Sunday, May 27, 2012

Loreen: Euphoria + My Heart Is Refusing Me + Idol 2004 performances

The 2012 Eurovision Song Contest was held May 26 in Baku, Azerbaijan.  It is a huge TV event in Europe, but one which US audiences are virtually unfamiliar with.  ABBA kickstarted their career in 1974 when they won with "Waterloo", and French-Canadian superstar Celine represented France long before she became famous.  (Most countries now choose to participate with a song in English, not in their native language; this has sparked some debate over the years.)

Last night Sweden won with the song "Euphoria", performed by singer/songwriter/producer Loreen. Born Lorine Talhaoui in Stockholm in 1983 to Maroccan parents, she placed fourth in the first season of the Swedish version of the American Idol talent show in 2004, performing as Loren Talhaoui, and singing mostly R&B songs, including an impressive cover of Stevie Wonder's "I Wish" (skip to 15:55 in the third video below to watch "I Wish").  A single was released in 2005, followed by a career in Swedish television as a producer/director.  A new single co-written by Loreen entitled "My Heart Is Refusing Me" became a hit in Sweden after her performance in the 2011 Swedish qualification rounds of the Eurovison Song Contest despite her not winning.

It is interesting to see how much Loreen has grown and matured as a performer since 2004: she has clearly found her own voice and style which is paramount for an artist wishing to stand out, and has gone from being a 20 year-old eager-to-please, somewhat shy, yet bubbly, costume/hair style chameleon to a confident grown woman, whether bringing down the house with 'Euphoria" barefoot, hair and gown flowing, or doing an exquisite unplugged version of "My Heart Is Refusing Me" in a leather jacket and red lipstick.

Note on "Euphoria" video:  Dallas born dancer Ausben Jordan has recently relocated to Sweden from New York City.  Also a singer and songwriter, he has danced with Snoop Dogg, Madonna, MC Lyte, and more.

Note on "My Heart Is Refusing Me" video:  the Ney flute is played by the Swedish-Turkish musician Ahmed Haci Tekbilek; the guitar is played by Moh Denebi, Loreen's frequent co-writer. (info courtesy of YouTube user 'Pyrsus').