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Sweden’s Benjamin Ingrosso Takes a Star Turn at Eurovision 2024

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The 2024 Eurovision Song Contest live broadcasts aren’t just about the competing songs. There are flashbacks to past shows, interstitial material and most important, performances by some of the host country’s most beloved artists.

One of Sweden’s brightest stars turned in a tour-de-force performance this week in the first semi-final for Eurovision 2024. Benjamin Ingrosso performed a seven-minute medley of some of his best songs, including his new single, “Look Who’s Laughing Now.”

Ingrosso has a multi-year history with Eurovision. When he was 8 years old, he competed in the Lilla Melodifestivalen for younger artists in 2006 and won. In 2017 he competed in Sweden’s national final with the song “Good Lovin’” but did not win and did not advance to Eurovision. It was a whole different story in 2018 when Ingrosso’s “Dance You Off” won Melodifestivalen and opened the door for him to compete in Eurovision that year.

Billboard met up with Ingrosso at the Malmö Arena to talk about this year’s Eurovision, his new album and what happened when he sang “Wild World” in front of Cat Stevens.

What is it like for you coming back to Eurovision but not competing?

It’s a very nice thing to come back and not compete, because you don’t win and you don’t lose. You can just go up on stage and have fun. But for me, the biggest difference is that when I was here six years ago, I was a younger, almost a completely different artist. I was 21 and now I’m 26 and I’ve been on tour a lot and I think I have evolved as an artist. People who have not seen me since 2018 will see me as a different performer, and I do believe I’m more of a performer now. Back then I was just an artist singing a song, but now I’m an entertainer. At least, that is what I’m aiming for.

I saw your rehearsal and you’re definitely a performer.

I’ve been working hard to get where I am today. I always love to work on every little thing I do. I really want to become better. Back in 2018, I did like a music video kind of number and this is the opposite. This is more of a live pop show. I’ll be on stage with 21 people for a seven-minute medley of my recent songs.

Describe the work you put into your performance.

Covid stopped everything from happening, but I worked a lot during the pandemic. I released a lot of music in Sweden. Since my Eurovision participation in 2018, I’ve released four studio albums and three live albums. I’ve done a TV show. I’ve done concerts and tours, so I think I’ve been evolving both as a human being and also as an artist.

What advice would you give yourself if you went back in time to when you were performing on Lilla Melodifestivalen?

I would just give him a big hug and say, “I’m proud of you.” I sent a video to my mom last night from the rehearsals and I said, “Imagine if I could go back in time and show the 8-year-old me this number, he would be so proud.” This is like a full circle moment. When I was a kid, I loved John Travolta and tonight I will be on stage in a white John Travolta suit, so I’m doing this for the little kid I was.

Tell me about your new single.

I just released “Honey Boy” last week with the Purple Disco Machine and Nile Rodgers and Shenseea and that song is one of my favorite songs ever. I wrote the chorus two years ago and we’ve been working on it for a while. I performed it last summer on my tour, so my core fans have been asking for this song for a long time. That song will be the end of the medley. I also premiere a new song tonight, “Look Who’s Laughing Now,” and that song will be out this month on May 31.

Did you write “Look Who’s Laughing Now”?

I wrote it in Los Angeles with David Stewart and Jessica Agombar. They had a number one in Billboard. We’re talking the younger David Stewart [not the Eurhythmics Dave Stewart]. They did “Dynamite” with BTS. He just finished Shakira’s new album. He’s supremely talented. We were in Westlake Studios for four days and on the fourth day, the guy that works in the studio asked if I wanted a tour of the place. I walked past Michael Jackson’s gloves and a painting. “Wait a minute. Why are there Michael Jackson pictures everywhere?” “He did Thriller here.” And I said, “And you’re telling me this now? I’ve been here for four days. This could have been inspiration!” But it turned out to be a great song that starts with a Queenish/ABBA beat. There’s some energy in that studio.

Are you working on a new album?

Yes. I’ve been on my first European tour. It is sold out, and I’ve been so blessed to be able to do a European tour for the first time in my career. And on that tour, I’ve been doing 80% new songs, teasing the next album. I did not tell anyone before, because I thought that people wouldn’t buy tickets if it was only songs that they never heard. But to be honest, I made people sing along in a weird way. Thanks to TikTok and Instagram, people could learn the songs before the show.

Any plans to do more recording in America for this upcoming album?

I might go back in September after the tour to finish a couple songs. Before Covid, I used to go to Los Angeles often. I think for the next album, I will be doing maybe 80% of the songs in Los Angeles, because I’ve been working with a lot of great songwriters and producers.

The European tour is over, so what is next?

The European tour lasted a month. The new tour is in Scandinavia and it’s on a much larger scale. We’re 12 people on stage. There are 45 people in the crew, so it’s a massive production. We’re playing Stockholm in August in a stadium, which is has a capacity of 30,000. It’s my biggest show ever in my career so far, so that’s going to be cool.

Any thoughts of trying to break into America?

100%. That’s my goal and it’s been my goal ever since I was a kid, although when I was 8 years old, I wanted to become a Broadway musical artist. I did musicals, but that changed and then when I was a teenager, I wanted to become the next David Foster and now I’m really aiming for a global tour in the future.

Marcus and Martinus from Norway are representing Sweden this year Have you given them any advice about performing on the Eurovision stage?

We talked yesterday. I was in the bathroom on the toilet and I heard the guys coming in and I said one word in Norwegian and they said, “Benjamin?” I asked how they could hear what I was saying. They replied, “We’ve been listening to ‘Honey Boy’ for 24 hours. So we recognized your voice in a second.” We talked about the fact that it’s a three-minute performance, so make sure you enjoy those three minutes because they go like this[finger snap]. I told them to have fun and enjoy it and not take it too seriously. To win Melodifestivalen is already a big achievement. It is pretty hard for a country to win Eurovision twice in a row [Sweden won in 2023 with “Tatttoo” by Loreen]. I told them that we’re all proud of them.

I was seated at a table closest to the stage at the Polar Music Prize in 2023 when Chris Blackwell was a Laureate, so I had a close-up view of you singing “Wild World.” What was it like when Cat Stevens rose out of his seat and walked on stage to embrace you?

It was insane. First of all, I had rehearsals the whole day for the tour, so I had one hour to jump into the car, put on my clothes, walk up on stage, sing the song and then all of a sudden, people were standing and I just turned around and Cat Stevens was there, right next to me, hugging me. It was a great night. The day after, I thought, “What happened yesterday? Did I hug Cat Stevens?” It was so cool. And then I performed the song on my tour and I never expected it to become such a big thing. A lot of older artists from his generation came up to me in Sweden and they were saying things like, “Well, Cat Stevens gave you a big hug. That’s impressive.”

We couldn’t tell from the floor — when he was hugging you, did he say anything in your ear?

He said nothing to me, but I saw him interviewed by the host and he said, “That guy is really talented. I really want to work with him.” Just the fact that he said that was pretty dope.

Mitchell Peters
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