Eurovision battle: Belgium 1996 vs Sweden 2001

The two songs are often compared. Since 2001, the Swedish entry ‘Listen To Your Heartbeat’ has been mentioned as being quite similar to Belgium’s ‘Liefde Is Een Kaartspel’ from 1996. But which one is the better one?

In Eurovision Battle we put two former Eurovision entries up against each other. It’s songs with something significant in common which makes them worth a comparision. The Fan Panel members are asked to watch the videos for both songs before providing their opinion.

This time, the battle consists of two similar songs; Belgium 1996 and Sweden 2001. It wasn’t just fans who could hear a similarity between the songs. The songwriters of the Swedish 2001 entry, Thomas G:son and Henrik Sethsson, agreed to a settlement in which they paid the Belgian songwriters John Terra and Siirak Brogden. This happened after the Belgian songwriter organisation SABAM had opened up a case against the Swedes.

  • Lisa del Bo’s Liefde Is Een Kaartspel scored a 16th place in 1996 with only 22 points. 12 of those came from Spain.
  • Friends’ Listen To Your Heartbeat scored a 5th place in 2001 with 100 points. They got points from 18 different countries, the highest score being 10 from Denmark.

Belgium 1996 vs Sweden 2001 – opinions from fans

In order to find out what Eurovision fans today think of these two entries, we asked our Eurovision Fan Panel. It includes team members as well as fans from all over the world.

🇩🇰 Tina M. – Belgium: A really happy and nice Eurovision song. I want to sing along from the first stanza. Lisa del Bo has a confident and very clear vocal.
Sweden: My first thought “WOW I heard this song before” and yes I did just 5 minutes ago, it’s Belgium’s Eurovision song from 1996. The song from Sweden is sung by Friends but their vocals are not as clear and pure as Lisa del Bo’s. To me, Sweden’s song is monotonous and boring, while Belgium’s song is melodic and happy. I would be offended if I had written the melody for the Belgian contribution, as in my ears it is a copy-song from Sweden. It is not every time that lacquer and leather win.

🇮🇪 John D. – It’s remarkable how these are two similar sounding songs. I remember liking the Swedish song at the time but can’t think why now. It is so bland. The two girls seemed to have dressed in the dark. The Belgian song for me has the edge, even though it is more dated and wouldn’t sound out of place in the contest 10 or 20 years earlier. The singer is dressed like a human shuttlecock!

🇲🇹 Luke B. – Two very similar songs that come from cluster of Abba-themed songs that we so frequently hear at Eurovision, which I so happen to be a sucker for. If I had to pick one between these two songs, I would choose Sweden 2001 on the basis that it is performed better than Belgium 1996 on the night. But, both songs fall within my comfort zone and I would be ready to hear both songs any day of the week!

🇳🇴 Stine F. – I wasn’t aware of the extreme similarity of these two songs before you gave us this challenge. And oh my! They are practically the same song! I think both ‘versions’ are very likeable and catchy, but my vote goes to Belgium!

🇩🇰 Charlotte J. – The two songs are indeed extremely similar. I like both. They are catchy up-tempo pop songs easy to sing a long to. I do however prefer the Belgian ‘original’. It has that extra charm the Swedish one is lagging. Where Listen Yo Your Heartbeat easily sounds a bit like a mass production from a factory, the Belgian Liefde Is Een Kaartspel offers charm and a credibility. I miss that in the Swedish one.

🇬🇧 Aaron S. – Now this one is tough, I think both are great songs, Belgium in 1996 had a cool groove and deserved to finish much higher than it did but Friends and Listen To Your Heartbeat, it has a familiar beat and I think both the words of the song and vocals are very good. While both songs seem to have similarities, I think Sweden in 2001 was a great song composed by Thomas G:Son, one of my favourite composers and has the slight edge over Liefde Is Een Kaartspel which was also a good song.

🇨🇿 Josef Š. – The is a perfect example of the two songs that are (almost) the same. I knew Sweden 2001 first and I take it as an average Swedish quality song, a lot in the style of ABBA. The Belgian ‘original’ from 1996 is the one I like more in this comparison. I like those small parts of the melody that are different from the Swedish one. The result is obvious. Swedish reputation in combination with English and a little bit more production just made it score better at Eurovision.

🇨🇴 🇫🇮 Alvaro S. – In this battle I prefer the Belgium entry. Not only because it came first but also because, regardless of the controversy, I find the Belgium performance more ‘authentic’ while the Swedish 2001 looks to me like a performance from a generic pop group taking elements from the pop scene of the beginnings of last decade.

🇬🇧 Michael O. – To be honest by the time Sweden sent Friends to Eurovision, I had long forgotten the Belgian 1996 entry. Yes both entries are very similar, but the Swedish one has a little more power. Therefore, while I think both songs are basically average it’s Sweden 2001 that gets my vote.

🇳🇱 Jacques H. – In 2001, Friend’s Listen to your heartbeat reached 5th spot with 100 points. Oh, the Swedes listened well! Not to anyone else’s heartbeat, but to Lisa del Bo’s Liefde Is Een Kaartspel from 1996. Lisa reached with the original song to number 16. Unfair? Let me put it this way, Lisa del Bo’s ‘Love is a card game’ (1996) is a song in the best 80s and 90s tradition made big by… Scandinavian countries. So, Belgium and Lisa should not complain about copying music. Or style. Did Lisa ask Celine Dion’s designer to create her a similar outfit copied from Celine’s winning ensemble in 1988? Let’s forget all those terrible attempts to copy one’s style and/or music.

Lisa del Bo – a mini biography

Born with the name Renildis Maria Catharina Goossens, Lisa del Bo became the artist name, for a singer born in the Flemish part of Belgium, in Mopertingen in 1961.

Her career started in the early 1990s where she took part in the talent TV show ‘Soundmixshow’. She performed as Vaya Con Dios with the song What’s A Woman. Afterwards, Lisa released the single Maar Nu, Wat Doe Ik Zonder Jou?. A few years later, in 1993, she took part in the Flemish national final Eurosong ’93. With the song Vlinder, she finished third in the final, and thus didn’t make it to the Eurovision Song Contest. Three years later, she took part again – and won. The song Liefde Is Een Kaartspel didn’t score well internationally with a 16th place.

Over the years, Lisa del Bo has had a rather big career in her home country with many top 10 hits. The latest of them; a cover of the Dolly Parton hit Jolene reached #7 in February 2020. Her latest album ‘Lisa Gelooft’ (Lisa believes) has a religious theme to it, and was released in 2018.

In the video below, you can watch her 1996 Eurovision performance. Below the video, you can read more about Friends.

Friends – a mini biography

It was a reality TV show on TV4 in Sweden which formed the group Friends. Through auditions Stefan Brunzell, Tony Haglund, Kristian Hermanson, Nina Inhammar, Kim Kärnfalk and Peter Strandberg were put together as a band. The band didn’t last long, but for the short they did have success.

They were formed in 1999, took part in the Swedish Melodifestivalen in 2000 coming second. The following year, in 2001, they took part again and this time they won with the Swedish language song Lyssna Till Ditt Hjärta. For the Eurovision Song Contest, the song was performed in English with an almost literal translation; Listen To Your Heartbeat. It finished in 5th place.

In 2002, the band split up. Nina & Kim continued as a duo until 2006 where Kim went solo.

Please enjoy Friends’ 2001 Eurovision performance in the video below:

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