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  • Writer's pictureKyriakos Tsinivits

The story and legacy of ‘Euphoria’

Image: David Mdzinarishvili / REUTERS

‘Euphoria’ was a turning point for the Eurovision Song Contest.

The 2012 winning song showcased that Eurovision is platform for contemporary polished radio-friendly songs that take risks.

The song now holds a legacy possibly bigger than any other Eurovision song in recent history.

'Euphoria' is an uplifting song which you share with newcomers to Eurovision when you show them what the Contest is all about. It is a huge fan favourite and has been covered by many artists.

This timeless song is truly a piece of art and an example of Swedish pop perfection.

The birth of ‘Euphoria’

The song was written by Thomas G:son and Peter Broström and produced by Peter together with SeventyEight (who are currently known as Jack & Coke).

Thomas G:son is a powerhouse songwriter. He started off as a professional songwriter in 1998 and is a member of the Swedish hard rock band Masquerade. As of writing this article Thomas has composed 99 songs for Eurovision national finals, with 61 of those for Sweden’s Melodifestivalen. He has had 13 of his songs reach the Eurovision stage with three songs each from Sweden, Spain and Georgia.

Peter Boström, also known as Bassflow, has written many songs for Eurovision national selection shows, especially for Melfest. He has so far co-written five songs that have made it to Eurovision including two for Sweden and one each for Norway, Spain and France.

From left to right: Thomas G:son, Loreen and Peter Broström

Production on ‘Euphoria’ started on the 18th May 2011 when Thomas and Peter worked in a studio together. The first rough demo of the song was sung by Thomas where the title ‘Euphoria’ was established but the verses weren’t yet worked out which were just sung in gibberish.

The completed demo of ‘Euphoria’ was submitted and selected as an entry for Melodifestivalen 2012. Melodifestivalen (Melfest) is an annual song competition organised by Swedish public broadcasters Sveriges Television (SVT) and Sveriges Radio (SR) and it has a long history. The first competition was held in 1959 and is used as a selection show for Sweden’s Eurovision representative. Even though ‘Euphoria’ was selected for Melfest it had not yet been assigned an artist.

Former Swedish Eurovision 1992 representative Christer Björkman would go on to suggest Loreen to sing the song. Once she was matched with ‘Euphoria’ the songwriters were convinced the song was meant for her.

There was a huge shift in the running of Melfest in 2012. Christer was promoted from event producer to the executive producer of the competition, and he wanted to make a big impact in his new big role.

When it came to Loreen’s input on the production of the song, she explains that Thomas and Peter were very open to new ideas and being creative with an interesting direction Loreen had for the song:

“I remember when I came into the studio I was like I want you guys to think Terminator. They are like Terminator? Yeah the movie Terminator. That’s the feeling I want in the production and they were open.”

Loreen didn’t end up changing the lyrics to the song ‘Euphoria’. In an interview with she shared that she had never experienced “euphoria” before, hence why she couldn’t re-write the lyrics, so she just let the song be as it was.

Melodifestivalen 2012

Lorine Zineb Noka Talhaoui, known professionally as Loreen, was born on 16 October 1983 in Stockholm. She is the eldest of six children from a family of Moroccan-Berber origin.

She originally took part in the Swedish Idol television competition in 2004, where she finished in fourth place. The following year she released her first single 'The Snake', with the band Rob'n'Raz and became a television presenter on TV400.

While working as a segment producer and director for several Swedish reality TV shows, Loreen entered Melfest 2011. Her song 'My Heart Is Refusing Me' became a top 10 hit in Sweden. Unfortunately, she was eliminated in the second chance round.

At Melfest 2012, Loreen competed in semi-final 1 and easily sailed through to the final where ‘Euphoria’ was positively received by the Swedish public. Loreen’s performance of ‘Euphoria’ got her over 30% of the over half million votes in the first semi-final.

In the final, Loreen scored the highest amount of points from the international jury and over 32% of the public Swedish votes, over 670,000 (the most ever votes for an act at the time). She scored votes from all the international jury including 12 points from Bosnia and Herzegovina, Estonia, Cyprus, Ireland, Norway and Germany.

‘Euphoria’ won Melfest scoring a massive 268 total points. The runner-up that year was Danny Saucedo with his entry ‘Amazing’ (who was co-written by Peter Boström along with Danny and Figge Boström) which ended up with 198 points.

Loreen was interviewed immediately after her Melfest win:

“It was fantastic! I have never experienced anything like this before. It was absolutely crazy. You know.. at one occasion when I fell down on the floor I was sitting there and looking out over the people and it felt like magic. It was not until then I could realise I am thankful. It was magic.”

Loreen was selected as Sweden’s 52nd Eurovision representative.

Asked about representing Sweden on the biggest stage in the world Loreen said:

“Yes, I am actually aware of it now. But I do know myself, I have the motivation. I work very hard. And it’s my responsibility I think. You should always do your best. And I will.”

During Loreen’s winner's reprise, the seated audience were upstanding and ecstatic during the performance. They knew that they backed a winning song!

The overall package of ‘Euphoria’

When it came to ‘Euphoria’ Loreen explained in many interviews in 2012 that she was wanted to do the song and performance her own way with no compromises.

In an interview with SVT in 2012 she was asked about the song:

“Euphoria is a very dramatic song. I like drama. It’s like an inner energy or it’s more like a passion. Everything I do has to be with passion or else it won’t get good enough. The song is about just… “a special state of mind”. It’s about the feeling of being very deeply in love.”

When it comes to the ‘Euphoria’ choreography, Loreen basically went for free flowing moves where she could do what she wanted, without judgement. When she went to Eurovision she collaborated with Finnish choreographer Ambra Succi. The concept for the choreography was kept simple with influences from the films 'Memoirs of a Geisha' and 'Hero' and from martial arts.

During an interview, Loreen revealed the performance symbolises balance, the ying and yang. The dancer who joins her on stage, American dancer Ausben Jordan, is yang and Loreen is the ying where they join together at the end. Three backing vocalists accompany her on stage but are not visually present during the performance.

The costume design for her Eurovision outfit was all handmade out of hand painted silk and designed by Martin Bergström. The main producer of the ‘Euphoria’ performance was Rennie Mirro.

Ambra, who also took the role as artistic director, designed the screenplay for the performance and the lighting arrangement. Loreen performed on a four by five foot custom-made stage platform. It was built by a German production company and included effects of falling snow and projection on the background screen. Interestingly, Loreen admitted to swallowing some 'snow' that was part of her Eurovision performance. It got stuck in her throat and she had to cough it up.

Eurovision Song Contest 2012

In 2010, for the first time ever, Sweden failed to make it to the Eurovision Grand Final. ‘Euphoria’ was a risk entry they needed to take to the Contest. When you compare it to the usual style of songs that Sweden send to Eurovision, it is quite the opposite of traditional Melfest. It’s not your typical Schlager. Yes, the music has a Swedish feel to it, but with its siren blaring start, dark tone with vocal peaks and troughs with a yet overall universal sound ‘Euphoria’ was a different kettle of fish.

In the two months leading to Eurovision, the self confessed workaholic, Loreen, isolated herself as much as possible to focus on her “mission”.

Loreen became the main favourite to win the Eurovision Song Contest 2012. It was selected as the top song by the OGAE Song Poll (an international organisation consisting of Eurovision fan clubs). The song also won two prestigious Marcel Bezençon Awards in the Artistic and Composer categories.

‘Euphoria’ captivated the Eurovision audience and cruised through to the Grand Final winning both the jury and televotes in the semi-final two. Out of the 21 countries that were eligible to vote in that semi-final Loreen scored 12 points from six countries Estonias, Georgia, Germany, Netherlands, Norway and Slovakia.

In the Eurovision Grand Final held in Baku, Azerbaijan, Sweden won by a landslide. She received points from every country apart from Italy, and scored a record 18 sets of 12 points (a record at the time). Euphoria became a clear winner from both the televoters and jurors. It gave her a whopping 372 points, the second highest total points at the time and Sweden’s fifth Eurovision Contest win.

After the win even Christer Björkman got in on the victory celebrations when his team threw him in a pool!

In an interview in 2017 with Thomas G:son revealed that the ‘Euphoria’ win was one of his greatest moments in his career.

Loreen became an instant national hero in her homeland of Sweden and was catapulted to international stardom as ‘Euphoria’ was played on radio stations throughout the world and began climbing the music charts.

‘Euphoria’ - chart success

‘Euphoria’ garnered huge commercial success. After its Eurovision win, it sold over two million copies worldwide and charted across Europe. The song reached No.1 in seventeen countries, making it the most successfully charting Eurovision song ever, it even charted better than the ABBA's ‘Waterloo’ which won Eurovision for Sweden back in 1974.

In Sweden, ‘Euphoria’ peaked at No. 1 where it held the position for six weeks. It remained on the Swedish singles chart for a total of 43 weeks. It has been certified 10 time platinum with sales over 400,000 in Sweden.

'Euphoria' reached No. 3 in the UK, making it the highest charting non-UK Eurovision song since Johnny Logan’s ‘Hold Me Now’ which reached No. 2 in 1987. In Australia, it reached No. 36 on the ARIA singles chart and No. 4 on the ARIA dance chart and at the time it was the highest charting Eurovision song on the Australian singles chart since Gina G’s Eurovision banger ‘Ooh Aah… Just a Little Bit’ which reached No. 8 in 1996.

‘Euphoria’ also reached No.1 on the Billboard ‘Euro Digital Songs’ chart.

‘Euphoria’- the legacy

Loreen’s performance of ‘Euphoria’ has left a lasting legacy online. After nearly 10 years ‘Euphoria’ is still in the top 10 most watched Eurovision videos on the official Eurovision Song Contest YouTube channel. The live Grand Final performance video currently sits as the sixth most popular video on the channel with over 47 million views and remains the second most popular live performance video behind the 2021 Eurovision winners Måneskin and their song for Italy, ‘Zitti e buoni’.

‘Euphoria’ itself has also become a popular cover song, and possibly the best to rival the most covered Eurovision song of all time ‘Nel blu, dipinto di blu (Volare)’ by Domenico Modugno. ‘Euphoria’ has been covered by many artists over the years, most notably by Icelandic singers Sverrir Bergmann and Halldór Gunnar who covered ‘Euphoria’ not long after her win in 2012 and they managed to reach No. 5 on the Icelandic music charts.

‘Euphoria’ has also most notable been covered by:

  • American singer Gavin Mikhail on his 2012 album ‘Some Die Young’

  • Swedish band Bengt Hennings on their 2012 album ‘Scenen är vår’

  • Adolf Fredrik’s Music School, following their performance on Melfest 2013

  • Swedish metal band Reinxeed on their compilation ‘Swedish Hitz Goes Metal Vol II’

  • Australian singer Greg Gould on his 2017 ‘Don’t Let Go’ EP

  • German Eurovision winner Nicole who sung a German version on her 2017 album ’12 Punkte’

Also, 'Euphoria' has been performed on many reality singing shows over the years. Most notably by:

  • Julia Plaksina on 'X Factor' 3 2012-2013 in Ukraine

  • Slovenia’s 2011 Eurovision entrant Maja Keuc, who did an amazing rendition of 'Euphoria' on EMA 2015

  • Thalia and Miriam who performed a version of the song in 2017 on the Spanish reality show 'Operación Triunfo'

  • Isabelle on 'The Voice Kids' Germany 2019

  • 'X Factor: Celebrity' in 2019 by Jenny Ryan.

‘Euphoria’ was very popular song covered during the 2020 online ‘Eurovision Home Concerts’ series which were produced as an alternative to the cancelled Eurovision Song Contest 2020. The song was covered by Estonian Eurovision representative Uku Suviste, Croatian artist Damir Kedžo and Icelandic artist Johanna.

Since 2012, Loreen has possibly performed ‘Euphoria’ more times than the amount of points she scored in Baku! She constantly performs the song in so many different ways but still makes it work.

In a Swedish interview on 'Sverige!' in March 2021 on SVT Loreen talked about ‘Euphoria’ and how everyone associates her with it, she was asked how she feels about it all:

“I am grateful for that. I’m grateful for that whole period of my life. It was important to me.”

Significantly, ‘Euphoria’ has reached No.1 in every ESC250 ranking produced by since its release. It has remained at No.1 for the last nine years, topping the ranking in 2012 toppling ‘Lane Moje’ by Zeljko Joksimovic for the top spot. In this years' ESC250 countdown ‘Euphoria’ possibly faces some stiff competition with ‘Zitti e buoni’. If ‘Euphoria’ manages to hold the top position it would have remained at the Eurovision community’s favourite Eurovision song for a decade.


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