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Eurovision comes home with a tribute to one man’s dad

Eurovision comes home with a tribute to one man’s dad

After victory in the 2012 Eurovision Song Contest with Loreen’s “Euphoria”, the 2013 competition will be held in the spiritual home of the tournament… Sweden! (If you don’t know much about Eurovision read our beginners guide.)

Last year was Sweden’s fifth win since the competition began way back in 1956 and its first since Charlotte Nilsson brought the trophy back in 1999 with her song Take Me to Your Heaven. However, Abba’s famous victory in 1974 will always be remembered as the pivotal moment in Eurovision history when a winning act went on to global stardom.

After that Sweden went on to become one of the most successful countries in the contest, finishing in the top 10 no less than 35 times!

As Eurovision had expanded eastwards, Sweden and some other traditional powerhouses of Europe have fared less well. A return to form came in 2011 with Popular, followed by last year’s runaway triumph.

This year, Sweden’s representative is Robin Stjernberg with his song You.

When asked about the pressure of following Loreen he told us ‘She’s great and we have won now so no one expects me to win, but I keep thinking we can. I like being an underdog, that’s what I do. Probably I will be that way for the rest of my life.’

The Swedes take Eurovision very seriously. Every year, they have a six week televised competition called Melodifestivalen to select their entry for Eurovision which is one of the most popular television events of the year.

Stjernberg explained: ‘It’s such a huge music party. I think a lot of Swedes just love music. We have a lot of great songwriters from Sweden. Everyone wants to get in to promote their songs because half of the country watches it.

‘It grows all the time and open to all music styles – metal, rock, soul – all kinds.  I’ve been watching it all my life.’

Many non-Europeans may be surprised to discover that Abba aren’t the only famous pop band to come out of Sweden and Swedish pop music has dominated the European and global charts, with many of the acts firm favourites of the LGBT community around the world.

Stjernberg has his own views on why Swedish music is so popular: ‘We are always in the middle of everything. We call it "jantelagen" – you can’t do too much or too little. We write simple music that is easy to understand – thanks maybe to Abba.’

Stjernberg said his first memories of Eurovision were the Olsen Brothers for Denmark but has always loved the show.

‘I have been competing in music and one of my first talent shows was in Malmö [the city where Eurovision will be held] where I was singing Johnny Logan’s Hold Me Now – a disco, gay version.

‘I’m blond and was pointing to everyone. It was a mess but it was fun. I love this competition and have been watching it ever since.’

His song You is dedicated to the ones you love. For Stjernberg it is a personal tribute to his father: ‘It has a very deep meaning for me because I wrote it for my father who has been raising me as my mother has been sick.

‘Even though he didn’t have a lot of money he always supported me and my music, and he’s a big inspiration for me. That’s what I want to show people when I stand on stage. I want people to feel the happiness and the love – it’s so important.’

We asked Stjernberg why Sweden is such a welcoming country for LGBT people.

‘I’ve been growing up with gay people all my life. It’s very common now, especially in Sweden. I’m not gay but I have a lot gay friends, some of my best friends. I kiss my guy friends without even thinking about it. We are comfortable with it. The new generations accept it.’

Robin has been performing since a young age and is used to being questioned about his personal life as a celebrity.

‘A lot of people ask me if I am gay. Celebrity is part of the game. I want people to get to know me. I want to be a personal artist, for the fans to get to know me. I want to inspire them.

‘You should always be yourself… even if people doubt you and what you want to achieve with your life. You should never give up. People told me I couldn’t be an artist but I fought for it.

‘I want to tell people to do exactly what they love. That’s true for gay people as well. If you are gay, be gay. Don’t just lie to yourself – that’s not good.’

Whatever happens in Eurovision, Robin is focused on his music career.

‘When I was in [Swedish] Idol I got confused by singing all kinds of music. Now I finally got to write my own album and it’s only me.

‘I’m looking forward to it. I started writing when I was 11, originally in Swedish and now in English. I studied music after high school. I studied music at college – piano, drums, and bass and producing music. I just want to be on stage, that is what I love the most.’

Robin’s latest EP, For The Better, is available on Itunes in the US and Europe.  See his Eurovision entry song, You, here: