An ode to Loreen

loreen-ode

Image: ANP

Let me take you back to the year 2012. The Eurovision Song Contest, Europe’s biggest televised music competition, was on to its 57th edition, although it had been years and years since the winner managed to have proper international success with their song outside of the contest. The contest was often not taken too seriously and seemed out of touch with what was popular on the radio and in the charts. Then there was Loreen. The Swedish singer and songwriter brought pop dance anthem ‘Euphoria’ to the stage with a mysterious act, winning by a landslide. In the weeks after the contest, she reached number 1 in most European countries, being played on each and every poppy club night (and not just the gay clubs, believe me), meaning a great deal for Eurovision’s reputation. Now, exactly five years later, Loreen participated once more in the Swedish preselection Melodifestivalen and failed to qualify for the final. Where did it all go wrong!?

Loreen’s future looked bright after her victory. I’m not trying to act as if she saved the whole contest on her own, but for example in the Netherlands, from 2013 on, established artists started to take interest in representing their country, causing the broadcaster to take Eurovision more seriously. Coincedence maybe, but it seems it took a Loreen to show Europe that with a contemporary song and a flawless performance, one could still become a chart success through Eurovision. It is a shame though, that this success turned out to be so short-lived.

It is even more of a shame when you take into account that Loreen’s releases after ‘Euphoria’ have been pretty impressive. I admit, ideally her debut record Heal would have been released just after Eurovision instead of half a year later, but the album itself was stellar. Again, the wait for follow up singles ‘Paper Light (Higher)‘ and ‘I’m In It With You’ should not have been over two years, but the tracks deserved to be hits with massive choruses and stunning, contemporary productions. The lack of success for those releases brought Loreen and her team back to Melodifestivalen with ‘Statements’, an anthemic, dark pop track with a strong message about the world we live in with a bold, eye catching performance. Unfortunately she did not make her way directly into the final and in the second chance round, ultimately lost out to an 18-year-old teen idol with a very simple guitar pop song.

It is painful to watch her being tossed aside like that, while just five years ago, she brought the victory home. Somehow her more recent material doesn’t click with Swedish and international audiences, which is sad, but at the same time, I would not want Loreen any other way. Her songwriting is off the chain, the electronic direction she went in fits her like a glove and her vocal control is out of this world. It is hard to understand why she is not a much bigger star with the material she has been delivering and especially the stunning televised performances she excels at. Loreen’s music and performances might not be for the masses anymore, but hopefully her label realizes this is not the end of her career. Artists like BANKS and Marina and the Diamonds (and numerous other even bigger names) never really have big hit singles with their quirky and unique pop sounds, but they have a steady fan base to sell albums and concert tickets to.

What I am trying to say is, Loreen still has all the potential to be an international star. She seems to have a clear vision of herself as an artist, both sonically and visually and I have faith there is a market for that. It just might not be average Melodifestivalen watcher. At least give us a second album (or an EP even, I’m desperate for new Loreen at this stage) to let us judge for ourselves. Clearly, the only way is up (up up up uhup) from here!

 

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