BAO perform new song on Swedish Television show ‘Babel’

Earlier this year, SVT’s literary magazine programme, Babel, challenged ten renowned authors to go head-to-head in a competition to write song lyrics for a new, specially composed piece of music by Benny Andersson. On this evening’s programme, the winning author was revealed as Swedish Academy member Horace Engdahl and his successful entry Nyårsballongen (New Year’s Balloon), was performed live on the show by Benny Anderssons Orkester.

Helen Sjöholm och BAO: Nyårsballongen:

The winner was chosen by both the television audience vote and a jury, consisting of Benny, Helen Sjöholm, Babel presenter Jessika Gedin, and series producer Marie Nyreröd.

Benny has told icethesite that coming to a final decision was not easy: “There were one or two other lyrics that we very much liked, but we chose the winner because of the heartbreaking story, the poetic touch and a good understanding of the musical rhythm,” he said.

It was also one of only two of the contestants’ texts that he and Helen Sjöholm did not have to change to fit the melody.

Benny, Helen, Jessika Gedin and Horace Engdahl
Benny, Helen, Jessika Gedin and Horace Engdahl

Engdahl, who has never before attempted to write song lyrics, is very happy about the win. “Now I understand how Nobel Laureates feel,” he said. “I’m just incredibly relieved that I have not ruined Benny’s music!”

Engdahl went on to praise Helen’s vocal talents: “You turn my doodles into art. To hear you sing the lyrics is like watching a black and white picture turn to colour,” he enthused.

While there are no plans to release Nyårsballongen as a single, Benny says that it will probably be included on BAO’s next album.

You can read more about the project, watch tonight’s programme (including conversation with Benny, Helen and Horace Engdahl as well as BAO’s performance), and listen to all ten versions of the song, by following the links below.

And for those that understand Swedish, here are the winning lyrics:

Nyårsballongen (Musik: Benny Andersson, Text: Horace Engdahl)

Det var midnatt
fylld av nyårsklockornas sång,
och vi la våra önskningar
ner i en pappersballong.

Och den lyfte
med sitt svaga, lilla ljus,
och jag kände hur fri jag var,
allt jag byggt upp låg i grus.

För när hjärtat har brustit
blir det lätt på en gång,
och det stiger så lustigt
som en varmluftsballong
med din önskan…

Lämna jord, hem och hus,
sväva som en punkt av ljus.
Du ska driva med vindenoch skratta åt skratten.

Lämna din lyckas värld,
lita på ballongens färd,
för när allt är förlorat
är himmelen öppen – och natten.

Den somstrukit
alla resmål har nu en chans,
för den lilla ballongen,
den färdas till just ingenstans.

Ska den stiga
eller sjunka? Stå på spänn!
För vad önskningen väger,
det vet inte önskaren än.

Och så lyfter ballongen!
Det finns ingenting kvar
som kan hålla den fången,
inga frågor och svar,
bara tystnad…

Vad du skrev med din sorg
Och la i ballongens korg,
Det kan du inte minnas, det kvittar ju lika.

Tomheten saknar ord,
saknar hem och hus och jord,
det är därför den gör oss
så svävande lätta och rika.

Related links:


  • I would have liked Mikael Nemi’s lyrics to have won…and why no single, I thought that was part of the contest? Alltogether quite disappointing… 🙁

  • Confused…is this not For Min Kara(excuse the spelling and lack of “thingies”)? (Its on youtube) Was For mIn Kara the “working” lyrics and then the real lyrics are this comp winner? Anyway, no matter. Another brilliant song by Benny and I love this arrangement more than the For Min Kara version. BUT also, although I LOVE Helen , why do I always end up begin slightly frustrated by new Benny songs, wishing for the (what I now feel is impossible given nothing happened this year) missed opportunity to use say a couple of other singers?! Just once. Keep it BAO! Just give ’em a guest vocal…please…

  • Helen turns any lyric into magic!
    A great lyric!
    Waiting for it be released on the next BAO album!

  • That is an absolutely gorgeous delight.!!!!!!
    It has all the characteristics of a great abba song
    Performed with such folksy charm.

  • @Gerard
    Mikael Nemi’s lyrics came second place, both regarding the television audience vote and the jury. I voted for Mikael Nemi. It was “the other” song that they did not have to change to fit the melody…

  • Under the Boardwalk meets Put on your White Sombrero

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