Eurovision 2023: Sweden’s Loreen on her return: “I’m much more present now”
Loreen, the singer representing Sweden at this year’s Eurovision, has opened up to NME about the meaning behind her song ‘Tattoo’ and explained what it would mean to her to be the first-ever woman to win the competition twice – following her victory in 2012.
For Eurovision fans, the artist representing Sweden at the song contest this year needs no introduction. Set to take to the stage and represent her nation with her track ‘Tattoo’ at the final tonight (May 12), Loreen stands a strong chance of becoming the first-ever female artist to win the iconic competition twice.
Already named as the bookies’ favourite, the singer revealed to NME what it would mean for her to claim that second victory, and what tempted her to return to the competition, 11 years after she first won with the track ‘Euphoria’.
“It started with the song… It was just an embryo at the time, but I could sense that there was something with this song and me that was going to happen,” she said. “My initial reaction [to re-entering the competition] was ‘No’ because I’m purpose driven. I have to understand why I do things: ‘Why stand on that stage?’, ‘Do I have anything to say?’ But whenever I said, ‘Maybe I’ll do it’, there was this feeling of positivity in me. The process felt very easy and effortless.”
Within moments of talking to the singer, it becomes clear that this spirituality and sense of purpose lay at the heart of every decision she makes. While many artists would jump at the thought of winning the Eurovision Song Contest, not just once, but twice, for Loreen the achievement would symbolise something bigger: the reassurance that the message in her music resonated with so many people.
Explaining the meaning behind ‘Tattoo’, she told NME that the track is one of acceptance, and learning that we have to endure the hardships of reality to fully appreciate the world around us.
“It’s a love song and I let everybody interpret whatever they want,” she explained, “but what I’m trying to say is that there is no day without night, and there is no love without the opposite either. It’s all necessary.
“We tend to think that the grass is greener on the other side but if you want to experience this deep, authentic love, you have to be aware that the struggle needs to be there too. We can’t run off the moment we feel a little bit of pain.”
Luckily for Loreen, it seems that she has already achieved her goal of connecting with people through the track as, just one day before the finale, she remains the bookies’ favourite to win this year’s instalment.
As for how she is coping with the pressure, the singer was quick to proclaim that she simply transforms it into “focus” — a handy skill she considers a gift from her nomadic roots, having grown up in the Atlas Mountains. “There are certain things that come from that from my heritage, like how we look at creativity and what my purpose is. I see myself as a servant of creativity, and my job is to channel certain things to you guys,” she said. “That’s my passion, and that grounds me.”
The singer continued: “The focus I have is on trying to create something beautiful, so I don’t feel that much pressure because it’s not about me, it’s about us.
“When people ask me, ‘What about the competition?’… I’m very disciplined when it comes to this. I shut certain things out because I don’t want that energy of winning and losing. I don’t want it to interfere [because] the moment I start thinking about winning. It’s over.”
But surely, when the prospect of becoming the second-ever artist to win the coveted title twice is within reach – the first being Irish contestant Johnny Logan, who won in 1987 and 1991 – there is a part of her that is secretly wanting that victory, right?
“It would mean something to me,” Loreen admitted. “Because then I would feel like, ‘My God, I have connected so many people!’…That’s what my whole performance is about and that is the part that actually means something to me. If I connect with you, that is the win for me.”
The Eurovision 2023 final will take place tonight, almost 11 years to the day since Loreen first won with her song ‘Euphoria’. Looking back at that previous chapter of her career, the singer explained to NME how the experience has shaped her upcoming performance, and how she has evolved as a musician compared to when she first entered.
“In 2012, everything was so new to me, I didn’t know what to expect. You’re coming in and you’re meeting this community with all these ups and downs. So, it took a while for me to calibrate and understand what was happening,” she said. “Now, 11 years later, life has thrown me up and down, left and right. A lot of things have happened during these 11 years. So, coming back, there is this effortless energy.”
“It’s such a soft, motherly energy, God dammit!” she laughed. “I don’t know why, but it’s like coming back to my family or an old boyfriend! I’m much more present now than I was then, and I love it.”
Eurovision 2023 takes place in Liverpool tonight (May 13), with the UK hosting in honour of last year’s winners Ukraine. The semi-finals took place earlier this week, on Tuesday 9 and Thursday 11 May. Check out all of the competing songs here.
Last year’s UK contestant Sam Ryder and 2022 winners Kalush Orchestra have been confirmed as performing at the final – alongside past competition favourites Netta and Daði Freyr.
Meanwhile, Frankie Goes To Hollywood reunited for their first performance in 36 years in celebration of the event last week, before last night (May 12) saw Sophie Ellis-Bextor and Charlotte Church play in Liverpool’s Eurovision village, celebrating the penultimate night of this year’s edition, which has been dubbed ‘EuroEve’.