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Sweden's Loreen could win Eurovision — for the second time

LONDON (AP) — Loreen’s favorite moment of Eurovision comes as she's rolled onstage, lying flat between two horizontal screens and sporting spiky jeweled nails, waiting for the music to start.

It’s a moment of calm, about 40 seconds, when the Swedish singer can look at the audience and connect with the crowd, she says. It's also a stark contrast to the energetic performance that follows, one that has her tipped to come first at the Eurovision Song Contest — for a second time.

Loreen won in Baku, Azerbaijan, at Eurovision 2012 with “Euphoria” and now it’s looking like she could do the double and triumph again more than a decade later with “Tattoo.” If she does win it all, she'd only be the second person in Eurovision history to win twice — and it's been 36 years since Johnny Logan pulled off that feat for Ireland.

Loreen has already made it through Tuesday’s semifinal to earn a place for Sweden in Saturday's Grand Final in Liverpool. This time feels different, she says, with the nerves of not knowing what to expect gone.

“It’s like coming back to family. Everything is very familiar. And I also think that the experience that I’ve had these 11 years, like life — up, down, right, left, ding dong — has just taught me a lot,” she says, laughing. “This time feels more effortless, a more motherly energy going on.”

The 39-year-old singer has certainly been keeping an eye on the younger contestants, especially the more nervous performers, to help them feel more positive while bathed in the global spotlight of the competition.

Despite her success so far, Loreen initially turned down the opportunity to compete again, which disappointed the team around her and left her feeling flat. So she decided to consider the alternative.

“I could feel this little still of excitement in me and excitement outside of me. I’m like, My God, I know this rule. You follow the flow. You follow where it’s happiness and joy," she says. “I’m like, universe, what are you trying to tell me man?”

The universe was right.

“Look at me now,” she adds. “I’m having the time of my life.”

With soaring vocals and an electronic beat, Loreen starts out her performance of “Tattoo” lying down. She slowly rises up, pushing the screen above her, until she’s standing fully, surrounded by images of intense weather, like she’s fought her way to the song’s finale.

There are also the nails. The sharp, jewel-encrusted nails she displays while dancing and gesturing with her hands. They are scattered around the surfaces of her hotel room in Liverpool.

“They’re very beautiful, and when the light hits them — that was the whole idea. These elements, stone, sand, air, mist, wind, sky, sun, the moon, rain,” Loreen explains.

Performance-wise, she says she’s learnt to conserve her energy for the climax of the track. It helps that the audience is joining in.

“The singing together, that was my whole vision in a way. That was what I envisioned in October and I’ve been working for six months, you know, wanting, hoping to connect with you guys through the music,” she says.

And despite being tipped to beat the other 25 acts, she’s not complacent about being favorite.

Loreen reckons that life taught her the hard way not to take anything for granted and to concentrate on the performance.

Even if she doesn’t come first, the song has already inspired fans to tattoo lyrics from “Tattoo” on themselves.

“I mean, that’s nice. But I don’t want them to tattoo that, my face, on there. Like no, don’t do that,” she laughs.

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For more coverage of Eurovision, visit https://apnews.com/hub/eurovision-song-contest