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  • David Bentley

Eurovision – best song ever! (And it’s Swedish) Loreen - ‘Euphoria’

We’ve expended many words on Eurovision this last week or so and I reckoned I’d have my six penn’orth. First off, my winner this year was Barbara Pravi with ‘Voilà’, who achieved France’s highest-ever score. I know our Francophile Swedish friends at Le Lac Long 814 were over the moon with her performance, albeit sick as a parrot that she trailed behind the Italian glam rockers.

I began to wonder - what was the best Eurovision song, ever? Barbara’s was great but perhaps not quite in the league I have in mind here. My thoughts turned initially to France Gall, who won it in 1965 for Luxembourg with 32 points (the UK was second, rather than 32nd, oh happy days). Then I remembered that her performance on the night, between the Danish and Finnish entries, of a brilliant – and at the time groundbreaking – song totally unlike anything that had gone before it, ‘Poupée de cire, poupée de son’wasn’t as good as it could have been (she was evidently stricken by nerves as well as being out of tune).

Also that Serge Gainsbourg’s chanson essentially took the p*** out of her, implying that she was the ‘singing wax doll’ she was singing about; something she learned years later and never forgave Gainsbourg for, along with another song he wrote for her, ‘Sucettes’, which means lollipops but which also has a sexual double entendre.

I suppose that it is at least in part because I was always in love with France Gall that I selected that song but here it is anyway.

In the end it didn’t take me that long to decide that my ultimate favourite, the one apart from France Gall’s, whose melody always sticks in my mind, and which gives me goose bumps, is the 2012 winner, ‘Euphoria’, performed by Loreen. Pure anthemic pop at the highest level.

It’s a strange name, sounding like a loaf of bread. In actuality, she is Lorine Zineb Nora Talhaoui, the daughter of Moroccan Berber immigrants, born in Stockholm but raised in working class Västerås, about 60 miles north, one of the leading immigrant towns of Sweden and where quite a few bands and artists NMR has featured come from and/or live in. Sweden has a better record than most other European countries where immigrant family artists making it as professional musicians is concerned.

She made her mark initially by way of the Swedish Idol 2004 contest in which she appeared under another name, Lorén Talhaoui, but didn’t get too far in that and disappeared for a while. Then she turned up in two successive Melodifestivalen shows, which are elimination events for Sweden’s Eurovision entry selection. In 2011 she failed to qualify with a song she co-wrote, ‘My heart is refusing me’ but she popped up again in 2012 where she went straight to the final round with ‘Euphoria’, which was written by Thomas G:son and Peter Boström. She won that final round and went to the Baku Eurovision show to perform the song, which won with 342 points from 40 of the 42 voting countries. Apart from Sweden, which couldn’t vote for itself, the only country not to award it any points was Italy.

‘Euphoria’ reached #3 in the UK and stayed in the charts for 20 weeks, highly unusual for a Eurovision song.

She tried for Eurovision again in 2017 but failed to qualify at Melodifestivalen. She is still very much in the business, signing to Universal in 2020 and releasing her first self-penned Swedish language single, ‘Sötvattentårar’ (which translates as Freshwater Tears) in March of this year.

What I can’t understand though is why she isn’t one of the biggest names in the business. The video below isn’t of her Eurovision performance. To be honest, and as with France Gall, I don’t think that one was her best. It was quite athletic as she skipped around the stage in bare feet and someone must have told her she had to have at least one dancer so dutifully one turned up towards the end to pick her up and throw her around like a rag doll. Perhaps France Gall might have benefitted from the same treatment.

Even so, the performance was about as far removed from your typical UK Eurovision entry as GN-z11, the farthest detectable galaxy, is from the Milky Way.

This performance is way better. In fact it is one of the best vocal live performance videos I have ever seenand heard. It is billed as being from the X-Factor Romania, 2012, but I find that hard to believe. I wouldn’t be surprised if it was actually Melodifestivalen but I’ll take it at face value, along with her Davina McCall hairstyle.

It ranges from delicate ballad to anthem and back again and there is a section, from 2:35 to 3:00, where she’s almost playing with the audience, starting with the almighty reverse drop at 2:35. And the pitch change at 2:58 is simply out of this world.

It’s fabulous from beginning to end. ‘Nuff said. Just watch, listen and enjoy.

Incidentally, for those readers that like a good cover, there is a cracking one of each of these songs. The first is of Poupée de cire, poupée de son’ by Arcade Fire in Paris, 2007, with Régine Chassagne tackling the vocals and Sarah Neufeld adding a violin part at the speed of light.

The second is Floor Jansen’s very recent and more operatic/belting take on Euphoria’, which is actually what prompted me to write this piece.

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NMR Note. It’s not quite the very final word on Eurovision, but almost we promise...


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