• Loreen won, on the night of May 13 to 14, Eurovision 2023, in Liverpool, with the song Tattoo. It was Sweden's seventh victory at the contest (the Irish record was equalled) and the singer's second. Historical.
  • "The last few months have been a bit complicated for the Swedes. Sweden needed a win. And what could be better than Eurovision when you know the level of engagement of the Swedish public, "explains to 20 Minutes the journalist Anne-Françoise Hivert.
  • However, Loreen did not top the public votes, who preferred Finland's Käärijä.

From our Special Envoy in Liverpool (United Kingdom)

If we paraphrase the sports saying, we could say that Eurovision is a competition that is played between thirty or forty countries and that in the end, it is always Sweden that wins. Since 2010, she has won the competition three times: in 2012, 2015 and therefore, 2023.

Loreen, who won in the night from Saturday to Sunday with Tattoo, is also the one who brandished the trophy, the crystal microphone, eleven years ago, for Euphoria became a hit throughout Europe except for a few indifferent like France or Italy.

The 39-year-old singer is the only female artist to have entered her name twice on the charts. So the word "historic" is the word that comes up the most in the columns of the Swedish press this Sunday. Especially since the Scandinavian state also enters history by equaling Ireland's record of victories (seven), taking a small step ahead of the France, the United Kingdom, Luxembourg and the Netherlands.

'Sweden needed a victory'

"The Swedes are delighted and very proud of what has been compared in recent weeks to 'finnkampen': the annual athletics competition between Sweden and Finland, which takes place at the end of the summer. Here, there was no doubt that it would be played out between the two neighbors. And that's what happened," says Anne-Françoise Hivert, Le Monde's correspondent for the Nordic countries.

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The journalist continues: "The last few months have been a bit complicated for the Swedes who traditionally see themselves as the 'big brothers' of the Finns. But it was Finland that dragged them into the NATO accession process, and joined the alliance before them. Sweden needed a win. And what could be better than Eurovision when you know the level of engagement of the Swedish public. »

In Sweden, Eurovision is a particularly serious matter. The contest is followed by millions of viewers on the SVT channel, giving it one of the best audiences of the year. It is preceded in February and March by Melodifestivalen, a kind of mini-Eurovision used as a selection for the contest. This year, the final was watched by 3.4 million people, for an audience share of 83%.

Swedish "know-how"

For observers of the competition, it was Sweden that made a modern turn in Eurovision by hosting it in 1985. The 2016 edition in Stockholm is considered by many to be one of the best, if not the best, ever organized: local know-how and efficiency were at work.

Since its first participation in 1958, the kingdom has garnished its list of twenty-seven places in the top 5. A success that makes people envious. It is not uncommon for some countries to go shopping for Swedish composers to create a song with the magic formula to collect a maximum of 12 points. The France tried it in 2020, with My Ally (The Best in Me), whose melody was signed Thomas G: Son - the same composer as the two winning songs of Loreen and a good bunch of Melodifestivalen songs - and Peter Boström also behind Euphoria. But the magic didn't work. The first returns on this song, which was to be performed by Tom Leeb, were cautious and the cancellation of Eurovision that year due to the Covid pandemic may have avoided at the France a hell of a slap in the face.

Because this mastery (real or overestimated) has its other side of the coin. Sweden has left its mark on the production of Eurovision. Notably through Christer Björkman – who was at the helm of Melodifestivalen from 2002 to 2021 and head of the Swedish delegation for several years. It has led to certain changes in the rules and conduct of Eurovision. For the past two years, the executive supervisor, Martin Österdhal, has also been Swedish. It is under his aegis that certain upheavals have been validated, such as the possibility of using pre-recorded choirs - some delegations are having a blast - or the disappearance of jury votes for the semi-finals of Eurovision 2023 ...

The public preferred Finnish

This therefore inspires a form of more or less unofficial mistrust. And, in the recent history of the contest, it is noticeable that Swedish songs have always been better received by professional juries than by viewers. A glaring example: in 2018, Benjamin Ingrosso ranked second on the jury side with 253 points but only twenty-third in televoting with 21 points, for a seventh place in the final ranking.

This year too, Loreen finished first in the professional votes (340 points) and second in the televote (243), relegated behind the Finn Käärijä (376 points), clearly the darling of the public. Just hear the audience at Liverpool's M&S Arena chanting "Cha Cha Cha" (the title of the Finnish song) before the final result was announced... Another telling statistic: the Swede did not come first in any of the public votes while 37 top 10 were possible. His musical opponent from Helsinki garnered 18 times the highest rating from viewers.

Loreen won regularly - Käärijä having obtained only 150 points from the juries - but, on social networks, the conspiracy theory did not take long to appear: everything would have been rigged for Eurovision 2024 to take place in Sweden, fifty years after the victory of ABBA with Waterloo in the same contest. This shows the imagination that can be shown by the country's critics.

Ironically, the previous Swedish victory, that of Mans Zelmerlöw with Heroes, in 2015, was also due to the juries: the public had preferred the Italian trio Il Volo and its operatic Grande Amore. Then opened a parenthesis of victories at Eurovision of songs distancing themselves from the "Swedish": 1944 by the Ukrainian Jamala in 2016, Amar Pelos Dois by the Portuguese Salvador Sobral in 2017, Zitti e Buoni by the Italians of Maneskin in 2021 or Stephania by the Ukrainian group Kalush Orchestra last year. Will Tattoo close this parenthesis that has allowed non-English songs to prevail and will it mark the entry of Eurovision into a new cycle of more formatted titles? Answer next year. In Sweden.

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