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Aqua: More than just the maker of “Barbie Girl”

Everyone has heard of “Barbie Girl.” Created in the ’90s by Danish-Norwegian Europop band Aqua, the song’s bubbly beat, catchy lyrics and iconic music video have cemented it as one of the best-selling singles of all time. And the recent “Barbie” movie has only reignited its popularity.

Riding high on this new wave, Aqua recently wrapped up the U.S. leg of their Barbie World Tour. Performing across 20 cities, it was their first-ever tour in the U.S.—a long-awaited moment for their American bubbles. I was one of the “Happy Boys & Girls” who got to party along at The Fillmore Detroit, and it was truly fantastic.

Upon entering The Fillmore, I was met with a sea of bubblegum pink and vivid aqua. People of all ages buzzed about, from older original fans to young children, all vying for tour merchandise. Surrounding us was the beautiful venue, resplendent with its grand, historic architecture and elegant details.

While we waited for the show to begin, opening act Vasiliki “Vassy” Karagiorgos warmed up the stage and kept us entertained—though I was not too crazy about her music. After a brief lull, Aqua came on an hour late, held up while signing autographs for fans.

And they did not disappoint. It was a 90-minute masterpiece, brimming with their greatest hits, carefree dance moves and quirky visuals from their music videos. From upbeat tracks such as “Calling You” and “My Oh My” to slower tunes such as “Good Morning Sunshine” and “We Belong to the Sea,” there was never a dull moment. And, of course, they performed their classic “Barbie Girl.” The band’s happiness was infectious, with fans dancing, singing and lip-synching along. The volume of the music was fair, and the crowd itself was orderly. We even got an encore, bringing the vibrant experience to a satisfying close with “Aquarius” and “Roses Are Red.”

Despite the fun, many people did not show up. Several seats along the mezzanine and balcony levels were empty, and the crowd on the ground floor was rather sparse. In the days leading up to the show, ticket prices had dropped from hundreds of dollars to as low as six. It was unbelievable—how could the turnout for this talented band be so low?

It all boils down to Americans’ long-standing preference for domestic acts. Formed in Copenhagen, Denmark, Aqua never reached the same level of success in the U.S. that they attained in Europe and other places “Around the World.” “Barbie Girl” ended up being their only American hit.

But Aqua is so much more than just a one-hit wonder. Other songs from their debut album “Aquarium” saw international success, including “Doctor Jones” and “Lollipop (Candyman),” as well as later songs from “Aquarius,” such as “Bumble Bees.” Despite taking a 6-year break after their second album, they continue to tour across the globe. Their bubblegum dance-pop is cheerful and fun, enthralling those from the ’90s and younger generations. In fact, I have loved Aqua since I was a preschooler, all thanks to my mom playing their hits on repeat.

Even though I traveled through a storm to attend Aqua’s Barbie World Tour, I only wish that I could “Turn Back Time” and see it again. Everyone should listen to Aqua’s music—don’t just stop at “Barbie Girl.” Try out their greatest hits album and keep going from there. Not only will you come out incredibly happy, but you’ll also bounce along to their songs for years to come, never wanting to say goodbye.

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About the Contributor
Aambar Agarwal, Social Media Editor
Aambar Agarwal (she/her) is a third-year student racing toward majors in neuroscience and psychology and a minor in public health. In her free time, she can be found dabbling in art when not turning the pages of yet another book. She also enjoys hiking with her pals while inhaling pollen in the Metroparks.

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