Don’t pretend you didn’t see this coming. I bet even Corinna May saw this coming.
What? I’m allowed one insensitive joke a month, and that was September’s.
Anyway, here’s the deal: I love Sweden, you love Sweden (I assume…who doesn’t?), we all love Sweden – in some respect. If le love isn’t related to their fashion, furniture or food (oh hej there, meatballs with lingonberry jam on the side!) then it has to be for Sverige + Eurovision. I mean, even if Scandipop makes you want to pull a Van Gogh and you’d much rather treat your ears to some Balkan ballads or saucy Spanish salsa, you have to admire the Swedish attitude towards the ESC. Not to mention (though I am about to mention it) their dead-serious approach to competing in it, one that has seen them win the contest twice since 2012.
Overall – out of 55 participations – the hosts of Eurovision 2016 have added a trophy to their song contest cabinet six times, and have finished inside the top ten THIRTY-SEVEN times. That’s a whole lot of Eurovisual goodness right there, and I’m about to count down my favourites of the lot. Ja, it’s time for a good ol’ fashioned top ten…Swedish-style.
But, because I’m a soap opera fan and therefore love a good cliffhanger (and because I’m trying not to overwhelm you guys with one momentous post after another) I’m going to reveal my top ten Swedish ESC entries like, ever, in two separate posts. Today, I’m counting down my 10th, 9th, 8th, 7th and 6th-favourite songs, so if you want to find out which ones made it into the top five, you’ll have to stay tuned to EBJ. Sorry.
Also, since I’m yet to attain psychic abilities, I’d love you to hit me up with your personal favourite Swedish entries in the comments (but feel free to keep me waiting for your #1 like I’m making you wait for mine).
If you need a reminder of what you’re choosing from, then check this out:
And now, let the countdown begin. Tre, två, ett, go!
#10 | 1963
En Gång I Stockholm by Monica Zetterlund
I mentioned this entry in a previous post, not long after Sanna Nielsen performed it “alongside” Monica as part of her Melodifestivalen hosting/entertaining duties this year. That duet was spellbinding, and I couldn’t help revisiting the original performance (once my spine-tingles had subsided) to remind myself how En Gång I Stockholm (Once In Stockholm) stood up sans Sanna – particularly given that, back in ’63, it had finished equal last. That, my friends, is a travesty. The song, minus Miss Nielsen, is still lovely. It may not be as hypnotic or mystique-packed as Denmark’s winner Dansevise (which I also adore) but it does have a) a wistful quality emphasised by Monica in her performance, and b) a melody that’s so soft and beautiful you could practically blow your nose on it. I’m often an advocate for songs that exit Eurovision in last place, so naturally, this one’s a standout of the 1963 contest för mig.
#9 | 2015
Heroes by Måns Zelmerlöw
YES, I’M GOING THERE. In case you weren’t aware that I’m mad about Måns, and that I couldn’t be happier that the Eurovision circus is heading back to Sweden so soon, well…become aware now. I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again: Heroes is a great song, and no, it’s not a David Guetta rip-off (an homage, perhaps, but a carbon copy? Puh-lease). It checks a ton of boxes on my list of epic ESC entry criteria: it’s catchy, contemporary and energetic; it successfully fuses together two different musical genres; it builds to a climax worth waiting for; the lyrics don’t put my gag reflex to the test; and it’s karaoke-friendly. What more could one want? Well, apart from a mind-blowing staging concept that puts all the competition to shame. Oh wait – Heroes had that too! Aurally and aesthetically, this entry is a prime example of Sweden’s ability to go above and beyond without breaking a sweat.
#8 | 1996
Den Vilda by One More Time
If songs that make you desperate to frolic in a lush forest with a myriad of woodland creatures are your thing, then I’m guessing you’re a fellow fan of this entry from ’96. If not, why not? This track is gorgeous and timeless. I can’t say the same about the power suit OMT’s Nanne donned for the show (Eurovision performance or marketing meeting? Who can tell the difference based on that outfit) but lack of flowing chiffon aside, Den Vilda as a package is pure, pared-back perfection. Though the verses sound very similar to the choruses, they don’t sound too similar, meaning you’re/I’m easily drawn in by the melody without suffering from any repetitive-itis. Everything (except the chiffon, because there isn’t any) just flows. This is a classic case of magnificent minimalism.
#7 | 2012
Euphoria by Loreen
If you want more evidence of Sweden’s ability to say N-O to O-T-T and still succeed, it’s right here. There’s no question why Loreen holds the record for the most sets of douze points received by a Eurovision winner. Euphoria was, is and always will be the bomb dot com. For me, it’s just as impressive now as it was when it topped the Melfest scoreboard three years ago (!), in terms of both sound and staging. The slick production, maximum-energy beat and infectious ‘up-up-up-up-up-uuuup’ hook are all as wonderful as Loreen’s crab scuttle*, and came together in a performance so uniquely staged, it was groundbreaking. This entry will forever be filed under ‘Unforgettable’ in the Eurovision archives, and perhaps replace ye olde Bucks Fizz skirt-rip in the ‘Eurovision in a nutshell!’ clip compilations trotted out by the media at every opportunity.
* CAN’T…RESIST…THE GIF…
#6 | 1983
Främling by Carola
Sixteen-year-old Carola is my favourite version of Carola (although I’m happy to be fångad in her invincible stormvind any time) and she was clearly living her best life on the Munich stage, with her bouffant hairdo and weird-ass shirt that seemed to have a Dalmatian-giraffe on it (what WAS that?). Her vocal chops have always been insanely good, as this performance of the dated-but-still-magical Främling proves. The song gave Carola chance after chance to sing her heart out, and she grabbed each and every one. She also got to do a bit of strutting, because that’s the logical move to make when one is commandeering such a funky, oh-so-80s pop song. STRUT, CAROLA, STRUUUUUUT! The ‘why’ of why Främling is a favourite of mine pretty much boils down to one word: catchy. Främling is freaking catchy! It gets stuck in my head on the reg, but I never get tired of it, since it’s so peppy and all. Here’s to that continuing for many years to come *clink*.
That’s the end of this chapter, Eurovisionaries (I did warn you I was going to leave you in the lurch). I’m still polishing – and possibly reordering – my top five Swedish contributions to our beloved song contest, so you’ll have to sit tight for a few days until all is revealed.
As I asked you so nicely in the intro, please leave me many, many comments feat. the what and why of your top-ranking ESC entries from Sweden…and/or make a guess as to which ones have squeezed into my top five. Guess correctly, and you win a big bag full of my admiration!
Until next time…