Aqua (lost unreleased recordings from Scandinavian pop group; 1994-2001)

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Aqua band members.jpg

Band members (left to right): Søren Rasted, Claus Norreen, Lene Rasted, and René Dif.

Status: Lost

Aqua is a Scandinavian pop group best-known globally for their 1997 super-hit "Barbie Girl", and hugely famous across Europe and Asia at the height of their fame. From 1997 until 2001 they were one of the most famous and recognizable musical groups in the world. Singles including "Doctor Jones" and "Turn Back Time" were number-one hits in many countries. A reunion from 2007 was less successful.

Aqua released two albums in their first run, Aquarium and Aquarius, and a number of singles. All of their albums, singles and music videos from this period survive due to their massive popularity, including their lesser-known debut "Itzy Bitsy Spider". (The only slightly lost of these media is the music video for "We Belong To The Sea", which exists, but only in low quality as it was omitted from their video compilations.)

However, Aqua recorded a lot of music that has never been released, including possibly an entire album in 2001. Due to the survival of fan sites from the early 2000s, and the existence of an Aqua documentary, it is possible to list in substantial detail a number of lost studio recordings that never saw the light of day, most notably material for their cancelled third album.

"Here Come The Birds"

The most famous unreleased Aqua song is "Here Come The Birds", which was performed during the band's 1998 summer tour. It was also referenced in The Aqua Diary documentary. It was believed at one time to be a single from their second album, and fake covers were produced by fans in anticipation, but it didn't appear on Aquarius at all. Only a low-quality, muffled fan recording of the song from the 1998 tour exists. It is not certain if it was fully recorded, but it most likely was as part of the Aquarius sessions.[1]

Second Album Material

According to Aquarama, there is almost certainly a large number of unreleased songs from the Aquarius[1] era. The band mentioned in an interview that 50 tracks were composed and, according to the website, most if not all of these were recorded. Only the best ten were selected, with two further new songs added. This means that almost 40 tracks, of varying states of completion, may exist in the vaults of the band members or their label. It is not known if any of these songs were re-purposed for their comeback album.

Third Album Material

Aqua split for the first time in 2001, but prior to this were known to be working on a third album. The band was believed to be moving away from bubblegum pop towards a new pop-rock sound. (It is possible that this sound was similar to Lene's 2003 debut album.)

The new material was first rumored by the press ahead of their performance as the interval act (with Safri Duo) at the Eurovision Song Contest 2001. "Shakin' Stevens (Is A Superstar) was the rumored title. No new material was performed at this time, however, at a festival thereafter the band played the aforementioned Shakin' Stevens tribute, plus three other new songs: "Hi-Fi" (or alternately "Hi-Fi Stereo"), "Wow Wow Wow" and "Couch Potato". The songs were, according to the Aquarama fan-site, not as well-received as hoped due to the new rock sound.[1]

"Hi-Fi" and "Wow Wow Wow" were recorded by a fan at a concert in 2001, and are the only surviving evidence of the songs. However, they are both of an extremely low quality, and the lyrics and music are indecipherable. No studio version of the tracks has ever surfaced. "Couch Potato" is lost even as a live performance. As these tracks were performed at Roskilde, a major festival in Denmark, it is possible that unsurfaced professional live recordings exist.

Aqua's third album was, apparently, well into development when they suddenly split in 2001. It is likely that at least some of these singles were produced to a final version, but now remain in a vault, never to be released (and if they are, probably not in their original form). Other tracks may also exist. This is the most intriguing batch of unreleased material by the band.

An unrelated third album, Megalomania, was finally released many years later after their reunion. "Shakin' Stevens (Is A Superstar)" was revived for this album, renamed as "Sucker For A Superstar". Any recording of the original 2001 version is still lost, and no other earlier songs are known to have been used on Megalomania.

Alternate Versions

Unreleased alternate versions of some of Aqua's singles are known to exist. The original version of "Cartoon Heroes" was apparently described as "more classic Aqua" in an interview during the Aquarius era, but has never surfaced. The Aqua Diary documentary reveals a different version of Aquarium's "Good Morning Sunshine", that again has never been released. Other demos will exist, as with all bands, but these are the only two known to have been confirmed publicly.[1]