Sweden is undeniably one of the most successful countries in Eurovision. Its pop music factory churns out hit after hit, so much so that artists all over Europe turn to Swedish songwriters and composers in search of their own Eurovision songs. In fact, nearly one in every four songs at Eurovision 2016 was either written or co-written by a Swede.
While it may seem like the number of countries turning to the Scandinavian country for a slice of Eurovision success has exploded over the past few years, Swedish songwriters have a long and fruitful history of exporting Eurovision songs. And by fruitful we mean they end up winning — or at least beating the entry from Sweden. Below is a list of ten examples in this millennium when Swedish songwriters, composers and even singers lent a hand abroad — and outdid their own country.
In 2001, Greece fielded Antique – a duo of two singers of Greek descent, both born and raised in Sweden. Nikos Panagiotidis and soon-to-be winner Elena Paparizou had already had two top 10 hits in Sweden prior to Eurovision, and their entry “Die For You” went on to achieve gold status in Sweden. Antique finished third in the competition, whilst Sweden’s ABBA-style schlager ballad from the group Friends lagged slightly behind in fifth place.
Ines was meant to sing the song “Runaway” at Eurolaul 2002, Estonia‘s national selection for Eurovision. But she withdrew from the contest just weeks before the final and her songwriters were unable to find another Estonian to sing it. So they turned to Sweden and Anna Sahlin from Söderhamn. She ended up winning the honour of representing Estonia on ‘home turf’ in Tallinn with her schlager ballad, produced by Swede Erik Bernholm. Sahlene managed a top-3 finish whilst Sweden’s disco number by Afro-Dite only managed eighth place.
A familiar face stole Sweden’s thunder once again, four years after her Eurovision début. Borås native Elena Paparizou went solo in 2005, bringing the spunky number “My Number One”. The ethnic sound and dancing struck a chord with Europe, securing Greece its first ever win at the contest. Sweden’s Martin Stenmarck, on the other hand, finished in a disappointing nineteenth place – their worst result since Christer Björkman represented the country all the way back in 1992.
Sweden took a risk in 2007, swapping its usual schlager/pop style for the glam rock band The Ark. Unfortunately this risk failed to pay off, leaving Sweden in a measly eighteenth place, whilst two other Swedish written songs finished above them on the scoreboard. Latvia’s popera from Bonaparti.lv and Greece’s dance-pop from Sarbel finished in 16th and 7th place respectively.
Despite finishing twelfth in its semi-final, Sweden was selected as the wildcard for the grand final, where Charlotte Perrelli finished in just 18th place. Eurofans everywhere went into mourning. Sweden, however, was also competing in the contest via Latvia’s Wolves of the Sea. An exclusively Swedish team wrote the nautical dance number, which managed a surprise twelfth place, including a douze points from Ireland. Ahoy and congrats!
Sweden’s Malena Ernman left Moscow speechless with her bizarre opera-schlager entry “La Voix”. Unfortunately, Ms Ernman also left Sweden rather point-less, finishing in 21st place. Azerbaijan, on the other hand, selected Aysel and Swedish-Iranian singer Arash to represent their country with the fully Swedish produced “Always.” Their spunky dance-pop shimmied them up to third place – a finish even higher than their début just one year before.
In 2010, all six entries written by Swedes qualified for the grand final… with one little exception – Sweden. Anna Bergendahl’s gentle ballad finished in eleventh place in her semi-final, meaning they missed out on the final for the first time ever. Meanwhile, Swedish produced songs from Ireland and Norway managed 23rd and 20th place respectively, whilst Georgia, Azerbaijan and Denmark all soared into the top ten. The Danish entry was even a Melodifestivalen reject! Oops!
In 2011 Eric Saade managed to smash his way to third place, bringing Sweden its best result since they won the whole thing back in 1999. However, for the third year in a row, Sweden was shown up by their transcaucasian business partners, Azerbaijan. Sweden’s Stefan Örn and his usual team wrote Ell & Nikki’s soft ballad, which snuck them their first ever win, just four years into participation.
At Eurovision 2013 in Malmö, Swedish producers scored four top-ten entries for their work, which included tunes from the Netherlands, Russia and Norway. Gothenburg-based John Ballard was just one place off winning with the other Top 10 finisher — a ballad from Azerbaijan. Sweden’s Robin Stjernberg, on the other hand, muscled up a meagre 62 points, leaving Sweden sagging on the bottom half of the leader-board.
Sweden’s odds for 2016 are looking favourable. Bookies currently have Frans sitting in fourth position behind big favourites France, Russia and Australia. However, after Sweden’s non-qualification in 2010, their pattern has gone as follows: 3rd, 1st, 14th, 3rd, 1st – and then we’re at 2016. Now I’m no mathematician, but the superstitious among you can see that these statistics point to a crash this year. Could one of the eleven other songs written by Swedes steal Frans’ thunder?
And now this year Russia and Bulgaria beat Sweden. Go figure…
I have to disagree on part of Greece, as the actors there are of Greek origin (though are Swedes), but Azerbaijan is a real “business partner”. And they will be singing a Swedish song for the 8th time in a row. Well, that’s a shame. It seems they are really Bolshevik and Turkish special project as a country. And I read a lot about the country with regard to the last events over the Nagorno-Karabakh region, and they are indeed not local dwellers of that region. Moreover, they try to steal songs of neighbours, such as Armenia, Iran and Georgia.… Read more »
Melissa J, its’ actually more common that host countries score well than not. Last year was an exception. Since semi were introduced in 2004 only 5 host countries have scored poorly, the rest did good.
The reason host countries usually score isn’t clear but it might be everything from having a massive support from the home crowd to voters being generous for it being the hosts.
Sweden will, like many before it, suffer from what I like to call the “host country effect”–the host country, no matter how good their song is, will never score in the top 10, or rarely score on the left half of the score board when it comes to the big night. Similar to the “Big 5 effect”, the Host Country Effect is partially not performing in a semi-final (one chance to leave an impression) but also partially “this country won last year, let’s have something different.” Personally, I don’t care for Frans’s song, not when you have emotional ballads like… Read more »
I remember spotting at the time that the chorus of Antique’s “Die for you” and Steps’ “Deeper shade of blue” are remarkably similar. 🙂
Thanks for this list. I love all of these songs. x
Pirates of the Sea, i liked that song, really funny and very nice staging as well 🙂
Though i find negative similarities between forcing all songs to be written by someone of the nationality of the competing country with forcing all songs to be sung in an official language of that country, i SO hate it when literally 589751468% of the songs each year or in each national selection are swedish writers, it’s so predictable and annoying! just pick writers from your own country to make the contest more authentic, because at this point Sweden wins every year
As a swede, i hope this is the last year Sweden participate in esc. Tired on all this, Nag, Nag ,Nag ,Nag.
Sweden are good at making repetitive pop crap.
I am still shocked that Charlotte Perrelli failed to make top 10 back in 2008. The only logical explanation I can think of is that her atrocious facelift hurt her score. She looked outright scary!!
This year, I think the Swedish entry is a bit overrated. I’m betting it will land just outside the top 10, between 11 and 15.
Runaway! All the way. Oh My God I love that song.
2010 was really “oops”.
In my opinion, almost all the other songs in Melodifestivalen were better than “If I Were Sorry”. I would love to see Oscar Zia winning, I think that his song was the best! I also really liked “Youniverse”, “Kizunguzungu” (that was a guilty pleasure for me) and “Don’t Worry”.
Let’s not forget Emmelie De Forest, she’s 50% swedish.
What would the contest be like if countries (especially Azerbaijan) couldn’t outsource their songs every year, to the point that it basically is an all-swedish production with the name Azerbaijan slapped on it. Kind of sad if you think about it. has Azerbaijan no qualified songwriters or producers? Sweden is so good their rejects from the national selection get sent abroad. Sweden should get some kind of extra points/royalties every time Azerbaijan gets a douze points from a song written by swedes. at least the antique/helena paprizou songs were written by people with greek heritage even if they were from… Read more »
11 out of 42 competing entries this year are (partly) Swedish? Wow.
In a few years all songs will sound the same. That’s my problem with Swedes exporting their songs, it’s not jealousy or whatever you claim, but I’d like to see some diversity at Eurovision and maybe some traditional music and instruments, which is one of the reasons why I like e.g. Bosnia this year.
I quickly went over the songs I liked and there’s only one that I like more than Frans’s and has a Swedish connection: Czech Republic!
Hate it all your like, Sweden and Frans are more likely to do well than not. More likely to be top 10 than bottom 10. Every indication of it, and that’s what bugs you
georgekirkas, I like Frans, but there were better songs in #melfest IMO. I voted especially for Boris and Ace, as they both made me happy, but I would have been happy with anyone winning except Molly Sandén.
So, in a sense, Sweden has won or at least did better more times than we thought huh?
I think Frans will do better than Robin Stjernberg in 2013, but I doubt it will do as good as the odds predict today.
What score would you give it? I would give it a 7,5/10 but it’s very close to an 8/10! Also, have you seen that Bulgaria is higher in the odds now? I love Poli and her song!
yeah, and we like it and i guess many more people like it, reading through comments on YouTube especially in Hungary, Armenia and Azerbaijan, also a few russians and spanish people like it as well 🙂
and a fact she now has 2.9 million views on YouTube and nearly 16.000 likes 🙂
I totally understand you! Malta’s song may sound generic but it’s actually very original and unique!
I agree with you!
@georgekirkas i’m sorry for calling your comment harsh, well i’m just reading other forums, and i really don’t know why some people think Ira’s song reminds them of Beyonce’s running, first of all Beyonce is just an overscreaming diva, and Ira is a beautiful singer without overscreaming herself or using those overrated high notes 🙂 i dislike high notes, for example Michal of Poland, has also got a beautiful voice but his high notes for me are not very good, his lower parts of the song are much more beautiful and vulnerable 🙂 do you understand what i’m trying to… Read more »
Sweden will not do well this year…thats because only odds like and promote this….
Come on Sweden have better song than Malta?Croatia?Armenia?Spain???
Bulgaria is now 5th in the odds! Yesss, go Poli!
Sorry for being so harsh, but when I see that the bookies have Sweden in 4th place, I can’t help but laugh! For some days, they also had them 1st!
that’s harsh but true it’s also my opinion, Frans is very overrated, wannabe justin bieber lol
only ones who are right at the bookmakers are Australia and Malta and probably France ( but i don’t like the song)
Dami and Ira i hope you beautiful girls slay in may 🙂 🙂
I hope that Sweden will crush and burn this year! They are really overrated by the bookies and if they didn’t do that well in 2013 with such an amazing song, then they have to do much worse this year! It’s their worst entry since a long time ago!
@Edd: I’m afraid the answer is yes. There are some pretty damn good songs with damn good videos that have the potential of presenting some damn good stage presentations (some without even having to try to go over the top) that will overshadow Frans’ stage presentation, should he bring his MF presentation to this stage.
@fikri Nope, all they have is money.. The rest is just making choices from a bunch of good Swedish production. Whatever they chose is going to be ‘good taste’.
The Greek and Estonian entries may not be written by Swedes but they were performed by Swedes, therefore they are included. That still counts.
Helena Paparizou was well known here in Sweden way before she shook her shimmy in Greece. Born and raised in Gothenburg.
And now, Before all the jealousy kicks in: Don’t hate on Sweden for figuring out the game long before and much better than everybody else. Focus that on your country instead.
As for this year Swedish entries: The best one of those is the “genuine” Swedish one! The host entry!
The jealousy is staggering. You shouldn’t hate a country just because they figured out the game way better than the others.
As a Swede, it is almost painful to see how many songs each year that people from my country have been a part of. Sure, if they are good and present good songs for other country’s then let them, but one of the most thrilling parts of Eurovision is to see the country’s compete against each other with their own creations. It therefore gets kind of weird when Swedish-produced songs compete against each other. But oh well, I enjoy every minute anyway 🙂
Omg, now re-watching Pirates Of the Sea were so bad, I can’t believe I really loved that song in 2008 xD
Better Late than never: Lasse Hallström (Music Video Director of Sweden 1974) To Helm Disney’s ‘The Nutcracker And The Four Realms’.
and 2013: birds from Anouk (the Netherlands) is also written by 2 swedish writers;)
Pirate or Seamen ‘s swords? 🙂
well that’s your opinion
2002 Estonian entry is written completely by Estonians 😉 at least as i know..
Only the studio recording of “Runaway” was produced by Erik Bernholm. Though yeah.. overall it still was rather big ‘help’ from Sweden 🙂
It is still impressive how many Swedes do export their songs to other countries. In fact, very often it is even a very small group of familiar song writers. I am just happy that some countries like Estonia or Latvia managed to create an own local song writing industry.
2016* and no 2015
The one who put in that article Greece 2001 and 2005 must be very ignorant. The composer of 2001 entry was Nikos Terzis and the lyricist was Andonis Pappas. The composer of 2005 entry was Manos Psaltakis and the lyricists were Christos Dantis and Natalia Germanou.
I’m tired of all the Swedish sounding songs.
azerbaijan has really good taste.
Pattern in Eurovision?? Don’t make me laugh.
Estonia’s 2002 entry wasn’t written by a Swedish songwriter though. The music and lyrics were by Estonians, just the producer and singer were Swedes.
Who should have been for Sweden in ESC: -2002: Firefighters, really like it and It would suit so well that year, it’s different and catchy -2005: hall om mig (won televote and was num 1 in Sweden) -2007: Cara mia, huge hit in Sweden for Mans but The Ark had the name sadly. -2008: Empty room, (won televote, and Hero was too weak). So much better than the overrated and generic “Undo” -2009: Snalla, snalla (I love it, one my favs ever, sooo good, and it was a fuc*ing tight voting.. it was so much better than “La voix”.. so… Read more »
well this is just a fact that swedish songwriters are really good at writing songs 🙂
and could they do it again this year, maybe 🙂
I am disppointed to learn so many of these entries where written by swedes, even Helena’s 🙁
Sweden is not really to blame, they write good songs for those who ask for. But these countries should give a chance to their own songwriters!