The Cardigans are a Swedish rock band formed in Jönköping, Sweden, in 1992, by guitarist Peter Svensson, bassist Magnus Sveningsson, drummer Bengt Lagerberg, keyboardist Lars-Olof Johansson and lead singer Nina Persson, with the line-up remaining unchanged to this day.
Their debut album Emmerdale (1994) gave them a solid base in their home country and enjoyed some success abroad, especially in Japan. It was not until their second album Life (1995) that an international reputation was secured. Their popularity rose when their single "Lovefool", from the album First Band on the Moon (1996), was included in the soundtrack of Baz Luhrmann's 1996 film William Shakespeare's Romeo + Juliet. Other singles included "Erase/Rewind" and "My Favourite Game" from the album Gran Turismo (1998). After a five-year hiatus the band returned with Long Gone Before Daylight (2003) a mellower country-laden record. Their last album Super Extra Gravity (2005), a continuation of the country music infused by pop sensibility and further maturing in the band's sound, was the best-selling Swedish album of that year. After a 2006 tour, the band embarked on a long five-year break from musical activities, before reuniting in 2012 to play several concerts. Overall the band sold over 15 million albums worldwide.
First years: 1992–1994
Peter Svensson and Magnus Sveningsson, both heavy metal musicians, formed the group on 31 October 1992 in Jönköping, Sweden, with drummer Bengt Lagerberg, keyboardist Lars-Olof Johansson and lead singer Nina Persson. Living together in a small apartment, The Cardigans recorded a demo tape with Persson providing lead vocals on only one of the songs towards the end of the tracklist. A&R man Ola Hermanson heard the demo and signed the band to his Trampolene imprint. In 1994, they released their debut album Emmerdale in Sweden and Japan; it was re-released internationally in 1997. The album included the Swedish radio hit "Rise & Shine", which was later voted the best of 1994 in a poll in Slitz magazine.
Commercial success: 1995–1999
The remainder of 1994 was spent touring Europe and recording Life, which was released worldwide in 1995. Life became an international success, selling more than a million copies and achieving platinum status in Japan. In 1996, Life was released under the label Minty Fresh in the US, but this release was essentially a compilation of tracks from Emmerdale and Life.
After their success with Life, The Cardigans signed to Mercury Records, under which they released First Band on the Moon worldwide in 1996. "Lovefool" was a hit worldwide, particularly in the US and Japan, where the album reached platinum status in three weeks. The album also achieved gold sales status in the US. "Lovefool" was shown on MTV in the late 1990s as a music video with clips from the 1996 hit film Romeo + Juliet starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Claire Danes. It also featured in the film Cruel Intentions (1999).
In 1997, the band played themselves on the graduation episode of Beverly Hills, 90210 as the featured entertainment at the fictional California University's graduation party, hosted by Kelly Taylor's dad, Bill Taylor. The band performed "Lovefool" and "Been It."
1998's Gran Turismo was followed by a long hiatus during which the band members pursued solo side projects. The same year they also released a compilation album of rare B-sides, The Other Side of the Moon as a Japan-only release. The video of the song "My Favourite Game" was censored by MTV for showing reckless driving. Despite this, it went on to become their second global hit song. "My Favourite Game" was featured on the soundtrack of the PlayStation video game Gran Turismo 2 in the intro movie on CD1. That year also saw their song "Deuce" appearing on The X-Files: The Album.
In 1999 the Cardigans recorded a duet cover of Talking Heads' "Burning Down the House" with Tom Jones for his album Reload.
On a short hiatus: 2000–2001
After working non stop for 6 years the band decided to take a break. During this break Nina Persson released an album as A Camp, and Peter Svensson and Bengt Lagerberg worked on the project Paus with help from Joakim Berg from Kent, and Magnus Sveningsson recorded as Righteous Boy. A Camp's eponymous titled debut album, was originally recorded with Niclas Frisk of Atomic Swing, before Persson teamed up with Mark Linkous of Sparklehorse to re-record it. In doing so he also contributed some new songs to the album. Nina had been a long-time fan of Sparklehorse and has referred to them as "the best I've ever heard". After a gig in Lund, Sweden, Persson gave Linkous a cassette of all the demo A Camp songs. When they met again during the recording of his most recent album, Persson mustered the courage to invite him to produce her project. Linkous listened, liked the songs, and agreed. The debut album A Camp (2001) released the singles "I Can Buy You" and "Song for the Leftovers".
Renewed activity: 2002–2006
The Cardigans returned in 2002 to record Long Gone Before Daylight (2003), a collection of songs mainly written by Persson and Svensson. Long Gone Before Daylight became one of the best selling albums in Sweden in 2003. After a 2-year hiatus from their last album, it was released in Japan on March 19, 2003 and in Europe on March 24, 2003. Later it was also released in Canada (April 22, 2003) and the United States (May 25, 2004).
The album differs from the band's earlier works. Their familiar "happy" pop sound takes on a change to pop songs with more of an American country music influence. It is relatively a much darker album than their previous works, and more quiet than the noisier Gran Turismo. Indeed, even lead singer Nina Persson dyed her once light blonde hair to jet black, reflecting the band's change of mood.
Criticism was generally mixed to positive. Some found the change of direction welcome, and felt the band had matured, making songs that were even better than other experienced country-pop styled artists. Others missed the old pop sound, and accused the band of possibly being ashamed of their former "happy" pop sound. The first single of the album, "For What It's Worth" was released on February 17, 2003. The second single was "You're the Storm" released on June 2, 2003. The third and final single was "Live and Learn" released on December 3, 2003. In the summer of 2004, The Cardigans toured with Liz Phair, Katy Rose and Charlotte Martin on the Chicks With Attitude tour.
On 28 April 2005 the band's iTunes Originals album was released through iTunes. On 19 October 2005 the band released their sixth album Super Extra Gravity to generally favourable reviews.Super Extra Gravity went straight to the #1 spot on the Swedish album chart and was certified gold (sales over 40,000).
On a long break: 2007–2011
After their last album, the band had another break from recording and touring, which was albeit longer and bandmembers devoted to solo projects and running families. A Best of compilation album was released in January 2008. In the band's break of 2007, Persson recorded the second A Camp album Colonia, which was released in early 2009. When the band ceased all promotional activities following a South American festival tour in September 2006, Persson decided to revisit the A Camp project with the view of releasing a new studio album by 2008. The initial demo sessions were met with frustration, however, when Persson struggled to find the right framework to produce a new A Camp record. "(The first A Camp album) was like my perfect country record. I didn't want the new album to sound anything like it, because that would have cheapened it. And I didn't want it to sound like a Cardigans album. So it took a long time to figure out what songs should be suitable." A Camp supported the US release of Colonia with a tour, which began in New York on 26 May and completed on 15 June in Los Angeles.
Reunion and tour: 2012–present
In 2012 The Cardigans announced that they would participate in Summer Sonic Rock Festival in Tokyo and Osaka on 18 and 19 August 2012. They also announced that they would play on July 11 at Moscow's Stadium Live Club, on August 4 at Tel Aviv's Ganei HaTa'arukha and on August 14 at Jakarta. The band spoke positively about their first rehearsals since their reformation. They also played in Taipei, Taiwan the 16th of August the same year. The band continued touring in summer 2013, and played in Moscow on 4 December, 2013. In interviews promoting her solo album Animal Heart, Persson suggested that following the success of their most recent live dates, future Cardigans recordings are a possibility, though there are no firm plans at present.
In 2006, Sveningsson restarted their old label Trampolene and became an A&R for it. The first signing was the Swedish popband The Animal Five, which was a minor success in Sweden and Germany.
Lagerberg and Johansson formed the group Brothers Of End, releasing a debut album The End in 2009, and a second album Mount Inside in 2011. A third album, Shakers Love, is scheduled for release in 2014, and according to the group's Facebook page, Nina Persson will appear in the video for the lead single, "Heat".
In November 2006 Persson featured on The Cake Sale, an album set up by Oxfam Ireland. It contained nine tracks from some of Ireland's leading artists. Proceeds from the album went to the fair trade campaign.
Persson also appeared on the Manic Street Preachers' album Send Away the Tigers (May 2007), providing guest vocals on the UK Chart #2 single "Your Love Alone Is Not Enough". She shared vocals with Manics frontman James Dean Bradfield, who also appeared on stage with the band at the Glastonbury Festival 2007, and who has rated Peter Svensson as his second favourite guitarist.
In 2010 Persson appeared on Danger Mouse & Sparklehorse's collaboration (Dark Night of the Soul) singing "Daddy's Gone" (with Mark Linkous).
Persson released the album Animal Heart under her own name in 2014.
- Emmerdale (1994)
- Life (1995)
- First Band on the Moon (1996)
- Gran Turismo (1998)
- Long Gone Before Daylight (2003)
- Super Extra Gravity (2005)
- Lars-Olof Johansson – keyboards, piano, guitar
- Bengt Lagerberg – drums, percussion
- Nina Persson – lead vocals, keyboards
- Magnus Sveningsson – bass, vocals
- Peter Svensson – guitar, vocals
- Swedish music abroad
- List of HFStival acts
- Swedish indie pop
- Swedish rock