To be frank, we weren’t bowled over by Loreen’s Euphoria track, Sweden’s entry in the 2012 Eurovision Song Contest. Waterloo by ABBA still leads the way as far as the all-time podium mounters go, we suspect. There have also been far better pieces of Swedish pop music and dance music in general since the turn of the 21st century.
But hey, what do we know? Loreen won. And she won it by a mile. And once again, the Swedish pop industry showed why it punches harder than anyone in the same field, the UK and US permitting (and therefore possibly has the best punch, pound-for-pound, in the history of exported pop music).
One more very, very solid dance track with no concessions to kitsch or superfluous detail. One more very succinct offering – the type of which you suspect producers and writers come up with at will in Stockholm music laboratories as part of their bid to craft THE ultimate pure pop song.
Pure is actually quite a good adjective in this respect – even a reasonably good effort such as Euphoria, as opposed to an absolute knock-out track by Robyn or The Cardigans, seems bereft of showy flourish or toxic egocentricity. Sweden hasn’t produced a lot of world-conquering solo artists such as Michael Jackson, Madonna, Bob Dylan and Neil Young, – but it does still seem very good at collective efforts where the music comes before prima donna flouncing.
Again, it’s difficult not to feel that this is part of a wider historical trend in which Sweden has excelled at producing reams and reams of high-quality, but succinct, musical pieces. There have been very good symphonic composers throughout Sweden’s history, among them Hugo Alfvén, Franz Berwald and Wilhelm Stenhammar – but it is short and sweet choral pieces, shimmering like clear blue water, and incredibly elegant folk tunes, that for us are particularly emblematic of Swedish music culture.
We’ve discussed the theme in detail before with regards to the renowned 19th-century folk musician Hultkläppen. Since then, we’ve discovered an even more priceless Hultkläppen polska which appears to back up our point. So much dense detail in a relatively short piece – but the tune itself is effortlessly fluent and yet incorporates the unusual (to non-Swedish ears) 3/4 polska beat along with some unorthodox bar arrangements (twelve bars in part A, ten bars in part B! We ask you.) Again – it’s worth reading music just to appreciate something this good.
(We will find an appropriate link, if one exists, on YouTube when we have more time on our hands. In the meantime we hope we’ve made our point about the way Swedish music rocks throughout the centuries..)