Aqua is a Danish-Norwegian dance-pop group, best known for their 1997 breakthrough single "Barbie Girl". The group formed in 1989 and achieved huge success across the globe in the late 1990s and early 2000s. The group managed to top the UK Singles Chart with their first three singles. The group released two albums: Aquarium in 1997 and Aquarius in 2000, before splitting up in July 2001. The group sold an estimated 33 million albums and singles, making them the most successful Danish band ever.
In their prime, Aqua's singles managed to chart top ten in a number of countries where continental European pop acts would not normally succeed, including the United States, Australia, and Japan. The group also caused controversy with the double entendres in their "Barbie Girl" single, with the Barbie doll makers Mattel filing a lawsuit against the group. The lawsuit was finally dismissed by a judge in 2002, who ruled "The parties are advised to chill".
The band's members are vocalists Lene Nystrøm and René Dif, guitarist Søren Rasted, and keyboardist Claus Norreen. During their split, Nystrøm, Dif and Rasted have all achieved solo chart success, and Norreen has continued in the music industry remixing other artists' material.
At a press event on Friday, October 26, 2007, the group announced a reunion tour, as well as the release of a compilation album featuring new material. In December 2008, it was announced Aqua would have three concerts in 2009.
1989–1994: Early days
Aqua's history together dates back to 1989. They were originally called Joyspeed. Claus Norreen and Søren Rasted met in 1989, and throughout the early 1990s, they started writing songs together. At that time, René Dif was working in Holland as a club DJ, and Søren and jonfar were both starting out as producers. Søren Rasted and Claus Norreen had won a contest and were hired to produce a soundtrack. For some of the songs they hired René Dif. The three were brought in to make part of the soundtrack for a little-known film titled Frække Frida og de frygtløse spioner.
1994–early 1997: First three singles, and rise to fame
The recording of the soundtrack began in 1993, and after getting along well, decided that they will work together again on a future project. A few months after the film was released in 1994, René Dif spotted Lene Nystrøm singing on the Norwegian Norway–Denmark ferry, M/S Peter Wessel. He then approached her and hired her as the lead singer of Joyspeed, later renamed Aqua. In addition, Beck Luween was part of the original Joyspeed lineup, playing the triangle, but she left the group after a very short time due to the excessive demand for her talents.
The formation of Joyspeed was on the basis that both Claus and Søren would do the production for the group, with René Dif rapping and Lene Nystrøm performing the main vocals. A small Swedish record label signed them in 1994, and their very first single "Itzy Bitzy Spider" was released in Sweden. The single failed to become popular and after one week at the lower end of the Swedish charts it disappeared completely. The four were disappointed and canceled their contract with the record label (although the label wanted to keep the group on for further releases).
With a new manager and no record deal, the group started over, and began to develop their famous bubblegum pop sound. The four began to produce and write melodic, catchy European pop songs, attracting the attention of major label Universal Music Denmark. They renamed themselves Aqua, choosing the name seen on a poster for an aquarium in their dressing room, and eventually accepted Universal Music Denmark's offer of a recording contract in 1996.
The group's first release under their new name was "Roses Are Red", a dance song with a distinct pop sound. It was released in Denmark in September 1996, and was expected to break into the Danish top ten. The single far surpassed all expectations set by the label, though, and stayed in the charts for over two months, eventually selling enough copies to be certified platinum. The success of the single was further proven when Aqua received a nomination for "Best Danish Dance Act", although the group did not win.
Early 1997: Debut album
Aqua released their debut album Aquarium in Denmark on March 26, 1997. The album contained 11 tracks, including their first two singles and their then upcoming third single "Barbie Girl". Universal Music Group had by now begun to market the group in other countries, releasing "Roses Are Red" in Japan in February 1997 and in various countries across Europe in late 1996. The single had proven popular everywhere it was sold, convincing Universal that the group should not just focus on the Danish market, but instead on the general European market.
Aqua released their third single "Barbie Girl" in May 1997. The song, at first glance, appears to be about the popular children's doll Barbie. However, at second glance, the song contains several sexual overtones, such as " You can brush my hair, undress me everywhere," "You can touch, you can play," "and "I'm a blonde bimbo girl". This caused some controversy upon its release in Denmark, but despite the controversy and perhaps partly due to it, it still sold well and easily made number one in the charts. The song was so popular that was played regularly on radio stations which didn't air dance music.
Universal Music decided to ignore complaints about the double meanings in "Barbie Girl", and successfully released the single across the world in September 1997 and October 1997. The release was highly successful, making number one in the United Kingdom for four weeks, in Australia for three weeks, and even managing to make the top ten of the Billboard Hot 100, something rarely achieved at the time by European pop acts. The song and group became a household name overnight, although to most of the world were instantly written off as a one-hit wonder. The double meanings in "Barbie Girl" caused the expected controversy, with many complaints aimed at Universal for releasing the track.
1997–1999: The "Aquarium Age"
Aqua's follow-up to "Barbie Girl" in Canada and the United Kingdom was "Doctor Jones", although another single, "Lollipop (Candyman)", was released in the United States through MCA Records. "Doctor Jones" entered at number one in several countries, including the United Kingdom, where it stayed at the top spot for two weeks, and Australia, where it spent seven weeks at #1. "Lollipop (Candyman)" did not fare as well in the USA, performing poorly in comparison to "Barbie Girl". However the song peaked at #3 in Australia. In Japan both songs were released as a double-A side, and achieved reasonable success in the singles chart.
"Doctor Jones" was followed up by "Turn Back Time", a song which proved to be accepted well by both Aqua fans and critics. The song, unlike all other previous releases, dropped the bubblegum pop sound in favour of a slow, mainstream rhythm. The song was featured on the soundtrack to the film Sliding Doors, and unlike many other Aqua releases achieved a large amount of radio and video airplay. The song became their third single to make it to number one in the United Kingdom.
As of 2005, only a handful of other artists have managed to achieve that kind of initial success in the UK (acts that have included Westlife and the Spice Girls). Elsewhere, the song also performed well, including reaching #10 in Australia, however it would not be a huge success in the US and thus marked the end of Aqua's involvement Stateside.
"My Oh My", Aqua's second Danish single was resurrected in August 1998. The single was also released in several other European countries where it had not been released initially. Following the release of "Good Morning Sunshine", Aqua decided to concentrate on their second album, and on touring around in Australia, to very moderate success, and marked the end of a period Aqua's fans dubbed the "Aquarium age". The group also released a documentary on 1 December 1998 containing several live performances of songs from the Aquarium album and interviews with the members.
Aqua was musically influenced by the eurodance genre that was popular in Europe, Oceania and South America in the 1990s. They were also influenced by bands such as Air Suppy, Ace of Base, New Kids on The Block and Roxette. The style of eurodance was dance music with a female singer and a male rapper. Aqua followed a more traditional verse-chorus structure. Usually, the verse would consist of Lene starting and finishing, while René would sing in the middle. Aqua are best known for the dance tracks such as "Barbie Girl", "Doctor Jones", "Lollipop (Candyman)" and "My Oh My".
Although they also made slower tracks such as "Turn Back Time", "Good Morning Sunshine" and "We Belong to the Sea". These tracks do not belong to the general bubblegum pop genre. There is also differences between the first album Aquarium and the second album Aquarius. Aquarium had many similar tracks whereas Aquarius experimented with acoustic instruments and genres like country and Latin music. At the end of the 1990s the interest for eurodance music was dropping. Aqua's second album, Aquarius, which was released in 2000, was therefore not as well timed as the first one.
The average length for the tracks on Aquarium is 3:43. This is also a characteristic of pop music. Unreleased songs include "Wow, Wow, Wow", "Shakin' Stevens (Is a Superstar)", "Couch Potato", "Hi-Fi Stereo", and "Here Comes the Birds" from Grøn Koncert 2001.
Singles Album :
* "Itsy Bitsy Spider" (1995) (under Joyspeed name)
* "Roses are Red" (1996)
* "My Oh My" (1997)
* "Barbie Girl" (1997)
* "Didn't I" (1997) (promo only)
* "Doctor Jones" (1997)
* "Lollipop (Candyman)" (1997)
* "Turn Back Time" (1998)
* "Good Morning Sunshine" (1998)
* "Cartoon Heroes" (2000)
* "Around The World" (2000)
* "Bumble Bees" (2000)
* "We Belong to the Sea" (2001)
* "Back to the 80's" (2009)
* "My Mamma Said" (2009)
* "Spin Me a Christmas" (2009)
The Best Of Aqua
- Barbie Girl
- My Oh My
- Doctor Jones
- Turn Back Time
- Back To 80s
- Cartoon Heroes
- Boom Boom Boom
- Candyman (Lollypop)
- Around The World
- Happy Boys and Girls
- My Mama Said
- Good Morning Sunshine
Source : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aqua_(band)