Ace of Base – The Sign

Release Date: Feb 94
Chart Position: 2

This week’s effort has caused a bit of a schism here amongst the Neggae elders. Ace of Bass are the Neggae equivalent of Vegemite – you either hate them or aren’t too fussed either way. I’m just hoping they don’t appear here again for sometime soon; the scenes this week at Neggae Towers were not pretty.
I’m firmly in the “I guess it’s OK, considering they come from Sweden it’s pretty skanking” camp. All in all the production is good, particularly that Dr. Dre-like synth-flute thingy. The bass and beats are well constructed, and the girls are in fine voice. I quite fancied the Blonde one at the time (Agnetha?) – mainly because she looked like Sheryl Gascoigne. Sorry I meant Sarah Greene. Sorry I meant Sharon Stone. The video should have just concentrated on her, because the others are, I’m afraid, no oil paintings. All of this has got me thinking, who are/were the greatest unisex pop band? 5teps? Bucks Fizz? Abba? They’re often cack aren’t they? Ace of Bass have got to be up there surely.
The video is typically mental, standard European stuff. It lurches from Benetton pastels to moody black and white arthouse, with random passionate snogging intermittently thrown in. I’ve never been stuck in a Swedish hotel room  with only national TV available, but I imagine channel-hopping would be similar to this.
The record buying yout’ lapped all off this up, and Ace of Bass very nearly had their second chart topper on their hands. But if you’re going to be beaten, then it might as well be by some Dutch charleston-based Techno-Jazz.
Score: A firmly built, value for money, flat-pack, decent runner of a 7.

Ace of base.
Pop music.
Not Neggae, reggae or anything remotely close.
Score: 1/10

The Second single from the 3rd most successful band ever to come out of Sweden is a single apparently not written by the band or originally included on their debut album.
After the success of debut single All that She Wants Arista Records Mogul Clive Davis could clearly see a way to turn all that Swedish Kroner into Benjamin Franklins. Having poo-pooed the europop nature of the bands Happy Planet album, he wisely agreed to give the album a full US billboard release if one or two new songs were introduced. Thus the new single and title track, The Sign was churned out with some haste.
The Sign has been widely interpreted as chronicling a woman’s journey from a dysfunctional relationship to the convent. As reflected in the music video, she turns from the man to the light before her, having seen the sign that opened up her eyes and brought her into the “light where she belonged”. Bit weird, but not surprising that it was lapped up by our god-worshipping, gun-toting brethren across the water. God Bless ’em.
What’s also weird is the amount of posturing going on in the video.
All That She Wants had a certain film noir charm about it. The band playing it cool, having a jam session in what appears to be either an antiques shop, or one of the bands recently deceased nan’s house (you know, the one who tended to be a bit of a hoarder).
Nobody is dolled up, Jenny hasn’t got any make up on, or done her eye brows, Malin looks like she’s just rolled in from an Ikea warehouse rave with Dr Alban. The whole thing felt honest and real.
All of a sudden after a few months state side, that raw edge is gone, the girls are glammed up and ready for a nigh out in their matching macey’s roll necks, and the boys….dear oh dear, the boys:

  • Jonas “Joker” Berggren , is bearable but he cannot help but pull the odd stern face. He’s like a cross between David Brent and Jay the hard lad from UK boy band 5ive. He wants you to know that the song is serious, as are the band. He’s a serious song writer but he could do something else if he wanted to, just doing this to pay the bills innit? He’s smouldering, mysterious, intriguing, like Zoolander but more confused. He’s got the Zoolander turn and point action down to a fine art as well.
  • Ulf “Buddha” Ekberg on the other hand, is the ying to Jonas’ Yang. If Jonas is playing it cool, Ulf is having a scream up. He has made it and he’s not shy about it either. He looks like he has no control over his arms and legs. That blonde fop flailing about like a young Jurgen Klinsmann in full Italia 90′ flight. Its as if Channel 4’s favourite embarrassing Doctor Christian Jessen started self medicating uppers and frequenting euro raves to be down the kids. He’s never going to be as cool as Professor Briiiiiiiiian Cox but he’s going to have a damn good go anyway.

Music wise, there’s no getting away from the fact that this is All that she wants *2 . Creatively it doesn’t offer anything different to the debut single and it served its purpose by striking whilst the iron was hot. All that’s missing is the sax. The synths and the beats practically lay over the top of each other. Fair play to AOB for making money. Those dance moves and this image are  a long way from the Neggae hall of fame in my eyes.
Score: A Middle Of The Road 5 from me.

The second Sceggae effort in the Hot 90, not a genre I’m particularly fond of but I’ll carry on regardless. I have to say the song’s not bad, it’s again overseen by Swedish Svengali Denniz Pop who’s sadly no longer with us but will be forever immortalised in music history. Starts off with a standard sceggae beat then the bass skanks in and we’re up and running like a Volvo in the cold. The lyrics are touching on a pressing issue of the early 90’s in which many young women were lost to convents after being badly let down by their current Beaus. The video is possibly the most original I’ve ever seen;

No, never seen anything like this before.

Despite being slightly dubious about the neggae credentials of this song I have to admit it’s not a bad tune, with enduring appeal as it was recently used as the main song in ‘Pitch Perfect’.
Score: 7/10 – IKEJAH

Ace of Base’s second appearance on the hot 90 is poor; I wish they had just left it after ‘All That She Wants’. It’s simply rubbish.
Yeah the chorus is a little catchy, but that is as far as it goes for Hergen, Nergen and Mergen – or whatever these goons from Sweden are called. They have just taken a big step backwards for them and for Neggae in general; thanks a bunch.
The heroes of the movement such as Bitty, Shaggy, Apache and 808 State are out there slogging away and carving a new direction for popular music only to have these berks to chuck it back in their faces. How can this lot from Gothenburg even know anything about the Island and the music it has given us? For them it only gets above freezing for 8 hours a year, hardly a Malibu advert is it?
This tune could be released in any genre. It’s as if they have recorded a track, downloaded iNeg and overlay it with option ‘C’. For the video something has clearly gone wrong and if I were them I would have asked for my 59p (9,478 Krona) back and destroyed them with a review in the App Store. Definitely also picked the wrong intro, 40 seconds to get us nowhere and then pipe up with some substabdard Aguileraesque effort. Again iNeg must have been playing up. I just would have assumed they would have listened to it before releasing it? Clearly not.
Not sure if I’ve been harsh on this particularly as I was so positive about ‘All That She Wants’? But I was not in the mood for this rubbish when I turned it on today.
Score: 2/10 (only because I know they can do better).



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