At Eurovision, there are some years where it’s an open contest. And then there are the years where Sweden nails it. Here’s your next winner of the Eurovision Song Contest, Måns Zelmerlöw with “Heroes”:
As fans, moments like this are few and far between, and we live for them. “Heroes,” how do we love thee? Let us count the ways.
We love Måns. Måns is a beloved figure among the Eurovision devout. He had two prior strong Melodifestivalen showings in 2007 and 2009, and he co-hosted Melodifestivalen in 2010 (where, notably, he sang “Eye of the Tiger” with Dolph Lundgren). Like Sanna Nielsen last year, it was starting to look like he was going to be one of the greats that would never get his shot. We’re over the moon for him.
We love the song. Detractors have pointed out that “Heroes” bears a not-so-subtle similarity to David Guetta’s “Lovers on the Sun.” No question, it does. The Ennio Morricone spaghetti western-inspired pop sound recently popularized by Guetta and Avicii is present here: the verses have similar melodies and tempo, and there are some similar transitions between verse and chorus. But this weakness is also a strength. Musically, the song doesn’t follow the “Eurovision template.” When people are saying it sounds like David Guetta, they are tacitly acknowledging that song is modern Swedish pop, consistent with the Swedish pop that currently fills the airwaves. Further, we maintain that “Heroes” is actually the better song. The chorus is more engaging, and the lyrics of “Heroes” are in line with the Wild West theme.
We love the lyrics. “We are the heroes of our time, but we’re dancing with the demons in our minds.” It’s an inspiring idea. And while the music eschews the Eurovision template, this message is universal and easy to understand. It’s a great example of deviating from the formula just enough.
We love the fit between song and artist. Måns’s decision to return for 2015 was surely because he believed he had found the right song. He has. In this performance of “Heroes” he hits every beat. He’s vocally great, he engages with the animation in his staging, he’s likable, he’s sexy, he’s joyful.
We love the staging. The concept has Måns alone on stage, interacting with animated characters. At the bridge he transitions to a rotoscoped extreme close-up, then to a extreme close-up on camera, and finally ending up stage center with the crowd. It’s practically a music video, staged live. “Heroes” has one of the most creative stagings we have ever seen at Eurovision, a national final, or an award show. It’s simply jaw-dropping.
We love that it will translate. Swedish artists have been getting smarter about coming up with staging concepts that play well at the lavish Melodifestivalen and yet can also be adapted to the stricter requirements of the Eurovision stage. To stage this song, they need the backdrop, a bench, and some specific camera angles. Without the need for backing dancers, Sweden can use its 6-person limit to staff a team of backing vocalists who can take on the chorus parts and vocal doubling.
“Heroes” sailed to victory at Melodifestivalen this year. That’s no slight on the competition — the caliber of song in this year’s contest was unusually high — it’s an indicator of how good this song is. It’s hard to imagine that anything else will be able to put up a fight in Vienna.