Sunday, 19 August 2012

Alcazar


Alcazar was a Swedish eurodance group which has established themselves as one of Sweden's most successful music groups with a string of hits since their debut single in 1999. Worldwide, Alcazar sold over 12 million records between 2001 and 2004. Alcazar have also had success around the world with their song Crying at the Discoteque, having charted in countries such as USA, Brazil, Australia, Japan and most countries in Europe. Alcazar disbanded indefinitely in August 2011 after a concert at Stockholm Pride.

Biography

The group formed in 1998 with three members: Andreas Lundstedt, Tess Merkel  and Annika Kjærgaard. Their first single, Shine On, was a hit in Sweden, but with their second release, Crying at the Discoteque they achieved success across Europe. Both singles appeared on their debut album, Casino, written and produced by Swedish record producers Alexander Bard and Anders Hansson. Later editions of Casino contained a cover of The Human League's hit Don't You Want Me which also served as the third single off the album. In the United States, Alcazar gained moderate success. Crying at the Discoteque peaked at #44 and Don't You Want Me peaked at #30 on the Hot Dance Music/Club Play.

In December 2002, Andreas Lundstedt's boyfriend at the time, Magnus Carlsson, joined the group. The second album, Alcazarized, was released in Sweden in 2003 and became a big hit. Subsequently, it was released internationally in 2004, with new cover artwork and a slightly different track list.

In the autumn of 2004, Alcazar released This Is the World We Live In. The song samples Diana Ross's 1980 hit single Upside Down and re-uses lyrics from Genesis' 1986 single Land of Confusion. Their follow-up single, Physical, also sampled an older hit: Londonbeat's I've Been Thinking About You. The singles were followed up by the album Dancefloor Deluxe which was released in Sweden in August 2004. In the winter of 2004/2005, they released the Christmas single Here I Am. Alcazar enjoyed considerable success in 2004 in their home country Sweden. 2005 saw the release of the single Start the Fire. During the making of its music video, Annika Kjærgaard had an accident in which she broke her foot.

In the autumn of 2005, the band decided to take a break. Andreas moved on to musicals and played the lead in Saturday Night Fever, while Tess became a poker pro.

In May 2007, the band did a one-off performance in London at the night club G-A-Y, together with Swedish colleagues BWO and Army Of Lovers, and invited their friend Lina Hedlund to join them on stage. It all turned out to be a very successful combination and a few months later the New Alcazar was formed.

In January 2008, their first and comeback single We Keep on Rockin', witten and produced by Anders Hansson, was released. The single quickly turned into a hit and only a week after the release the single passed gold status in sales. In March 2009, the new album Disco Defenders was released in Sweden. Disco Defenders has received great reviews from the Swedish critics.

In 2010, Alcazar recorded a duet with British pop group Same Difference, entitled Karma Karma. It was included on Same Difference's second album The Rest Is History Although not officially released as a single, the song charted on Swedish iTunes thanks to Alcazar's popularity in their homeland.


Break and line-up changes

The band claimed that they needed a break during the autumn of 2005. Male lead singer, Andreas Lundstedt claimed that the band would be back in the summer of 2007. In the meantime the male members launched solo careers. Lundstedt had appeared in the Eurovision Song Contest 2006, as a member of six4one, a multi-national band founded for the sole purpose of representing Switzerland at the contest, whilst Carlsson has twice taken part individually in the Swedish Melodifestivalen.

Lina Hedlund was announced as the replacement for Annika. Lina Hedlund has previously entered Melodifestivalen on two occasions. Andreas' 'Expressen' blog was recently updated, telling Alcazar fans that the group will now be back together permanently, they will take part in a concert in Sweden in December 2007 and will then head into the studio to produce the group's third studio album, with new member, Lina Hedlund. The band is now including Tess Merkel and Lina Hedlund as female vocalists, and Andreas Lundstedt as male vocalist.

Melodifestivalen

Alcazar have taken part in Melodifestivalen on numerous occasions. In 2003, Not a Sinner, Nor a Saint initially failed to qualify for the final, but got a wildcard in the second chance round, finishing 3rd overall. However, the song eventually became the biggest hit of all participating songs in Melodifestivalen 2003. It was Alcazar's first number 1 single in Sweden and was certified Gold.

During early 2005 Alcazar was offered a spot in the United Kingdom national selection for Eurovision Song Contest 2005 but refused the offer. Instead they tried their luck in Melodifestivalen 2005 with the disco tune Alcastar. As in 2003, they originally failed to qualify for the final, but eventually made it through after the second chance semi-final. And once again, the group again had to settle for the 3rd place in the final, the song was a hit and became Alcazar's second number 1 single in Sweden.

Alcazar are once again participating in Melodifestivalen 2009, this time with the song Stay the Night. After performing the song during the first semifinal in Scandinavium, Gothenburg, they finished in the top 2 of a Melodifestivalen semifinal for the first time, thus qualifying directly for the final. In the final in Globen, having placed 3rd with the regional juries and 4th in the televote, the song finished 5th overall. The song managed to peak at number 2 on Swedish Singles Charts giving Alcazar another Top 10 single in Sweden. Alcazar also participated in Melodifestivalen 2010 with the song Headlines, written and produced by Tony Nilsson and Peter Boström, but failed to reach the final.

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