The meatballs at Pelikan, a restaurant on Blekingegatan street in Stockholm, are the size of man-fists and there are four of them to an entrée. I’m usually good with cleaning a plate, but they presented a real problem. I have no doubt that if you flattened just one out into a patty, it would be as big as an In-And-Out burger, and there was Lykke Li across the table from me on my first night in town, putting her last bite down while I was just cutting into number three. For some reason, this is my lasting impression of her and a decent metaphor for this issue. Lykke is petite and self-deprecatingly funny, but she has hidden fortitude. If you underestimate her, she will make you look silly. Lil B, Young L, the Odd Future gang and Jamie Smith of The XX do the same. No one said any of them would be where they are today, so they just helped themselves. Maybe that doesn’t sound all that unique in this age of self-made celebrity, but consider for a second what we’re talking about here: a Swedish woman who covers “Hustlin’” at her shows and once got booed offstage at a Dwele concert, a rapper whose biggest hit so far is a song called “Pretty Bitch,” a producer who produces for a rapper whose biggest hit so far is a song called “Pretty Bitch,” a pack of unruly teens in LA who puke in half of their videos and a doughy Brit who hates the spotlight. Not exactly American Idol.
However, these are exactly the reasons we love all of them. They simply do not care what people think, and they do whatever they want. That is about as promising a future as we can envision for the health of music and art in the 21st century, and I am personally inspired by their courage. So, in addition to editing this fine magazine, I have decided post-Sweden that my new goal in life is to become the Kobayashi of salted licorice. I’m gonna be the best, despite the fact that I get kind of sick from the smell of the stuff. And anytime anyone tells me I’ll never amount to anything by eating pounds of gelatinized candy, I’ll look them in the eye, say “Swag!” and barf a black lump of sugar. Critics be damned.