For any future readers, the publication date of this article was the 31st January 2020, also known as Brexit Day. Today, the United Kingdom leaves the European Union, so we thought we'd take this opportunity to list our five favourite acts from EU countries.
It's a tough list to compile; many talented acts have emerged from Europe over the years, and that's not to mention the annual cascade of ridiculousness that is Eurovision. The UK haven't done well in that competition for a good number of years now, and it's hard to imagine that that will change any time soon.
With all that being said, here are our top five musical acts from countries within the European Union.
Taken from us far too soon, Swedish artist Avicii - real name Tim Bergling - brought EDM firmly into the public consciousness. Barring Trance's brief moment in the late '90s, EDM was firmly music for the clubs. That was until Avicii came along and released the seminal 'Levels' in 2011, bringing the genre into the mainstream worldwide. Later, Bergling would work with acts such as Nile Rodgers, Imagine Dragons and Chris Martin, cementing himself as worldwide superstar whilst doing so.
His outwardly upbeat nature made his tragic suicide a shock to us all, once again showing us that mental health issues aren't always obvious. Hopefully, the awareness that has come from his death can help others in need. Avicii's music will live on for as long as we play it, and that will be for a long time yet.
German metal legends Rammstein have been making waves for decades, though they show no signs of slowing down. Their concerts seem to be an attempt to recreate Hell itself, with a frankly outrageous amount of pyrotechnics on show at each and every one of them, along with the music to match. Though 'Du Hast' remains their most famous song, their crowning achievement must surely be 2019's 'Deutschland', a harsh and critical take on their country's history, accompanied by a controversial video which includes scenes such as a depiction of concentration camps in World War II.
Despite singing in their native German, Rammstein have become an international success and one of the leaders of the metal genre today. Not ones to shy away from controversy, their explosive shows and hard-hitting lyrics have resonated with metal fans from all over, even if Google Translate is needed to do so. They're proof that music can transcend all barriers, including language, and one gets the distinct feeling that they'll have more to say in the coming years.
3) Daft Punk
French electronic music duo Daft Punk revolutionised the electronic genre, combining its traditional elements with funky grooves, disco beats and an artistic use of Autotune. They've also taken influence from rock music along they way, most notably in 2005's 'Robot Rock', and continued to experiment with their own sound. Though they walk around looking like the Slab creatures from Doctor Who's 2007 episode 'Smith and Jones', the famously reclusive pair have gone from strength to strength as their career has continued.
In 2013, they hit their peak with Get Lucky, an electro-funk song made in collaboration with Nile Rodgers (this man gets everywhere) and Pharrell Williams, which became arguably the most famous song of the year. In 2014 they won five Grammy awards relating to their fourth album Random Access Memories, solidifying their place in world music. Avicii probably wouldn't exist without Daft Punk before him, and their influence cannot be understated.
Finnish symphonic-metal band Nightwish are undoubtedly the undisputed masters of their genre, coming out with album after album of musical excellence. Not only is their singles game strong, with songs such as 'Nemo', 'Amaranth', 'Élan' and the spine-tingling 'Storytime', much of their best work lies hidden within the albums. 'Ghost Love Score' remains one of the best metal songs of all time, and that's not to mention 'The Greatest Show on Earth', a 24-minute masterpiece based on Richard Dawkins' book of the same name and featuring Dawkins himself.
Though they've changed singers a couple of times, Nightwish have never lost sight of who they are and continue to carve beautiful and elegant pieces of music time and time again. They deserve more fame than they've achieved, but that comes with the territory of being a band of a niche genre. Nightwish rule that genre, however, with few bands coming close.
Personally, this writer prefers every other act on this list over ABBA, but what they've achieved since winning Eurovision's 1974 contest cannot be understated. The Swedish pop quartet have sold over 150 million records worldwide, had their music turned into a play and two films, becoming one of the most successful acts the world has ever seen. This is quite remarkable for a band whose existence spanned all of just 10 years, 1972-1982, before they finally reunited in 2018, much to the joy of millions.
ABBA achieved hit after hit, with songs including 'Dancing Queen', 'Money Money Money', 'Take a Chance On Me', 'Waterloo', and of course 'Mamma Mia', among so many others. Not even they could possiby have foreseen the success they would achieve, and frankly no other artist even came close to topping this list. ABBA's phenomenal success will continue on for decades yet, inspiring thousands.
The Swedish supergroup is, undoubtedly, the most successful act to come out of Europe - excluding the UK, of course, which is kind of the point here. Well-deserved.