Loreen: Meet Sweden’s returning Eurovision champion hoping to score a second victory

Sweden’s entrant has already taken home the Eurovision trophy once. Could a second win be on the cards?

Isobel Lewis
Saturday 13 May 2023 17:41 BST
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Eurovision 2023: Semi-final in Liverpool ahead of Saturday's showdown

Eurovision favourite Loreen is hopeful that she’ll be able to take home the trophy for a second time, as the grand final gets underway in Liverpool.

The Swedish singer was behind “Euphoria”, one of the biggest Eurovision songs of the 21st century.

Loreen triumphed with the track in 2012. The song went on to top the charts across Europe and reaching No 3 in the UK, the highest chart position for a non-UK Eurovision entry since 1987.

This year, Loreen will represent Sweden once again with the equally catchy and predictably euphoric ballad “Tattoo”.

With its powerhouse vocals and soaring melody, the track has a good chance of achieving the same success as its predecessor.

Going into the competition, Loreen is the clear favourite among the bookies to win the competition. You can find the current winner odds here.

The Stockholm-born singer – real name Lorine Zineb Nora Talhaoui – rose to fame after she finished fourth in Sweden’s Idol singing competition in 2004. She released her first single “The Snake” the following year.

Ahead of Loreen’s performance in Liverpool this week, we spoke to the musician about returning to the competition, finding nature and writing love songs.

Hi Loreen! It’s so exciting to see you back at Eurovision – how have rehearsals been going?

It’s going well but it’s definitely intense, haha. It’s a very physical performance. You must be in tune with both mind, body and soul to do this the right way. It takes discipline, it takes a lot of hard work. You have to be strong both physically and mentally and you have to have a huge focus... Everything needs to be pure, and for that I need to be focused. You can’t split your energies all over. So, my days are filled with a lot of training, a lot of eating, a lot of communication and a lot of sleeping. There’s no wiggle room for anything else, but I love it.

You won the competition back in 2012. Did you expect that experience to be so transformative?

It changed my whole life, and it also really taught me a lot about intuition. Before “Euphoria” I was struggling, compromising back and forth, doing things I wasn’t supposed to... With Euphoria, it was the first time I decided to do what I wanted to do. And yes, I was afraid and I was worried that it might not even work, but I needed to go with my gut feeling, my intuition. And my intuition told me that the performance needed to look like it did. I don’t know why, but my intuition told me that that song needed to have that siren in the beginning. My intuition also told me that I needed to be barefoot, that it should snow and that you’re not supposed to see anything on stage. People said, ‘It’s never going to work.’ But it did.

Loreen won Eurovision for Sweden in 2012

“Euphoria” pushed the boundaries of what Eurovision music could do in terms of international success after the competition. In recent years, we’ve seen Maäneskin also go on to fame across the world. Why is the rest of the world catching up to Eurovision now?

I think it’s because this community stands for certain things, it has certain values that the majority of people resonate with. This is a space where you’re accepted, where your differences are appreciated, which is very unique. All of us that belong to this community and those who support the community, we all gather around creativity as well. This is one thing, diversity is another. I think this is the reason why it is such a huge thing. Everybody is included!

What made you want to return to the competition for 2023?

I never imagined that Eurovision was going to be my path again. But when the song was sent to me, just the embryo, the demo, I instantly intuitively felt like I’m going to do something with this song. The whole reason why I’m doing this again is because I truly, deeply believe that I have something that I can give. So, for me it’s not about success, it’s about communication. We are all creators, and we have a purpose. We all have creativity within us, and we’re supposed to send that out. And now I’m here at Eurovision feeling happier than ever, which is crazy because I never thought that I would be here again.

Where did your inspiration for this song come from?

I’m in love with “Tattoo”. I just feel it has a beautiful purpose. With this song, there is a certain energy movement created that people are resonating with. It’s beautiful and I get to be a part of it. The process of making “Tattoo” was pretty simple. It’s funny, ‘cause when you’re at the right place, it is simple. I’ve worked with the songwriters many times... so they know that if they want something really good to happen, they just sit back and relax and let whatever happens, happens. So, I went into the studio and the relationship between me and the song became even stronger. It just flowed. One or two hours later, it was done. And it’s pretty magical. You know, when you don’t let the mind interrupt, you just sing and suddenly you see pictures and everything. It’s pretty amazing.

“Tattoo” is a song about eternal, overpowering love. What love songs have you turned to in emotional times?

There are many of them but the first thing that pops into my head is “All is Full of Love” by Björk. It’s a beautiful song saying that everything is love, which is the truth! So, whenever I really want to deeply connect with that loving feeling for everything, I turn to that song. It’s a very intelligent song.

This year’s final is taking place in Liverpool, what local culture are you excited to explore?

I’m a nature person, so I’m always curious to see what the countryside looks like. The question is whether I have time for it but that’s at least what I’m longing for, to see the countryside of Liverpool.

Loreen performs ‘Tattoo’ during the semi-final

You’re entering the competition as the bookies’ favourite to win. How tuned in are you to Eurovision gossip? How do you manage that pressure?

I see this space as a safe haven for creators, to fully create and express their true selves. The competition is a play – a beautiful play because it includes people – so I wouldn’t want to take that out, to be honest. It’s an important part because we’re rooting for the ones that we love. My pressure, or as I call it, my discipline is to be a servant of creativity and to create something that hopefully is authentic for you guys. And I love that.

How can Eurovision 2023 personally top the “euphoria” you felt at the 2012 final?

The difference between then and now is now I’m more present. It’s like I’m more one with the people than I’ve ever been, you know? It’s like I feel everything in the room and it’s a beautiful feeling. I’m also very much aware of the love I feel in my body and sending it out! Whereas when I did it in 2012, everything was new but I had a lot of love but I didn’t know how to navigate it. Now I know exactly what I’m doing when I’m sending it out and also receiving, taking it in.

Liverpool is hosting on behalf of Ukraine this year, who are unable to host due to the war with Russia. As a result, Eurovision 2023 carries a particular importance. Is this something you and your fellow competitors have discussed or you feel backstage?

I haven’t discussed the support of Ukraine with my fellow colleagues but I’ve thought about it myself. It’s a beautiful thing that we’re doing, it says something about all of us. We find our ways to support Ukraine and we do it through this community and through creativity. It’s done beautifully, if you ask me, by doing the thing they do best – being warm, inclusive & welcoming. Which I think so far, they’ve succeeded brilliantly with.

Whose performances are you most looking forward to seeing? Who have been your favourite Eurovision entries over the years?

All of them! I’m rooting for everyone and hope that they also can enjoy this experience while it lasts. But I really like Blanca Paloma from Spain, Alessandra from Norway and Käärijä from Finland. One of my favourite songs from Eurovision is “Arcade” by Duncan Laurence

If you win in Liverpool, will you celebrate with a Eurovision tattoo?

Trust me, a win won’t stop me from getting tattoos – I already have my body covered so why stop now?

Follow live updates from the Eurovision final here.

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