Not just Margaret: 10 times foreign artists sang in Melodifestivalen


Last month Swedish broadcaster SVT revealed the 28 acts set to take part in Melodifestivalen 2018. Among the many surprises were two foreign acts: Margaret from Poland and Kampferdrops from Norway.

The news that Margaret chose to make a Eurovision run in Sweden rather than her homeland Poland has stirred plenty of discussion in the Eurovision fandom. A number of Polish fans say they’re disappointed that Margaret — a fan favourite in Poland’s Eurovision 2016 selection with “Cool Me Down” — will try her luck abroad. And, scrolling through various Facebook fan groups, we’ve also found some Swedes who are annoyed that coveted spots have gone to foreigners rather than homegrown talent.

Speaking to wiwibloggs at the artists reveal on November 28, Melodifestivalen supervisor Christer Björkman said that not any foreign artist can secure a spot.

“You need to be established and have an audience here,” he said. “It’s not enough to just have been in the Eurovision because that’s sort of connected only to that show. You really need a broader base to get anywhere in Melodifestivalen. You have to establish yourself in the radio market here and then I can look at it.”

With two foreign acts in the Melodifestivalen mix this year, we thought we’d have a dig in the Melfest archives to see what other foreign acts have competed in the show over the years. Please note, this is not a list of all the foreign acts who have ever competed at Melodifestivalen. We also avoided listing foreign-born acts who have made a life for themselves in Sweden (such as DJ Méndez and Swingfly).

In any case, let’s celebrate diversity and have a look…

Kerli & Locatellies (2003)

Placing: 7th in the second semi-final

At the age of 14 Kerli won a televised Estonian talent competition, which resulted in a record deal and a sudden boost in exposure. As she told us in an interview ahead of Eesti Laul 2017, that led to a spot at Melodifestivalen, where she proceeded to raise hell.

“I was in Sweden and like two days before the semi-final I got really sick,” she told us. “I told them, ‘Get me an eyebrow piercing. If you get me an eyebrow piercing all of my illness will be wiped away.’ In Sweden and Scandinavia they are so normal, so they had to illegally open up a tattoo shop at night. I told the stylist to f*ck herself and went on stage with my own jeans. I was not as sweet and innocent as I looked on stage.”

The lyrics to her song “Let’s Go” weren’t particularly innocent. As the then 16-year-old Estonian sang: “It is Kerli who is on the line, are you ready to sweat, get all wet, the party is set”.

Maarja (2003)

Placing: 6th in the fourth semi-final

Maarja represented Estonia twice at the Eurovision Song Contest, placing fifth in 1996 and eighth in 1997. Given those solid results — and perhaps keen to expand her international fan base — she competed in Melodifestivalen the same year as her Estonian countrywoman Kerli.

Wearing a black, thigh-skimming dress, Maarja gave a heart-felt performance of “He Is Always On My Mind”. Despite delivering pitch perfect vocals in solid English, she crashed out in sixth place behind the likes of Afro-dite and Sahlene.

Baccara (2004)

Placing: 7th in the second semi-final

Baccara — the Spanish female duo consisting of Mayte Mateos and María Mendiola — formed in 1977 and had their international breakthrough with their debut single “Yes Sir, I Can Boogie”, which managed to reach #1 on the Swedish charts.

But by 2004 the duo were, no doubt, past their prime. Perhaps keen to lay the groundwork for their album The Best of Baccara, which dropped the following year, they made a run at Melfest with the song “Soy tu Venus”.

They finished in the bottom two of their semi-final, behind the likes of Fame (who won Melodifestivalen and placed fifth at Eurovision the year before).

Katrina and The Nameless (2005)

Placing: 3rd in the fourth semi-final; eliminated in Andra Chansen 

Katrina Leskanich is the American-born artist (who lives in the UK) who is best known for leading Katrina and the Waves. In 1997 they competed for the United Kingdom at Eurovision with “Love Shine a Light”, securing the UK’s last victory.

Singing “As If Tomorrow Will Never Come”, a rock number from Thomas G:Son, Katrina spent the first verse on a platform hyping up the audience while her male singing partner belted it out. They didn’t have the most convincing chemistry, but still managed to escape their semi-final.

Sanne Salomonsen (2005)

Placing: 7th in the final

With a career dating back to 1973, Danish singer Sanne Salomonsen had released 15 albums by the time she competed at Melodifestivalen in 2005. Singing “Higher Ground”, she finished second in her semi-final (ahead of Bodies Without Organs) and an impressive seventh in the final (ahead of Linda Bengtzing and Fredrik Kempte & Sanna Nielsen).

Kee Marcello & Alannah Myles (2005)

Placing: 7th in the third semi-final

Alannah Myles is a Canadian artist best known for her hit “Black Velvet”, which hit number 1 in countries including the United States and Sweden. It helped nab Alannah a Grammy Award for Best Female Rock Performance in 1991.

Unfortunately her reputation as a hitmaker wasn’t enough to carry her through Melodifestivalen, nor was the fact she was teamed with Swedish rocker Kee Marcello. At times she sounded like she was screaming.

Brandur (2008)

Placing: Seventh in the first semi-final 

An artist from the Faroe Islands, Brandur — full name Brandur Helgason Enni — was little-known prior to the contest. But, despite placing seventh with his atmospheric song “Lullaby”, he managed to make a bit of a name for himself around Scandinavia. He went on to win the Planet Award for “Best Male Singer” from Faroese newspaper Sosialurin. He’s subsequently written songs with Swedish songwriters including Aleena Gibson, Karin Elisabeth Dreijer, Lasse Andersson and Benny Andersson.

Erik Segerstedt & Tone Damli (2013)

Placing: 4th place in the second semi-final; 5th place in Andra Chansen

Tone Damli was the runner-up on Norwegian Idol 2005. And, in a funny twist of fate, she teamed up with Erik Segerstedt, who had finished as runner-up on Swedish Idol 2006. The year prior to her Melfest run, she had released “Imagine” featuring Eurovision 2011 and Melodiestivalen winner Eric Saade.

Krista Siegfrids (2016)

Placing: Fifth in the second semi-final 

A Finnish singer and TV host, she represented Finland at the Eurovision Song Contest 2013 in Malmö with “Marry Me”. And while she was born in Finland, her mother tongue is actually Swedish, which made her participation in 2016 seem incredibly organic. The blonde bombshell managed to place fifth in her semi, narrowly missing a spot in Andra Chansen.

Krista Siegfrids (2017)

Krista, who signed with Universal Music Sweden the preceding year, continued to make a name for herself in Sweden, securing a second straight invitation to Melodifestivalen with the song “Snurra Min Jord” (Spin My World). Despite her sultry sound and lovely vocals, the scoreboard didn’t go Krista’s way and she finished last.

Which of these performances was your favourite? Do you think Margaret and Kamferdrops will score better than the foreign artists that came before them? Let us know in the comments box down below. 

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