Five top facts: Sweden’s Eurovision entry

UPDATED: Just three years after winning Eurovision, Sweden is again tipped as one of the favourites to take home the crown on Saturday. Here, The Local brings you the five things you need to know about the 28-year-old Swedish heartthrob who has stirred up quite the social media buzz in Vienna.

Five top facts: Sweden's Eurovision entry
Sweden's Eurovision star Måns Zelmerlöw. Photo: Jessica Gow/TT

Europeans across the continent are set to gather in front of their television screens and laptops to watch as the Eurovision Song Contest final takes place in Vienna this weekend.

In Sweden, all eyes will be on Måns Zelmerlöw when he takes the stage as the 10th act in the line-up on Saturday, May 23rd. The Swede sailed through the semi-final with his 'Heroes' on Thursday.

READ ALSO: The Local's guide to Sweden's Eurovision mania

But who is the young artist? As it's one of Sweden's most-watched television shows, you will simply not be able to avoid Eurovision this week. So, to help you along the way, we have compiled a list of all the things you need to know about Sweden's entry.

What's the lowdown on the singer?

Måns Zelmerlöw is a 28-year-old pop singer from Lund in southern Sweden. He first entered the limelight after coming fifth in the Swedish Idol 2005 competition and winning the Strictly Come Dancing-inspired competition Let's Dance a year later. Zelmerlöw then made a name for himself starring in various musicals and hosting the ever-so-popular Swedish sing-a-long show Allsång på Skansen from 2011 to 2013.

Måns Zelmerlöw winning Sweden's Melodifestivalen earlier this year. Photo: Nora Lorek / TT

Is this his first time in Eurovision?

Yes, but this is a touchy topic. Zelmerlöw was widely tipped to win Melodifestivalen – Sweden's competition to choose the country's Eurovision entry – back in 2007 but stumbled at the final hurdle, ending up in third place with 'Cara Mia' (a catchy pop tune which interestingly later went on to become something of a modern cult classic in Sweden). Two years later he was again one of the favourites, but lost out to opera singer Malena Ernman and dropped to fourth place with his 'Hope and Glory'. It was third time lucky for Zelmerlöw this year, who now hopes to take over the Eurovision title from last year's winner Conchita Wurst.

So, is he likely to win?

Actually, he's one of the favourites among the 40 countries competing, if the bookies are to be believed. Search engine Bing presented its own statistics naming Sweden as the top favourite with a 17.2 percent chance of winning (compared to predicted runner-up Russia at 13.6 percent). However, he faces some competition from Italian tenor group Il Volo and Guy Sebastian of Australia, which will be entering as part of a special 60th anniversary edition of the contest.

But Zelmerlöw has certainly created a buzz in Vienna, not least thanks to a saucy press kit featuring an image of him wearing only underwear released last week. At Sunday's opening ceremony the Swedish artist spent several hours being interviewed by international media on the red carpet.

Is his song really as good as all that?

It is pretty catchy and the feelgood uptempo Heroes, by songwriter Anton Malmberg Hård af Segerstad, has certainly been making the rounds in Stockholm's clubs this spring. But most of all it was Zelmerlöw's stage show that no doubt played a part in his sweeping victory in Melodifestivalen. In the act, the singer interacts with a series of digital effects surrounding him – even landing a fist bump perfectly with… yes, you read it right, a digital gnome.

It is worth noting that the performance has not been completely uncontroversial and Zelmerlöw's gnome army has been accused of plagiarism, leading the singer's crew to tweak the background digital effects ahead of tomorrow's competition.

Wait a minute, didn't Sweden just win Eurovision?

Yes, and some commentators think this may count against Zelmerlöw's chances of winning. Sweden is one of the most successful Eurovision competitors, with previous winners including Abba in 1974, the Herreys brothers in 1984, Swedish icon Carola in 1991 and Charlotte Nilsson with 'Take Me to Your Heaven' in 1999. More recently, Sweden saw young star Loreen take home the heavily sought out award for her song 'Euphoria' in 2012.

Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.


‘My song is about resilience’: The Ukrainian in Sweden’s Mello song contest

Maria Sur, 17, arrived in Sweden in March after a journey of hundreds of kilometres through Ukraine and Poland from Zaporizhzhia, her home town. She tells The Local's Yuliia Kyzyk of what she hopes to gain from taking part in the Melodifestivalen song contest.

'My song is about resilience': The Ukrainian in Sweden's Mello song contest

THE LOCAL: After weeks of war, a long journey, and emigration to Sweden, you still found the strength to participate in charity concerts in your first month here in Sweden. Tell us about your journey to Melodifestivalen. 

Maria Sur: The next day after I arrived in Sweden from Ukraine, I started looking for opportunities to work. It was obvious that whining and suffering would not help anyone, so I had to do something that would give me strength and help other people.

Since my passion is singing, I decided to continue working on it. I literally wrote to a lot of popular Swedish singers to find a way of making my dream come true and eventually, one of them helped to take part in my first charity singing festival for Ukraine.

As a result, we collected €8 million to help Ukraine. A few days after the festival, I got spotted by Warner Music Sweden. After a meeting and talk about my goals and skills, we started cooperating with them, and after a few months of hard work, we decided to take part in Melodifestivalen.

Maria Sur had been a participant in Ukraine’s version of The Voice. Photo: Maria Sur
Before the start of the Russian invasion, I was already working on a singer career in Ukraine. I took part in national singing competitions, and I was quite successful. It seemed like the best time in my career was approaching. I lived, dreamed, and acted, and then one day someone just came and took it all away. Everything just broke down. And suddenly I found myself in a situation where I needed to start all over again.

Now I live for today. Now I know that no one in the whole world can know what awaits us all tomorrow. Of course, I continue to dream, it helps, but I can no longer plan, or live in illusions. And it’s scary that young people like me think this way. That we live one day at a time.

My first goal at Melodifestivalen is to do a really quality performance that I will be proud of. I want to feel after the performance, “I did everything I could. I did the best I could. It was honest. People felt it.”.

That is more important for me than results. 

Maria Sur on stage in Ukraine’s version of The Voice. Photo: The Voice Ukraine

THE LOCAL: Your song for Melodifestivalen is called “Never give up”. What is the message your song has for listeners?

Maria Sur: “Never give up” is a song about my way, about my personal fight. This is my motto. You have to go forward no matter what. This is about my experience before the war, when I fought for a long time to end up singing on a big stage in Ukraine. And this is about my road now, when despite the war, separation from relatives and home, I still go on. With this message, I want to encourage Ukrainians and everyone in the whole world who needs to know it, to continue fighting on his own path. I don’t want to be pitied or win sympathy. My song is about resilience. My story is sad, but it is about strength.

Maria Sur (centre), surrounded by the team backing her at the Swedish arm of Warner Brothers. Photo: Maria Sur

THE LOCAL: Russia’s full-scale invasion caught us Ukrainians sleeping. What were the first weeks of life in the new reality in Ukraine like? And how do you see your journey as a refugee shortly afterwards?

Maria Sur: I remember February 24th clearly. Early in the morning, I had online lessons at school, I was going to go to an English class, and in a few hours it became obvious that the war had started. It was very unexpected for me personally. We hadn’t had any conversations in our family about it before it happened. 

I remember very well how many people I saw panicking, at the same time air raid sirens were sounding continuously and everyone ran to the basement. My family could not believe that all those things were happening. We were convinced that everything would be over in a few days. That is why we didn’t want to leave Ukraine. 

My family always stick together. However, in two weeks it became clear. We must leave my city, Zaporizhzhia. For three days we could not pack for the journey. Whenever we attempted to do it, we sat down and cried. Eventually, Dad stayed at home, and Mom and me were forced to go. 

I remember the train station in my city at that time – huge queues, a lot of people and everyone crying, saying goodbye to each other. The trains were completely packed with children and women. It was impossible to cross the carriage of the train because of the hundreds of people inside.

My city is located in the southeast of Ukraine, so we were evacuated to Poland by travelling almost through the whole of Ukraine. It took a very long time. At the border with Poland, they did not want to let the train pass, because it was completely full of people.

So we were sent back to Lviv, a city in the west of Ukraine. Still, a few days later we got to Poland. Later in March we flew to Sweden to my aunt. 

Maria Sur is interviewed on stage by the Norwegian TV host Fredrik Skavlan. Photo: Zap Group

How you have changed in the months that have passed since the war started? 

Maria Sur: I have grown up very quickly. I started to appreciate things that I used to ignore. I started to support my parents and my friends. I look differently at things such as happiness. For instance, I was happy when I got the news that I had been selected for Melodifestivalen. But it was not the same joy as I felt before the war, especially since, five minutes previously, I had talked to my dad, who is now in Ukraine, and told me everything that is happening there now.

Despite everything, we must go on living. If we have this chance to live, we should take everything from it to the maximum. That’s what I’m trying to do, and that’s what I’m singing about.

Today, we must not stop talking about the war in Ukraine, we must continue to organise charity concerts, as well as make music to support people.