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🇸🇪 All About Loreen: Sweden’s 2023 Artist Preview

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Image Credit: Charli Ljung // Universal Music

Loreen returned to Melodifestivalen for the fourth time in 2023, and she did not disappoint. As ‘Tattoo’ became a huge sensation not only in Sweden but across Europe, it came as no surprise when she lifted the trophy at the end of the show.

Whether you’re a hardcore Eurovision fan or just a casual viewer, you will absolutely know Loreen – she’s the artist behind Eurovision 2012 winner and global hit ‘Euphoria’, which is regarded to this day as one the best Eurovision winners of all time.

Keep on reading to find out more about her and her journey back to the Eurovision Song Contest!

Who Is Loreen?

Lorine Zineb Noka Talhaoui was born on October 16th 1983 in Stockholm to Moroccan parents. She spent her early years living in Åkersberga, before moving to Västerås at age 6.

In 2004, she took part in Idol using the name Lorén Talhaoui, auditioning with Billy Porter’s Love Is On The Way‘ – receiving the judges’ wildcard and going into the live shows. She came 4th overall and released her debut single ‘Snake‘ alongside Rob’n’Raz in 2005. After taking on a presenting role for TV Show Lyssna, she stepped back from music to become a producer and TV director for reality television shows.

Loreen’s performance of ‘Stronger’ in Week 5 of Idol

Melodifestivalen 2011

It wasn’t until 2011 that Loreen returned back into the public eye, being announced as one of the 32 competitors in that year’s Melodifestivalen, with her song called ‘My Heart Is Refusing Me‘.

Loreen performed 2nd in Heat 2, coming 4th and being sent into Andra Chansen – where she lost to Sara Varga’s “Spring för livet” in the first round of the competition.

Since then, ‘My Heart Is Refusing Me’ has become a big fan favourite – winning SVT’s ‘Trejde Chansen‘ web contest in 2012 – which saw 32 previously unsuccessful Melodifestivalen songs go against each other in an online version of the contest. It even underwent a revamp, which was featured on her 2012 album ‘Heal’.

Melodifestivalen Return and Eurovision 2012

On November 21st 2011, SVT revealed the first 16 artists taking part in Melodifestivalen 2012, and the list included Loreen. Her song was called ‘Euphoria’ and it’s hard to believe now that she wasn’t an instant favourite. Danny Saucedo, who already had two top 3 results under his belt (3rd as a member of E.M.D in 2009 and 2nd solo in 2011), was the hot favourite with ‘Amazing’. It’s safe to say that most people, from the public to Danny himself, expected him to be heading to Baku. Placed in the 8th and last position to perform in Heat 4, it looked like ‘Amazing’ was going to be that year’s winner – until the first heat went live. Performing 8th in that heat was Loreen, who truly blew everyone away with ‘Euphoria’. She won her heat with 160,351 votes – though Danny also won his heat with a significantly greater 223,227 votes – making it a true two horse race going into the final.

Loreen performed 6th in the Melodifestivalen final, between ‘Baby Doll’ by Top Cats and ‘Soldiers’ by Ulrik Munther. She won the jury with 114 points, gaining 12 points from the Bosnian, Estonian, Cypriot, Irish, Norwegian and German juries. Competitor Danny was 2nd with 92 points, favoured by Ukraine, Belgium, France and The UK. When the televote came in, it was a done deal – Loreen was off to Eurovision. Receiving 154 points (32.7% of the votes) and totalling a combined 268 points overall compared to Danny’s 198, she truly took the contest by storm and earned the Songbird Trophy.

When Loreen won, Danny stormed out of the arena, saying that he “just wanted out”. He also said that ‘Amazing’ would work better at Eurovision than ‘Euphoria’, as it had a better chance in Europe, but wished her luck despite his disappointment. Loreen herself gracefully responded to his comments, saying:

Danny is at least as good as me, if not equal. Danny is awesome at what he does. He is a perfectionist just like me.

Loreen, Aftonbladet

Danny has since revealed that he was actually presented with ‘Euphoria’ before Loreen, but turned it down:

“Euphoria” was a real hit song when it came to me. Loreen did a great version and a magical job. It would have sounded a completely different way with me, and it is not at all certain that my version would have even made it further in Malmö [where his heat took place]

Danny Saucedo, Aftonbladet

After her win, Sweden became the favourite to win Eurovision 2012 in the odds ahead of Russia, Denmark, Serbia and Ireland. Loreen performed in 11th place in the second semi-final, between Croatia’s Nebo‘ by Nina Badrić and Georgia’s I’m A Joker‘ by Anri Jokehadze. She won the semi final with 181 points (145 from the jury, 180 from televote). In the final, she performed 18th, after ‘Aphrodisiac‘ by Eleftheria Eleftheriou from Greece and ‘Love Me Back‘ by Turkey’s Can Bonomo. At the end of the voting, Loreen was declared the winner with 372 points (296 in the jury, 343 from the televote), which was the second highest scoring winner ever (at the time), just behind Alexander Rybak’s 2009 entry ‘Fairytale’, which scored 387 points. ‘Euphoria’ received the most 12 points for any Eurovision entry (18 sets), and points from all but one (Italy) of the 41 countries eligible to vote for Sweden in the 2012 contest.

Credit:PA

‘Euphoria’ is now one of the most commercially successful Eurovision songs of all time, reaching #1 in 16 countries across Europe. It is certified Gold in Belgium, Italy and the UK, 3X Gold in Germany, Platinum in Finland, Denmark, (sales) and Spain, 2X Platinum in Switzerland and Denmark (streaming), 10X Platinum in Sweden and 11X Platinum in Norway. The song also has a combined streaming total of 208 million on Spotify at the time of writing, and won the annual fan voted #ESC250 event from 2012-2021, being overtaken in 2022 by ‘SloMo’ by Chanel. Loreen herself won the MTV EMA for ‘Best Swedish Act’ in 2012, and her debut album ‘Heal’ went straight to #1 in Sweden upon it’s release in October 2012. She returned to Eurovision in 2013, which was hosted in Malmö, to perform ‘Euphoria’ and her new single ‘We Got The Power‘.

Loreen recieved praise for being the only artist that visited local human rights groups within Azerbaijan, which had been widely criticised for the treatment of their citizens in order to meet the demands that staging Eurovision included. Loreen made her stance clear, expressing that “[…] human rights are violated in Azerbaijan every day. One should not be silent about such things”. The Azeri Government didn’t take kindly to her actions, saying the contest shouldn’t be ‘politicised’, and that the EBU should take action to prevent any further meetings. She was defended by Swedish diplomats, the Swedish delegation and fans of the contest who agreed with and appreciated her decision to use her platform to shine a light on the issues occurring within the country. Loreen spoke to SVT after the contest about her feelings surrounding the criticism she received and why it was important to her to visit these groups. You can watch the interview below (with English subtitles).

After Eurovision

‘Heal’ was reissued in 2013 to feature her new singles. In 2014, Loreen announced her first residency in Malmö, En Euforisk Jul, which ran from November – December, and was the 16th biggest grossing tour by a Swedish artist in 2014. She released ‘Paperlight (Higher)’ in March 2015, which she performed at Melodifestivalen as the interval in the second chance round, followed up by ‘I’m In It With You’ and her first Swedish-language release ‘Under ytan’ – a cover of Uno Svenningson’s 1994 song.

Loreen also continued to remain active in the Eurovision bubble, performing at Eurovision Song Contest’s Greatest Hits in 2015, which was produced by the BBC to celebrate 60 years of the contest, as well as Eurovision The Party in 2016, a worldwide online broadcast from Stockholm on the night of the Eurovision Final.

Melodifestivalen 2017 and ‘Ride’

On November 30th 2016, Loreen’s return to Melodifestivalen was announced, and from the get-go all eyes were on her. That year, she entered ‘Statements‘, which was the last song to perform in Heat 4 – a spot which has commonly become known as where the ‘ones to watch’ in the contest are placed. ‘Statements’ was worlds away from ’Euphoria’ in style and performance, and was a lot more experimental – stepping away from that pop sound casual viewers expected. Despite being seen as a favourite, Loreen failed to qualify directly to the final – coming 3rd in her heat and returning back to the Andra Chansen round, beaten by Jon Henrik Fjällgren feat. Aninia‘s “En värld full av strider (Eatneme gusnie jeenh dåaroeh)” and Wiktoria’s ‘As I Lay Me Down’.

In Andra Chansen, Loreen was drawn against Anton Hagman in the duel – and it looked like she’d be sailing straight into the final…until she didn’t. In what came as a shock to everyone watching – and Anton himself – ‘Kiss You Goodbye‘ was selected to go into the final – beating ‘Statements’ by a margin of 5% of the vote. Despite the fan reaction to the results, Loreen had expressed prior to Andra Chansen that she wasn’t entering Melfest to win, telling Wiwibloggs:

I don’t want people to misunderstand my reaction. Standing there, I was [facing] not only my own fear. All the other artists around me are so afraid at that point, about what is going to happen — Am I worth something? Why am I doing this? Looking at the other creators, I was thinking, “My God, they’re putting us through hell right now!” Seeing me stand there, it might have been perceived that I was disappointed. I actually thought that I would go out. With this performance being so specific and with the song being very different, I was just hoping to get another chance to sing it. I’m not doing this to win. I’ve already done that. I’m doing this for another reason.

Loreen on ‘Statements’, Wiwibloggs

After Melodifestivalen, Loreen left Warner Music and signed with BMG Scandinavia. She released the lead single ‘Body‘ from her first EP ‘Nude‘, and announced her new album ‘Ride‘ would be coming in November. ‘Ride’ was recorded between 2014 and 2017, and had a darker, more synth and indie sound than ‘Heal’. The album reached #31 on the Swedish charts.

The 2020’s and Swedish Language Career

In 2020, Loreen featured in Netflix’s film Eurovision Song Contest: The Story Of Fire along with other former Eurovision artists as part of the Song-A-Long segment. She also came back to Melodifestivalen as an interval act with ‘Fiction Feels Good‘, which combined all of her Melfest entries into a single song in order to celebrate her induction into the Hall Of Fame.

Universal Music signed Loreen ahead of her appearance on Så mycket bättre, which kickstarted a string of releases of music in Swedish, including the self-written Sötvattentårar. A tour commenced soon after.

Loreen also started her acting career, playing Maria in Netflix’s Swedish film JJ+E.

Neon Lights‘ marked her return to English language music in 2022 and was released as part of the Lexus NX Campaign. It was more electronic in style and re-introduced Loreen to a new audience ahead of some big news that was to come later in the year…

Melodifestivalen 2023

On November 30th 2022, SVT confirmed the rumours that Loreen would be heading back to Melodifestivalen for the fourth time with ‘Tattoo‘. The song was written by the same team behind ‘Euphoria’ – Thomas G:Son and Peter Boström, alongside Jimmy Jansson, Jimmy ‘Joker’ Thörnfeldt and Moa Carlebecker – also known as Cazzi Opeia. After the reveal, Loreen shot to the top of the odds with Marcus & Martinus and Maria Sur as a favourite to win Melfest 2023, though she again stated that winning the contest wasn’t something she necessarily considered important when describing her entry.

The song is called “Tattoo”. Your love is carved in me as a tattoo. It has energy and power, a depth. It’s a love song. As usual, I like to talk about love, because there is nothing more important. Above all in these times, it is extremely important that we lift the collective love.

You wonder if there is a new “Euphoria” in the sound. No, this is something else. But – that’s a lot of power, that’s a lot of energy. When I first heard the song I felt in my whole body that something was about to happen, and the last time I felt that was with “Euphoria”, so it will probably shake things up a bit in the system, I think, but it is good. Music should make us feel. Make us wake up.

Winning is not important. The most important thing is that I manage to create something that I can stand for, that conveys what I hope to convey and that you feel something there on the other side. Win or lose, it doesn’t matter – we’re all gonna die.

Loreen, Mellopedia

Fans had to wait until the very end of Heat 4 to see the first live performance of ‘Tattoo’. It unfortunately ended up having to be performed twice, due to a stage invader entering the stage – causing the cameras to cut away from the performance and the music to be cut. However, Loreen did get to perform again, and won the heat overall in the first round of voting. She spoke about the stage invasion to ESCXTRA, which you can watch below:

After Heat 4, ‘Tattoo’ became the most streamed song from Melodifestivalen 2023 within 2 days, becoming the biggest ever streaming debut for a Swedish song behind Avicii and Aloe Blacc’sSOS’ and the biggest debut for a Swedish song on Spotify in 2023. She reached the top of SverigeTopplistan, charted across Europe on Apple Music, iTunes and Spotify, and has remained at the top of Sweden’s Spotify Top 50 for the two weeks between Heat 4 and the Final. Her winning odds shot up to 87% on the day of the Final, receiving 501k streams in Sweden alone on the same day. She performed in 10th position, between Nordman and THEOZ, getting a huge crowd response throughout her performance.

In the jury voting, Loreen won, recieving 92 points – gaining 12 points from all but Croatia’s jury, who favoured THEOZ & Paul Rey instead. She won the televote with 85 points, totalling 177 points overall, winning Melodifestivalen 2023. She’s the first person to win Melodifestivalen twice since the new millennium started, as well as the first Swedish former winner to head back to Eurovision since Charlotte Perrelli in 2008.

Image Credit: SVT // Melodifestivalen // Alma Bengtsson

Eurovision 2023

Even before winning Melodifestivalen, Loreen’s Heat 4 performance saw Sweden go to number 1 in the betting odds to win the Eurovision Song Contest 2023, and at the time of writing they currently sit above Finland, with a 38% chance. Should Loreen win, she’ll be the second person ever to win Eurovision twice (the first being Johnny Logan), and will see Sweden equal Ireland’s record of 7 wins overall. It would also see Sweden extend its record as the only country to host Eurovision in 6 consecutive decades (from the 1970’s-2020’s).

At Eurovision, Loreen will perform in the second half of Semi-Final 1, alongside Azerbaijan, Czechia, Finland, Israel, Moldova, The Netherlands and Switzerland. Will Loreen win ESC 2023? For now, we’ll have to wait and see. There are concerns, however, that her staging may have to be changed. This is due to the infrastructure of the M&S Bank Arena in Liverpool not having the same facilities to hold the LED above her as that of Friends Arena in Stockholm, so we could be seeing a difference in her performance when rehearsals begin in just over a months time.

We wish Sweden & Loreen the best of luck in Liverpool this May!

You can follow Loreen on social media!

Twitter: @LOREEN_TALHAOUI

Instagram: @loreenofficial

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