My top 5 songs from…Sweden

Eurovision may be some months off yet, but the Eurovision 2018 season began at the start of this month (any song publicly released from 1 September onwards is eligible for the next contest). I’ve still got many country top 5s to do before the national final season begins around Christmas, so kicking off my autumn season is that superpower of the last two decades of Eurovision – Sweden. Like my Germany top 5, Sweden’s long and illustrious Eurovision history would be hugely curtailed by doing just top 5 (not least with 6 victories) so I have bent my own rules and give you my top 10 from Sweden. All their winners are here, but which other Swedish songs have made it into my top? Read on and see if you agree!

10. Carola “Fångad av en stormvind” (1991, winner, 146 points)

Carola is one of Eurovision’s most successful artists – she finished in the top 5 on all three occasions she represented Sweden (and across three different decades). Her 1991 appearance saw her most successful result, winning for Sweden, the third of their 6 wins. It very almost didn’t win as it came equal on points with France but by the tie-breaker criteria of the time, it was declared winner. It makes my top 10, though is my least favourite of Sweden’s winners but it may not be the last time we see Carola on this list…

9. Claes-Göran Hederström “Det börjar verka kärlek, banne mig” (1968, 5th place, 15 points)

A slice of the 1960s with this catchy number – the same year Cliff Richard entered with “Congratulations”. This was Claes-Göran’s biggest ever hit and a hidden gem from one of Sweden’s regular purple patches in the contest (between 1965 and 1975, they finished in the top 10 all bar one year).

8. The Ark “The Worrying Kind”(2007, 18th place, 51 points)

An atypical Eurovision song and an atypical entry from Sweden in recent years, but for me, this makes it stands out from a lot of Sweden’s 21st century songs. I think this glam rock band deserved a higher placing but considering 2007 was still during the period of all public vote, I think it didn’t do too badly.

7. Sanna Nielsen “Undo” (2014, 3rd place, 218 points)

Persistence does indeed pay off sometimes – poor Sanna had entered Melodifestivalen six previous times before finally winning on her seventh attempt and earning the right to represent Sweden in Copenhagen that year. She didn’t waste the opportunity, taking Sweden to yet another high placing result. It’s a big uptempo ballad, well loved by the Eurofandom – just don’t look too carefully into the grammar/vocab accuracy…

6. Carola Häggkvist “Främling” (1983, 3rd place, 126 points)

Carola is back! Her first appearance at Eurovision earns her the highest placing of a non-winning song in my own top 10 and it’s my favourite of her three Eurovision songs.

5. Herreys “Diggi-Loo Diggi-Ley” (1984, winner, 145 points)

It was so hard to choose between my 4th and 5th place, and I’d happily call it a tie between them, but I plumped for putting the golden shoes boys in fifth. They got Sweden’s second win in the contest with a catchy song and a lot of happy energy. The years may have added to their waistlines and receded their hairlines but they still have that energy to this day – they were a big crowd hit at Eurovision’s Greatest Hits concert in 2016 in London.

4. Charlotte Nilsson “Take Me to Your Heaven” (1991, winner, 163 points)

In many ways, this song set a bit of a template for Swedish Eurovision entries for most of the next decade – up tempo, catchy pop and just a little Abba-esque – but this was the original one and still the best. And an iconic outfit to boot.

3. Måns Zelmerlöw “Heroes” (2015, winner, 365 points)

Sweden’s most recent winner also happens to be one of the hunkiest – and also made a very good (and funny!) co-host of the following year’s contest? Is there nothing that this hero can’t do? The song itself may not be the most groundbreaking but it’s a great pop song, sung and performed very well by Måns and its presentation at the contest was genuinely innovative, while being simple enough not to distract from the song.

2. Loreen “Euphoria” (2012, winner, 372 points)

Sweden’s biggest winner in terms of points and margin of victory, Loreen’s triumph was never in any doubt as she stormed to taking Sweden’s fifth win in 2012’s contest in Baku. A rare crossover song to the music “mainstream”, it sold over 2 million copies worldwide and was number 1 in the charts of many countries and remains a gay club and bar favourite.

1. Abba “Waterloo” (1974, winner, 24 points)

What else could top my list of favourite Swedish Eurovision songs but Abba? My favourite band since I was small child, before I knew of Eurovision, or knowing I was gay, I was dancing to Abba at the age of 4. They became the most successful act ever to have taken part in the contest, and it launched them to worldwide success, one of the most successful pop music acts of all time. “Waterloo” itself went on to sell over 6 million copies, number 1 in many countries, even top 10 in the US, and one of the best selling singles of all time.

Did you agree with my list? With 6 winners and 57 contest appearances to choose from, it wasn’t easy!

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