It’s been 25 years since the Danish dance-pop group, Aqua, made their mark on the music industry with hits like “Barbie Girl” and “Doctor Jones.” Now, to celebrate the anniversary of their debut album, Aquarium, which sold more than 17 million copies worldwide, the iconic group are releasing special vinyl editions of the record!
This year, Aqua also reached a historic milestone, making it to over 1 BILLION views on YouTube for their “Barbie Girl” music video. The kitschy vibes of the music video are beloved by so many, and their legendary track is still streamed all across the world today, remaining an absolute classic. It’s truly a song that has never gotten old.
The creators of this cartoonish, campy realm of pop music include Rene Dif, Lene Nystrøm, and producers Søren Rasted and Claus Noreen. They originally got together in 1994 under the name “Joyspeed,” but they will now forever be known as the musicians behind the phenomenon that is Aqua.
Pop Crave asked the members of Aqua about the 25th anniversary of their debut album, Aquarium, their thoughts on Greta Gerwig’s Barbie movie, and who they’d like to see cover their iconic song, “Barbie Girl,” next. Keep reading for the full interview!
Hi Aqua, congratulations on the 25th anniversary of your debut album, Aquarium! How does it feel to reach such a significant milestone?
Rene: It feels cool because it’s not really what we have thought of in the beginning.
Søren: I don’t even think we had imagined that we would sit here 25 years later.
Rene: We are truly blessed.
Speaking of milestones, the music video for “Barbie Girl” just reached 1 BILLION views on YouTube earlier this year! What is your favorite memory you have from shooting that music video?
Rene: I just think we were all super overwhelmed about everything that was set up for us.
Lene: I remember it as the most magical world!
Søren: It was such a large set.
Rene: And there were so many people there. I remember being totally shocked that this is actually how you do a music video. It was the first large music video we did.
Søren: One memory from that video is how the day before, Lene said in a meeting that she didn’t want to be Barbie. So, we changed a lot of things during the night just until next morning when we met at the set, and there was a new Barbie and Ken hired to play the roles instead. We met these two people who were strangers to each other as well, and today they are 22 years married and have four children. That’s a fun memory.
You are well-known for your cartoonish, fun, and wild visuals! What other music videos of yours were your favorite to shoot?
Rene: I think “My Oh My” was really fun. We got to live out the Jack Sparrow pirate dream with the wildest look in our eyes, doing all kinds of stuff you shouldn’t do today – but I also think videos like “Cartoon Heroes” were really fun. It was recorded in Prague, and I didn’t really understand why we had to shoot the video in Prague. I thought we should just do something with a green screen, but that was definitely not the plan – they had built a huge UBÅD [submarine] and cut it open. I think all of the videos have been very fun to make, but “My Oh My” probably takes the prize.
Lene: We all really liked entering these roles, dressing up and acting all crazy.
To celebrate the 25th anniversary of Aquarium, the album will be re-released digitally and on vinyl September 23! How nostalgic has the process been of re-releasing this record?
Lene: I thought it was really nice seeing the album on vinyl, but I don’t know if it’s really nostalgic in that manner.
Søren: We haven’t forgotten about the album, and we still look at the cover and perform the songs from it all the time, so maybe it’s nostalgic in another way for us – that we are still here 25 years later.
To this day, Aqua performs at tons and tons of festivals! What is your favorite part about putting on a live performance?
Søren: Summing it up, we love performing live, and we’re probably one of the best bands from that time to do so. Therefore, we do around 40 concerts every year all over the world – and we love every second of every concert.
Lene: We are so many people traveling and doing this together. We’re almost some sort of family. There is no hierarchy, and no one is better than the others. We all strive to reach the same goal, and we’re hungry for the same things. We want to win every crowd and convince them all.
What have been some of your favorite festivals to perform at over the past few years?
Lene: The Danish festival, Tinderbox, this summer was really, really nice.
Rene: I agree on Tinderbox.
Søren: We have also been on an amazing Canada tour which was crazy. We’ve done some cool Italian shows lately too.
Rene: Spain was crazy too. On Friday, we played at Tinderbox in Denmark, and the next day we were in Spain in front of 50,000 people in the middle of Barcelona when they hosted World Pride. There are so many cool experiences.
Lene: I also always love Australia.
Over the years, several music artists have covered or reimagined your music. For example, Ava Max’s “Not Your Barbie Girl” is a recent release that samples your iconic track. Do you have any favorite covers/samples of your music that you love?
Søren: Actually, not really. It’s not to sound like a douche, but exactly with “Barbie Girl,” I don’t think I’ve heard a cover that could match the original – even though it has been remixed by so many. I think there are a lot of slow versions of it, which is cool, but I don’t think anyone has been able to do a better job with the production than we did.
Rene: I liked one called “PLASTIC” from Unghetto Mathieu, I believe his name was. He’s a young American guy who did it, and I thought it was pretty cool that he sampled the song and put his own on top of it. That was pretty nice because in the old days, the ‘90s, you would have just pushed a button and heard the original track, which he did but with his own on top of it. I had to listen to it a couple of times, but it worked so well!
Lene: Blur also did a cool one back in the day.
Rene: I also think Ava Max’s is super cool.
Whose take on the song “Barbie Girl” would you like to see next?
Lene: Rammstein [laughs]. I really don’t know.
Rene: Maybe Elton and Britney could be up for it.
Lene: Maybe it’s best if the song just stays as it is. I think it’s difficult to make.
While fans are dying to hear “Barbie Girl” featured in the upcoming Barbie movie with Margot Robbie, the song will unfortunately not be featured in the film. However, I definitely think the movie will still lead to a resurgence in people streaming your legendary track! Do you think a “Barbie Girl” resurgence could be on the horizon?
Lene: The resurgence of “Barbie Girl” has been going on for several years now. There have really been a lot of huge TikTokkers using the track and people hyping it, but I also believe this movie will push the song further again – but we really understand why the song is not a part of the movie. Simply, it would be too obvious.
Søren: The cast looks great, but we haven’t seen the movie yet – but I think it will definitely boost us too.
Lene: Who won’t go see Ryan Gosling regardless of what he’s doing [laughs]?
How meaningful is it to know that there are Aqua super fans who have been by your side for over 25 years now, and in what ways have your fans impacted your life?
Søren: They must be too old now [laughs].
Lene: We have so many loyal fans all over the world, and they have their own little club, they live with each other in the different countries, and they seem very close. We are so, so grateful for that, because fans tend not to be very loyal these days. It’s a completely different time, but they are still here and new ones are coming.
After the re-release of Aquarium, what comes next for Aqua?
Søren: We have some different things in the pipeline, but we can’t say anything specific yet.
Pre-order the special edition of Aqua’s album, Aquarium, here: https://aqua.lnk.tt/Aquarium