Sweden’s finest pop export since Abba are back! The Wannadies have a new compilation album of B-sides, ‘Västerbotten‘, and are set to play a couple of UK shows in Manchester and London next week with a full UK tour in the pipeline for 2023.
The band’s name might draw a blank but chances are you’ve unknowingly caught a fleeting moment of their big hit, ‘You And Me Song’, on one TV commercial or another over the years (most recently Joy Crookes’ cover version was used on a mobile network provider ad). The single originally appeared on the band’s third album, ‘Be A Girl’ – their first for the UK market in 1995 – and was re-released the following year after featuring on the film soundtrack of the Baz Luhrmann-directed ‘William Shakespeare’s Romeo + Juliet’ (starring a young Leonardo DiCaprio). It subsequently reached #18 in the UK Singles Chart and was added to the tracklisting of their follow-up album, ‘Bagsy Me’. The 1997 album also spawned the single ‘Hit’, which was indeed a hit and peaked at #20.
In 2003, ‘You And Me Song’ was played during an attempted murder scene on Coronation Street (without the band’s permission) and, on a lighter note, has recently been trending on TikTok with over 270,000 users posting videos of themselves with their besties to a clip of the song – much to the joy of the band.
In the mid-’90s, the euphoric and universal anthem helped to catapult the band into the record collection of many a Britpop enthusiast and brought them to global acclaim. They were regulars at summer festivals and performed at Glastonbury in ’97 – back when you could gain entry by paying a fiver to a random guy with a rope ladder and spend the weekend rolling around in the mud. After all, this was the year it rained so hard that one of the stages sank!
Record label wrangling and band member departures aside, the band’s fifth album, ‘Yeah!’, was produced by The Cars’ Ric Ocasek. I clearly recall seeing the band around this time at the LA2 or Astoria 2 or Mean Fiddler or whatever the venue beneath London’s Astoria (RIP) was called back then, when singer/guitarist, Pär Wiksten, challenged the audience to dance to album track ‘Kill You’ – a song he claimed was impossible to dance to due to its delightful off-kilter time signature. I was thusly impressed and purchased a T-shirt emblazoned with the back print: “I was fist-fucked by The Wannadies and all I got was this lousy T-shirt”. Strangely, I’ve never worn that one much.
The band constructed their own recording studio and released what later transpired to be their final album, ‘Before & After’, in 2003 through Cooking Vinyl. Thereafter, the all-important real-life stuff took over for the band members, like having kids. Britpop was dead and buried as nu-metal became a thing and post-hardcore took over my stereo in the early ’00s. But The Wannadies were, and remain, a band that have a special place in my eternally youthful heart. They were much more than self-proclaimed “pop revolutioners”, they possessed a playful darkness and humour – as displayed by their band name and on tracks such as ‘Dying For More’ and ‘Soon You’re Dead’.
I’m so excited that The Wannadies have (finally) come back to me – and you should be too!
You can follow the band on Instagram, Facebook and, of course, TikTok and listen to more of the band’s back catalogue on Spotify (other streaming platforms are available) or purchase their music/merch on Bandcamp.
Article by Mandy Bang