It's not uncommon for a single region to take over production of a particular item or skill. Most of the electronics in your house were probably made in China, the last three customer service calls you made were most likely all rerouted to Mumbai, and most cats are born in the fiery depths of Hell. Sometimes, for wacky historical reasons, a single country will take over something no one would expect. For example ...
#4. Popular Music Is Being Taken Over by Sweden
Back in this article, I mentioned that a big chunk of the music on your radio is now being produced by just two really talented guys. One of these guys, Max Martin, comes from Sweden, and his cavalry charge through the music industry holding a blue-and-yellow flag is well demonstrated in the following video. Warning: the first half may induce some heavy nineties flashbacks.
When you consider Swedish musicians like Avicii and Swedish producers like RedOne, who co-produced most of Lady Gaga's stuff, it's not surprising that Sweden is the largest per capita exporter of pop music in the world and the third-largest overall. That's pretty good for a country with fewer people than Ohio that's otherwise known mainly for clever cubical bookshelves.
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And also for this guy. You can thank me in the comments, ladies.
You know that one guy who is always saying that all the world's problems can be fixed with education? Well, when the problem you're trying to fix is "my country doesn't export enough pop music," that dude may actually be right. In the 1940s, the Swedish government started a bunch of low-cost music schools to lead its children toward egalitarian musical greatness. Unlike American music schools, which generally provide select training for the small number of kids who are talented enough, Sweden's schools aim at generalized musical education for all. One in three Swedish students now attends publicly funded after-school music programs, and the Swedish government also subsidizes music outside of the classroom, with some musicians even being given money just to rehearse. So the next time you hear a catchy song with oddly ungrammatical lyrics on the radio, thank Sweden's generous socialist government.
"I could forgive Stalinist purges, but not this."
#3. The World's Fanciest Hair Extensions All Come From India
Hair extensions are big business. Who doesn't want waist-length hair without having to go through that awkward "growing out a mullet" stage? And because reality is creepier than any Japanese horror movie, the best ingredient for producing good hair extensions is other human hair. Some of this human hair comes from China and Eastern Europe, but Indian hair is generally the most highly valued. Every year, India exports oodles of high-quality hair to adorn the scalps of the world's women and men who are really serious about headbanging.How Did That Happen?
Many Indian women don't cut, treat, or blow-dry their hair at all, which makes for long, thick, healthy tresses that cause hair-extension companies to go all gooey on the inside.
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"Les Miserables cosplay is in this year, ma'am. That's all I'm saying."
But it's not just haircare competence that makes India a popular target. Another factor is a religious practice that's common in Southern India. Devotees of Venkateswara, an avatar of the god Vishnu, traditionally offer their hair to the deity after receiving good news: if your kid does well in school, or you give birth to a healthy child, or you get an extra chicken nugget in your bag several times in a row, you can pay Venkateswara back for this good fortune with a nice hair-gift. The temples that perform the ritual shaving collect the devotees' hair and sell it via online auction. Hair extension companies then chemically treat the hair, dye it to the desired color, and sell it for big bucks overseas. The business isn't as cynical as it sounds: profits from the hair auctions go to the temples, which put the money back into local welfare and infrastructure.
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They tried putting the hair itself into local infrastructure, but that didn't go so well.