Icona Pop’s “I Love It,” a gleeful declaration of triumph over a broken heart, marched its way from Stockholm, Sweden, to the top of the world’s music charts.
U.S. sales of “I Love It,” the defiantly playful pop gem by the Swedish duo of Aino Jawo and Caroline Hjelt, have exceeded 2 million copies. In July, more than a year after its Swedish debut, “I Love It” claimed the U.K.’s No. 1 spot.
“It’s cool how music can travel from country to country,” Jawo said last month from northern Sweden, where Icona Pop made a festival appearance.
“After we released ‘I Love It’ in Sweden, people started to share it. They found it on the Internet. And suddenly people were craving that song in Australia. And we were like, ‘What? How does that song travel all the way there?’
“So we released it in Australia and it just kept growing, without us doing any promo or anything. It was like a flower, growing and getting bigger and bigger.”
In the U.S., placement of “I Love It” in the HBO series “Girls” propelled it into iTunes’ Top 10. While the core audience for the song may appear to be girls and young women, its appeal is broader than that, Jawo said.
“It’s so fun because it’s everything from really small babies singing along to hardcore, punk dads,” she said. “They’re sitting there, like, ‘I don’t usually listen to pop music, but I like you.’
“I think people can relate to that song easily. It’s about coming out of heartache, but it doesn’t have to only be about love. It can be about having a rough day at work and you’re like, ‘Ah, got enough of it! I don’t care!’
“And we see a lot of different people at our concerts. I always get happy about that because I think we’re a very weird pop duo. We are the most not-perfect pop duo existing right now, different from everyone else.”
Following the international smash “I Love It,” Icona Pop is releasing its debut album, “This Is … Icona Pop,” on Sept. 24. Jawo and Hjelt, busy for much of 2013 year in the U.S., recorded vocals for one of the album’s songs, “All Night,” in New Orleans after they performed at the Buku Music & Art Project in March.
“New Orleans is so beautiful and there’s so much history there,” she said. “We stayed there an extra day and went into the studio and recorded the bits.”
“All Night,” Icona Pop’s new single, is another of the duo’s joy-injected, dance-floor anthems. “Come on, baby! We can hit the lights, make the wrongs turn right!” Jawo and Hjelt sing.
But “This Is … Icona Pop” won’t contain 11 “I Love It” sound-alike tracks, Jawo said.
“And it’s a very honest and personal album,” she said. “People will get to know us very, very well. We always say that we’ve been kind of in labor with this album and now it’s finally coming out. So it’s been a long journey, but we are very proud of it.”
As the official Icona Pop story goes, Jawo and Hjelt met in 2009 after Jawo experienced a painful breakup. A mutual friend of theirs insisted that Jawo drag her broken heart to a party hosted by Hjelt, her future partner in Icona Pop.
“I’m very happy that I got dumped because otherwise I don’t think I would have met Caroline,” Jawo said.
“Caroline is my best friend. It’s amazing to be able share what we’re going through together. It’s such a mix of emotional stuff that is happening to us now and it’s so important for us to be able to talk about this. I’m watching, living my dream with my best friend.”
Icona Pop’s highlights of 2013 include the duo’s appearance at the star-filled Billboard Music Awards in Las Vegas in May.
“It was so important for us to be there because we started to realize, like, ‘Wow, we’re in the middle of all of this. Justin Bieber is sitting three chairs from us. And our biggest idol of all time is standing and performing in front of us.’
“We got 10 meters away from him. It was Prince. And he was just shaking his backside and doing his moves better than ever. ... I loved it. He was so gorgeous. We were almost crying.”