25 Scandinavian Pop Artists You Should Know

Essential artists making some of the most intersting pop music out.

best scandinavia pop
P&P Original

Image via Jonathan F

best scandinavia pop

Sweden has had a long, beautiful relationship with pop music. In the '70s there was ABBA, in the '80s there was Roxette, and in the '90s there was Ace of Base and The Cardigans. In recent decades, the success has extended to Sweden's surrounding countries. Scandinavia has became a hotbed for forward-thinking music steeped in pop sensibility and experimental tendencies. While electronic, metal, rock, and hip-hop have all thrived in Sweden, Norway, and Denmark, there is still something special about the pop coming out of the region. When it comes to pop music, it seems that Scandinavia can do no wrong.

Note: For the sake of this article we're using the traditional definition of Scandinavia that includes only Sweden, Norway, and Denmark.



Hometown: Ålesund, Norway

Following the release of her internationally recognized hit "Don't Kill My Vibe," Sigrid had quite the breakout year. The rising star was raised on Joni Mitchell and Adele, and has won us over with her fun, carefree tunes, even snagging an elusive Lorde cosign. She's been busy ever since, touring her debut EP and making various best-of lists, ours included.

Sigrid ended 2017 with a pair of loosies, the remix-friendly "Strangers" and "Everybody Knows," a contribution to the Justice League original soundtrack. She's a natural when it comes to songwriting and performing, and with Island Records at her back, the sky is truly the limit for the young Norwegian.

Lykke Li

lykke li live

Hometown: Stockholm, Sweden

After releasing her Little Bit EP in 2007, Lykke Li started getting noticed, but it wasn't until her debut album, Youth Novels, that she really took off. Proving herself capable of melodically striking hits, mournful ballads, pouty pop, and retro-tinged doo-wop and soul, the Swedish songstress served a little something for everyone.

Her captivating live performance solidified the deal—she's known to cover hip-hop songs, pound away with a drum stick, and let loose with some dance moves accentuated by her usual get-up of flowy black garments. For her second album, 2011's Wounded Rhymes, Lykke delivered again, sticking with Björn Yttling of Peter Bjorn & John as producer and showing maturity in a slightly more edgy, less sugary sound.

One more album followed. 2014's I Never Learn is Lykke's most ambitious album, with massive singalong singles like "No Rest For The Wicked" and "Never Gonna Love Again." It's defiant heartbreak, once again produced in large part by Yttling's sure hand. As far as Scandinavian pop goes, Lykke Li is one of today's most popular and respected artists, and for good reason.


Blondage (credit: Rasmus Weng Karlsen)

Hometown: Copenhagen, Denmark

Blondage didn’t release much in 2017, but the duo certainly showcased a penchant for quality over quantity with singles “Stoned” and “Boss.” Comprised of Esben Andersen and Pernille Smith-Sivertsen, the pair consistently craft not only inescapable hooks and melodies, but rich, textural instrumentals that are consistently rearranging each song’s sugary core. “Stoned” switches between syrupy blasts of synths with a layer of gritty distortion with a rare deftness.

The duo have honed their chemistry and sound for years, collaborating initially as Rangleklods, and their work as Blondage is proof that icy cool, progressive pop can still have plenty of warmth to it. When we interviewed the group earlier this year, Smith-Sivertsen revealed what she thinks sets the Scandinavian scene apart.

“I think there’s more freedom as an artist to find yourself and your sound here. It doesn’t have to happen overnight. A lot of the people we know personally who are getting attention now worked on it for years and years. And when they were ready, they released it. The sense of urgency, finishing and releasing stuff as quick as possible isn’t that prevailing here,” she said. “But the time factor is one of many reasons why the Scandinavian scene often comes up with new sounds and new ways.”

Read our interview with Blondage here.

Little Dragon

Little Dragon

Hometown: Gothenburg, Sweden

For many people, Yukimi Nagano's star turn as a vocalist on SBTRKT's "Wildfire" was the first introduction to the vocalist from Little Dragon, but those lucky enough to be familiar with the four-piece from their first two albums would already have fallen in love with the dreamy soundscapes, experimental electronic production, and effortlessly cool voice of Nagano.

Little Dragon simply cemented their place as experimental pop darlings with 2011's Ritual Union, making fans of everyone from Questlove to Big Boi. They followed it up with 2014's Nabuma Rubberband, and won again in 2017 with the excellent Season High.

Okay Kaya

okay kaya

Hometown: Nesoddtangen, Norway

Double threat Kaya Wilkins' effortlessly mellow croon made waves back in 2015 with "Damn, Gravity" and a delightful cover of "Keep On Pushin," but she spent a good portion of 2017 nurturing her acting career, with tangible results. Just a month into 2018, however, Okay Kaya returned with a stunning new single single from her upcoming debut album. It's called "IUD," and comes with a mesmerizing video that treats the heady subject matter with a subtle, deft touch.​ Okay Kaya is once again primed for a breakout moment, and her upcoming album should provide just that.

Watch Okay Kaya perform live in our backyard at SXSW here.

Anna of the North

anna of the north lovers cover

Hometown: Gjøvik, Norway

Anna of the North has had a year filled with increasing stardom. After catching our attention back in 2014 with her breakout single "Sway," she left Australia to come back home, and the foundations for her debut album Lovers were laid. Each single earned her more fans, until all of a sudden Anna was in impromptu jam sessions with the likes of Steve Lacy and Tyler the Creator.

Her two guest appearances on Tyler's Flower Boy brought her to the mainstream, but Lovers was the underappreciated triumph that will propel Anna of the North to a massive 2018. Her music is a fun mix of '80s-influenced electro-pop fused with her own unique style, and we can't wait to see what's next.

Read our interview with Anna of the North here.

mo press image 2 pc max knight

Hometown: Funen, Denmark

Karen Marie Ørsted, aka , is another Scandinavian artist making electro-pop with a shimmering, glimmering surface and razor sharp edges. Coming across as somewhere between Grimes and Jessie Ware, but with her own inimitable style, MØ has a wonderfully powerful, easily recognisable voice that contains just the right mix of childlike wonder and gritty realism. She broke out with the 2013 EP Bikini Daze, then made two studio albums, and returned to EPs with When I Was Young in late 2017. Her biggest moment to date was a star-making performance as the featured vocalist on Major Lazer's global smash hit "Lean On." 

Tove Styrke

tove styrke press photo 2017

Hometown: Umeå, Sweden​

At one end of the Scandinavian pop spectrum is Tove Styrke, a purveyor of electronic, danceable hits with a breakout album on the way. Sway will arrive in May, but Styrke is heading out on tour with Lorde in March—her cover of the latter's "Liability" is worth a listen. In the meantime, she's been releasing a flurry of followups to 2015's Kiddo—"Say My Name" and "Changed My Mind" are two recent singles that show Styrke has only gotten sharper with time, still fully capable of tight, rhythmic melodies backed by snappy production. 

"It’s been the best kind of fun, wake-up-and-wonder-why-you-even-do-this kind of scary, incredibly interesting, and I’m really proud of how it’s turned out," Styrke said of the upcoming album. "A lot of these are feelings I thought I’d take with me to the grave but hey, I put them on an album instead!"

Miike Snow

miike snow

Hometown: Stockholm, Sweden

The producers behind Miike Snow, Bloodshy & Avant, know how to make pop music. They've produced for Sky Ferreira, Britney Spears, Madonna, Jennifer Lopez, Kelis, and other big name, radio-friendly stars. For Miike Snow, they took a different route. They partnered with New York-based singer Andrew Wyatt for electronically driven pop music that's slightly less radio friendly, slightly more experimental, and just as catchy. When the three started the project, they didn't even anticipate touring or getting much attention, but after recording a self-titled debut album in Stockholm and releasing "Animal" as a single, it was clear that Miike Snow was something special, and people took notice.

The group now has three albums to their name and played a role in the launch of the INGRID label with Lykke Li, Peter Bjorn and John, and Coco Morier.


Skott 2

Hometown: Dalarna, Sweden

Though she's part of Scandinavia's new school, Skott didn't take a traditional route to the limelight. She was only introduced to contemporary music in her late teens, having grown up in a countryside commune. She's made up for lost time with hits like "Porcelain" and "Glitter & Gloss," but 2018 is going to be Skott's biggest year yet. The Stay Off My Mind EP dropped last month, and it's some of her most direct music yet. She's realizing her vocal strengths and is working with a band of longtime friends—it shows in the music, and Skott is getting the kinds of looks reserved for stars in the making.

José González

gonzalez sweden

Hometown: Gothenburg, Sweden

Armed with little more than his guitar and a deceptively gentle voice, José González has become an icon in his native Sweden—and he's not doing too badly in the rest of the world, either. His two acoustic albums Veneer (2006) and In Our Nature (2007) jumpstarted his career, and González returned to the studio in 2015 to release Vestiges & Claws. He commands a meditative presence on the microphone, letting his pick work do the heavy lifting on beautifully understated songs like "Crosses," and "Killing For Love." His most famous song, however, was written by fellow Scandinavians The Knife—González's cover of "Heartbeats" is a longtime P&P favorite.


robyn live

Hometown: Stockholm, Sweden

Robyn is a pop star through and through, and has been bringing Scandinavian pop to the world since her first big international hit "Do You Know (What It Takes)" in 1997. Over the course of seven studio albums Robyn has consistently innovated within the dance-pop genre. While many people may only be familiar with her biggest hits ("With Every Heartbeat," "Dancing On My Own," "Indestructible"), her recent work is full of incredibly catchy, incredibly varied production.

From the techno of "Don't Fucking Tell Me What To Do" to ambient, otherworldly collaborations with Royksopp, Robyn personifies the bold Scandinavian approach to pop. Add in that powerful voice, and the ability to write painfully honest love songs as well as don't-give-a-fuck anthems, and Robyn is pretty much the perfect pop star.

Boy Pablo

boy pablo

Hometown: Bergen, Norway

Here's one way to get famous: write an excellent song, shoot a homemade video, put it on YouTube, and wait a few months. Let YouTube's recommended videos algorithm do the rest.

Okay, yes, Boy Pablo had amassed an impressive collection of songs before "Everytime" took off—he's one of Norway's brightest young rock stars, and 2016's Roy Pablo EP has six reasons why. There's a carefree edge to his songwriting that has the Mac DeMarco comparisons pouring in, but where Mac revels in the silly, Boy Pablo hangs his musical hat on an earnestness that comes through despite his youth.

Read more about Boy Pablo and how he went viral here.

The Knife

the knife live

Hometown: Stockholm, Sweden

The Knife's "Heartbeats" was an undeniable hit—the kind that could translate in any country, any genre, any style. It was with that song, and their 2003 album Deep Cuts, that the Dreijer siblings started getting noticed around the world. But instead of trying to recreate "Heartbeats" and breaking through to commercial success, they avoided media, didn't tour until 2006, refused to show up to awards shows (even when they won several Swedish Grammys), and with each album they got more experimental. In 2009, Karin Dreijer began a successful side project as Fever Ray, and The Knife's latest album Shaking The Habitual (allegedly their last) won the 2014 Nordic Music Prize​.

In 2018, their influence is apparent all over pop music. Sweden currently has no shortage of cutting edge, avant-garde pop that pushes the boundaries, and The Knife is one of the acts that paved the way for this type of experimentation and the pursuit of artistic integrity above mainstream success.



Hometown: Copenhagen, Denmark

This Danish trio emerged at the end of 2015 with sultry pop gems like "Minds" and "Away From Me" which were all brought together on a 2016 EP Once The Lights Are On. With two producers, Simon and Simon, providing shape-shifting electronic backdrops for singer Fine’s crystalline vocals, Chinah provides a subtle take on synth-pop.

On 2017 project Chinah expanded their scope with bolder production choices and more uptempo electronics, but, as with so many  Scandinavian artists, the strength of the songwriting is central to everything they do. We haven't heard from Chinah in a while, but maybe 2018 is the year when they'll deliver their debut album.


royksopp live

Hometown: Bergen, Norway

Röyksopp, at their best, blur the lines between pop and experimental electronica in much the same way as The Knife, and their undeniable talent has been recognized by other Scandinavian stalwarts. The duo has collaborated with Robyn (on one of their biggest hits "The Girl and The Robot"), Karin Dreijer Andersson (of The Knife) and Lykke Li. Röyksopp came to international attention with the release of 2009's Junior, a powerful, propulsive collection of electronic pop songs that were as much influenced by house and techno as any pop music.

Their music has only gotten better and more popular with time—their last album, 2014's The Inevitable End, was the group's last "conventional" studio album, but they've continued to create in a number of new and exciting ways.

Kwamie Liv

kwamie liv live

Hometown: Copenhagen, Denmark

When we first heard Kwamie Liv back in 2014, we were immediately drawn to her dark and intriguing sound on “5AM.” An impressive EP and a handful of singles later, Liv proved herself to be a force to be reckoned with, making a mark on the landscape of Danish music with her alluring, sensual vocals and minimalist electronic production.

We haven’t heard any new music from the songstress since 2016, and she hasn’t hinted at any upcoming release, as she continues to explore other forms of art. At the tail end of last year, however, she appeared on Korean artist Dmeanor’s single, “4u.” Here’s hoping that this marks the start of a new chapter in the Danish artist’s musical journey.

Read our interview with Kwamie Liv here.

Kill J

Kill J Gravity

Hometown: Copenhagen, Denmark

In the history of Scandinavian pop music, there has been no shortage of enduring melodies, massive hooks, and sweet, immediate songwriting. Acts like ABBA, Ace of Base, and Roxette all brought their own flavor, but Denmark's Kill J is adding a little edge to the format. Favoring forward-thinking production and sharp, provocative lyrics, Kill J has the big choruses and pop structure, but her songs are far more confrontational and challenging than your typical pop earworms. Kill J writes, produces, and performs, and she's got the skill and the confidence to pull off some of the most exciting and interesting new pop music coming from Scandinavia. 

Seinabo Sey

seinabo sey younger

Hometown: Halmstad, Sweden

A powerhouse singer, Seinabo Sey has one of those voices that can anchor light, infectious production and imbue it with major emotional heft (think Sampha or Jorja Smith). The daughter of West African musician Mawdo Sey, Seinabo thrives atop energetic percussion and rolling piano chords, incorporating aspects of R&B, folk, reggae, and blues into a rich pop sound that particularly soars on tracks like “Hard Time” and “Younger.” Though she hasn’t released a full-length record since 2015’s Pretend, Sey’s music still sounds completely fresh, meaning whatever she drops next will surely knock well into the 2020s.

Icona Pop

icona pop

Hometown: Stockholm, Sweden

If, like much of the indie blog world, you heard Icona Pop's "Manners" back in the beginning of 2011, you could have predicted that the Swedish duo would have a solid career ahead of them. You probably wouldn't have predicted, however, that a little over a year later the duo would break the top 10 on the Billboard Hot 100, but that's what they did with the Charli XCX-assisted "I Love It." The duo has capitalized on every opportunity since, with both critical acclaim from the early-movers and mainstream success with radio plays, song placements, and hit singles. They're next move is a third studio album—the group tweeted they were in "studio mode" back in September. 


klangstof press image

Hometown: Gjøvik, Norway​/Amsterdam

Since emerging in 2015, Klangstof has built up an impressive catalog of experimental rock and pop songs. They first got our attention with "Hostage" (and its incredible video) and "We Are Your Receiver," delicate, slow-building songs that hinted at stadium sized ambitions.

Lead singer Koen Van Der Wardt is actually Dutch, but he moved to rural Norway when he was 14, and the group has honed an expansive sound, with huge guitars and airy vocals creating moods inspired by Tame Impala, Radiohead, and Kendrick Lamar. The group returned last November with the Everest EP, and have been touring steadily ever since. It's no wonder—these guys have a massive sound well-suited for live shows, and it's about time you found out why.


jj Sweden

Hometown: Vallentuna, Sweden

The duo of Joakim Benon and Elin Kastlander make music that is both accessible and deliciously different. You could put jj on in the background and the glittering production and saccharine vocals will lull you into a sense of gentle calm, until you realize that the angelic voice is adopting American rap lines and singing, "Fuckin' insane/The fuck am I sayin'/Not only am I fly, I'm fucking not playing."

With a penchant for repurposing contemporary hip-hop and R&B lyrics and using them in dreamy pop songs, the duo are the embodiment of the kind of offbeat approach to music that seems to come so naturally to Scandinavian artists. Sadly, the mysterious duo release music only sporadically, but their 2014 album V is proof the group can make magic whenever they want to.

Read more about jj and their world here.

Peter Bjorn & John

peter bjorn john

Hometown: Stockholm, Sweden

It wasn't until Peter Bjorn & John's third LP that they gained some traction in North America with "Young Folks." Yeah, remember that song? You couldn't go anywhere in 2006 without hearing that carefree whistle. For many in our generation, it was an early taste of music crafted by a Swedish band that caught fire in the mainstream. In some ways, PB&J could be considered as pioneers of the current landscape of indie pop, dominated by a wildfire of Swedish music.

After side projects and a couple of critically-acclaimed albums, the band released Breakin' Point in 2016. The album capitalized on the recent success built by the trio's INGRID record label, founded in 2012. INGRID has become a mainstay in Swedish music culture since its inception, and continues to operate out of two studios in Stockholm.


smerz music

Hometown: Oslo, Norway

Like much of the best Scandinvian pop and pop adjacent music (The Knife, Royksopp, or jj, for example) Smerz's sound is hard to place. They draw influence from club music, industrial sounds, R&B, and present them in a new way. The duo of Henriette and Catharina produce, program, and sing all their own music, and direct their videos too, taking total control of their own vision.

Smerz' 2017 EP Okey shows off all the different facets of their sound and its centerpiece "Because" (originally released in 2016) is still a standout. The duo is currently signed to storied British label XL Recordings, which seems like the perfect partner to help take bring their boundary pushing sound to as many people as possible.

The Tallest Man on Earth

tallest man earth

Hometown: Dalarna, Sweden

The artist born Kristian Matsson first turned heads with "The Gardener" in 2008, but he burst onto global music radars in 2010 with his sophomore album The Wild Hunt, with rasping vocals ringing out over fervent strum-alongs like "Burden of Tomorrow" and "King of Spain." The emotion streams forth unhindered in Matsson's songs, and the two albums he's released since that breakout moment have earned him an international following.

He works in open guitar tunings, much like his early inspiration Nick Drake—though The Tallest Man on Earth is most often compared to Bob Dylan. His poetic lyricism is the stuff of legend, a feat all the more impressive considering English is his second language. 

Nervous Nellie

Hometown: Stockholm, Sweden

Nervous Nellie, a four-piece made up of two sets of brothers, could write straightforward, chart-topping indie-pop songs if they wanted. You can hear it in their choruses, in the clean, crisp production, and in the way their songs are carefully pieced together. But rather than going down that route, the band combine anthemic choruses with interesting twists and turns, little human touches that make the music connect, never more than on the brilliant "Gloves."

Beatrice Eli

Hometown: Stockholm, Sweden

Beatrice Eli's vocals are strong and accessible, with a soulful tinge that keeps her delivery interesting and engaging, whilst the production follows a similar formula, successfully straddling the divide between straightforward and experimental. Listening to her two-track debut EP it's clear that Eli is as comfortable professing her love over pounding drums and bright synths as she is telling an erstwhile partner that "it's over" accompanied by a choppy but funky guitar riff. Beatrice Eli is currently in the studio working on her debut album, so we're sure to hear more music from her soon.

Say Lou Lou

Hometown: Born in Sweden, raised in Australia

Twin sisters Elektra and Miranda Kilbey are technically as Australian as they are Swedish, having spent their entire lives hopping back and forth between the two countries thanks to their parents, but we couldn't not include them. The Kilbey twins have been frequenting blogs ever since their debut, "Maybe You." Their lush, dreamy voices paired with cinematic production makes for some emotive and memorable indie pop, and with their recent collaborations with artists such as Chet Faker, it looks like the twins are on a roll.


Hometown: Stockholm, Sweden

Scandinavian pop music often seems to have elements of melancholy or even menace that make it stand out from the painfully bright, overly upbeat sounds that we might associate with American pop. The music of NONONO, who are made up of production duo Astma and Rockwell and singer Stina, incorporates both the light and the darkness, with songs like summer synth-pop delight "Pumpin' Blood" standing in contrast to the eerie lilt of "Like The Wind." Having already proved they are far more than a one trick pony, it will be interesting to see where NONONO are headed next.

Kate Boy

Hometown: Stockholm, Sweden

With The Knife leaving behind the sound that made them famous and moving towards ever more brutal, challenging sounds, someone needs to take up the mantle of making dark, moody, but incredibly catchy electro-pop, and it looks like that someone is Kate Boy. Consisting of three Swedes and one Australian (lead singer Kate Akhurst), the band's success is built on the propulsive, synth heavy production, which is the perfect foil for Akhurst's powerful vocals.

Mr Little Jeans

Hometown: Grimstad, Norway

Monica Birkenes, the voice behind Mr. Little Jeans, moved to London then L.A. to pursue a career in music, but it was not until she released a stunning, haunting cover of Arcade Fire's "The Suburbs" that people began to take notice. With a delicate voice that is sometimes reminiscent of Lana Del Rey, Birkenes describes her sounds as "pop that dances left of center," and the slightly wonky electronic production that she uses confirms that description.


Hometown: Stockholm, Sweden

Elliphant stunned us with her self-titled EP which she dropped at the beginning of the year, and since then she's continued to blend pop, hip-hop, and electronic styles with consumate ease, calling to mind the wild eclecticism of M.I.A. at her most punishing. Calling Elliphant the Swedish M.I.A. might even be doing her a disservice though, as she has proved (on "Live Till I Die" for example) that she can more than hold her own as a straight-up singer, with a voice that is as likely to soar through a chorus as it is to spit through a verse.

Niki & The Dove

Hometown: Stockholm, Sweden

Niki & The Dove are Malin and Gustaf, a duo who we've been supporting since late 2010, when we heard early versions of the sweeping "DJ Ease My Mind" and "Last Night," both of which eventually appeared on their impressive, inventive 2012 debut album Instinct. Malin's voice is malleable and unpredictable, leaping from strident highs to earthy lows, while the lyrics are full of the kind of vivid imagery that Natasha Khan (of Bat For Lashes) does so very well. Add to that delightfully organic feeling production, and this duo have all the pieces in place to be successful for a long time to come.

Tove Lo

tove lo

Hometown: Stockholm, Sweden

Tove Lo first caught our attention with the infectiously catchy "Habits." It's a track that stays just the right side of corny, and has the kind of hook that worms its way into your head without you even noticing, and then never leaves. With a co-sign from Marina & The Diamonds behind her, Tove Lo is definitely a name to watch out for if you love good, wholesome pop music.


Hometown: Copenhagen, Denmark

We had the pleasure of premiering Fallulah's "Out Of It" back in February, but unbeknownst to us, Fallulah (real name Maria Apetri) had already established quite the reputation for herself in the Danish music scene, having won numerous awards and accolades. "Out Of It" is an example of what Aperti is capable of - thumping, infectious instrumentals and some powerful yet delicate vocals, yielding a perfect balance. She's got us looking out for more of that powerful, addicting, indie pop.