Kent’s Sweden, or what a rock band can tell us about a nation
Music can communicate a great deal about the culture and society that it comes from. This is the case with the contemporary Swedish rock band Kent, who are not only the most popular band in recent Swedish music history, but also perceived as quintessentially Swedish. Of particular importance to understand this Swedishness is the band’s origin in the city of Eskilstuna, which communicates three interrelated ideas about Sweden: Eskilstuna as an archetypical Swedish small city; the band’s humble beginnings in Eskilstuna illustrates a “class journey” that resonates in Sweden; and Kent’s migration to Stockholm has resulted in an ambivalent relationship with their hometown. The path of Kent’s career has further reinforced the notion of Kent as a Swedish band, particularly as they failed outside the Nordic countries and how their concert choices and collective public persona create associations with Swedishness. Finally, the content of Kent’s music and lyrics are rich with spatial and environmental metaphors that can be conceptualized as four different landscapes representing Sweden: an inner landscape, a public landscape, an urban landscape, and a winter landscape.