The Swedish band rose to prominence in the ’90s with their song “Lovefool,” an incredibly catchy (and desperate) anthem to limerence. While that single may be their biggest hit, they have a pretty diverse oeuvre filled with bops. “Carnival” is one of these.
Lead singer Nina Persson’s mellifluous voice is especially haunting in this song, which is kind of like a more magical “Lovefool” that’s more morose than manic. It’s a really good song to cry and dance to.
It’s also a song that lends itself really well to city pop it seems.
Tokimeki Records, a Japanese musical project by producer Yutaka Takanami that updates nostalgic bops of yesteryear, just did a discofied city pop version of the song. And it enlisted Filipino singer-songwriter Syd Hartha to do her take on Persson’s vocals.
The cover is a lot slicker than the original—as well as the songs that Syd Hartha usually sings. “It’s fulfilling to try new things, and succeed in going out of your comfort zone as a musician,” the folk pop singer said in a press release. “I’m really happy that I was able to put my own take on a beloved ‘90s tune and work with a globally renowned producer like Namy for this track.”
Like any good city pop song, this version of “Carnival” is heavy on the synths, highly danceable, and very dreamy and melancholic. And since we’re both living through the disco renaissance and pop’s dark and moody era, this update of The Cardigans’ single makes the song incredibly relevant to the times.
Why did Tokimeki Records decide to rework this song? “One of the most influential western pop songs of the 1990s for me was Carnival,” Takanami shares in the press release. “It was also played on TV at the time, but it was also played and covered in the Japanese club scene. I’ve been wanting to get an Asian singer to sing this song, and I was hoping that Syd would sing it for me. It was a dream come true.”
He also shared that he found out about Syd Hartha from Kevin Foo, the former label owner of Singapore-based Umami Records and currently the general manager of Sony Music Taiwan. “I also checked out her YouTube page, and after watching her sing cute but mature songs, I fell in love with her all over again,” he said.
And I have to say, I highkey really love this whole cross-cultural Asian music boom right now.