Velkommen/välkommen to some three-way battles that nobody asked for, but I’m more than happy to deliver. Today, it’s crunch time for three Eurovision heavyweights (on and off, or just on if we’re talking about Sweden) as I pit them against each other for entertainment purposes.
Ever looked at the three entries from Scandinavia in any given contest, and thought one was a standout (in agreement with or in spite of the results)? If so, this is for you. If not, here’s your chance. I’m about to make my personal favourites from the first half of the 2010s public, and you can do the same by voting in the poll for each year. Go on…decide who gets the blue ribbon in a democratic way while secretly knowing my opinion is the right one!
Before we start, let’s remind ourselves who we’re dealing with:
- Denmark, a competent country that doesn’t enter into any risky business and would rather be safe than sorry
- Norway, the most daring Scandi nation and one that alternates between classiness and edginess
- Sweden, a powerhouse of modern Eurovision and an unbeatable force when it comes to slick, polished pop
Are you ready to choose between them? Be warned: this isn’t like picking your preference from Danish pastries, Norwegian skolebrød and Swedish cinnamon buns (though that’s a tough task too because they’re all bloody delicious). If you tend to love Scandi Eurovision songs as much as me then you’re in for some agonising. You’re also in for some serious Swedish bias on my part, so I’m sorry about that.
NU KÖR VI!
2010 | In A Moment Like This VS My Heart Is Yours VS This Is My Life
What happened IRL? Denmark (4th) > Norway (20th) > Sweden (DNQ)
My thoughts Sweden losing out to both Norway AND Denmark? Now there’s something you don’t see every Eurovision (yes, it happened again in 2013…but it hasn’t happened since and I’ll be surprised if it ever does). Obviously Norway’s 2010 entry had an automatic place in the final, since they were the hosts with the most. Or were they? There’s no love lost between myself and My Heart Is Yours, and I’m actually not convinced it would have made the cut competing in a semi. Denmark’s duet (performed by a pair who weren’t exactly the presidents of each other’s fan clubs behind the scenes) was typically Danish: totally risk-free and very vanilla-flavoured. I’m sorry (well, not really) but In A Moment Like This has always been an overachiever in my book. It’s way too cheesy and predictable for my liking, and the manufactured chemistry makes me nauseous. But what do I know? It finished 4th, after all.
Where Sweden is concerned, I’m the opposite and believe they were truly wronged in Oslo – to date, the only ESC city they’ve had to leave early due to a DNQ. It’s been almost a decade and I still don’t get it, but they were only 5 points away from qualifying with Anna’s stunning, authentic ballad. On the plus side, her absence from the final did seem to give Sweden the nudge they needed to make sure they were never left behind again. There’s a reason they won twice within the five years that followed! For me, there’s a clear champion in this three-way battle and given the real results, it’s an ironic one.
2011 | New Tomorrow VS Haba Haba VS Popular
What happened IRL? Sweden (3rd) > Denmark (5th) > Norway (DNQ)
My thoughts The tables turned in 2011, with the blue-and-yellow back on top: cause for celebration among those Eurofans who worship the ground anyone from the Swedish delegation walks on (you guys know that includes me). Both Sweden and Denmark finished in the top five, with Eric Saade’s initial lead in the voting prompting him to tell Judith Rakers that he needed the toilet. Fair enough. Nature has urgently called me at less stressful moments of life than that. Anyway – not that I don’t want to spend more time discussing Eric Saade’s bathroom habits – Denmark deserved that top five finish this time (quick, somebody catch the shade I just threw!). The anthemic New Tomorrow + Tim Schou and his backless shirt = a great deal of YES. 5th felt about right for the song, though if Ukraine hadn’t brought Kseniya the sand artist on stage with Mika Newton, Denmark may have found themselves in 4th again.
Sweden in bronze position wasn’t a shock, though I must say Popular isn’t one of my favourite Swedish entries. Still, as the ‘good-looking, well-groomed guy sings pop banger while dancing his little heart out’ schtick goes, it’s pretty good. Poor Norway was almost as far out of the top five as you can get, in spite of a joyful performance of a catchy-AF song from Stella Mwangi. Haba Haba missing out on a ticket for the final was an OMG moment of Düsseldorf for many, and I definitely would have liked to see it advance. It’s a tough task for me to choose the best of this bunch because I’m not head-over-heels for any of them, but I like them all. What’s a Eurovision-obsessed woman to do?
2012 | Should’ve Known Better VS Stay VS Euphoria
What happened IRL? Sweden (1st) > Denmark (23rd) > Norway (26th)
My thoughts Think this is an easy one? Think again! It’s not an open-and-shut case of ‘Euphoria rules them all’ for me, not when a certain other song from this 2012 trio is involved. Don’t get me wrong – Euphoria was a Eurovision game-changer and continues to be a dance music masterpiece, staging masterclass and the most iconic winner of the 2010s. I have nothing bad to say about it and never will. The same goes for Norway, who brought a less revolutionary but insanely catchy ethno-dance banger to Baku. Stay was staged in a more predictable way for the genre – as if, while Sweden had moved on from Popular, Norway had decided to pack some Saade in their suitcase. I know Tooji’s track comes off cookie-cutter when compared to Euphoria, but I freaking LOVE it to this day. I remember crying a little when it won MGP because I was so happy – not the first or last time I wept over something ESC-related (in fact, I probably got teary-eyed when Tooji inexplicably finished last in the final. Not cool, Europe).
Denmark 2012 didn’t have the power to kickstart my waterworks, however. Should’ve Known Better is as solid as a rock and really nice for easy listening. It’s also admirably authentic, and Soluna smashed it on stage. I just don’t have much of an emotional connection to this entry. It doesn’t make me feel much besides ‘Oh, that’s quite nice.’ I actually get more excited about how dope her hat is than by anything else. So when it comes to naming one of these Scandi songs superior, it’s down to two. BRACE YOURSELVES.
2013 | Only Teardrops VS I Feed You My Love VS You
What happened IRL? Denmark (1st) > Norway (4th) > Sweden (14th)
My thoughts After a few years spent playing second fiddle to Sweden, it took a pipe for Denmark to come first (on Swedish soil, no less). It helped that the piper in question was attractive, and part of a song-and-performance package that didn’t put a (bare) foot wrong. I want to thank Emmelie de Forest for popularising the bedhead look on an international stage – I haven’t felt pressured to brush my hair as frequently since her victory and it’s a real time-saver. Unfortunately, as epic as the resulting Copenhagen contest was, I’m not a massive fan of Only Teardrops as a winner. It’s a good song with staging worthy of a gold star, but I don’t find it much more exciting than the average Danish entry (which as you might be able to tell, I find very vanilla).
Norway was the Scandinavian country to bring the most exciting entry to Malmö, IMO – a song that could compete next year in Rotterdam and still sound cutting-edge. Margaret Berger was the ice queen of dreams in a breathtaking (literally) body-con dress, and I Feed You My Love was/is so awesome. It’s a song that makes you feel a lot cooler than you are just listening to it, and the sort of adventurous choice Norway impresses me by making. However…while my head says IFYML is the best song of these three, my heart says You is my personal fave. Robin Stjernberg had me at ‘Andra Chansen song wins Melfest for the first time ever’. His host entry was simple but meaningful, and combined with a pared-back performance, it was more relatable and authentic than some of the Swedish entries that turn people off these days. Oh, and those vocals? RIDICULOUS.
2014 | Cliché Love Song VS Silent Storm VS Undo
What happened IRL? Sweden (3rd) > Norway (8th) > Denmark (9th)
My thoughts Oh boy. This one’s going to trip me up, because talk about a holy trinity! Here we have a phenomenal power ballad, a touching piano ballad, and Denmark’s Bruno Mars giving the 2014 top 10 a fun injection (different to the love injection Aminata would administer a year later). This might not be an opinion shared by most Eurofans, but I love all three of these tracks. Denmark managed to excite me for once, which may have something to do with me being a big fan of Bruno Mars. Or maybe it’s just that Cliché Love Song is a three-minute happy pill and kick-ass karaoke pick. I also like Basim and his voice a lot, so it’s all boxes ticked.
On the other end of the spectrum, with a song that wasn’t fun but was emotive and spellbinding, was Norway. Carl Espen – the reason someone came up with the phrase ‘the strong, silent type’ – took a song to Eurovision that hit many of us right in the feels. Silent Storm is a stunning composition with real lyrical substance (a.k.a. it doesn’t include a line like ‘I’m tired of being your sweet cheesecake’) and I adore it. Even so, this was Sweden’s year; and Sanna Nielsen’s too since she finally made it to the ESC on her 4683rd attempt. Undo is one of my favourite entries of all time, and I can’t tell you how often I’ve gone back to watch the performance and marvel at how a “floating” platform, clever lighting and incredible voice can do so much heavy lifting. It might have scored a (metaphorical) bronze medal, but to me it’s 24 karat gold. And as much as I hate to be creating a predictable pattern, that pushes Undo – and Sweden – above the rest of Scandinavia for me.
That’s it for today, and I’m left with a rather embarrassing 4/5 to Sweden (I CAN’T HELP IT!), 1/5 to Norway and 0/5 to Denmark. To those of you still reeling because I chose Stay over Euphoria – well, at least that stopped a Swedish 5/5 from happening.
I’ve thought ahead to 2015-2019, and it will be a lot less Sweden-centric. See for yourself and make some more difficult decisions of your own in the next round of Scandinavian Song Battles! It’s on the way, so follow me on my socials and/or subscribe in the sidebar to know exactly when it goes live. In the meantime…
What are your “winner” stats when it comes to Scandinavia at Eurovision, 2010-2014? Has Denmark been done wrong or do Sweden deserve all the hype? Maybe Norway is the true top-tier competitor for you. Let me know in the comments below!