Barbie Girl singer says she is proud of her band's tunes

Aqua comprise (from far left) Lene Nystrom, Rene Dif, Soren Rasted and Claus Norreen.
Aqua comprise (from far left) Lene Nystrom, Rene Dif, Soren Rasted and Claus Norreen.PHOTO: MODE ENTERTAINMENT

The Danish band Aqua, known for their 1997 pop hit Barbie Girl, will play here in November

Better known as the Danish quartet behind the plastic fantasy and irrepressible earworm that is 1997's Barbie Girl, Aqua and their lead singer, Lene Nystrom, are unapologetic about their early success.

"I totally understand why the song made number one around the world," says Nystrom, speaking to The Straits Times from Copenhagen.

Released in 1997 at the height of Eurodance and bubblegum pop on the airwaves, the song was in the top 10 on charts around the world.

It received as much censure as it did praise, with Rolling Stone readers dubbing it the most annoying song of the 1990s in a 2011 poll.

But 20 years on, Nystrom, 43, is almost stoic about their early success. And she does not seem to mind that people think their songs are tacky.

"I don't have any negative feelings about any of those songs on the albums because they made us who we are and I think they're actually really great songs."

  • BOOK IT/AQUA 20TH ANNIVERSARY LIVE IN SINGAPORE

  • WHERE: The Star Theatre, The Star Performing Arts Centre, 1 Vista Exchange Green

    WHEN: Nov 25, 8pm

    ADMISSION: $128 to $248, VIP boxes at $248, with limited VIP ticket holders (first three rows and those in box seats) entitled to a meet-and-greet session with Aqua after the concert. Available from Sistic (call 6348-5555 or go to www.sistic.com.sg)

The group - also made up of singer Rene Dif, keyboardist Soren Rasted and guitarist Claus Norreen - went on to sell 14 million copies of their debut album Aquarium worldwide.

In fact, they have enough songs off their three album discography - that includes 2000's Aquarius and 2007's Megalomania - to hold the occasional anniversary tour.

The band are set to play at The Star Theatre on Nov 25, on what will be their only Asian stop on their 20th anniversary tour. They will also play in Europe.

"We collected all the greatest hits together, like Roses Are Red and Doctor Jones, so it'll be one hour of intense partying and playing the songs that people actually remember," says Nystrom.

The group's fourth member, Claus Norreen, decided to sit out the tour to focus on his own projects, but the group will be joined by a five-piece band on stage.

As for the crazy wigs and height- of-the-1990s fashion they were known for, she admits that she still "loves to dress up".

"I usually want to wear something I feel comfortable in, but I promise to look amazing," she teases.

This will be their first time here since 2001, just before the band went on a long hiatus, and plenty has changed since then.

Nystrom and Rasted got married and they have two children, a son Billy and a daughter India, together. They separated in April this year.

"I love that I've been through the success of Aqua, but I do like that there isn't the same rush there was back then," she admits.

"Now I want to take care of the kids and be a good mum, but it's really great to come out once in a while and be a rock star," she says with a laugh.

Nystrom also attributes their being global phenomenons in the late 1990s to timing.

"It was just the right timing - the Spice Girls, Backstreet Boys, everyone was having great success with their pop music," she notes.

She further explains: "Usually music follows the economy of the world, so if the economy is doing well, people tend towards rock music grunge. But if the economy is doing poorly, then people turn to pop music to kind of cheer them up."

Perhaps, people need cheering up again. "There are so many new fans out there, our music has a new life again," she says.

It also looks like the band have one more song in them, that they plan to release next year. "We will go into the studio this autumn, and try to create something amazing again," she reveals.

She hints that they will "adapt to the new times".

"You have to be a little more up to date of course, but it's still going to be Aqua," she says.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 13, 2017, with the headline 'Party to bubblegum pop - 20 years on'. Print Edition | Subscribe