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Aquarius
     

Aquarius

by Aqua
 

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Danceable, cartoonish acts have long colored the Europop spectrum -- from Boney M to Milli Vanilli to Lou Bega -- but none have ever aspired to actually being cartoons. Until now. With AQUARIUS, Aqua -- the Swedish quartet that assaulted the pop charts and Mattel's self-esteem with the

Overview

Danceable, cartoonish acts have long colored the Europop spectrum -- from Boney M to Milli Vanilli to Lou Bega -- but none have ever aspired to actually being cartoons. Until now. With AQUARIUS, Aqua -- the Swedish quartet that assaulted the pop charts and Mattel's self-esteem with the dance hit "Barbie Girl" -- have harnessed the superball bounce of Europop's 4/4 dance beat to voices straight out of Saturday-morning TV. Their album-opening mission statement, "Cartoon Heroes" -- which finds Aqua-babe Lene Grawford Nystrom singing in a voice that's part Cyndi Lauper, part-Betty Boop -- doesn't mince words: "We are the cartoon heroes…what we do is what you wish to do." You can almost see the special-effects-laden video that's sure to follow. On titles like the peppy "Freaky Friday" ("Everything is going wrong/My life is a country song"), the discofied nightmare "Halloween," and the reggae-lite "Good Guys," which finds the band in Ace of Base mode, Nystrom and her gravel-voiced compatriot Soren Rasted keep the squeaky clean beats pumping. The throb feels good, and while that singing may grate on the over-20 set, the words are smarter than they sound -- which is usually the case with cartoons.

Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Stephen Thomas Erlewine
If ever there was a group that seemed destined for one-hit wonder status it was Aqua. Their huge 1997/1998 hit "Barbie Girl" was a cleverly designed piece of trifle, fueled by delirious Euro-disco beats and the helium-voiced Lene Grawford Nystrom, along with her comically gruff counterpart, Rene Dif. The song was giddy, silly fun, but it was hard to see how they could top it. Indeed, their debut, while entertaining, didn't show a lot of variety. So, it was easy to assume that their second album, Aquarius, would disappear upon its release in the spring of 2000. Well, that isn't really the case. Although they may never quite have a hit as large as "Barbie Girl" -- particularly in America, where Europop acts are always seen as one-hit wonders (with the notable exception of ABBA) -- Aquarius is superior to its predecessor in every way. Aqua never strays from their danceable Europop foundation, but they find remarkable variety within that framework. The hooks aren't always the same, the pace is varied and, most importantly, the production is bubbling with details. Each song is an individual creation, from the anthemic ballad "We Belong to the Sea" to the goofy country music parody "Freaky Friday." Every cut is blessed with its own vivid details -- banjos, layered vocals, and the cinematic, sweeping strings of "Back From Mars" -- thanks to chief producers and songwriters Søren Rasted and Claus Norreen. This is anything but a one-note album, even if Aqua's sonic signatures -- the pounding disco beats, the high spirits, the big hooks, and the seemingly mismatched pair of Nystrom and Dif -- remain the same. Certainly, Aquarius will not change anybody's mind about Aqua or Europop, but it stands as a high-water mark for the genre.

Product Details

Release Date:
03/21/2000
Label:
Mca
UPC:
0601215730524
catalogNumber:
157305

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