Jun 08

The Freaky Trigger Top 100 Tracks Of All Time No. 43. Stina Nordenstam – Little Star

FT/4 comments • 640 views

If you haven’t heard this song just go and listen to it. (You may recognise it — it was used in the sproutface DiCaprio Romeo and Juliet). That’s all I should say.

However, to make the your perhaps-momentous discovery more possible, you may need preparing.

If you have not heard Stina’s voice it’s because you’ve never seen an Ariston washing machine advert, and it’s her voice that could be the deal breaker. There are songs you cannot persuade people they will like, and often it’s because of the vocal. If a voice is like nails on a blackboard to you, you won’t get past that. Similarly if it’s like being repeatedly limply patted on the shoulder by a wet teddybear, you’re going to get fed up quite quickly. Still, I made an effort to like Neil Young and Morrisey, so you could have a go with winsome Stina, eh? She’s Swedish — you love Swedish pop right?

In a way this is the song to get past her twee etiolated voice. Like the little star, her voice might feel initially weak, but it’s got a hidden and precise power, and it’s set among such glory — contrasting simple and luxurious instrumentation, a rising-bird-song clarinet melody and a tasteful amount of latin chanting. Well, it is a eulogy — and there should be generous room for tasteful at a funeral. The lyrics supposedly recall a friend who killed themselves (those crazy Swedes), which explains the extreme bitter-sweet feeling it conveys.

The song is from an album of equally moody jazz-blues soaked and sullen songs that manage to avoid being passive-aggressively ‘sensitive’. Her other albums have varied in tone a lot — she’s done dreampop guitar-noise, collaborated with Mew and Vangelis (the washing machine ad!), and had Brett Suede guesting on one of her own tracks. So if this piques your interest and you want more, you’ll find she’s got quite a range. Just not as a vocalist.

Man I love her voice.


  1. 1
    Pete on 27 Jun 2008 #


    Of course this appears on this list due to it being a favourite of Mark Radcliffe’s when he was doing the late night show on Radio 1. Enough of us liked it to buy it. But I expect to find plenty of hataz too.

  2. 2
    Alan on 27 Jun 2008 #

    I’m surprised the veto system didn’t kill it! she does rile some ppl. Course I heard it first on the Graveyard Shift – and i remember them playing it on the final show too, as it was such a fixture. The single got a rerelease a few years later cos of R&J, obv.

    Word magazine (which i wouldn’t usually recommend) once did an excellent feature – we asked 100 music ppl: what’s the one song you’d want everyone to have heard? This was the only song that was chosen by more than one person – radio producer (and mate/colleague of Radcliffe?) Trevor Dann, and, er, Kate Rusby.

  3. 3
    jel on 27 Jun 2008 #

    I’m rather shocked that this is number 43. I quite liked it though.

  4. 4
    misschillydisco on 8 Jan 2009 #

    This is a bloody astonishing song. The only thing that gets my goat a bit is the tootling soprano sax break, but I suppose that probably needs to be in the mix to take your mind off Stina’s voice a bit.

    Oh, and love the way it just stops…

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