STOCKHOLM – Hockey teams often cite working hard, staying focused, and playing a full 60 minutes as keys to victory. The Swedish national team hopes that singing will give them one more edge when they play the 2013 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship on home ice in Stockholm.
The popular Swedish glam-metal band The Poodles released “En För Alla För En” (which translates to“One For All, All For One”), the official 2013 theme song for the Swedish team. Composed by songwriters Fredrik Thomander (Scorpions, Treat, Gotthard) and Anders Wikström (Treat), it’s a hard-driving classic rock number that proclaims that “nothing can stop us” and “Tre Kronor reigns”.
The Poodles, whose slick sound recalls that of Europe, HammerFall, and the American “hair bands” of the 1980s, recorded a splashy video for the song inside Stockholm’s Globen Arena.
Adding to the fun is the fact that the Swedish national team – including head coach Pär Mårts – actually provided the backing vocals for “En För Alla För En” at a Malmö studio.
“We got them as a choir of 30 people,” Poodles lead singer Jakob Samuel said. “I think they did great, all of them. They were really excited. Most of them had never been in a professional recording studio before. They hadn’t met us before either, so I guess that was exciting too! [laughs] Everything was really nice and smooth.”
It isn’t the first time the Swedes have hosted the tournament and also had players doing backing vocals for their own battle hymn. That pattern was established with 1989’s “Nu Tar Vi Dom”, featuring lead vocals from 1987 World Champion and two-time Olympic bronze medallist Håkan Södergren, and 1995’s “Den Glider In”, for which pop star Nick Borgen sang lead.
But when you hear the aggressive, Rammstein-like opening riff of “En För Alla För En”, or the fat guitar solo tone of Henrik Bergqvist, similar to that of Queen’s Brian May, you realize this is a departure from the poppy flavour of the preceding theme songs. (Just for the record, Bergqvist is not related to former national team member Jonas Bergqvist, nor is Poodles drummer Christian “Kicken” Lundqvist a relative of superstar goalie Henrik Lundqvist.)
“I think this is a fantastic song,” said Samuel. “To me, it’s more of a classic anthem, as if Queen would have done it. Remember when Freddie Mercury recorded a song for the 1992 Barcelona Olympics? ‘Nu Tar Vi Dom’ and ‘Den Glider In’, in my opinion, are very humoristic, tongue-in-cheek. This is an anthem song. It’s very honest. When you’re standing up for a big quest, you want to focus. It’s not like you go out there for a laugh. You go out there with your flesh and blood. You really, really want to do something. But still, the song isn’t without warmth and heart and soul.”
Two members of The Poodles, Lundqvist and bassist Pontus Egberg, actually grew up playing hockey.
“Pontus played until I actually captured him and took him away from hockey because he started to play the bass so much,” said Samuel. “He’s been playing for quite some time and was pretty good at it. I think ‘Kicken’ was pretty good too, but he wasn’t so much of a technical guy. He was better at hitting other people into the boards!”
The Poodles, best-known for hits like “Metal Will Stand Tall” and “Night of Passion” (a finalist in the 2006 Swedish Eurovision contest), aren’t strangers to performing sports theme songs. In fact, they also did “Raise the Banner”, the 2008 Swedish Olympic team song.
“The success of the song depends on having a good team as well,” Samuel astutely pointed out. “When we did the Swedish Olympic song, it was the worst Swedish Olympic Games since the 1930s! [laughs] So we don’t play that song too often now.”
But hopes are high that Tre Kronor will capture gold and break the infamous “home ice curse”. No host team has won the IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship since the Soviet Union in Moscow in 1986, and the Swedes haven’t taken top spot in a senior IIHF competition since the historic “double gold” at the 2006 Olympics in Turin and the World Championship in Riga.
The Poodles will release their sixth album, Tour de Force, through Frontiers Records on May 17. Wouldn’t it be a tour de force if Sweden could win it all at home with “En För Alla För En” echoing in the background?