Laleh (singer)

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Laleh in 2014
Background information
Birth nameLaleh Pourkarim
Born (1982-06-10) 10 June 1982 (age 41)
Bandar-e Anzali, Gilan, Iran
OriginHammarkullen, Gothenburg, Sweden
  • Singer
  • songwriter
  • record producer
  • guitarist
  • pianist
  • record company manager
  • Vocals
  • guitar
  • piano
  • keyboards
  • saxophone
  • drums[1]
Years active
  • 2000–2006 (actress)
  • 2003–present (singer)

Laleh Pourkarim (Persian: لاله پورکریم, IPA: [lɒːˈle puːɾkæˈɾiːm]; born 10 June 1982), known mononymously as Laleh (Swedish: [ˈlɑ̌ːlɛ]), is a Swedish singer-songwriter, record producer, guitarist, pianist, and record company manager. Following a short acting career, she entered the music industry in 2005 with her self-titled debut album, which peaked at number one in Sweden and went on to become that country's highest selling album of the year.[2]

She has since released eight further studio albums. She has sung in both English and Swedish, in addition to her parents' native tongue, Persian.[3] In 2011, she participated in the Swedish television show Så mycket bättre, which sees a number of artists create new interpretations of the others' songs. Her performances on the show were lauded by both critics and the public.[4] Following the show, it was noted in the media that she had been given "a second breakthrough".[5]

Her 2012 album, Sjung, yielded the international hit "Some Die Young", which became closely associated as a song of remembrance in the aftermath of the 2011 Norwegian attacks, and was certified fourteen times platinum in Norway, double platinum in Sweden and provided Laleh her second chart-hit in Denmark and first in Austria, Finland and Germany.[6][7][8] Colors, was released across Scandinavia in October 2013. She signed an international deal with Island Records in January 2014, leading to the release of the Boom EP and a number of songwriting and production credits for artists including Shawn Mendes, Adam Lambert, Demi Lovato, and Ellie Goulding.[9] In 2016 she released the album Kristaller and in 2019 the album Vänta!. Her most recent album, 2022's Vatten, was her first release in conjunction with Universal Music Sweden.[10]

Background and personal life[edit]

Laleh was born in the Northern Iranian harbour town of Bandar-e Anzali, but fled the country in 1983 with her parents to live in Azerbaijan, and later moving on to Minsk and a refugee camp in Tidaholm.[2] Laleh (لاله) is the Persian word for tulip, a popular girl's name[11] as well a common symbol in Iranian culture. She moved to Sweden when she was eight (she has dual citizenship), and in her teenage years moved to Gothenburg to attend school in the multicultural district of Angered.[12]

At Hvitfeldtska High School she was enrolled in the music program, growing up with classical music, ballet and circus music. She was later interested in punk, reggae and jazz music.[13] She also learned to play guitar, and as a teenager formed a jazz ensemble with her music teacher named Bejola. She went on to teach herself to play percussion and saxophone.[14]

She is the daughter of Houshang Pourkarim, who died in 1994. An opponent of the Islamic regime in Tehran, he was an artist, journalist and prominent Iranian ethnologist and rural sociologist from Bandar-e Anzali.[12] During her appearance on Så mycket bättre, she discussed her tough childhood, moving from country to country, and how she witnessed her father's death. At a summer camp in 1994, he tried to rescue a woman who had fallen from her canoe into the water. As Houshang paddled out to help her, the canoe overturned. The woman survived but Laleh's father drowned.[2] Laleh's mother, Atefe, was a refugee from Georgia via Azerbaijan before she went to Iran to study comparative literature at the University of Tehran. Once the family arrived in Sweden, Laleh learned Swedish in eleven days, according to a media account of her biography.[2]

Beginning her career in acting, she had a major role in the Swedish movie Jalla! Jalla!, directed by Josef Fares, which was a big success at the Swedish box office in 2000.[15] Laleh moved to Stockholm in 2010 after living in Skellefteå for two years. Until 2011 she was known for her reluctance to give interviews,[2] but more recently she has been more accessible to the media, including appearing on talk shows and other TV programs, a move that has benefited her career.[citation needed]

Music career[edit]

2003–2005: Early career and Laleh[edit]

Laleh began her music career in 2003.[16] She founded her own production and publishing company 'Lost Army' and signed a recording and distribution contract with Warner Music Sweden before recording her first studio album. The sound of her early songs have been compared to adult contemporary artists such as Sting and Seal.[14] She wrote, performed, and produced her self-titled debut, which was released in the spring of 2005 and saw a percentage of the proceeds go to charity.[17] It became the highest selling album of the year with a recorded seventy-one weeks in the top sixty and reached number one on the Swedish chart.[2][18] Critical praise was heaped on the album upon its release, although some noted that the album was too sprawling and genre-hopping.[19] The first single from the album was "Invisible (My Song)", which peaked at number seven in Sweden in February 2012.[20] Follow-up "Storebror" failed to chart, but next single, "Live Tomorrow" had even greater success than "Invisible" and ended up at the top of Sveriges Radio P3's radio show "Tracks" (Trackslistan) for several weeks.[21] It peaked at number twenty on the Sverigetopplistan and also charted in Denmark.[22] During 2005 she won numerous awards, including at the Swedish Grammis, where she received seven nominations and picked up three wins, including Artist of the Year, Producer of the Year, and New Artist of the Year.[23] She was also nominated four times at the 2006 P3 Guld Awards and won Newcomer of the Year and Best Female Artist.[24]

2006–2010: Prinsessor and Me and Simon[edit]

Laleh on stage in June 2009
Laleh performing at Landskrona in 2010

In 2006, Prinsessor ("Princesses") was released and peaked at number three on the Swedish album chart.[25] The album stayed on the chart for twenty-nine weeks, but failed to yield any charting singles, despite four releases. Unlike its predecessor which won numerous awards, Prinsessor, was met with mixed reviews from Swedish critics, who saw the album as far too sprawling and sensed a loss of her "uniqueness".[26]

After taking a break, Laleh returned to release her third studio album in 2009, Me and Simon. It contained a more folk pop sound than previous rock or soul-tinged tracks which has been attributed to the surroundings of moving from a big city to the northern Swedish town of Skellefteå in 2006. One of the nature reserves in the town was her inspiration for "Bjurö klubb".[2] It was met with mixed to positive reviews by Swedish critics.[27] The first single released from the album "Simon Says" peaked at number forty-one on the Swedish Singles Chart.[28] Due to strong downloads from the album, the first track from the LP, "Big City Love", also charted at number thirty-two.[29] It was later released as a single in May 2009 but failed to return to the chart. Two further releases, "Bjurö klubb" and "Mysteries" failed to chart at the time.

During these years, Laleh toured in several Scandinavian countries, Britain and Germany but has previously hinted that she is hesitant to launch overseas, saying she wants to be more prepared and develop fully as an artist.

2011–2012: Så mycket bättre and Sjung[edit]

In 2011 she took part in the second season of Swedish reality TV show Så mycket bättre (So much better) on TV4. The show puts well-known Swedish musicians up against each other to create new interpretations of the other artists songs. She participated along with Timbuktu, Eva Dahlgren, Lena Philipsson, E-Type, Tomas Ledin and Mikael Wiehe and soon emerged as the favourite with her cover versions regularly topping the Swedish iTunes download charts and the official Sverigetopplistan downloads chart following the release of the weekly compilations of the week's covers from the show.[30] Laleh's cover of Eva Dahlgren "Ängeln I Rummet" (Angel in the Room) reached number six on the official Swedish Singles Chart whilst topping the downloads chart in December 2011 to become her most successful song in Sweden to date in terms of peak chart position and until the release of "Some Die Young" sales too.[31] Similarly her renditions of Tomas Ledin's "Just Nu" (Right Now) and Timbuktu's "Alla vill till himmelen men ingen vill dö" (Everyone wants to go to heaven but nobody wants to die) peaked at number 25,[32][33] whilst "Here I Go Again" peaked at number one on the digital chart.[30] During the showings of Så mycket bättre, Laleh broke a Swedish digital chart record[a] by having ten songs on the top sixty list, including nine inside the top 40, as a number of catalogue songs returned to the chart, including the first placement for "Bjurö klubb". Additionally two interpretations of her songs by other artists appeared, bringing a total of twelve songs with her involvement in the chart at once.[34] Tolkningarna (Interpretations), an extended play of all of the songs she performed on the show was released digitally on 25 December 2011 and was also bundled with the physical release of her following studio album.

Her fourth studio album was originally due to be released in December 2011 to coincide with her appearance on Så mycket bättre, but was postponed due to scheduling difficulties with the show.[2] The name, artwork, release date and track listing of the album were announced in December. Sjung ("Sing") was released on 25 January 2012 across Scandinavia to positive reviews,[35] with "Some Die Young" serving as the lead single, released three days earlier.[36] The album peaked at number one on the Swedish chart for four weeks, and also charted at number one in Norway. The single peaked at number nine on the Swedish Singles Chart and number one in Norway for eight consecutive weeks,[37] later certified fourteen times platinum in the latter country by IFPI.[38] The song became closely associated with the period of national mourning amidst the 2011 Norway attacks, with newspaper articles, university lectures and a number of fan videos to this effect emerging.[39] Laleh was invited to perform as one of only two international artists at the official memorial concert in Oslo on the first anniversary of the event in 2012, and later performed the song at the 2012 Nobel Peace Prize Concert.[40][41] "Vårens Första Dag" was released as the album's second single in May 2012.

A tour to promote the album included fifteen dates across Sweden between March and April 2012,[42] and one event in Oslo, Norway. The tour was successful, with generally sold-out venues, with the Gothenburg concert with 6.400 attendants as the top event.[43] She did a festival tour in Sweden and Norway during the summer of 2012.[44]

2013–2015: Colors and working in the United States[edit]

Her fifth studio album, Colors, was released in the autumn of 2013 across Scandinavia, achieving success across Sweden and Norway.[45] In interviews before the album, she stated her intention to challenge herself to create a more cohesive record that didn't spread as much as previous productions.[46] However, Laleh was unable to promote the album as intended. Three days after the album release, her mother passed away from cancer, and large parts of the promotional plans had to be cancelled.[47]

In the autumn of 2014, the documentary Jag är inte beredd att dö än (I am not ready to die yet) premiered in cinemas.[48] The film, directed by Fredrik Egerstrand and Kalle Gustafsson Jerneholm, is a 75-minute long portrait of Laleh's music, background, relationship with their mother and thoughts about life and creation. The film was recorded over two years.[49]

This period marked the first steps of launching Laleh's career outside of Scandinavia.[50] In July 2013, Laleh signed with Universal Music Germany.[51] Her first release in the German-speaking territories was a re-worked version of "Some Die Young", issued on 30 August 2013 alongside a new version of the music video.[52] It became her first song to chart in Germany and achieved top ten success in Austria.[8]

In 2014 she moved to Los Angeles, signing with Island Records and releasing the EP Boom in September of the same year.[53] In November 2014 she was invited to record a version of "Chiquitita" as part of a project by ABBA The Museum in support of UNICEF, subsequently performing the interpretation at the UN General Assembly on 20 November 2014.[54][55] In 2015 she played a series of concerts at The Hotel Café in Los Angeles and at South by Southwest in Austin.[56][57][58] Her song "Speaking of Truth" was featured in the E! Channel original scripted series The Royals in March 2015. In 2015, Laleh co-wrote "Stone Cold", "Yes" and "Father" from Demi Lovato's fifth studio album, Confident, and two songs for Tori Kelly's first album Unbreakable Smile. She co-wrote, produced and featured on Adam Lambert's 2016 single "Welcome to the Show". Lambert and Laleh performed the single live on American Idol.[59]

2016–2021: Kristaller, Vänta! and Postcards[edit]

While living in US, she wrote, recorded, and produced a new album, Kristaller ("Crystals"), with ten songs, five of which were in Swedish. The album's lead single, "Bara få va mig själv" ("Just be myself"), became Laleh's most successful release in Sweden, gaining 4x Platinum certification.[60] The song was nominated for Song of the Year at the 2017 Grammis, whilst Laleh was nominated for Composer of the Year, won Producer of the Year for the second time in her career, and also won Pop of the Year for the album.[61][62] In late 2016 she toured in Sweden, performing in indoor arenas, including selling out the Globen. Her show included a symphony orchestra.[63]

Two further studio albums were released in 2019 and 2020, Vänta! ("Wait!") and Postcards respectively. The latter is a collection of songs previously written and produced with established international artists in newly acoustic arrangements.

2022-present: New record label and Vatten[edit]

In 2022, Laleh established a new production company, publishing company, and label, Palang, which is the Persian word for Leopard.[64] The company is backed by the Universal Music Group, marking the end of Laleh's relationship with Warner Music Sweden that had remained since her debut. Laleh has explained that the intention of the new company is to create a producer/songwriter hub supporting other Swedish artists, in particular women who are under-represented in pop music production.[65] The first signing was Swedish duo Grandi.[66] Laleh's first release under this new arrangement was the single "Leopard", followed by the album Vatten ("Water") on 25 March 2022, becoming her third number one on the Swedish album chart.[67][68]

On her 40th birthday in 2022, Laleh became the first Swedish female to headline the Ullevi stadium in Gothenburg.[69] When the tickets were released, 15,000 were sold in the first hour.[69] The concert, which featured orchestration from the Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra, was broadcast on SVT1 on 2 January 2023 and made available on SVT Play on 28 December 2022.[70][71] An accompanying documentary directed by Sara Aren going behind the scenes of the concert preparations was also broadcast on SVT2 on 30 December 2022 under the title Laleh – välkommen hem (Laleh - Welcome Home).[72]

In the summer of 2023, Laleh will go on tour for the first time in four years, with a further concert at the Ullevi, alongside a similarly historic show at Tele2 Arena in Stockholm, once again becoming the first Swedish female solo act to headline at the venue.[73]


Studio albums

Extended plays

  • 2011: Tolkningarna
  • 2014: Boom
  • 2020: Vatten

Awards and nominations[edit]

Year Ceremony Category Title Result
2005 Rockbjörnen Awards[74][75] Swedish Song of the Year "Live Tomorrow" Nominated
Swedish Female Artist of the Year Laleh Pourkarim Won
Swedish Album of the Year "Laleh" Nominated
Swedish Newcomer Laleh Pourkarim Won
Grammis Awards[23] Album of the Year "Laleh" Nominated
Artist of the Year Laleh Pourkarim Won
New Artist of the Year Won
Composer of the Year Nominated
Producer of the Year Won
Lyricist of the Year Nominated
Ballad of the Year "Live Tomorrow" Nominated
2006 P3 Guld Awards[24] Newcomer of the Year Laleh Pourkarim Won
Gold Fox Award (Best Live Act) Nominated
Year's Female Artist "Laleh" Won
Year's Best Single "Live Tomorrow" Nominated
Taubesällskapet[76] Evert Taube Scholarship Laleh Pourkarim Won
2008 Grammis Awards Female Artist of the Year Laleh Pourkarim (for Princessor) Nominated
Producer of the Year Laleh Pourkarim (for Princessor) Nominated
2010 Female Artist of the Year Laleh Pourkarim (for Me and Simon) Nominated
2012 Gaygalan Awards[77] Artist of the Year Laleh Pourkarim Won
Swedish Song of the Year "Ängeln I Rummet" Nominated
Ulla Billquist Prize[78] Ulla Billquist Scholarship Laleh Pourkarim Won
Swedish Publisher Prize[79] Lyricist of the year Won
2013 P3 Guld Awards[80] The Gold MIc (Best Live Act) Laleh Nominated
Grammis Awards[81] Song of the Year "Some Die Young" Nominated
Composer of the Year Laleh Pourkarim Nominated
Pop Artist of the Year Nominated
Lyricist of the Year Nominated
Swedish Radio Chart Prize[82] Artist of the Year Laleh Won
Song of the Year "Some Die Young" Won
Composer of the Year Laleh Pourkarim Won
2016 STIM[83] Platinum Guitar songwriters' award Laleh Pourkarim Won
Sten A. Olsson cultural scholarship[84] Musician Award Laleh Pourkarim Won
2017 P3 Guld Awards[85] Artist of the Year Laleh Nominated
Song of the Year "Bara få va mig själv" Nominated
Gaygalan Awards[86] Swedish Song of the Year "Bara få va mig själv" Won
Grammis Awards[61][62] Song of the Year "Bara få va mig själv" Nominated
Composer of the Year Laleh Pourkarim Nominated
Pop of the Year Kristaller Won
Producer of the Year Laleh Pourkarim Won
2019 Natur & Kultur cultural award[87] Cultural prize Laleh Pourkarim Won

See also[edit]


  • 1 This refers to the Swedish DigiListan chart which counts music sold and distributed online only. The record on the Sverigetopplistan belongs to songs from Satan i gatan by Veronica Maggio which managed eleven simultaneously charting songs in the top thirty six months earlier.


  1. ^ "Drums & Så Mkt Bättre" (in Swedish). 3 November 2011. Archived from the original on 7 February 2012. Retrieved 1 February 2012.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h Letmark, Peter (11 December 2011). "Jag är både helgon och djävul" (in Swedish). Dagens Nyheter. Retrieved 4 January 2012.
  3. ^ Fredriksson, Karin (9 April 2005). "Begåvad men spretig debut". Helsingborgs Dagblad (in Swedish). Helsingborgs Dagblad. Archived from the original on 24 October 2012. Retrieved 1 February 2012.
  4. ^ "Laleh gör succé med låtarna från "Så mycket bättre"". Expressen (in Swedish). Bonnier Group. 13 November 2011. Archived from the original on 9 January 2012. Retrieved 1 February 2012.
  5. ^ Backman, Dan (25 January 2012). "Laleh är så mycket bättre". Svenska Dagbladet (in Swedish). Schibsted. Retrieved 1 February 2012.
  6. ^ Ommundsen, Åse Marie (31 December 2013). "Nasjonal traumebearbeiding i sanglyrikk for barn og unge etter 22/7". Barnelitterært forskningstidsskrift (in Norwegian). 4. doi:10.3402/blft.v4i0.23537. hdl:10642/1821. Retrieved 23 December 2022.
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  55. ^ "Swedish pop sensation Laleh (Laleh Pourkarim) performs on stage inside the UN General Assembly Hall at the UNICEF Launch Of The #IMAGINE Project to Celebrate the 25th Anniversary of The Rights of a Child at the United Nations in New York, NY, on November 20, 2014. (Photo by Anthony Behar/Sipa USA)". Alamy. 20 November 2014. Retrieved 1 January 2023.
  56. ^ @IslandRecords (9 January 2015). "Laleh's LA show last night was magical. She'll be performing @ Hotel Cafe each Wednesday in Jan.- don't miss her!" (Tweet) – via Twitter.
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  70. ^ Waldeck, Lovisa (28 December 2022). "Följ med bakom kulisserna på Lalehs historiska spelning" [Join us behind the scenes at Laleh's historic gig]. Sveriges Television (in Swedish). Stockholm, Sweden. Retrieved 1 January 2023.
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  73. ^ "Laleh presenterar sommarturné 2023 - hennes största någonsin - första svenska kvinnliga artist på Tele2 Arena" [Laleh presents summer tour 2023 - her biggest ever - first Swedish female artist at Tele2 Arena.]. MyNewsDesk (in Swedish). Stockholm, Sweden. 1 November 2022. Retrieved 1 January 2023.
  74. ^ "Två Rockbjörnar till Laleh" [Two Rock Bears for Laleh]. Svenska Dagbladet (in Swedish). Stockholm. 15 January 2006. Retrieved 6 January 2023.
  75. ^ "Tidigare vinnare i Rockbjörnen" [Previous winners of the Rockbjörnen]. Aftonbladet (in Swedish). Stockholm. 27 May 2010. Retrieved 6 January 2023.
  76. ^ "Evert Taube-stipendiet". Taubesallskapet (in Swedish). Archived from the original on 7 February 2012. Retrieved 12 February 2012.
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