Swedish pop singer Madleen Kane is kind of an elusive figure in recent times. While researching this post, there was little to find on her save for a record of her recording history and a few basic facts. I couldn’t be more intrigued. Born in Malmö, Sweden, Madleen was the daughter of a well-off manufacturer and traveled abroad often in her childhood. Her characteristically Scandinavian face––soft, high cheekbones, ski-slope nose, blue eyes and flaxen blonde hair––in combination with her rail-thin frame made her ideal for modeling. She signed with Ford in 1975 at age 17 (reportedly she lived with Ford Models founder Eileen Ford at the time) and became well established in Germany before going on to shoot for Playboy. Madleen never really liked modeling but used it to earn money to pay for singing lessons and establish herself as a singer. In 1977 she met Jean Claude Friedrich, record executive and future husband, who signed her and released her first album “Rough Diamonds” in 1978. At 20, she was an instant success amongst the disco circuits. She went on to record four more albums before retiring in the mid 80s after getting bored of the recording process.
Madleen’s vocals are shimmery, delicate, and airy, but they certainly aren’t remarkable. She sung over fun disco tracks that were well produced so her vocals barely even mattered. In this way she’s kind of the epitome of model-turned-singer––she had enough talent to get by but people really just loved to look at her. Her videos are kind of genius in this sense. Typical to many disco videos, hers take place in an ambiguous sound stage with swaths of multicolored lights softly illuminating the room. Madleen sings over the track while she sways from side to side, sometimes opting to move about the stage. The videos are pretty low energy even if the songs are not, but when you look like that there’s little more you need to do to hold an audience. Her makeup and hair are always impeccably 70s––sultry, sleepy eyes, bright colored blush set high on the cheekbone, and fluffy, teased out curls. The absolute highlight of her videos is her wardrobe, which boasts many 70s favorites including a disco ball-like evening gown in “C’est Ci Bon,” a classic Annie Hall menswear look in “Fever,” a Native American- inspired ensemble in “You Can” and, my personal favorite, a smoke grey batwing dress with side slits up to the hip bone in “Rough Diamond.” It may not be “good” music but thats of little concern––Madleen is the ultimate Swedish disco queen.
(L) Photo by Christian Simonpietri, 1978. (M) Photo by Tony Karody in Los Angeles.
Albums L-R: Rough Diamond, 1978 / Cheri, 1979 / Sounds of Love, 1980
Albums L-R: Don't Wanna Lose You, 1981 / Cover Girl, 1985 / 12 Inches and More, 1994
Outfits from the Official Videos of C’est Ci Bon (L) & Rough Diamond (M). Performance outfit of 'You Can' on Solid Gold.
(L-R) Playboy, France, April 1978 / Playboy, Spain, April 1979 / Lui Magazine, 1980.