Aqua is a Danish-Norwegian pop-dance band, best known for their 1997 breakthrough single "Barbie Girl". The group formed in 1989 and achieved huge success across the globe in the late 1990s and early 2000s. The group managed to top the UK Singles Chart with their first three singles. The group released two albums: Aquarium in 1997 and Aquarius in 2000, before splitting up in July 2001. The group sold an estimated 33 million albums and singles, making them the most successful Danish band ever.
In their prime, Aqua's singles managed to chart top ten in a number of countries where continental European pop acts would not normally succeed, including the United States, Australia, and Japan. The group also caused controversy with the double entendres in their "Barbie Girl" single, with the Barbie doll makers Mattel filing a lawsuit against the group. The lawsuit was finally dismissed by a judge in 2002.
The band's members are vocalists Lene Nystrøm and René Dif, keyboardist Søren Rasted, and guitarist Claus Norreen. During their split, Nystrøm, Dif and Rasted all achieved solo chart success, and Norreen continued in the music industry remixing other artists' material.
The group's first release was "Roses Are Red", a dance song with a distinct pop sound. It was released in Denmark in September 1996, and was expected to break into the Danish top ten. The single far surpassed all expectations set by the label, though, and stayed in the charts for over two months, eventually selling enough copies to be certified platinum. The success of the single was further proven when Aqua received a nomination for "Best Danish Dance Act", although the group did not win.
Aqua released their debut album Aquarium in Denmark on March 26, 1997. The album contained 11 tracks, including their first two singles and their then upcoming third single "Barbie Girl". Universal Music Group had by now begun to market the group in other countries, releasing "Roses Are Red" in Japan in February 1997 and in various countries across Europe in late 1996. The single had proven popular everywhere it was sold, convincing Universal that the group should not just focus on the Danish market, but instead on the general European market. Aqua released their third single "Barbie Girl" in May 1997.
Although the album sold well, many still wrote the group off as a one-hit wonder. Despite this, and much criticism from the media, Aqua had made their international breakthrough, and were now known across the world. Aqua's follow-up to "Barbie Girl" in Australia, Canada and the United Kingdom was "Doctor Jones", although another single, "Lollipop (Candyman)", was released in the United States through MCA Records. "Doctor Jones" entered at number one in several countries, including the United Kingdom, where it stayed at the top spot for two weeks, and Australia, where it spent seven weeks at #1. "Lollipop (Candyman)" did not fare as well in the USA, only peaking at #23 on the Billboard Hot 100.
The group released their second album Aquarius in February 2000. The album instantly proved popular with their fan base, despite some changes to their sound. Aquarius contained several different musical styles. Tracks such as "Cartoon Heroes" and "Bumble Bees" preserved the pop sound of their debut album. The group also performed at the Eurovision Song Contest 2001, collaborating with the Safri Duo and providing the music during the voting stages of the competition.
A greatest hits album, Cartoon Heroes: The Best of Aqua, was released on 22 May 2002 in Japan and in the US in 2006. It included most of their singles except for "Didn't I", "Good Morning Sunshine", and "We Belong to the Sea". It also included several non-singles such as "Back from Mars", "Happy Boys and Girls", "Halloween", "Calling You", and "An Apple a Day", as well as a Hampenberg remix of their hit single "Cartoon Heroes" and music videos for "Cartoon Heroes" and "Around the World".
Aqua reformed and released their new album, Megalomania, in the fall of 2011. After moderate chart success of Megalomania in Denmark, the band is will be touring Australia in March 2012.