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A history of Sweden at the Eurovision Song Contest

07 July 2023 at 14:02 CEST
Now that we have a host city and date to look forward to in 2024, let’s take a look back at the participation history of the country that will be hosting the Eurovision Song Contest next May - Sweden!

On Friday 7 July, Swedish broadcaster SVT announced that the city of Malmö will be hosting the 2024 Eurovision Song Contest, with the two Semi-Finals taking place on May 7 and 9, and the Grand Final happening on May 11.

This Is My Life

The 2024 Contest will be the third occasion on which Malmö has hosted a Eurovision Song Contest, following on from the shows of 1992 and 2013. The city of Gothenburg has also had a go at hosting the main event, in 1985. And of course the nation’s capital, Stockholm, has been given the task of putting on a great Contest for the rest of Europe, having done so three times; in 1975, 2000 and 2016. 

These 7 hostings coincide with the fact that Sweden has, of course, won the Eurovision Song Contest an impressive 7 times. The tally of victories that Sverige can boast today puts it in tied first position alongside Ireland, as the country that has won the most times. 

But it wasn’t always the case that Sweden was renowned and lauded as the musical powerhouse it is today!

It Hurts

Sweden’s first participation was in 1958, with the Swedes having to wait 16 years for that highly sought-after first win. In that time of waiting for the win, Sweden finished in the Top 5 on three occasions (thanks to Alice Babs in 1958, Lill Lindfors & Svante Thuresson in 1966 and Claes-Göran Hederström in 1968), but outside of the Top 10 on an equal number of outings - ending up in last place in 1963. 

Sweden’s first win is one of the most iconic Eurovision victories of all time. At Brighton in 1974, the song Waterloo by ABBA was voted as the winner, with the formidable foursome going on to have one of the most successful pop careers ever, with the band being Grammy-nominated for new music as recently as 2022!

Invincible

A decade on from that historic first win, in the early 1980s Sweden experienced its first three consecutive podium finishes, with a second win in 1984 (Diggi-Loo Diggi-Ley by Herreys) book-ended by two bronze-medal placings in 1983 and 1985, thanks to Carola and Kikki Danielsson respectively.

Carola returned to the Contest again in 1991, winning in Rome with the song Fångad Av En Stormvind. The schlager legend would compete for her country once more in 2006, finishing in 5th place with Invincible

Sweden didn’t have to wait too long for a 4th win. When Jersusalem hosted the Contest in 1999, Eurovision rules were changed to allow countries to perform a song in a language of their choice, rather than the official language back at home. 

Charlotte Nilsson brought Sverige the victory once again with her song Take Me To Your Heaven, which was Sweden’s first English-language entry since 1975.

Popular

The year 2000, which saw the country’s capital host the Eurovision Song Contest at Globen Arena, had Sweden settle into its reputation as one of the most successful participants at the Contest in modern times.

In the 23 Contests that have taken place so far in the 21st century, Sweden has finished inside the Top 5 on 13 occasions, more times than any other participating country.

Finishing in the Top 5 at over half of all the Eurovision Song Contests since the year 2000 has also brought with it the most recent three wins in Sweden’s record-equalling victory tally.

Heroes

Loreen took the win for Sweden at Baku in 2012 with her hit Euphoria; Måns Zelmerlöw triumphed at the Vienna-hosted Contest three years later in 2015 with his anthem Heroes; and Loreen is now also the most recent trophy-raiser at the Eurovision Song Contest, with her song Tattoo having won in Liverpool in May 2023. 

Loreen's victory for Sweden makes her only the second artist in history to have won the Eurovision Song Contest twice, and the first female artist to do so.

Voices

In the early years of the country's participation, some of the biggest names in Swedish pop music were sent to the Contest to compete. Ted Gärdestad, Lill-Babs, Tommy Körberg, Björn Skifs and Monica Zetterlund have all flown the Swedish flag at the Eurovision Song Contest, and are today still regarded as all-time music great at home.

In recent years, Swedish Grammy winners such as The Ark and Benjamin Ingrosso have stepped up to represent their country at Eurovision. While in 2009, eminent environmental activist Greta Thunberg got to watch her mother Malena Ernman compete in Moscow with a memorable performance of La Voix

At the time of writing, four Swedish entries appear in the Top 10 most streamed Eurovision songs of all time on Spotify: Waterloo by ABBA; Euphoria by Loreen; Tattoo by Loreen and Heroes by Måns Zelmerlöw.

We Write The Story

Since 1959, Sweden has used a national final to select its entry to the Eurovision Song Contest. Today, the entertainment juggernaut known as Melodifestivalen, sees 28 songs (which will be increased to 30 in 2024) compete over 6 weeks to be chosen as Sweden’s Eurovision song. 

The grand final of Melodifestivalen, despite playing out with Eurovision as its end goal, regularly beats the Eurovision Song Contest in the year-end TV ratings chart in Sweden!

For a full breakdown and browse of the participation history of Sweden at the Eurovision Song Contest, you can check out its Country Page.