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Lovefool

Lovefool tits

Date Aired
July 1, 2018
Running Time
18:18
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Todd plays "Lovefool" on the piano.

THE CARDIGANS - LOVEFOOL
A one-hit retrospective

Todd: Welcome back to "One Hit Wonderland", where we take a look at bands and artists known for only one song. Plowing my way through all these requests, today we're going to the far-off year of [text appears on screen] 1996, and... okay, what is the deal here? Literally all the requests I've done so far have (1995, 1996, 1997) been from the same three-year stretch of the mid-'90s, what gives? Eh, I was just doing the requests in order, but maybe I should switch it up some. But, this does give me an opportunity to talk about the mid-'90s as a whole, 'cause...

Clip of Everything But the Girl - "Missing"
Todd (VO): ...last time we were talking about trip-hop, and Everything but the Girl, and, you know, that song was big but it's not really what I think of when I think of the mid-'90s.
Clip of Gina G - "Ooh Aah... Just a Little Bit"
Todd (VO): After grunge started waning, what I remember is bright colours and happiness. [shot of Stacey Dash and Alicia Silverstone in...] Clueless, [shot of "The Freshmaker" tagline from one of the...] Mentos commercials, [picture of Reel Big Fish] ska, [screenshot from the video for The Notorious B.I.G. ft. Puff Daddy and Mase - "Mo Money Mo Problems"] Hype Williams videos.

Todd: Certainly compared to our current hellscape dystopia, the '90s seems like living [picture of Candy Land box art] 24/7 in Candy Land. And I don't know if there's a better representation of the bubblegum '90s than this song coming up next.

Clip of The Cardigans - "Lovefool"
Nina Persson: Love me, love me
Say that you love me
Todd (VO): Yes, that's right. The Cardigans, who cried and begged their way into our hearts [picture of "Lovefool" single cover] with the massive smash hit "Lovefool".

Todd: One of the sweetest, happiest songs about abject, pathetic co-dependence ever written.

Nina: Leave me, leave me
Just say that you need me
Todd (VO): Never has pathetic neediness ever sounded this charming. I think this is officially the start of the bubblegum boom of the late-'90s. From here you can make a direct line to Hanson and Spice World and Total Request Live.

Todd: And for the record, no, I would not have done this episode if it weren't a paid request.

Todd (VO): 'Cause this is another one of those borderline cases that I'm not so sure about. "Lovefool" is definitely the only pop hit they ever had.

Todd: But they did have one other song that was popular on the rock stations. [brief clip of "My Favourite Game"] We'll get to it.

Todd (VO): I asked the requester if he wanted to reconsider but he doubled down. Eh, fine. If Billy Ray Cyrus is a one-hit-wonder, then so are The Cardigans.

Todd: But for me, this all means that I came into this kinda already knowing how their story goes and... well, some minor spoilers here...

Todd (VO): ...despite them singing how desperately they loved and needed you, The Cardigans decided that the pop world wasn't something they needed or loved at all, and their career went some odd places instead.

Todd: So here we are. The strange, varied career of The Cardigans. Wanna know who they are? I think you do.

Nina: I think you do
Todd: Let's go.
Nina: I cry, I pray and I beg
Before the hit

Todd: Okay...

Picture of The Cardigans, with arrows pointing to each member and names coming up on screen as they are said
Todd (VO): ...these are The Cardigans. Nina Persson on vocals, Peter Svensson on guitar, Magnus Sveningsson on bass, Bengt Lagerberg on drums, Lars-Olof Johansson on keyboard.

Todd: I don't normally list all the band members but they've never changed a single time so, that's awesome. [thumbs up] And in case you couldn't tell from names like Magnus and Lars-Olof...

Pictures of Swedish Eurovision fans and people dressed up as Vikings wearing Sweden flags as capes
Todd (VO): ...they are in fact [stereotypical Swedish accent] Swedish. They're from Sweden. So, like, yeah...

Todd: ...no wonder "Lovefool" sounds like it does, they're Swedish.

Live clip of ABBA - "Dancing Queen"
Todd (VO): Sweden exports only their sugariest, cotton-candy pop music, [image of Swedish Fish packet] and also actual candy. Or occasionally [live clip of Opeth - "Bleak"] this stuff, if you're into that.

Todd: So let's hear some upbeat Eurovision-y cheesy bubblegum Europop.

Clip of "Black Letter Day"
Nina: Black letter day
All the fun has gone away
Todd: Hm.

Todd (VO): Okay, well, this isn't, like, goth metal or anything but it's, it's not quite the sound I expected. Actually, what the hell is this?

Todd: Here, let me listen to some more.

Clip of "Sick & Tired"
Nina: You can always say my attic has its charm
You can always say you did no major harm
Todd (VO): This song is cool because it's the only one I've ever seen where a band member plays a bassoon in the video.

Todd: Okay, based on these first few singles The Cardigans appear to be not a sunshiny Europop act.

Todd (VO): What they seem to be is some kind of twee, Belle and Sebastian-y indie rock band.

Todd: And this predates...

Todd (VO): [live clip of Belle and Sebastian - "Lazy Line Painter Jane"] ...Belle and Sebastian by a few years, so they're well ahead of the curve on that one. All my indie friends in college should have been [back to "Sick & Tired"] listening to this instead for mega hipster points! But, uh, yeah, this stuff is legit.

Todd: Which was not a surprise to me 'cause I remembered their other song. [brief clip of "My Favourite Game"] We'll get to it.

Live clip of "Plain Parade", and clips for The La's - "There She Goes", The Sundays - "Here's Where the Story Ends" and The Cranberries - "Dreams"
'Todd (VO): 'But this is from an entirely different genre than their bigger hits. See, back in the early '90s there was this whole hipster-y trend that was never popular exactly but you were into them if you were in the know, they were bands like The La's or The Sundays. The only one I can think of that ever got huge was The Cranberries but they all did these lilting, slightly melancholy pop songs on the college rock stations.

Todd: Take this, for example.

Clip of "Rise & Shine"
Nina: I raise my head and whisper
Rise and shine (rise and shine)
Rise and shine, my sister
Todd (VO): This song is a bop and I've been listening to it for weeks now.

Todd: I'd have never known about it if not for these requests, so thanks! [thumbs up]

Nina: See the moon alone
Todd (VO): So this was not big anywhere or [image of Swedish canal] even released anywhere except for their home country.

Todd: Oh, and of course, Japan. [Todd presses button on his keyboard, causing "Big In Japan" title to show on screen, along with gong sound effect] I am so glad I had that button installed, I'm gonna get a lot of use out of it.

Shot of cover of Japanese single for "Carnival" and "Carnival" video
Todd (VO): Yeah, but they were surprisingly big in Japan and they had a tiny cult following in the UK. This is all certainly sprightly and upbeat, but it's not quite "Lovefool" yet. If you were a fan, you wouldn't necessarily see the "Lovefool" coming.

Todd: Except, there was one indication. See, they had this hilarious habit of doing sugar-pop covers of Black Sabbath songs.

Audio of The Cardigans - "Sabbath Bloody Sabbath" played over Black Sabbath live footage
Nina: You've seen life through distorted eyes
You know you had to learn
Todd (VO): And they just kept doing it, throughout their whole career!
Audio of The Cardigans - "Iron Man" played over Black Sabbath live footage
Nina: (I am iron man!)
Has he lost his mind
Can he see or is he blind
Todd: And there are actually more Ozzy songs, but, uh, let's do a different band.
Audio of The Cardigans - "The Boys Are Back In Town" played over Thin Lizzy live footage
Nina: The boys are back in town
The boys are back in town
Todd (VO): Haha! This is great.

Todd: And believe it or not, these joke covers pretty much indicate the direction of their music.

The big hit

The Cardigans live footage
Nina: Now we're gonna play a song about love and foolishness. It's called "Lovefool", and that's what we are.
Clip of "Lovefool"

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