the band can be traced to DJ Rene Dif who was a DJ in The Netherlands, Søren Rasted and Claus Noreen were brought in together to record and produce a soundtrack for a little known film. After the completing the soundtrack of the film the band decided to continue to work together. It was Rene who spotted model and barmaid Lene Nystrom singing and recruited her to join the band as a lead singer. The band recorded a song called "Itzy bitzy Spider" but the single was a flop.
The Early Days
After rehearsing and also changing their name to Aqua from Joyspeed they developed their sound which would define their music. They signed with Universal Denmark based on demos and small shows they did in Denmark. Initially they released a single titled "Roses Are Red" in 1996, the song was a massive hit in Denmark. It easily surpassed all expectations of the band and the music label. After another single hit "My Oh My" it was obvious to the label that the band can be marketed as a mainstream act in Europe and other parts of the world.
The band released their first album "Aquarium" in 1997 which had the previously released two singles. The album was released in Europe and many Asian markets. They released their massive hit "Barbie Girl" with a video that received widespread MTV airplay. In the few weeks after release the single made it to the top 10 in UK and several other countries including the US. Finally reaching #1 in UK and Aqua were experiencing mainstream popularity for the very first time.
However, the song "Barbie Girl" with its double meanings was sued by Toy maker Mattel. In some ways it brought further publicity for the band. The next song "Dr. Jones" with an Indian Jones themed video was another smash hit as it went #1 in the UK.
The song "Turn back Time" received the best critical acclaim showing the glimpses of a more serious approach to music and songwriting. Included in the sound track for the movie Sliding Doors, the song was another hit. The album has thus far sold nearly 30 million copies world wide.
The band also toured extensively behind the success of the album. Lene Nystrom was fast becoming a pin-up girl for the band.
The band focused on the follow-up to the massively successful first album. Writing and recording for the album throughout 1999 the band released the much awaited "Aquarius" preceded by video releases and heavy promotion. However the band failed to make the same impact as its predecessor. The singles such as "Around the World" and "Cartoon Heroes" preserving the pop sound failed to make an impact. Though it is a multi-platinum selling album but the bands music which suffered from critical ridicule were never taken as serious musicians. The band did manage to tour all around the world even playing gigs in India.
The Aquarius and the Demise
But the summer of 2001, the cracks within the band appeared to show openly. Right from the beginning Rene and Lene were dating each other but during the same time, Lene was involved in a relationship with Søren Rasted. The group's tension blew out of proportion and decided to split suddenly to the shock of their fans and the music label. Lene Nystrom eventually married Søren Rasted and the couple has two kids. Their individual solo careers not proving as successful or interesting as the band.
They have reunited and toured some European countries in 2009, a full fledged tour and a new third album is due in 2010.
Did you know that...
- ...toy manufacturing giant sued Aqua for the song "Barbie Girl" trademark infringement and transforming their Barbie into a "Sex object" as the lyrics had sexual overtones.
- ...lead singer Lene Nystrom's first child was born in India married to Søren Rasted.
- ...Renee Dif has worked in several Danish movies and has created an acting career for himself.