Andreas Johnson improved on his third place last year in coming second, while Måns Zelmerlöw came third.
The Ark’s victory in the final at Stockholm’s Globen was indisputable. The group won both the public telephone vote and came top in the majority of the eleven juries’ verdicts.
The band from Rottne, outside Växjö, seemed astonished at their victory but put it down to their “real” sound.
“We’ve been doing this for nine years without any success at all. Then there were seven years where we were noticed. We represent something which is rather down-to-earth, even if it doesn’t look like it when you look at these sequin-clad blokes – but everything we do is for real,” said the band’s singer Ola Salo .
The Ark finished on 248 points, a joint record with Afro-Dite in 2002. Andreas Johnson’s ‘A Little Bit of Love’ ended with 189 points and Måns Zelmerlöw earned 171. Teacher Marie Lindberg came fifth.
The final was as popular as ever, with 2,072,918 telephone votes cast by the public.
The last time Sweden was represented in the Eurovision Song Contest by an established pop group was in 1974, and then things went rather well. That was the year ABBA won with Waterloo, which was the kickstart for the Swedish superstars’ incredible success story. A good omen for The Ark, perhaps.
The final in Globen was the culmination of a six-week circus of pop, with four semi-finals and a ‘Second Chance’ round before the tour ended in Stockholm.
This year’s competition marked a changing of the guard in schlager-Sweden. The genre’s old hands such as Nanne Grönvall, Magnus Carlsson and previous winner Jessica Andersson all failed to reach the final, as did Magnus Uggla.
Even in the final itself, stalwarts Anna Book and Tommy Nilsson propped up the results table with one and no points respectively.
Instead, a new generation of Swedish stars, including Sonja Aldén and Sarah Dawn Finer, came to the fore.
The next few weeks will be a chance for schlager fans to recover their senses but in May the fun starts anew. On May 12th the Eurovision Song Contest final will be held in the Hartwall arena in Helsinki. Thanks to Carola’s strong performance last year Sweden does not have to endure the ignominy of the qualifying rounds.
The draw for the performance order will be held on Monday.