Play was an all girl pop group from Sweden who debuted in 2001. Since then, they’ve gained fans from all over the world, released 5 albums, went through various member changes, broken up, reunited, and then broken up again. Read more about them below!
Early Days (2001-2003)
More than a decade ago, a crazy journey started for four young girls from Stockholm, Sweden.
It all started in 2001, when Laila (Bagge) Wahlgren and her (then) husband Anders Bagge, set out to create a girl group. At the time, Laila worked as a teacher at a dance school called Sway. There she found Anna Sundstrand, aged 12, and Anaïs Lameche, aged 13, and asked them to be in the group. Auditions were then held nationwide to find two more members for the line up. Fanny Hamlin and Rosanna Munter, who were already classmates and friends, were ultimately chosen as the final members. (They were both 13, too, in case you’re wondering.) These four girls would later become known as Play.
Anders worked with many artists under Sony Music Entertainment, headed by Tommy Mottola. During a phone call with Anders, Tommy heard the girls singing in the background. They sang over the phone and Tommy asked them to come to the United States, where he signed them to his label right away.
Play headed straight to the studio to record. In 2001 they released their first single, Us Against The World, in the United States, Canada and Europe. They also made an appearance in the Mary-Kate and Ashley Olson movie “Holiday in the Sun”. The next year, Play released their debut album, their most successful album released in the United States. It peaked at #74 on the Billboard 200 and in March of 2003 it was certified gold.
The girls spent the rest of 2002 touring, and even opened for Destiny’s Child. They also recorded a song with Lil’ Fizz for the soundtrack to “The Master of Disguise”. They wrapped up the year appearing in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, performing an alternate version of I’m Gonna Make You Love Me, which was originally recorded with Chris Trousdale.
Play went back into the studio during early 2003 to record their sophomore release, Replay, which was set to be a more mature, R&B influenced album. During this time, Playin’ Around the World was released, a DVD featuring music videos, footage from a live concert, and behind the scenes clips of the girls recording and having fun. Replay was released on June 10th 2003, and the group once again spent the year touring and making appearances.
I Must Not Chase the Boys was Replay’s most successful single. The music video was aired on MTV’s TRL, and made the top 10 video countdown.
During 2003, Play became the sponsor for Clikits, a brand of jewelery and decor aimed towards young girls. In many of the pictures from this time, you can see them wearing Clikits jewelry.
Play seemed to disappear during the end of 2003. They performed at the 2003 Toopalooza with Jessica Simpson and Aaron Carter in October. It was thought that they had headed back to the studio, or were planning for some kind of new release.
Then, on December 15, 2003, an official statement was released that Fanny Hamlin had decided to leave Play to further her education. The statement also introduced new member Janet Leon, then 13 years old.
A New Beginning (2004-2005)
Play once again returned to the studio, and on March 9, 2004 Don’t Stop the Music was released. The album received mixed feelings from fans, as it was a pure pop album aimed more towards younger audiences. Some fans believed the album to be rushed because Faye’s vocals were replaced with Janet’s on Play’s cover of Ain’t No Mountain High Enough, which had been previously featured on Replay. They also covered Bobby Brown’s Every Little Step with Aaron Carter.
Play sponsored everGirl during this time, a brand aimed towards young tween girls and recorded a song, also titled everGirl, that became the first track on Don’t Stop the Music.
During 2004, Play made appearances in Limited Too stores across the nation, and performed on the Spring Thing Tour with J-Me, Stevie Brock, and Jump5. They also visited schools as the official teen group for the anti-drug organization MADD About Music.
At the end of 2004, Play released Play Around the Christmas Tree, an album featuring traditional Christmas songs. The group made several appearances at malls around the United States in an effort to promote the album, but not much else was done.
At this point there was no word of what Play was up to. However, Janet recorded a song titled Magic Avenue for Build-A-Bear workshop, and did vocals for the Bratz Rock Angels album.
In April of 2005 Girl’s Mind was released, a compilation that featured 10 of Play’s most well known songs, all recorded with vocals by Faye Hamlin. The album received no promotion, and it is believed it was released by Play’s label just to fill a contract without recording any new material.
In September of 2005, Play finally announced their indefinite break as a group.
In late 2009, four years after the breakup, in was announced that Fanny, Anais, and new member Sanne Karlsson would return as a trio keeping the name Play. Drama and confusion hit as fans were told Rosanna was originally in the trio, but had dropped out to focus on her own career, and Sanne was asked to join. It was also revealed that Play had already tried to give it another go years earlier, but Anna was busy with other projects and the girls decided they wanted to put 100% into Play.
The new Play appeared on Made in Sweden, having four weeks to record an album and make an impact on Swedish and American music markets. The groups first single, Famous, was released on February 15, 2010. Within a few days the song made it on the Swedish iTunes Top Chart at #2. Famous also made it to #1 on the Swedish Single Charts for a week.
Play’s new album, Under My Skin, was released on April 21, 2010 and entered the charts at #7.
Play’s second single was Not The One, and is available on iTunes as a single track download. It was not widely promoted.
As Play appeared on Swedish TV and did concerts around Sweden, they were gearing up to release their music in America. In August 2010, Play and Laila made their way to the United States to talk to record companies and television companies about their music and possibly getting a television series to air in the US.
In October 2010 fans found out that Play recorded a song for the new Disney Channel movie Avalon High. Titled Destiny, the song was played during the last scene of the movie and into the credits. During this time Fanny decided to take a break from the group. Anais and Sanne continued to promote Destiny without Fanny, and gave little word as to why she wasn’t making appearances. Play then came to the United States to meet with producers, stylists, and managers to discuss their return.
On February 7, 2011, it was confirmed that Fanny had left the group to pursue a solo career. A close friend of Anais and Sanne’s, Emelie Norenburg, was added to the group as they began their career in the United States.
Play started to work on an EP that would be released in the United States during the summer. It would include songs from Under My Skin, redone with Emelie, and several new songs wrote during their time in the Los Angeles and New York. They were also working on getting a deal to produce a television series to be aired in the US. However, conflict would arise between the girls and after returning to Sweden they went their separate ways. Eventually things fizzled out and an official announcement, released on May 23, 2011, by their manager told fans that the group had broken up once again.