Sweden stands as the modern day superpower of Eurovision: they have had the most success in recent times, with two wins in the past decade (2012 and 2015) taking them to six wins, one shy of record holders Ireland. They consistently finish high in the grand final results – last year’s 14th place was relatively low for them and their national selection show, Melodifestivalen, is the biggest and most watched of the national finals. Yet the fandom have often begrudged Swedish entries of late until the win of Cornelia Jakobs this year and the biggest support from eurofans for a Swedish entry since “Euphoria” in 2012.
Like many eventual winners of Melfest, Cornelia wasn’t new to the contest, having competed in 2011 and 2012 as part of a girl group. She’d also been a songwriter on a 2021 Melfest entry. Yet it’s a solo singer with a song she cowrote, “Hold Me Closer” that she’s won the opportunity to go to Eurovision. Much to the international fandom’s relief, she came top with the international juries and second in the public vote, enough for her to win overall. Cue much outpouring from fans that we were seeing “the winner of Eurovision 2022”.
Bold claims certainly but before I move on to Cornelia’s chances – what about the song? As with all Swedish entries, it’s accomplished, professional, well produced – but somewhat more unusually, there is more depth and emotion here than we would usually get from Sweden (their songs can come across as too polished and devoid of deep/raw emotion) and Cornelia’s vocal delivery conveys a vulnerable and raw emotional experience. It’s also, of course, got a pretty rousing and anthemic chorus – always a bonus for a Eurovision song.
So are we looking at the winner of Eurovision 2022 and the moment when Sweden will draw level with Ireland? Well, it’s definitely a possibility but it’s not the done deal that I think some eurofans seemed to think it would be. It’s clearly immensely popular with the fandom, but it’s not been tested with votes of the international Saturday viewing public yet (and there is no doubt it will be in the final).
I think Cornelia does have a good chance if the public votes stack up in big enough numbers as I think this will do well with the juries (even if it’s not the jury winner). Sometimes the winner comes from the entry that can do well enough with both juries and public vote without necessarily coming top in either (this has been the case for a few winners). I happen to think Sweden is possibly in one of the best positions to pick up votes from both – and even if that weren’t enough to win, it certainly is likely to be Top 5. And a final point, the big anthemic chorus does have that winning song reprise feel about it – but there is stiff competition!
Sweden in the Eurovision Song Contest
First entered: 1958
Appearances (excluding this year): 60
Best result: Winner 1974, 1984, 1991, 1999, 2012, 2015
Last year’s result: 14th