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?