How A Pop Band Tricked 9 Million Americans Into Being Nazis

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Whoa, things got pretty crazy last week, huh? If you don’t recall, in my last column, I implied that Donald Trump is modeling his entire presidential campaign and policy on how the Nazis took power in Germany. Sorry if that seemed like conspiracy theory nonsense and caught some of you off-guard. Also, here’s more of it. In fact, maybe buckle up for the next couple weeks or so.

Anyway, I actually can’t blame anyone for landing on the side of the debate that Trump’s crazy immigration scheme, or anything similarly Nazi-like, could never be happening. It really is inconceivable, even moreso than the fact that it ever happened at all. But what if I told you we already kind of bought into it once? Not at all in the “extermination of an entire race” kind of way, thankfully. But a case study of kinds does exist which shows that, under the right circumstances, the American public is capable of entirely ignoring or missing plainly hateful messages, they’re being delivered by someone who gives us something we want desperately enough. We talk about it on this week’s Unpopular Opinion podcast …

… where I’m joined by comic Lahna Turner, Cracked video superstar Katy Stoll, and musician Danger Van Gorder of the band Countless Thousands. Conveniently enough, I’ll explain it right here right now as well. OK, here runs nothing.

Do you remember Ace of Base? They were the ‘9 0s band from Sweden who cranked out chart-topping makes like “The Sign” …

… “Don’t Turn Around” …

… and “All That She Wants.”

You remember them now, right? Perhaps you were a fan. I wasn’t, personally, but I do get how hearing those anthems again might elicit memories of a simpler hour. A hour when every food product was EXTREME! and winning a war in the Middle East was a thing we were still capable of as a country. So before you get too ensconced in your nostalgia, I feel like I should tell you something: Superstar of Base was likely a bunch of Nazis.

Actually, that they have ties to the neo-Nazi movement isn’t in dispute, or at all a secret. A few years ago, Vice music editor Ben Shapiro wrote an article that revealed that Ace of Base founder Ulf Ekberg was once in a Nazi punk band called Commit Suiside. Here’s a sample of the band’s lyrics, as shared in his article 馃槢 TAGEND Subtle !

Vice encompass way more ground in their write-up about Ekberg’s past, and I definitely foster you to give it a read at some point. However, the piece ends with an interesting question: “Did Ekberg use Ace of Base’s success as an opportunity to wipe the slate clean and erase his neo-Nazi past? “

I believe I can answer that. Ekberg did not use Ace of Base to hide his Nazi past. Quite the contrary. Ace of Base was a Nazi band, too.

For starters, let’s talk about that name. It’s weird, right? Vaguely militaristic. “Bass” is the word you’d expect to be there, seeing as how it’s music-related and all. I believe I can explain not only why they went with “base, ” but also why it sounds so warlike. The name is most likely a reference to the Keroman Submarine Base, a massive U-boat launching and docking facility constructed by the Nazis in the French town of Loriant. It’s considered one of the most important and ambitious projects of the entire war for their side. In 1941, the missions that embarked from this facility alone were responsible for taking out more than 500 Allied ships. It was so well-constructed that the Allies constructed a new bomb specifically to take out this one facility. The bomb was called the “Tall Boy, ” and it failed miserably. The Allies eventually crippled the base, but only by literally flattening the entire city around it and blocking U-boats from accessing the station. We never took it, though. The Germans, despite eventually being completely surrounded by Allied forces, managed to hold onto the bunker through the end of the war.

If it reads like I was glowing with pride while writing all that, it’s because I want you to understand that this is exactly the kind of thing a closet Nazi would name his band after if he was trying to be clever. Now guess what they sometimes called Keroman Submarine Base? Because it was the place where Germany’s top U-boat captains carried out all of their missions, it was often called the “base of hotshots.”

You sneaky bastard !

Whoa! OK. Surely the band has a reasonable origin story for the name? When asked, the band’s answer is usually something about how the studio is a “base” and an hotshot is “like a master, ” so the name implies that “they il be” masters of the studio. In other terms, they can’t even lie about it without utilizing phrasing that brings Nazi ideals to mind. Why not “Base Masters” if that’s what you were trying to imply? It doesn’t sound any more or less stupid than “Ace of Base.”

Now, be completely honest with yourself while answering this question. What is more likely: That a confirmed former (?) Nazi just randomly hurled two terms together when coming up with a band name and landed on the perfect inverse of the nickname of one of the most impressive structures ever produced by the Nazi war machine by coincidence? Or that he knew exactly what his band name implied the entire hour?

Why would someone use such an obvious Nazi reference as a band name if they were trying to put distance between themselves and their Nazi past, though? Because it’s not an obvious reference, that’s why. Like I said earlier, if you’re trying to fly under the radar while also paying homage to your Nazi tilteds, “Ace of Base, ” or anything based on the “base of aces” nickname, is a great way to be sneaky about it. Ensure, it’s not a common nickname. I only know about it because there’s a series on Netflix right now called Nazi Mega Weapons . The second episode of the first season is about the Keroman facility.

That’s where I first heard it referred to as the “base of aces” and suppose, “Ha, what if the name of that ‘9 0s band is actually a Nazi reference? ” From there, I saw plenty of sources that suggested Ace of Base might have Nazi ties, but very few that referred to Keroman as the “base of hotshots, ” although I did eventually see it in this passage from the 2003 book Hitler’s U-boat Fortresses . My point is, as far as Nazi references go, it’s kind of obliterate. If some fucking shit Nazi started a pop band with the intent of spreading Nazi propaganda subliminally to the masses and thought he was so much smarter than everybody else that he could slip-up a Nazi reference right into his band’s name without anyone find, “Ace of Base” is close to an ideal choice. After all, it’s ran this long, right?

But wait, there’s more!

Let’s talking here Ace of Base’s debut album, 1993 ‘s Happy Nation . Given everything you’ve read so far, does insuring the word “nation” in the title make you feel uneasy at all? Because it altogether should, as you’ll note when you hear the album’s title track.

The lyrics are suspicious enough without any extra assist, and I will get to that. But before they even start, there’s a chant kind of thing that, because it seems to be a weird mishmash of Latin and Hebrew, hasn’t ever actually been translated with 100 percent certainty by anyone. Those who’ve tried suggest that it’s some difference of this 馃槢 TAGEND On the wings of the eagle, you say? Well are ya, blatant Nazi symbolism! Also , not to nation the obvious, but it also says “I will kill you, ” which is almost never good to hear. So that’s fairly ominous, I suppose. However, those cryptic lines don’t do nearly as much to make this song seem like obvious neo-Nazi propaganda as the actual lyrics. Here’s the first poem, as interpreted by a popular Internet database 馃槢 TAGEND Subtle again ! A nation that dreaming of the perfect human? And then you cap that verse off with the word “brotherhood”? You’re right, I’m completely crazy for indicating this might be a love ballad to Adolf Hitler. Let’s look at the next poem 馃槢 TAGEND Is this the theme song to Mein Kampf ? Oh goddammit! This is altogether a love ballad to Hitler. Even better, before they get to that part, the sneak who does the chants at the beginning tells this 馃槢 TAGEND Planning to see anyone including with regard to ? Hitler comes up, at most, like five minutes into any dialogue about hour travel. Oh, and that line about how the man will die, but his ideas won’t? Look what happens in the official video for this song, at the exact moment she sings that line 馃槢 TAGEND Classic Ace of Base ! Ohhhh, so that explains it then, right? This is just a ballad about Charles Darwin! He’s the man who’s notions will never succumb! Not so fast. Maintain in mind that this is the full title of that book 馃槢 TAGEND

Preservation of favored races, you say? Well hello there again, very obvious reference to Nazis! One of the unfortunate side effects of Darwin’s theories is that they’ve been used as the basis for a number of different detest groups’ doctrines over the years, with Hitler and the Nazis very much being one of them.

Convinced yet? If not, good, because there’s more. Take the video for one of their biggest singles, the aforementioned “All That She Wants.” Right off the bat, a quick scan of the lyrics reveals that it’s basically about a woman who leeches off society by tricking men into get her pregnant so she doesn’t have to work.

I feel like they might have said “going” instead of “goning, ” but appears accurate otherwise .

That alone is pretty telling, because who among us but the most right-wing fringe kinds think that kind of woman even exists? More alarming, though, is that within the first 15 seconds of the video, the topic of the ballad, the leech whom the band is directing all of their detest toward, is shown stroking a necklace that’s merely a bunch of six-pointed starrings …

“Is this too blurry to make it clear we’re singing about a Jew? ”

… twice.

“Fixed! ”

Before you go assuming this is some embarrassing inhumanity from the band’s darknes past, please remember that Happy Nation was THE Ace of Base album. It’s the one that all of those anthems I referenced in the beginning of this article are from. It was massively popular. It’s one of the fastest-selling debut albums of all time. It sold nine million transcripts in the United States alone — 23 million worldwide. It reached the# 1 place on the album charts in 14 different countries.

Except it wasn’t called Happy Nation in this country. Everywhere else, even after it was re-released with “The Sign” on it( that ballad wasn’t even on the album when it was first released in Sweden ), the album was still called Happy Nation . But not here. The album was re-titled The Sign in the United States. I wonder what that was all about? It’s almost as if someone knew this album was laden with neo-Nazi propaganda, and just wanted to see what would happen if it was released here. Maybe someone who has a history of spreading the kind of “immigrants are bad” type of message that a ballad like “Living In Danger, ” also from that album …

Or, you know, maybe it’s a meaningless pop ballad .

… could be interpreted as delivering.

Maybe someone like … Rupert Murdoch? You know, the guy who owns almost as much of the media as one human can own without going off as a complete and total movie rogue? His newspapers spread anti-immigration hatred all over Europe and Australia, and his cable television network, Fox News, does the same here. So it should come as no surprise that the record label responsible for bringing Happy Nation to the United States from Sweden, Festival Records, was owned by Rupert Murdoch. Yes, that album was released by Arista Record here, but that’s because Festival Records set up an overseas distribution is being dealt with Arista way back in the ‘7 0s.

What’s most interesting is that this isn’t merely an example of a pop band slipping obvious Nazi references and symbolism past the music-buying public. It’s a case study in exactly how a movement like that takes hold in the first place. As I mentioned last week, when you bring up the parallels between Trump’s schemes and Nazi Germany, people are quick to reassure you that things aren’t bad enough in this country for people to be desperate enough to vote for deporting Mexican immigrants to fix the economy. But those people aren’t guessing to its implementation of inner-city communities that have been hit particularly hard by poverty and handgun violence. Along those same lines, the United States as a whole wasn’t down and depressed enough to consider a vote for the Nazis at the polls back when Ace of Base stormed the airwaves, but the nation of radio itself was pretty fucking sad.

Where’s the party at ?!?!?!

To be clear, I don’t mean there was a ton of bad music on the radio at the time. It’s quite the opposite, actually. It wasn’t that the radio was overrun with bad music — it was just overrun with “grunge” music. A plenty of quality anthems came out of that epoch. What it didn’t create was a lot of reasons to smile or be happy. It wasn’t music you could dance to. You wouldn’t put it on first thing Monday morning to whip yourself into a good enough mood to face the work day.

That shit was depressing. Eventually, people get so sad that they were willing to latch onto the first thing that came along and promised to give them a reason to feel good. Ace of Base was one of the first groups to offer that, and people went for it in a huge way with no questions asked. It might seem like a minor thing, but it tells a lot about our capacity to overlook very obviously hateful messages if it means we finally get something that we’ve been deprived of for a very long time. Apparently, that’s especially true if those messages arrive under the guise of something apparently silly and unimportant. You know, the kind of thing you don’t have to worry about.

“I’m harmless! ”

After all, it’s not like this is secret information. That one of the founding members of the band was also in a Nazi band was information that could’ve been determined. That there might have been something ugly at work in the meaning behind their anthems doesn’t take much effort to uncover. It’s all fairly blatant imagery, but because it comes in the form of radio-friendly dance music , no one even considered analyzing it any further , not even after the news of the band’s past Nazi ties became public knowledge.

In this case, the only real repercussion was that nine million Americans unknowingly paid money for an album full of Nazi dance ways. It’s hard to tell how much worse it could be if we let something like that happen again. I do have some notion, though, and it has as much to do with Rupert Murdoch as it does Donald Trump. In the interest of maintaining this particular column under the 6,000 -word mark( dedicate or take ), I’ll stop here for now. Come back next week, though, and I’ll tell you all about.

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