Happy Nation/The Sign – Ace of Base – 1992
Claimed Sales: 23m
First listen?: Yes
Format Listened?: Apple Music
We’ve entered the territory of worldwide differences to albums now and Ace of Base’s continues the trend of Swedish bands who score breakout success with different versions of the same album. Originally released in 1992 as Happy Nation, it wasn’t until 1993 and the US edition named The Sign that Ace of Base became the biggest European crossover of the decade. I’m genuinely baffled at just how many copies these two releases have sold, even knowing that All That She Wants is still seen as one of the biggest hits of the 90s. A Swedish group performing Reggae and Bhangra inspired pop songs doesn’t exactly scream 25 million copies worldwide does it? As an album, the second release edges it over Happy Nation thanks to the new songs including title track The Sign and Don’t Turn Around, which both feel like a perkier versions of All That She Wants. A track like Voulez-Vous Dancer works much better later in the tracklist than as an opener too, allowing for the stronger hooks at the start. The original release of the album feels much more rooted in house dance music than the US edition too, Dancer In A Daydream has a throbbing bassline and yet still sounds like everything else on the album. There’s pretty much 2 kind of song here, the hard dance records and the Reggae pop hits. Neither is really for me, everything is only ever so slightly on the right side of listenable, but a LOT of people were loving these two albums at the start of the decade. Happy Nation/The Sign isn’t a bad album, but there’s a reason I’d never made my way through it until now.
Will I listen again?: Definitely not
Best Track: All That She Wants is undeniably the strongest hook here and the fact that everything else sounds like a remix of it is pretty telling.