Blue Swede is a short-lived Swedish classic rock and pop band hailing from Stockholm. They achieved fame via their hit cover of B. J. Thomas song “Hooked on a Feeling” which has become a popular classic oldies favorite. It is probably the most famous version of that tune, thanks to Ally McBeal. They also had another top 10 US pop hit with another cover song, “Never My Love” in 1975.
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Formation, early years and their famous cover version of “Hooked on a Feeling”
Blue Swede is a pop-rock band formed in Stockholm, Sweden during the 70s music era. It was founded by its frontman Bjorn Skifs, who was then one of the top singers in the country. Initially the band called themselves Blåblus (meaning “blue blouse” or “blue jeans,” emphasizing the “blues”).
In 1974, Blue Swede achieved their real first international break when they did a cover of B.J. Thomas number entitled “Hooked on a Feeling,” but followed British singer Jonathan King’s more eccentric version with the “ooga-chaka ooga-chaka” introduction. The band also modified the lyrics to differ from the original version, in order to dodge a drug reference.
Eventually, Blue Swede recorded and released their own version of “Hooked on a Feeling” (complete with the “ooga-chaka ooga-chaka” intro) first in their native country in the spring of 1973, and then in the US in early 1974. Rather unexpectedly perhaps, it went to #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 (it also went to #31 on the adult contemporary singles chart). It also went to #1 in other countries such as Canada, Australia and Holland. In the UK, it was almost an inch away from topping the chart, if not for British native King’s version.
The single’s popularity pushed the album, also titled Hooked on a Feeling, up on the Billboard 200 chart, peaking at #80 there.
Later also in 1974, Blue Swede’s follow-up single “Silly Milly” reached #71 on the US Billboard Hot 100, a minor hit. It was quickly followed by their cover of the Association’s “Never My Love” (written by Dick and Don Addrisi) which gave them their second and final Top 10 pop hit in America. The band’s second and last LP Out of the Blue saw them doing a medley of Deep Purple’s “Hush” and Tommy James and the Shondell’s “I’m Alive.” These two mashed-up songs was released as one single, which peaked at #61 on the Billboard Hot 100, and it even more so became a bigger chart back home in their native Scandinavia region.
Enduring popularity of Blue Swede’s version of “Hooked on a Feeling”
Blue Suede’s cover of “Hooked on a Feeling” experienced a revival especially during the 1990s, when it was included on the soundtrack of Reservoir Dogs, and especially the on the popular TV series Ally McBeal‘s “dancing baby” part. It was also included in the soundtrack of the 2014 film Guardians of the Galaxy.