Debut – 1958
Current Broadcaster – SVT
National Final – Melodifestivalen
Best Result – Winner (1974, 1984, 1991, 1999, 2012, 2015)
Highest Score – 372 points (2012)
Worst Result – 11th in Semi-final (2011 – 62 points)
Sweden are the most successful Nordic country in Eurovision, being second in the winner’s table with six victories. Since their debut in 1958, they have only been absent on three occasions in 1964 (due to an artist’s strike), 1970 (due to a Nordic boycott of the Contest) and in 1976 (due to mass demonstrations in the country against commercial music).
Traditionally Sweden usually send their entries in English whenever the free language rule has been in place.
1950’s and 1960’s
Sweden first participated in Eurovision in 1958 with Alice Babs performing the song “Lilla stjärna”, which finished 4th. Throughout the 1960’s, they had a mixed bag of results, peaking in 1966 when they finished 2nd with “Nygammal vals” (performed by Lill Lindfors and Svante Thuresson). On the other end of the scale however, they ended up with a last place result in 1963, scoring the infamous ‘nul points’.
The early 1970’s saw Sweden with a mixed set of results, with three top 10 finishes in 1971 with “Vita vidder” (performed by Family Four) finishing 6th, in 1973 with “You’re Summer” (performed by The Nova) finishing 5th, and in 1975 with “Jennie, Jennie” (performed by Lars Berghagen and The Dolls) finishing 8th.
In 1974, the group ABBA represented the country with the song “Waterloo”, and after a fairly even set of scores from the juries, secured Sweden’s first Eurovision victory. ABBA have since become arguably the most successful Eurovision act of all time, gaining worldwide fame and numerous chart hits amongst other successes, and “Waterloo” itself is frequently cited as one of the greatest Eurovision winning songs of all time.
After their absence in the 1976 Contest, Sweden finished off the decade with a series of mostly poor results.
Sweden began the 1980’s with three consecutive top 10 results. In 1983, they earned their best result in years by finishing 3rd with the song “Främling”, performed by teenage singer Carola. They followed it up the following year in 1984, when sibling trio Herreys gave Sweden their second Eurovision victory with the song “Diggi-Loo Diggi-Ley”, an performance notable for its elaborate choreography and the three brothers wearing golden boots (as mentioned in the lyrics). In 1985, the host nation earned another 3rd place result, with “Bra vibrationer” (performed by Kikki Danielsson).
The rest of the decade saw a mixed bag of results, with two more top 5 results in 1986 with “E’ de’ det här du kallar kärlek?” (performed by Monica Törnell & Lasse Holm) finishing 5th, and in 1989 with “En dag” (performed by Tommy Nilsson) finishing 4th.
In 1991, Sweden sent previous entrant Carola with the song “Fångad av en stormvind”, and after voting ended they found themselves tied in 1st with France. After a countback, Sweden were declared the winners due to having received more 10 points than France. The following year, the host nation found themselves humiliated after finishing a poor 22nd, which to this day is the joint worst showing by a host nation in Eurovision history.
For the rest of the decade they had a mixed bag of results, including two consecutive 3rd place results with “Se på mej” (performed by Jan Johansen) in 1995, and “Den vilda” (performed by One More Time) in 1996.
The last Eurovision Song Contest of the 20th Century saw Sweden get their fourth victory after a close-fought battle, with the song “Take Me to Your Heaven” performed by Charlotte Nilsson, a retro schlager song that was very much in the ABBA mould.
The first half of the 2000’s saw Sweden in an run of consecutive top 10 results. Their 2001 entry “Listen To Your Heartbeat” (performed by Friends) finished 5th, despite attracting accusations of plagiarism due to similarities to Belgium’s 1996 entry “Liefde is een kaartspel” (performed by Lisa del Bo). In 2006, former winner Carola returned to the Eurovision stage with her third entry “Invincible”, and finished 5th in the Final, a good feat for a returning winner in recent years.
This good run did not last however, and Sweden slumped to the lower half of the Final scoreboard, including in 2008 when former winner Charlotte Perrelli (formerly Nilsson) only qualified to the Final via a jury wildcard, and proceeded to finish 18th in the Final with the song “Hero”. This run of bad results culminated in 2010, when Sweden failed to qualify from the Semi-finals for the first time, breaking their record of appearing in every final since 1977.
However after the disappointment of their 2010 result, in 2011 Sweden came back fighting and were pipped into 3rd place with the song “Popular” (performed by Eric Saade). The following year in 2012, they stormed to their fifth victory with Loreen performing the song “Euphoria”, becoming only the second Eurovision entry to break the 300-point mark. The song also broke the record for the most amount of 12 points received, with 18 in total. It didn’t take long for the Swedes to return to a podium finish, when Sanna Nielsen’s “Undo” finished 3rd in 2014.
The following year, Måns Zelmerlöw got their sixth win and their second in 4 years with “Heroes”, making Sweden the second most successful Eurovision nation overall.