The Legend of Loreen

If the name Loreen sounds familiar to a Eurovision fan, then it’s because of her 2012 winning song, Euphoria. Thanks to its high production value and beautiful staging, it not only dominated the competition in its year, but also became a bona-fide hit across the world.

A number one hit in over a dozen countries, #1 on the ESC Top 250 for ten years, and a karaoke staple across Europe, Euphoria made its mark through providing a contemporary sound to a contest which had a reputation for gimmickry and cheesiness. The 2013 contest showcased this trend with more slickly produced pop songs, all under SVT’s wing.

This year, Loreen won Melodifestvalen again, this time with the song “Tattoo”. Like with Euphoria, it’s a clean pop song, albeit with Middle Eastern influences in the bridge and lyrics about a relationship on the rocks. And like with her last Melodifestivalen winning song, Tattoo has massed commercial success–it has over 45 million hits on Spotify and charted in multiple countries.

Therefore, it seems like the story would end with a second victory, as she currently tops the betting odds to do so. But as with every story, one needs to go back to the beginning.

Melodifestivalen 2011: The Opening

While Loreen (born Lorine Zineb Nora Talhaoui to Moroccan parents) first made her mark in Idols 2004, where she lasted eight weeks, her first major musical hit was her Melodifestivalen debut in 2011, with “My Heart is Refusing Me”. A dance number which would characterize Loreen’s pop based style and trance-like music, it made it to the Andra Chansen round after placing fourth in its semi-final, but ended up losing.

However, it did make its mark in the pop space–the single made its way through the Swedish charts, peaking at #9 at its debut. This would be her musical breakthrough, as after Idols, she worked as a host and a television producer.

Melodifestivalen 2012: Simply Euphoric

Euphoria, Loreen’s second attempt at the famous song festival, wasn’t originally written for her in mind. It was initially offered to Danny Saucedo, who declined and sung Amazing instead. He would end up placing second, behind Loreen herself.

Not only did she do so through automatically qualifying from her heat, but she won with a 70 point gap between her and Danny. In addition, she garnered 670,000 votes from the viewers at home–a record at the time.

Even before the contest in Baku, Euphoria was seen as a contender. It became a number one hit on the Swedish charts and was quickly certified platinum; with Norway and Finland quickly following suit. It topped the OGAE polls, and looked clear to take the crown.

The success of the song laid in Loreen herself. She not only was a consummate performer, but also guided the production to convey her vision for the song, which was “like an inner energy or it’s more like a passion.”. With her free-flowing movements and how she interacted with her dancer, dressed in silk, she told a story through the song and staging, which rewarded them the win.

Points from every country except for Italy. 18 12-pointers–a record at the time. 372 points–one of the highest ever. This didn’t begin to defy the success it brought to Euphoria, and Loreen herself. Sometime after the contest, she released her debut album, Heal, which became a number one hit in Sweden.

Melodifestivalen 2017: Making a Statement

One important thing to know about Loreen is her work towards human rights. Even during the Eurovision Song Contest in 2012, she met up with human rights activists in Azerbaijan and talked to them. In addition, she performs for a number of charitable causes, most recently at a gala protesting Russia’s invasion of Ukraine last year.

This translated into the theme of her third Melodifestivalen entry, Statements. Criticizing those who only speak but don’t take action on important issues, Loreen used performance art to tell the story of protest and survival.

Despite the overwhelming hype for Statements, it landed Loreen in the Andra Chansen round again, where she lost to Anton Hagman.

The darker tone of Statements foreshadowed Loreen’s style shift for her second album–Ride. Instead of slick, solid pop, there were darker elements to her discography, such as with 71 Charger. However, we got to see more experimentation from her in future singles, such as with the Swedish-language Sötvattentårar.

Melodifestivalen 2023: The Return of the Queen

Despite the hit potential of Tattoo, Loreen needed some encouraging to come back to Melodifestivalen for a fourth time. While listening to the song,  “Certain things happened along the way; it was just so positive, the energy was flowing in the right direction. All of a sudden, I knew exactly what I needed to do and how the scenery was going to look. It came to me really fast.” However, it did take four weeks for her to make the final plunge to Melodifestivalen.

And that’s how Loreen ended up on Swedish screens again, under the famous “panini press” while singing Tattoo. It might not have had the same convincing victory Euphoria had (it won with 39 points separating it and Air, the runner-up), but it debuted at number one on the Swedish charts after her performance during the fourth heat.

Like with Euphoria, Tattoo has won the OGAE vote, and has become an international hit. Will she make history repeat itself?

Loreen will perform eleventh in the first-semi-final on 9 May.

Published by Elda Mengisto

Frequent writer, aspiring scholar, occasional fencer. I'm a lover of all things beautiful and light.

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