Pop: It's all over, Barbie

Aqua flew a hundred journalists to Copenhagen so they could experience them live. Why? Because they know the game is up.

"ASK THEM if they take drugs," whispered the hack next to me as an imperious record company executive ordered us to "Stop talking. Let's have one question at a time". But just as we began to muster the confidence to ask a suitably probing question, the tacky Euro-popsters Aqua were hastily awarded a prize - we never discovered what for - and swiftly ushered out of the room.

The question "what for?" was on all our lips for the duration of this most extravagant press junket. When a band hauls 100 British journalists overseas, you can usually guarantee that they have got something big to promote. But according to Aqua's publicists, we were invited to Copenhagen simply because the band wanted to "give something back to those who had supported them" and enable us to "experience" Aqua live.

You can't have missed Aqua's rise to superstardom. These sugar-coated Scandinavians, led by super-trendy singer Lene and booming rapper Rene, captured the imagination of millions of pre-teens last year, driving the rest of us insane, with the relentlessly catchy "Barbie Girl", a happy- clappy and utterly trashy Euro-pop satire on those ubiquitous playthings, Ken and Barbie. The song elicited such outrage from Barbie doll manufacturers that they took Aqua's label to court claiming unwarranted damage to their product's squeaky-clean image. Aqua's album, Aquarium, containing 12 songs fashioned with the same Barbie formula - chirpy vocals, tinny techno, repetitive choruses - has sold 12 million copies worldwide.

But what with "Barbie Girl" being branded by HMV's customers as the most irritating pop song of all time, their record company knew it would take more than just a free drink to get us there. We were shamelessly wooed by the promise of a private jet adorned with the Aqua insignia, an audience with the band and a depraved night in foreign climes. As it transpired, the "private jet" was a British Airways aeroplane with a giant sticker slapped on to the tail, and the audience with the band was a five-minute press conference with a hasty handshake at the end.

You couldn't help but feel sympathy for Steve and Kev, a pair of genuine Aqua fans, who, having won a competition on MTV to fly to Copenhagen with the band, found themselves on a hand-me-down BA plane with one hundred disorderly hacks. Though they put on a brave face for most of it, at the end of the scandalously brief "meet'n'greet", they were somewhat incensed.

"We were promised 12 hours with the band and we have had 7 minutes so far," declared Kev. "This lot couldn't organise a piss-up in a brewery."

Following in the footsteps of their predecessors, 2 Unlimited and Whigfield, Aqua have displayed all the classic characteristics of the here-today- gone-tomorrow teen pop band. They project a clean-cut cartoon-like image for the parents and underpinned it with a hint of naughtiness to entice the kids. They have recognised the value of repetition, display an irrepressible predilection for kitsch, and swell with pride at the suggestion that their music is out-and-out bubblegum schlock (though after a few too many beers, a record company representative revealed it to be a "load of bollocks").

They have played it to perfection so far, having refused to show up any potential inadequacies by playing live in Britain, doing selective interviews (we are informed in no uncertain terms that there will be no private interviews on this trip), and appearing on every possible UK pop programme to bond with their fans. And despite the efforts of the tabloids to steep them in smut - Lene was once accused of being Posh Spice's lesbian lover - their reputation has remained spotless.

But though Aqua confidently inform us during the press conference that they are currently "writing" another album due for release in the summer next year, you get the feeling that they know their number is nearly up. This at least would explain the enormous scale of our excursion.

Later on, Aqua tried to lure us into their fantastic, plastic world with fireworks, an inflatable octopus and a Peter Pan act at Copenhagen's famous Tivoli Gardens. At the start of the show, Lene bound on to the stage wearing a pair of skin-tight jeans with lasciviously located holes across her behind, shouting in Danish, "Do you want to see my arse?", while Rene gadded about in a spaceman outfit. Musically, they failed to sustain any significant presence as their set became a series of extravagant gimmicks, but Steve and Kev were entranced and rolled up their sleeves to reveal Aqua tattoos on their upper arms. When interrogated, they boasted an irony- free devotion to the band. "This trip may have been a complete shambles but I still love them," said Kev. "They're just a good laugh. And let's face it, nobody will ever forget the Barbie song."

PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
TVDessert week was full of the usual dramas as 'bingate' ensued
Arts and Entertainment
Clara and the twelfth Doctor embark on their first adventure together
TVThe regulator received six complaints on Saturday night
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Vinyl demand: a factory making the old-style discs
musicManufacturers are struggling to keep up with the resurgence in vinyl
Arts and Entertainment
David Baddiel concedes his show takes its inspiration from the hit US series 'Modern Family'
comedyNew comedy festival out to show that there’s more to Jewish humour than rabbi jokes
Arts and Entertainment
Puff Daddy: One Direction may actually be able to use the outrage to boost their credibility

music
Arts and Entertainment
Suha Arraf’s film ‘Villa Touma’ (left) is set in Ramallah and all the actresses are Palestinian

film
Arts and Entertainment
Madame Vastra and Jenny Flint kiss in Doctor Who episode 'Deep Breath'

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Steve Carell in the poster for new film 'Foxcatcher'
filmExclusive: First look at comic actor in first major serious role
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Kingston Road in Stockton is being filmed for the second series of Benefits Street
arts + entsFilming for Channel 4 has begun despite local complaints
Arts and Entertainment
Led Zeppelin

music
Arts and Entertainment
Radio presenter Scott Mills will be hitting the Strictly Come Dancing ballroom
TV
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
The Doctor and Clara have their first real heart to heart since he regenerated in 'Deep Breath'
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Beyonce performs in front of a Feminist sign at the MTV VMAs 2014

music
Arts and Entertainment
Miley Cyrus has taken home the prize for Video of the Year at the MTV Video Music Awards 2014

music
Arts and Entertainment
Peter Paige and Scott Lowell in Queer as Folk (Season 5)
tvA batch of shows that 'wouldn't get past a US network' could give tofu sales an unexpected lift
Arts and Entertainment
books... but seller will be hoping for more
Arts and Entertainment
John Kearns winner of the Foster's Edinburgh Comedy Award with last years winners: Bridget Christie and Frank Skinner
comedyJohn Kearns becomes the first Free Fringe act to win the top prize
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Ukraine crisis: The phoney war is over as Russian troops and armour pour across the border

    The phoney war is over

    Russian troops and armour pour into Ukraine
    Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

    Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

    The world’s entire food system is under attack - and Britain is most at risk, according to a new study
    Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

    Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

    Seoul's plastic surgery industry is booming thanks to the popularity of the K-Pop look
    From Mozart to Orson Welles: Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

    Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

    After the death of Sandy Wilson, 90, who wrote his only hit musical in his twenties, John Walsh wonders what it's like to peak too soon and go on to live a life more ordinary
    Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

    Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

    Fears are mounting that Vladimir Putin has instructed hackers to target banks like JP Morgan
    Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years

    Salomé: A head for seduction

    Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years. Now audiences can meet the Biblical femme fatale in two new stage and screen projects
    From Bram Stoker to Stanley Kubrick, the British Library's latest exhibition celebrates all things Gothic

    British Library celebrates all things Gothic

    Forthcoming exhibition Terror and Wonder: The Gothic Imagination will be the UK's largest ever celebration of Gothic literature
    The Hard Rock Café's owners are embroiled in a bitter legal dispute - but is the restaurant chain worth fighting for?

    Is the Hard Rock Café worth fighting for?

    The restaurant chain's owners are currently embroiled in a bitter legal dispute
    Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival

    In search of Caribbean soul food

    Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival
    11 best face powders

    11 best face powders

    Sweep away shiny skin with our pick of the best pressed and loose powder bases
    England vs Norway: Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

    Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

    Lack of Englishmen at leading Premier League clubs leaves manager hamstrung
    Angel Di Maria and Cristiano Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

    Di Maria and Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

    They both inherited the iconic shirt at Old Trafford, but the £59.7m new boy is joining a club in a very different state
    Israel-Gaza conflict: No victory for Israel despite weeks of death and devastation

    Robert Fisk: No victory for Israel despite weeks of devastation

    Palestinians have won: they are still in Gaza, and Hamas is still there
    Mary Beard writes character reference for Twitter troll who called her a 'slut'

    Unlikely friends: Mary Beard and the troll who called her a ‘filthy old slut’

    The Cambridge University classicist even wrote the student a character reference
    America’s new apartheid: Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone

    America’s new apartheid

    Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone