There are some countries that come to mind almost instantly when talking about the most successful musicians. People tend to think about the United States or the United Kingdom, but Sweden also belongs to the conversation. Between their contributions to pop and metal music, Sweden has a rich music history and has had several bands sell millions of albums. Let’s take a look at who really stands out and break down the 15 best-selling Swedish music artists of all time.
Total Sales: 385 Million
To the surprise of nobody, ABBA has sold more albums than any Swedish musical act, and it’s not particularly close. ABBA has been a global sensation since its inception in the 1970s, especially after winning the Eurovision Song Contest with their hit Waterloo. Comprised of Agnetha, Bjorn, Benny, and Anni-Frid (hence the name), ABBA is one of the best-selling bands of all time from any country.
ABBA’s best selling album is actually a compilation of their greatest hits called ABBA Gold, which was released in 1992 and sold 30 million copies worldwide. Some of their biggest songs include Dancing Queen, Take a Chance on Me and Mamma Mia, which spawned a musical and pair of films.
Total Sales: 75 Million
Another act that shouldn’t come as a surprise, thanks to their success outside of Europe, is Roxette, the duo comprised of Per Gessle and the late Marie Fredriksson. Roxette had already found success in their native country with the 1986 release of Pearls of Passion but truly made their mark with the 1988 and 1991 releases of Look Sharp! and Joyride.
All in all, Roxette would have six number one albums in Sweden while also padding onto their sales totals with a greatest hits album. Some of their biggest worldwide hits included The Look, Listen To Your Heart, and It Must Have Been Love, all of which were number one on the Billboard Hot 100.
3. Ace of Base
Total Sales: 40 Million
You can’t talk about 1990s pop music without mentioning Ace of Base, the Swedish quartet that churned out a slew of hits during the decade. Formed in the late 1980s, Ace of Base found international success with the release of their 1992 album Happy Nation. The following year, a variation of the album, The Sign was released in North America to bring them global appeal.
The Sign went to number one in the United States and Canada thanks to hits such as All that She Wants, The Sign, and Don’t Turn Around. Ace of Base would continue their success with the albums The Bridge, Flowers, and Cruel Summer before unofficially calling it quits in the early 2000s
Total Sales: 30 Million
Born Tim Bergling in 1989, Avicii was one of many that started to find success on the internet before making it big on the radio. Avicii was just a teenager when he began his career, and found instant success after being signed to a record label thanks to his hit song Levels. Avicii released three studio albums during his career, all of which were number one in Sweden.
Avicii’s biggest breakthrough came in 2013 with the release of Wake Me Up, which he followed up with songs like Hey Brother and Without You. Sadly, Avicii had suffered with mental health issues for years and took his own life at just 28 years old in 2018.
5. The Spotnicks
Total Sales: 18 Million
While most of the bands on the list reached their heyday during the 1990s, The Spotnicks came much earlier. With a very long list of members that have come and gone over the years, The Spotnicks were around from 1958 until 2019. Known for their eccentric spage-aged stage performances, The Spotnicks released more than 50 albums during their long run.
Due to the high volume of releases, The Spotnicks were bound to have plenty of albums sold. Some of their biggest hits include Blue Blue Day, Amapola and Orange Blossom Special. The Spotnicks first single was their version of Johnny Guitar, which video game fans may recognize from Fallout: New Vegas.
6. The Cardigans
Total Sales: 15 Million
Heading back to the 1990s, The Cardigans consisted of five members that formed in Jonkoping in 1992. Though they have heavy metal roots, The Cardigans became popular thanks to their poppy tunes. The group released their first album in 1994 with Emmerdale, but it wasn’t until the release of 1996’s First Band on the Moon that they started to hit it big.
The album featured the hit song Lovefool, which became a big hit in Sweden and Ireland, but not really anywhere else. It wasn’t until the song was featured on the soundtrack for Romeo + Juliet that it became a global hit. The Cardigans followed it up with hit songs including My Favourite Game, Burning Down The House and For What It’s Worth.
7. Dr. Alban
Total Sales: 16 Million
Though he was born in Nigeria, Alban Uzoma Nwapa became a famous musician in Sweden under the name Dr. Alban. It’s not just a stage name, either, as Alban moved to Sweden in his early 20s and became a dentist. In 1991, Dr. Alban released his first album Hello Afrika and released four more throughout the 1990s.
Dr. Alban found modest success, but it was sustained for the entire decade, which helped him be one of the best selling Swedish music artists of all time. Dr. Alban had massive hits in Sweden including It’s My Life, Look Who’s Talking and This Time I’m Free. Dr. Alban continues to release music to this day.
Total Sales: 12 Million
Though they were formed in the late 1990s, it wasn’t until 2000 that the group Alcazar started to gain recognition. The pop/disco group released their debut album Casino that year, and followed up with a pair of albums throughout the 2000s with Alcazarized and Disco Defenders that would both reach the top five of the Swedish charts.
Alcazar became a staple of the singles charts, as well, reaching the number one spot twice with their songs Not a Sinner Nor a Saint and Alcastar. Some of their other major hits included This Is the World We Live In, We Keep on Rockin’ and Stay the Night.
Total Sales: 11 Million
Returning to the time of The Spotniks, Vikingarna was popular for their “dansband” music, which is a combination of several popular dances including the jitterbug and foxtrot. Vikingarna formed in 1958 and lasted all the way up until 2004 with more than a dozen total members to come and go.
It wasn’t until the 1970s that Vikingarna found their most success, though. They released more than a dozen albums with Mariann Records, and although they didn’t have any big radio hits across the world, they became legends in Sweden, selling millions of albums along the way.
Total Sales: 10 Million
Some might be surprised to see Europe so low on the list, especially with hit songs including The Final Countdown, Rock the Night, and Carrie, all of which were massively popular in the western hemisphere. Europe was formed in 1979, but didn’t release their debut self-titled album until 1983.
Three years later, they garnered international success with the release of The Final Countdown, which rose to the top 10 in the United States. Their 1988 follow up Out of This World fared well, too, but the band released just one more album during their peak. Europe continues to be popular in Sweden, though their breakup in 1992 did kill some great momentum they had built.
11. Swedish House Mafia
Total Sales: 10 Million
Formed in 2008, Swedish House Mafia was a trio of DJs formed by Eric Prydz, though he wouldn’t join the band itself. Axwell, Steve Angello, and Sebastian Ingrosso started to mix songs for the group, and quickly became popular in Sweden. In 2012, the band scored their biggest hit with Don’t You Worry Child that rose to number six on the Billboard Hot 100.
Unfortunately, the group would split shortly after their biggest hit. Axwell & Ingrosso would form a duo while Steve Angello went solo, but their breakup wasn’t permanent. Swedish House Mafia reunited in 2018 and released their first studio album in 2022, Paradise Again.
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Total Sales: 1 Million
For many around the world, the only thing they know about the band Rednex is that they were responsible for the infectious Cotton Eye Joe that was released in 1995. It was actually one of the band’s first songs, too. Rednex was formed the year prior, and the list of names that have been in Rednex at some point is too long to talk about in detail.
Their first album, Sex & Violins would go on to be number three in Sweden and was in the top 70 in the United States. They’ve released two albums since then, but nowhere near the same amount of success. Their sophomore album, Farm Out, didn’t even reach Sweden’s top 50 upon its 2000 release and their 2009 album The Cotton Eye Joe Show was only released digitally.
Total Sales: 8 Million
Jonas Altberg is one of Sweden’s most prominent DJs, performing under the name Basshunter since 2001. Altberg released his first album in 2004 without much fanfare, but in 2006 he released LOL, which went platinum in Denmark and Finland. Altberg has released five studio albums in total, as well as a pair of compilation album.s
Some of the biggest Basshunter hits in Sweden include Boten Anna, Fest I Hela Huset and Every Morning. Some of his work was also popular in the United Kingdom, with Now You’re Gone reaching number one while All I Ever Wanted got to number two on the charts.
14. Army of Lovers
Total Sales: 7 Million
The dance-pop group Army of Lovers has formed, broken up, and reunited multiple times during their long run that started back in 1987. Originally comprised of Alexander Bard, Jean-Pierre Barda and Camilla Henemark, Army of Lovers released their first album in 1990 called Disco Extravaganza.
Interestingly, the band has only had four studio albums, all of which were released between 1990 and 1994. They’ve released multiple compilations, but have focused more on churning out singles. They reached the top 10 in Sweden three times with their hits Crucified, Israelism, and Obsession, the latter of which reached number two.
Total Sales: 2 Million
The A-Teens started out as an ABBA tribute group, but found out quickly that they were able to make a name for themselves with their own music. They had chart success with their ABBA covers including Mamma Mia, Super Trouper, and Gimme! Gimme! Gimme! from The ABBA Generation album.
Their first non-ABBA album came with Teen Spirit in 2001, which produced hits such as Upside Down and Halfway Around the World. They were at the top of their game in 2004, but decided to split that year to pursue solo careers.
As the Head Editor and Writer at Music Grotto, Liam helps write and edit content produced from professional music/media journalists and other contributing writers. He works closely with journalists and other staff to format and publish music content for the Music Grotto website. Liam is also the founding member of Music Grotto and is passionate in disseminating editorial content to its readers.
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