By March 1994, “The Signal” topped the Billboard Sizzling 100 for a formidable six non-consecutive weeks. Ace of Base’s chokehold over radio was unprecedented—all three of their singles additionally reached No. 1 on the Mainstream High 40 airplay chart, making them the primary band in historical past to rack up that achievement with a debut album. With “The Signal” particularly, it’s simple to see why: that funky beat, the unusually processed whistle, and Jenny and Linn’s ascending, sometimes growling twin performances are irresistibly sunny. At the same time as critics took each alternative to name the band ABBA clones, typically straight to their faces (“In the event you ask us an ABBA query, it’ll price you 5 bucks,” Linn as soon as joked to a reporter), and dinged them for his or her repetitive sound, Ace of Base’s persistence and distinct mix of genres made them stars outdoors of their counterparts’ shadow. Very similar to white artists all through historical past who’ve rewired Black music right into a diluted, extra commercially palatable type, from Elvis to the Seashore Boys, their whitewashing of reggae labored wonders within the mainstream. It helped that their featherlight sound, totally artificial and draped in a blanket message of optimism, doubled as counter-programming to the grimmer themes of the grunge and rap music then climbing the charts. It was a distinction they typically amplified themselves: “I don’t assume the lyrics are one of the best on the planet,” Jonas admitted to Leisure Weekly, “however they’re not about ‘I shot them down,’ or ‘I’ll kill that or that or that.’”
The moment rush of fame left a long-lasting mark on the group, particularly its girls. “I favored the success in Europe, however after that, all my curiosity was misplaced there,” Linn mentioned of The Signal’s sudden ubiquity. They traveled on press excursions for the higher a part of two years, resulting in swift burnout. Linn, the first singer and the face of the band, was topic to an intense highlight. Most terrifying of all, in 1994 a would-be fan broke into the Berggrens’ household house and held Jenny at knifepoint. After three follow-up albums that includes the unique lineup—The Bridge, Flowers (launched within the U.S. as Merciless Summer time), and Da Capo—each Linn and Jenny left the group. The Signal stays Ace of Base’s most important album, a crystallization of pop music because it transitioned towards synthesizer-based manufacturing and pronounced Sweden as a veritable hub of pop songwriting. Within the decade to come back, aspiring American stars like Britney Spears and the Backstreet Boys would jet to Scandinavia seeking radio-conquering hits.
Although Ace of Base by no means reached the identical degree once more, their music has had an extended, extra curious afterlife than one might have anticipated. You possibly can hear its affect inside titanic turn-of-the-2010s pop albums like Girl Gaga’s The Fame Monster and Katy Perry’s Teenage Dream; each singers have additionally labored with Swedish producer Max Martin, who was operating espresso for Denniz Pop across the identical time that his mentor was producing Ace of Base. By design, it’s laborious to withstand their upbeat, stylized reggae-pop. At present, activate any pop radio station and one in every of their hits from The Signal will flip up ultimately, bopping alongside like a waving palm tree, as absurdly catchy an instance of pop music’s easiest pleasures now because it was then.
Extra analysis by Deirdre McCabe Nolan.