Crafting an idiosyncratic blend of pop influenced as much by '80s pop as by contemporary EDM and coupled with raw, brutally honest lyrics, Tove Lo made a name for herself as an award-winning performer and Grammy-nominated songwriter. Born Ebba Tove Elsa Nilsson on October 29, 1987 in a suburb of Stockholm, she began writing poetry and short stories at a young age. She went on to study at the famous Rytmus Musikergymnasiet — a music-oriented high school comparable to the U.K.'s BRIT School — where she befriended the future members of Icona Pop. After singing in the band Tremblebee, made up of students from the school, and a spell playing one-man-and-his-dog nightclub gigs as frontwoman of a math rock band, she decided to focus on her own songs, spending six months in her shed studio working on a demo.
At a party celebrating Icona Pop's first record deal, she used the opportunity to foist her demo on a staff member at their label, leading to a publishing deal with Warner Chappell and a trip to L.A. to work with fellow Swede and pop songwriting/production supremo Max Martin. In 2012, Lo self-released her debut single, "Love Ballad," a catchy, beat-driven pop track that showcased her powerful voice. It was followed in 2013 by "Habits (Stay High)," a dark breakup anthem that generated such Internet buzz that it led to a deal with Universal. "Habits" and its follow-up, "Out of Mind," which was in much the same vein, appeared on her debut EP for the label, Truth Serum, in 2014.
Later that year, her debut album, Queen of the Clouds, arrived, featuring "Habits" — which reached number three on the Billboard Hot 100 — as well as other rawly confessional songs about love and heartache. The album was a Top Ten hit in Sweden and a Top 20 hit in the U.S. and U.K., and the subsequent single "Talking Body" was a similar success. Her 2014 collaboration with Alesso, "Heroes (We Could Be)," was another hit, reaching the top of the U.S. dance chart. Late that year, Lo joined Max Martin's Wolf Cousins songwriting collective and co-wrote songs for Cher Lloyd, Lea Michele, and the Saturdays, as well as Ellie Goulding's "Love Me Like You Do," which earned a nomination for Best Song Written for Visual Media at the 58th Grammy Awards. She also won a pair of her homeland's Grammis in 2015, Artist of the Year and Song of the Year for "Habits (Stay High)."
In the wake of the breakthrough success of her debut, Lo also lent her vocals to tracks by Coldplay, Nick Jonas, Broods, and Flume. She returned in 2016 with her second album, Lady Wood, which delivered more of her signature mix of cool synth pop and frank lyrics. Buoyed by the singles "Cool Girl" and "True Disaster," the album hit number one in Sweden, and landed at number 11 on the U.S. Billboard 200. She also headlined her second concert tour with the Lady Wood Tour. In 2017, Lo contributed the song "Lies in the Dark" to the Fifty Shades Darker soundtrack. That November, she released her third album, BLUE LIPS, a companion piece to Lady Wood that featured the single "Disco Tits." A second single off the album, "bitches," arrived in 2018. ~ John D. Buchanan