How could a Spanish nineties club anthem suddenly rise to number two on Finland’s Viral 50 Spotify playlist? Join E&M author and editor Alberto Méndez in his journey to discover how this year’s Eurovision finale has triggered such phenomenon amongst Finns.
The Eurovision Song Contest is no stranger to controversy and heated debates, and the 2023 edition was no exception. This year’s show saw Sweden emerging victorious, while Finland secured second place, capturing the hearts of fans across Europe. However, the aftermath of the competition brought forth a bitter aftertaste, as Finland’s fan-votes supremacy failed to sway the professional jury in favor of their country. Adding fuel to the fire, an intriguing rumor surfaced on Twitter, accusing Sweden’s winning song (Loreen’s “Tattoo“) of being a plagiarism of a Spanish old-school hit, “Flying Free” by Pont Aeri.

Eurovision, despite its musical focus, is not devoid of sociopolitical and economic power dynamics. While the competition aims to promote unity, it is not immune to geopolitical tensions and influences. Winning the contest provides a stage for the victor, attracting attention, tourism, and potential economic benefits. Although plagiarism allegations in the music industry are not uncommon, they do hold significant weight when they surface in a global platform like Eurovision. Regardless of both songs’ similar melodic structure, what’s interesting is what such conflict has triggered.

As the accusations reverberated through social media, a peculiar phenomenon unfolded. Finns, apparently in protest and disbelief, seem to have propelled the original Spanish track to viral status within their own borders, pushing it to the second spot on the “Viral 50: Finland” playlist on Spotify. In other words, two decades later, a niche-meets-mainstream Spanish underground hit has gained popularity in the opposite corner of the continent. Outside of the current Kate-Bush-is-massive-on-TikTok era, this would have been unbelievable and probably quite impossible but… what a time to be alive. Let’s take this occasion to revisit the rise and legacy of one of the most iconic “Mákina” anthems.
In the vibrant realm of post-bakalao electronic music, few tracks have achieved the iconic status of “Flying Free.” Produced by the talented trio of Rubén Moreno (DJ Ruboy), Xavier Escudero (Xavi Metralla), and his brother Marc, this electrifying masterpiece became synonymous with the legendary Pont Aeri nightclub in Terrassa, Catalonia. Renowned for its authentic airplane staircase nestled within the club, Pont Aeri served as the breeding ground for some of the most illustrious pioneers of the Catalan mákina movement. With three iconic venues, including Pont Aeri, Nau B-3, and By Pass, Terrassa emerged as the capital of the Catalan mákina scene.

“Flying Free” was an audacious experiment, fusing the relentless rhythms of quasi-hardcore Catalan mákina (a descendant of Valencian bakalao) with the captivating vocals of London-based singer Marian Dacal. Upon its release in May, it initially struggled to meet the high expectations set for it. However, fate had other plans. In a twist of destiny, “Flying Free” catapulted to unprecedented heights of popularity during the summer months. Discos across Catalonia propelled it to mass playability, vinyl records flew off the shelves, and by the time Christmas arrived, “Flying Free” had its own merchandise line, solidifying its cultural impact.

Yet, as with all musical eras, the mákina movement eventually reached its twilight years. The evolution of electronic music led to a paradigm shift and the genre’s decline manifested in the closure of its prominent clubs, with some repurposed into supermarkets or transformed into nostalgic venues dedicated to 80s pop music.

Nonetheless, fervent mákina aficionados persist, organizing intimate remember parties in smaller venues, keeping the spirit of the movement alive. “Flying Free” remains a testament to the golden age of mákina, tracing its roots back to the pulsating heart of Terrassa. While the mákina era may have waned, the indelible impact of “Flying Free” and the Pont Aeri nightclub on the music landscape endures, leaving an indomitable legacy of a once-thriving genre.
Now back to the present: the controversy. Sweden has cultivated a reputation as a nation with a remarkable ability to produce globally successful pop acts and hit songs. This reputation has been built upon a foundation of innovative songwriting, catchy melodies, and trend-setting production techniques. However, the emergence of plagiarism allegations challenges Sweden’s status as a beacon of originality and creativity. It raises questions about whether the country’s music industry has relied too heavily on established formulas and past successes.

Additionally, the controversy emphasizes the evolving dynamics of the global music landscape. In an era of increased cultural exchange and interconnectedness, the notion of a single country’s dominance becomes more nuanced. The rise of artists from different nations, diverse musical influences, and the democratization of music production all contribute to a shifting paradigm in which Sweden’s supremacy faces challenges from other emerging musical powerhouses.

In this context, the allegations of plagiarism against “Tattoo” act as a wake-up call, urging Sweden’s music industry to continuously push boundaries, embrace innovation, and adapt to the changing dynamics of the global pop music scene.

On top of that, this would be Loreen’s second win, returning to the biggest music festival in the world a decade later and bringing the trophy home, coinciding with the 50th anniversary of Eurovision’s most epic, timeless and groundbreaking winners: ABBA. That raises questions about it being too much of a coincidence. Some may even say: Isn’t it too good not to be a marketing stunt?

Top picture by Artem Bryzgalov on Unsplash.

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    Alberto Méndez

    Editor & Author

    Global nomad from Barcelona. Advertising, Marketing & PR grad fascinated by culture, sociology, art and media. After having specialised in Marketing and Management within the Music Industry, Alberto is currently working as a brand manager assistant for a creative hub where record label-bureocracy, audiovisual production and fashion brands meet.

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