Our top 10 songs by The Cardigans list digs deep into the music of a reputable Swedish ensemble renowned for its bravura blending of pop-rock and alternative rock sonic vibes. Incepted in 1992, The Cardigans have built a successful career on the foundation of great musicianship. Surprisingly, The Cardigans’ beginnings had almost nothing to do with alternative/pop-rock.
The Cardigans’ initial release was an amalgam of sunshine pop, twee pop, indie pop, and lounge sounds. This was a massive shift from bassist Magnus Sveningsson and guitarist Peter Svensson’s initial musical direction too. Magnus and Peter had met in a hardcore/heavy metal group. The Cardigans would be born as a result of the duo’s zeal for trying out some pop-oriented music.
Eventually, Magnus and Peter added vocalist Nina Persson, drummer Bengt Lagerberg, and keyboardist Lars-Olof Johansson to the lineup. Since then, the band has maintained this lineup, a move that has seen The Cardigans become one of the most consistent alternative/pop rock. Despite Nina not having any professional singing background, she proved to be a reliable vocalist for the band thanks to her awe-inspiring vocals and charming personality.
The Cardigans have released six studio albums to date. Even though the band hasn’t made any major release since 2006, its music remains the trademark of country-influenced melancholic alternative/pop-rock vibes. The Cardigans have successfully made over fifteen million LP sales, becoming one of the best-selling acts in Sweden.
The Cardigans’ Career Beginnings and Breakthrough
In 1993, the five members started making music together, starting with recording demo tapes. Ola Hermanson would eventually sign The Cardigans to Trampolene Records after he was impressed by the demo tape. The Cardigans went on to release its debut LP Emmerdale in 1994. Songs on the LP saw the band take on indie-pop sounds blended with twee pop, sunshine pop, and lounge elements.
Emmerdale might not have been highly successful, but it managed to release several hits. Some of the best The Cardigans songs from Emmerdale include “Sick & Tired,” “Rise & Shine,” and “Black Letter Day.” The album only managed to rise to the twenty-ninth spot on the Swedish Albums Chart. Emmerdale was Gold certified in Sweden and Japan.
After making its name known in Europe and Japan with Emmerdale, the band was ready to pursue success with a second album release. In 1995, The Cardigans issued Life, the band’s sophomore LP, through Stockholm Records. With Life, the band evolved from indie rock-influenced sonic vibes, appreciating pop-rock to the fullest. Life catapulted The Cardigans to mainstream and commercial success, with the LP topping the Icelandic Albums chart. The album also made it to the twentieth spot on the Swedish Albums chart, peaking at number fifty-one on the UK Albums chart.
Life also charted on the Japanese Albums chart, peaking at the thirteenth spot. The Cardigans were highly appreciated in Japan, having Life achieve a two-times Platinum certification in the nation. While the LP was also Platinum certified in Sweden, its sales were much lower compared to those made in Japan. Life was Gold certified in the UK after its sales rose above the one hundred thousand mark. Some of the best The Cardigans songs from Life include “Carnival” and “Hey! Get Out of My Way.”
Album Releases over the Years by The Cardigans
After a successful sophomore LP, The Cardigans returned in 1996 with their third LP, First Band on the Moon. The album was released through Stockholm Records and Mercury Records. First Band on the Moon marked The Cardigans’ rise to stardom in the US and internationally. Once more, the band got a two times Platinum certification in Japan, thanks to First Band on the Moon.
First Band on the Moon was also Platinum certified in Canada and Canada. In UK and Sweden, the album received Gold certification. First Band on the Moon rose to the second spot on the Swedish Albums chart and eighteenth on the UK Albums chart. The album was The Cardigans’ first LP to enter the US Billboard charts. First Band on the Moon peaked at number three on the Billboard Top Heatseekers chart, rising to the thirty-fifth spot on the Billboard 200. Some of the best The Cardigans songs from the LP include “Lovefool,” “Been It,” and “Your New Cuckoo.”
The Cardigans achieved their first number one album on the Swedish Albums Chart with the 1998 LP Gran Turismo. Gran Turismo was the band’s fourth LP issued through Stockholm Records. Unlike its predecessors, Gran Turismo saw the band spice up its releases with some electronic rock elements. Gran Turismo was Platinum certified twice in the UK, selling a total of three million copies globally.
Gran Turismo rose to the eighteenth spot on the UK Albums chart. The album didn’t impress in the US compared to First Band on the Moon. Gran Turismo only managed to rise to position one hundred and fifty-one on the Billboard 200. Some of the musical gems from the album include “My Favorite Game,” “Erase/Rewind,” and “Hanging Around.”
In 2003, The Cardigans issued their fifth LP, Long Gone Before Daylight. The album was issued through Stockholm Records. The Cardigans spiced up the alternative rock ballads on the LP with some country rock vibes. Long Gone Before Daylight managed to rise to the peak position on the Swedish Albums Chart. On the UK Albums chart, Long Gone Before Daylight managed to rise to number forty-seven.
Long Gone Before Daylight managed to enter the Billboard Independent Albums chart, peaking at number thirty-seven. The album was Platinum certified twice in Sweden, receiving a Gold certification in Denmark. “Live and Learn,” “You’re the Storm,” and “For What It’s Worth” are some of the best The Cardigans songs from the album.
Super Extra Gravity marked the band’s last LP before The Cardigans went on hiatus in 2006. The Cardigans reconnected with producer Tore Johansson in releasing this chart-topping pop-rock LP through Stockholm Records. Super Extra Gravity managed to rise to the top of the Swedish Albums Chart. The album also made it to number seventy-eight on the UK Albums chart. However, the album’s sales were not as impressive compared to most of the band’s releases. Super Extra Gravity only managed a Gold certification in Sweden. Some of the best The Cardigans songs from the LP include “Don’t Blame Your Daughter (Diamonds)” and “I Need Some Fine Wine And You, You Need to Be Nicer.”
Other Musical Pursuits by The Cardigans
The Cardigans collaborated with the Welsh singer Tom Jones in releasing a duet rendition of the song “Burning Down the House.” “Burning Down the House” is one of the musical gems released by the new wave and post-punk band Talking Heads on the LP Speaking in Tongues.
While The Cardigans’ members have enjoyed success together as a band, this didn’t prevent them from pursuing solo careers. Vocalist Nina Persson’s solo pursuits saw her start an indie pop/alternative rock band, A Camp. Nina has released two LPs as A Camp, including A Camp in 2001 and Colonia in 2009. A Camp topped the Swedish Albums chart, while Colonia peaked at number two on the same chart.
Both albums have been Gold certified by the Swedish Recording Industry Association. Some of the best A Camp songs include “I Can Buy You,” “Love Has Left the Room,” and “Song for the Leftovers.” Bassist Magnus also attempted a solo career, starting the act Righteous Boy, where he released the single LP I Sing Because of You in 2003. The LP was home to the hit “Loved Among Friends.” Nina Persson also provided guest vocals to Manic Street Preachers’ (The Manics) single “Your Love Alone Is Not Enough.”
The Cardigans’ Accolades and Legacy
The Cardigans have quite an array of awards to show for their immense hard work in the alternative/pop-rock career. Among the biggest wins for the band are two Grammis accolades for the Best Pop Group in Sweden and a Rockbjornen for the Best Swedish Band in 1998. The Cardigans also won two Grammy accolades in 1999 and 2004 in the Best Album category for Gran Turismo and Long Gone Before Daylight.
Gran Turismo also received the Danish Music Awards for the Foreign Album of the Year in 2000. “My Favorite Game” won the Best Video International accolade in the 1999 TMF Awards ceremony. The band’s signature track, “Lovefool,” took home the 1999 BMI Pop Awards accolade in the Award-Winning Song category.
The band’s musical momentum might not feel impactful since The Cardigans went on hiatus. However, the band’s comeback kept fans guessing about what The Cardigans had in store. Unfortunately, the band has not made any new releases since the reunion. Our ten best The Cardigans songs review an alternative/pop-rock career well executed at the band’s prime years.
#10 – Hanging Around
Opening our top 10 songs by The Cardigans is the splendid hit “Hanging Around.” The song was penned by vocalist Nina Persson and guitarist Peter Svensson. “Hanging Around” is featured on the band’s fourth LP, Gran Turismo. The Swedish quintet saw this ABBA-Esque ballad rise to the seventeenth spot on the UK Singles Chart.
“Hanging Around” had its accompanying music video based on Repulsion, a 1965 psychological horror movie. Sophie Muller is credited to have directed the music video for this hit. In 1993, Sophie won a Grammy Award for the Best Long Form Music Video for her amazing work on the Platinum-certified LP, Diva by Scottish singer Annie Lennox. Director Sophie Muller has also worked with other reputable artists, including Garbage, Gwen Stefani, Shakespears Sister, and Sophie Ellis-Bextor.
#9 – Your New Cuckoo
“Your New Cuckoo” is one of the best The Cardigans songs featured on First Band on the Moon. Once more, Nina and Peter are credited to have penned the song. “Your New Cuckoo” is among the sonically rich alternative/pop-rock ballads by the band. The song features some flute sounds delivered by David Wilczewski, who has also played with Tavares, Mike Stern, and Marvin Gaye.
“Your New Cuckoo” also features some violin from Åsa Håkansson, Maria Holm, Mattias Svensson, and Inga Zeppezauer. The band also added Lynette Koyana on the backing vocals making “Your New Cuckoo” one of the highly invested sonically ballads by The Cardigans. “Your New Cuckoo” managed to rise to the thirty-fifth spot on the UK Singles Chart.
#8 – You’re The Storm
Number eight on our ten best songs from The Cardigans is the ravishing hit “You’re the Storm.” The song is featured on The Cardigans’ fifth LP, Long Gone Before Daylight. “You’re the Storm” is among songs produced by Per Sunding and not Tore Johansson, who has produced most of the band’s releases.
Per Sunding also offers backing vocals to this pop-rock ballad. “You’re the Storm” was penned by Nina Persson and Peter Svensson. The song rose to the tenth spot on the Swedish Singles chart and seventy-fourth on the UK Singles Chart.
#7- Sick & Tired
When The Cardigans released the song “Sick & Tired” on the debut LP, Emmerdale, the song didn’t really make an impact since the band was barely popular. However, The Cardigans re-issued the song on the international release of the band’s sophomore LP. The re-issued version topped the Íslenski Listing Topp 40 chart.
On the UK Singles chart, the song managed to rise to the thirty-fourth spot. While Nina Persson has been the primary songwriter for the band, “Sick & Tired” was penned by Peter Svensson and Magnus Sveningsson. Its lyrics allude to the aftereffects of a love gone sour.
#6 – I Need Some Fine Wine And You, You Need to Be Nicer
Number six on our top 10 The Cardigans songs is the hit “I Need Some Fine Wine and You, You Need to Be Nicer.” The song is one of the band’s alluring hits from the sixth LP, Super Extra Gravity. Nina Persson collaborated with Peter Svensson and Nathan Larson in composing this song.
Nathan Larson is the husband of Nina Persson and also a guitarist and songwriter. Larson rose to stardom after featuring on the guitars with the alternative rock act Shudder to Think. The song’s lyrics allude to a relationship’s sad times after the faults of one of the involved parties after having quite a great start. “I Need Some Fine Wine And You, You Need to Be Nicer” made it to the fifty-ninth spot on the UK Singles Chart.
Life goes down as the album that brought international success to this Swedish alternative/pop-rock band. The album is home to our fifth song on the list, “Carnival.” “Carnival” marked Nina’s beginnings as the band’s primary songwriter after she received writing credits. Magnus Sveningsson is also credited with having penned the song.
This gorgeous pop ballad with jazz influences alludes to the singer’s unrequited love. The singer wished to go to a funfair (carnival), but her significant other failed to answer her request. “Carnival” was The Cardigans’ first song to make it to the UK Singles chart, peaking at number thirty-five. The song was Gold certified in Japan after its sales rose above the one hundred thousand copies mark.
“Erase/Rewind” is one of the best The Cardigans songs from the band’s LP, Gran Turismo. The song’s writing and composing credited goes to vocalist Nina Persson and guitarist Peter Svensson. “Erase/Rewind” alludes to a lady who interrogates her relationship’s status, ultimately choosing not to be involved in loving her significant other.
During the song’s accompanying music video shooting, the band’s bassist Magnus was suffering emotional distress posing threats of his resignation from the band. However, the other Cardigans didn’t allow this to happen. Instead, they outsourced the services of Leari of The Ark to take on the bass roles during the Gran Turismo tour. “Erase/Rewind” peaked at number seven on the UK Singles Chart. Sabrina Salerno covered the song in 2008.
#3- For What It’s Worth
Our number three hit on the ten best songs from The Cardigans is “For What It’s Worth.” The song was penned by Nina Persson and Peter Svensson, issued on the band’s LP, Long Gone Before Daylight. “For What It’s Worth” has been lauded by critics for its outstanding lyrical content.
Producer Per Sunding added harmonica sounds and backing vocals to this lyrical gem. “For What It’s Worth” made it on the UK Singles Chart, peaking at number thirty-one. The song also made it to the Eurochart Hot 100, peaking at number seventy-six.
#2- My Favorite Game
“My Favorite Game” is one of the best songs by The Cardigans from the band’s LP, Gran Turismo. Nina Persson and Peter Svensson are credited to have penned this song’s lyrics. The lyrics to “My Favorite Game” allude to a flustered lady who reminisces about her ended relationship.
The song’s music video was amazing, thanks to The Cardigans hiring Jonas Åkerlund as its director. Jonas has also directed several videos for U2, Madonna, and Lady Gaga. “My Favorite Game” has been lauded for Nina’s distinctive vocals and rip-roaring guitar riffs. This Gold-certified song managed to rise to the fourteenth spot on the UK Singles Chart. “My Favorite Game” also made it to the Billboard Alternative Airplay chart, peaking at number sixteen.
Number one on our top 10 songs by The Cardigans is the alluring hit “Lovefool.” The song is a lyrical gem penned by Nina Persson and Peter Svensson. “Lovefool” was issued on the band’s third LP, First Band on the Moon. The song is credited to have brought The Cardigans to international fame.
Despite being a sad love song, “Lovefool” became the band’s signature song. “Lovefool” was Platinum certified in the UK after its sales soared to more than six hundred thousand copies. The song topped the Billboard Mainstream Top 40 chart, peaking at number two on the UK Singles Chart. “Lovefool” was covered by Twocolors, Leighton Meester, and New Found Glory.
The 2009 hit “Love Me” by Canadian pop star Justin Bieber sampled The Cardigans’ “Lovefool.” “Lovefool” was featured in the films Virgin Territory, Cruel Intentions, and Romeo + Juliet.
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