"Statements" by Loreen to win Melodifestivalen 2017?
This year marked the return of one of the most successful Eurovision winners in history, Loreen. Having scored the highest amount of 12 points back in 2012, all eyes were turned to Semi-Final 4 of the Swedish selection show, Melodifestivalen.
Loreen's Surprise Return
The announcement of Loreen came as shock to many, including the contestants themselves, having only been finalised the day before the artists' announcement press conference. Usually artists are decided well in advance of the press conference. The questions then started as to why Loreen had decided to return to the song contest after leaving on such a high note with Euphoria. Was it to win once more? Was it to promote the longly awaited follow-up album? When questioned at the press conference, Loreen revealed that she had something to say, a statement, and wanted to use this platform to get the word out. Winning would just be a secondary means to reaching a wider audience.
Loreen has never been one to shy away from human rights, having met activists in both Baku and Belarus in between performances, This of course courted controversy in their respective countries, but the artist stated that she was not one to ever keep silent. With a title like Statements, it was clear there would be some sort of political undertone.
With the success of Euphoria, there was naturally going to be some comparisons to the hit song with her new entry. What was Statements going to be like? As we got closer to 2017, rumours arose in Stockholm from those few who heard the song, it was darker, almost like a 90s grunge rock sound. When finally played to the press on Wednesday night, there was complete confusion, no one knew what to write about, what to say, this was not your typical song for Melodifestivalen, and could not easily be boxed in a category. With hints of the grunge genre, mixed in with a heavy hitting bass chorus, it would not be fair to say this belongs to one genre or another. This isn't something new and different for Loreen, but a progression for those who have followed her since her win in 2012.
The basis of the performance is based upon five different women, representing Loreen at five different ages of life.
The performance begins with a young girl dancing and carefree; a quick dissolve into a close-up of Loreen alludes to this being a younger version of the singer. Suddenly the young girl stops, and drops to the ground as the shot dissolves fully to Loreen coming to the aid of her younger self. The young girl who seems to scream at one point is playing off the lyrics of how painful words can be, which can be interpreted of words bullying the youth today, especially online. Through choreography, Loreen teaches her younger self to stand on her own.
As a teenage incarnation of Loreen enters the picture, flags are quickly armed by the three. Visually it looks like something from the French Revolution, and a statement against oppressors. While the other two younger versions of Loreen wave a different coloured flag representing different facets of the artist (the victim and the fighter), Loreen's is white, symbolising the strive for peace.
The next sequence comes as a middle aged lady enters the frame, this time having a bag. This is in reference to a popular photo of Danuta Danielsson who made a statement by hitting a Neo Nazi with her bag during a march in 1985. This wiser woman seems to be knocking the three younger Loreens, who then briefly pose like the three wise monkeys. This may be a reference to the turning of a blind eye, ignorance, but having that knocked out of you by a wiser, older, figure.
When it feels like the fight is impossible and hope is lost, we see Loreen on the ground, but an older and wiser incarnation enters the frame to bring comfort to a demotivated Loreen, bringing a sign of hope.This references the beginning of the performance when Loreen comforted her younger self. As we move into the final sequence we see an pose similar to Banksy's Rage, Flower Thrower, leading to the eldest woman standing steady with confidence and conviction, while the other incarnates dance on and continue their statements.
There may naturally be comparisons to last year's Eurovision winner Jamala, as this seems to be a politically-charged piece, however, in this case it is more the staging and symbolism than in lyrics. Loreen's intentions are quite clear though, as if you visit her Instagram, she has been posting a more direct message behind Statements.
This entry has clearly divided the press room and will be no different to the Swedish public. This is not you typical Eurovision song, and is completely different from the norm. It may not be the first of its kind, and there will be opponents who say a political song like this should not happen in the Eurovision Song Contest. However if Sweden decides to send this to Eurovision, I don't think it will stray from the original intent of why the Song Contest was created, from a platform to unite a war torn Europe through music, to a statement against the growing populism in Europe. As Europe seems to be cracking and dividing, we need something like this to make a stance, to note be quiet, to keep us united. In the end, the intentions of the Song Contest remain the same through Statements.
All photos courtesy of Stina Stjernkvist/SVT