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Guilty Pleasure: Aqua – Aquarium

on June 21, 2009, 12:35pm

Imagine it’s 1997. Bill Clinton is serving his second term in office and Harry Potter receives his acceptance letter to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. More importantly, dance-pop group Aqua releases its debut album. 1997 is the dawning of the age of … Aquarium.

Scandinavians Lene Rasted, René Dif, Søren Rasted, and Claus Norreen delivered one of the guiltiest pleasures imaginable, Aquarium – a euro-dance album succeeding Ace of Base’s The Sign in U.S. popularity. Scoff if you like, but Aqua made an impact. With a bubblegum sound and consistent theme of happiness streaming through the album, Aquarium is just the “happy-pill” Doctor Jones prescribed. How else would the U.S. cope with the Lewinsky scandal and Potter’s numerous trials and tribulations?

One may think Aqua is so mysterious, but don’t take it all too serious. Instead, listen to Aquarium as I detail the good, the bad, and the “happy-pill” lyric of each song.

“Happy Boys & Girls”

Good – It has a great beat to dance to, that is, if you’re into glow sticks and pacifiers.

Bad – The song can be a bit repetitive. By the first refrain you’re ready to skip past the next six or so.

“Happy-Pill” Lyric There are almost too many to choose from in this song. However, the most straightforward is “Happy boys and happy girls, we’ll be/Oh yeah, so happy …”

“My Oh My”

Good – The sound of a horse galloping in the beginning really draws one’s inner equestrian out.

Bad – Dif’s lyrics are lacking. “Gotta steal from the rich, when they don’t know I’m coming/Gotta give to the poor, no time for lovin’.” I need something more original than a Robin Hood reference.

“Happy-Pill” Lyric – “If you were my king …/I would be your queen …” If Lene can dream of a happy ending with Dif, than there is no reason the Clintons cannot work it out.

“Barbie Girl”

Good – The social commentary on Barbie and Ken set to a dance-pop beat is choice. When Mattel took legal action against MCA Records, Judge Alex Kozinski ruled, “The parties are advised to chill.” Aqua – 1, Mattel – 0!

Bad – Due to this song, sexual frustration in teenagers rose to an all-time high, as Barbies flew off the shelf and into the bedroom.

“Happy-Pill” Lyric –You can touch, you can play/You can say I’m always yours.” This would make any couple happy.

“Good Morning Sunshine”

Good –The Spanish-influenced sound paired with Dif’s rapping is an unexpected direction. Vive Aqua Gangsta’!

Bad – Lene seems to be reaching vocally. In this case, one should stick with what they’re good at.

“Happy-Pill” Lyric – This is somewhat of a “downer” song for Aqua, but the “sunshine” can still be found. “Feel the heat come out of the cold/And your arm is touching me/Good morning sunshine.”

“Doctor Jones”

Good – Everything! The back and forth between Lene and Dif is at its best in this song. In addition, who doesn’t love an Indiana Jones reference and a little dance-pop yodeling?

Bad – Nothing! Seriously, this is as infallible as Dr. Henry Walton Jones Jr.

“Happy-Pill” Lyric – This is for anyone who has ever been in a long distance relationship. “Baby, I am missing you/I want you by my side/And I hope you’ll miss me too/Come back and Stay/I think about you every day/I really want you too/You swept my feet right off the ground,You’re the love I found.”

“Heat of the Night”

Good – “Doctor Jones” is a tough act to follow, and “Heat of the Night” struggles to accomplish the feat. There is nothing good to say.

Bad – The worst is Dif’s “new” accent. I’m sorry, but it fails along with the entire song.

“Happy-Pill” Lyric – “Life is easy, on a holiday/All your problems seem so far away/The bar is open, and everybody sings …”

“Be a Man”

Good – Lene sounds reminiscent of Cindi Lauper, while the entire song is reminiscent of the ’80s, and it works. Kudos goes to Søren and his keyboarding skills. I’m also a fan of the “stop” tactic Lene uses around 3:22. This tactic has been seen recently as well. For example, Pink uses it in her song “Sober”.

Bad – The lyrics are putting a damper on the last prescription. Aqua needs to send a major “happy-pill” immediately.

“Happy-Pill” Lyric – “‘Cause our love is the real thing/And it hurts like hell, but I will be strong …” Once again, my faith in the Clintons is reaffirmed. 

“Lollipop (Candyman)”

Good – All aboard the happy train, coming from Bountyland! After the slower paced “Be a Man”, Aqua is back with Lene and Dif in full-force.

Bad – The unnecessary repetition at the end could be discarded.

“Happy-Pill” Lyric – “Oh my love, I know you are my candyman/And oh my love, your word is my command.” Again, there is a lyric to make the couples happy.

“Roses are Red”

Good – Lene’s yodeling and “dum di da di da” is stupendous, and the majority of Dif’s lyrics are pleasing (see below).

Bad – Dif singing, “Come pick my roses,” is disturbing.

“Happy-Pill” Lyric – It is about time Dif had something good to say. “It’s invisible, but so touchable and/I can feel it on my body/So emotional/I’m on a ride, on a ride/I’m a passenger/I’m a victim of a hot love messenger.”

“Turn Back Time”

Good – The slower paced song allows Lene’s vocal range to shine.

Bad – The music attempts to dull the aforementioned shine.

“Happy-Pill” Lyric – “Claim your right to science/ Claim your right to see the truth.” Claiming something makes people feel happy. Unfortunately, Aqua’s utopia doesn’t account for how often the truth is clouded along the way.

“Calling You”

Good – Listen closely, at parts it sounds like Joan Osborne’s “One of Us”.

Bad – The “spelling bee” is excruciating.

“Happy-Pill” Lyric – Telephone calls make millions happy. That is why cellular telephones are so prevalent in society. “I’m calling you/Calling you now.”

One by one, Aqua made it fun. However, feel free to slip back to 2009 if you would like. Refrain from punishing yourself for enjoying Aquarium because guilty pleasures are only fun if you can partake in them.

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