Everyone knows Lene Nystrøm, the beautiful lead singer of Danish bubblegum europop group Aqua whose song "Barbie Girl" was a huge worldwide hit. After the group released two albums, Aquarium in 1997 and Aquarius in 2000, and countless hit singles (well, hits everywhere except North America, where "Barbie Girl" remains their only top ten song), they broke up in 2001, amid rumours of discord within the group, and diminishing sales. All of the members pursued other projects, with Lene being the most logical to pursue a solo career. Over the next couple of years she gathered together top producers and writers for her debut album. The producers included pop heavyweights like Brian Rawling, Xenomania, BAG & Arnthor and Bloodshy & Avant, and the writers included Kandi Burruss and Isle postees Ruby Amanfu (on "Surprise") and Stella Soleil. Lene obviously wanted to distance herself from the chirpy bubblegum sound of Aqua, which had pretty much worn thin by the end of their run. Instead she displayed her vocal prowess, lowering her register and slowing the beats down to sexier, more electro-inflected pop and even some rock. The song "Virgin Superstar" was released to radio, and it's success led to the proper release of her first single, "It's Your Duty". The song was an instant hit in her native Scandinavia, hitting #3 on the pop charts, no doubt aided by the sexy video. The next single was "Pretty Young Thing", a remake of the Stella Soleil song which was also released as a single. As with Stella's version, it failed to hit (Tina Cousins also recorded the song in 2006 and had a minor hit with it, finally). The album also failed to hit in her native land, and was only given limited release in the rest of the world, with no release in the coveted US. Unfortunate, as it's a fun, solid pop album. Promos for "Here We Go" (a cover of the Moonbaby track) and "Scream" were released but to no success and Lene was dropped from Polydor/Universal. After that she appeared on the song "I Love N.Y." on the album by husband and Aqua bandmate Søren Rasted's Lazyboy project, and she had success as a songwriter in 2006 when Girls Aloud recorded her songs "No Good Advice" (which was a huge hit) and "You Freak Me Out" for their debut album (they also later covered "Here We Go" in 2004 and "We Wanna Party" in 2008). In 2007, Aqua reformed to tour Denmark, which led to the release of a greatest hits album in 2009 that included three new songs, and a new album in 2011 entitled Megalomania. Soon after Lene was enlisted to be a judge on the Danish edition of the singing competition The Voice, where she still holds court. (BTW, the album is available on iTunes in some of Europe if you are from there and want the best quality version of it. The rest of you will have to settle for this download for now. ;)
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