It’d be unfair to lump Aqua in with the crop of ’90s pop acts — Steps, S Club, Vengaboys et al — currently experiencing a resurgence in popularity on the touring circuit.
For while the end musical product was much the same for all acts in their heyday, Aqua wrote and produced all of their material, playing with a full live band rather than a karaoke backing track.
It’s something that might come as a surprise to the fans who’ve flocked to buy tickets to their current Australian tour.
Meeting the three male members of the band (frontwoman Lene Nystrom had taken ill) in their Sydney hotel, the Star Observer found a trio of stylish 40-somethings — a far cry from the cartoon-hero image they were rocking in the ’90s.
The music’s grown up, too: current album Megalomania takes just enough of their shiny, happy ’90s sound while mixing it with the harder sounds (and filthier lyrics) of today’s airwaves.
“A good song is a good song, it’s just how you wrap it up production-wise that changes,” the group’s resident dreamboat Soren Rasted said.
“We perform live more like a rock band too, so this time around we wanted to put more of that into the production of the album.”
Their shows are a mix of old and new tracks, with older songs ‘upgraded’ to fit with the current pop climate — like an all-new “hot, aggressive, house version” of one of their most enduring hits, 1997’s Lollipop (Candyman).
“We even have a new version of Barbie Girl that is actually cool,” Rene Dif, Aqua’s male vocalist, laughed.
Aah, Barbie Girl — the band’s breakthrough hit and signature song, and a track that’s gone on to top many a poll of the most irritating songs of all time.
“In a way, we’re very proud. I’d rather be number one on that list than number 20! One of my favourite songs, Starship’s We Built This City, was named the most irritating song of the ’80s, so we’re in good company,” Rasted said.
He insisted the band hadn’t tired of performing the song.
If anything, they’re still basking in the thrill of performing together after a six-year hiatus which began in 2001.
“We were in the process of writing a third album when we broke up,” keyboardist Claus Norren said.
“We always said we’d do it for as long as it remained fun, and after living together and travelling the world for six years, it felt like the energy was lost.
“We needed to take a break before it got really bad. We probably wouldn’t sit here together today if it wasn’t for that break.”
INFO: Aqua play at Sydney’s Hifi on March 16 and the Enmore on March 17, and Melbourne’s Palace on March 21. Megalomania out now.