Sibling rivalry between Sweden and Norway each year at the Eurovision Song Contest is nothing new. This year however, developments have taken a rather unexpected path.
In previous years it has become something of an annual ritual, all part and parcel of participation for both countries to speak rather too freely about each others entry. Friendly psparring has often developed into a fully blown war of words between the two media camps fromboth countries, fuelled on drawing interest and making headlines.
Tooji suffered strong criticism at the hands of the Swedish panel judging all of this year’s entries in the SVT programme Inför Eurovision Song COntest, with many of the Swedish panel members stating that Tooji sang consistently off key, and with programme host and head of the Swedish delegation Christer Björkman going so far as to say that Tooji was a pale imitation of Sweden’s entrant from last year Eric Saade. Naturally, such a heavily stylised and choreographed dance routine not to mention a faintly similar choice of outfit was bound to result in parallels and comparisons being made. BUt Swedish reactions this year seem to have more of a sting in the tail, which is quite odd considering the fact that both countries’ entries are written by one and the same composer, Peter Boström.
And this is where the bizarre twist comes about – whereas previosuly such an outburst would have resulted in tit for tat statements and an exchange of unpleasantries (on at least one occasion, an official apology has been issued) – this year, Swedish representative and perhaps this year’s biggest favourite Loreen appears to have taken Tooji under her wing and has leapt to his defence.
During an interview with Norwegian tabloid Dagbladet, euphoric Loreen chose to express her disdain at the Swedish criticism: "There is no likeness between the two whatsoever" the singer says and goes on to comment "I think that as a critic, you should consider the impact of what you say, how your words can affect the opinions and the development of others. Those kind of remarks are totally irresponsible." Loreen explains furthermore that "Their dance routines are completely different, their style of singing is completely different. The reason why he (Björkman) makes this comparison I think, is because we have two young men each with their own stage show and their own song, that’s it. You might as well start comparing every other male artist and say that they have a similar act, I guess."
The humble singer goes on to discuss her status as one of the, if not the biggest favourite to win the entire contest. Until recently Loreen was apparently blissfully unaware of the fact. "I was only told a few days ago" she says, because she has imposed a rule upon herself not to follow her coverage in the media. "I really don’t want to know" she states, explaining that the expectations for her to win have a negative effect on her creativity: "Things become a little risky when you get caught up about what people say and think of you. I’d love to show some gratitiude, because it’s such a positive thing, but it only makes it more difficult for me to focus. It disturbs my creativity", she comments.
One thing is for sure – you can guarantee that this year’s Eurovision Song Contest will no doubt attract the highest viewing figures of the year in both Sweden and Norway as they tune in to see how their candidates fare. And who knows, maybe Peter Boström will get to see his two compositions slug it out in the musical ring in Baku after all.