On The Download: Ones To Watch In 2010, Part II - Agnes

Haven’t heard of Agnes Carlsson yet? You’re forgiven… a year and one month ago, not many folks had heard of Lady Gaga either. But that’s not stopping the same team at Interscope/Geffen/A&M records (which made Gaga a star last year) from attempting to make lightning strike twice in annointing a new international pop & dance music star.

Part Leona Lewis, part Jennifer Lopez, part Robyn… this 21-year old singer is already a four-year veteran of the music industry. At age 17, Agnes won the second season of the Swedish version of “Idol,” and has since become one of the Scandinavian country’s biggest pop stars. But it’s only now that she’s set to invade U.S. shores – a journey which began with the release of her first single, “Release Me,” which is slowly crossing over from the dance/club play charts, to the mainstream. Again, it’s a path very similar to Gaga’s.

On The Download caught up with the now 21-year-old singer by phone from her hometown of Vänersborg, Sweden, to talk with her about her career and her impending international expansion.

“I have always been singing, since I was really really young,” she began. “I come from a very small town in Sweden, and the whole town loves music. I started with violin, and then when I was 16, I began taking singing lessons. I won ‘Idol’ when I was 17. I had only sung once in front of people before that. I always knew that I wanted to perform. And then I won (‘Idol’) in 2005 and recorded my first album.”

Agnes then put out a second album, which remained domestic only. In preparation for her third album, however, titled “Dance Love Pop” (set to be her first release in the U.S. later this year), she sought a new direction.

“With this third album, I decided that I wanted to do something different, so I changed management companies and record labels. Then I met producer Anders Hansson and we really connected. We wrote ‘Release Me’ together, and now it’s really taking off!” she said.

And now, Agnes is excited to bring her music around the world.

“This is really the first time that I’ve started to work outside of Sweden! Everything is very new for me! I’ve been touring in Europe (in support of “Dance Love Pop”) for five months now” she added.

So who are her role models in the music industry?

“When I was young I listened to a lot of Whitney Houston, and she was inspirational for me,” she revealed. “My music is pop, dance and a little bit disco. The songs on this album – it’s a lot of up-tempo songs – but the most important thing is just having good songs and good melodies. I like to debut my songs just singing to guitar accompaniment, so that people can hear the melodies.”

Being so busy with a budding career, we asked Agnes what she enjoys doing with her free time.

“I love shopping, fashion and clothes,” she explained, apropos of a young woman her age. “When I have free time. I just like to hang out with my friends and sleep. I just had some great relaxing time with my family over Christmas… We ate a lot of food, and it was wonderful.”

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