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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Guest
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I was told that one artist can participate in Melfest only 3 times? I’ve read the rules of MF 2017, 2016 and 2015 but couldn’t find the line stating the limited number. Would you be so kind and give me the link to the official rules of MF where I can clearly see this restriction?

Matthew
Guest
Matthew

Looks like Margaret will come no higher than 7th according to these statistics.

Hebbuzz
Guest
Hebbuzz

Only half of Baccara that took part in MF was left from the 1977 Baccara…….

Stian F
Guest
Stian F

oh my – how could you forget Maria Haukaas Storeng ? I am disappointed 😉

esc freak
Guest
esc freak

I feel bad for Krista. She is lovely and deserved better.

Purple Mask
Guest
Purple Mask

There should be no nationality barriers in music contests.
I never liked the “countries competing” aspect of Eurovision. Just compete with the song names, like MelFest is doing. Music shouldn’t ever be a substitute for conflict (unlike some sporting tournaments). Discuss. 🙂

kenna
Guest
kenna

Well I on the contrary think that half of the excitement in the ESC comes from the ‘countries competing’ aspect. It adds a certain authenticity and “flavor” to the contest. Sure, I agree with your point too but another contest like that can easily be created by someone else.

Soy
Guest
Soy

You never liked the countries competing flavor of Eurovision? Hah! Don’t call yourself a ‘fan’

Jessica21
Guest
Jessica21

I am surprised that you did not mention Helena Paparizou. She’s a Greek queen. 😀

Cesar
Guest
Cesar

Well, she actually was born in Sweden, from greek parents

Denis
Guest
Denis

She’s more of a Swedish princess:)

Mark
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Mark

How good would it be if there were no Swedes in Melodifestivalen?

Jonas
Guest
Jonas

I love Maarja.

Aina
Guest
Aina

Arja Saijonmaa (MF 1987 Högt över havet & MF 2005 Vad du än trodde så trodde du fel). Arja is well-know Finnish artist and she has had succesful career in Finland and Sweden. In 1987 she was second in Melodifestivalen and a fan favourite and the song is evergreen now!

G1
Guest
G1

The difference with the artists that you mention is that they are leaving in Sweden, the crew up and had a career there.
Paparizou is a Greek artist, she won the Eurovision representing Greece, she is living in Greece and her career is in Greece. All other artists that are mentioned in the article are the ones that have a career in another country and just participated in Melodifestivalen because they are “known” in Sweden.On that basis Paparizou should also be included in the article.

Mael
Guest
Mael

Yeah but Paparizou is also Swedish so she would have nothing to do in this article.

Denis
Guest
Denis

Paparizou is born and raised in Gothenburg and had a career in Sweden before she competed and won for Greece. So no, Greek’s can’t take the sole glory for her!

G1
Guest
G1

No she never had a career in Sweden before she competed for Greece.
She was a member of a group (“antique”) that had two hits in Sweden. But as a solo artist she only had a career in Greece before winning the contest. On that basis she should be mentioned in the article.

Denis
Guest
Denis

But she won’t because she is Swedish. She’s born and raised here. The article concerns foreign artists who have no connection to Sweden. Helena is neither!

HarpyDarper
Guest
HarpyDarper

There seems to be a trend of artists going to the contest- then trying again the next! Why so soon? They should let someone else have a go

Neil
Guest
Neil

Allanah Myles was atrocious live! She looks a crack addict and I feel sorry for the backing singers who had to see her spread on the speakers in front of them showing her infected vagina! Kee should have performed the song solo as it was a good song.

Nancy G
Guest
Nancy G

lol, dying. i listened to that video of her above and could not believe how bad she sounded!!!

Denis
Guest
Denis

You could’ve added Maria Haukaas Storeng, who competed with Sahlene in 2009. She was the hottest thing here in Sweden after coming 5th in 2008. She tanked..

Matt
Guest
Matt

I’d never heard Sober before, that was a really good catchy song, I think it could have used two stronger vocalists, or maybe someone like Eric Saade who’s more charismatic/cheeky that would fit it well.

Pavel
Guest
Pavel

I’d be more concerned with Sweden constantly rejected Swedish-language songs, some of which are better than those ones they had actually sent.

Robyn Gallagher
Editor

Melodifestivalen has a quota for Swedish songs. At least one-third of the songs every year are Swedish. But yeah, fewer Swedish-language songs make it to the final. I think one reason is that most of the big stars sing in English. If “Heroes” or “Undo” or “Euphoria” had been in Swedish, they most likely would still have won in their respective years.

Sabi
Guest
Sabi

Also Tobias you forget to add on this list Simone Moreno – (who born in Salvador de Bahia, Brazil) which she participated at Melodifestivalen 2006 with the catchy song – Aiayeh (The Music of the Samba) in the first semifinal and placed 8th.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WSGin_pyvwQ

Charli Cheer Up
Guest
Charli Cheer Up

THE Katrina who won for the UK competed in Melfest!? interesting find. I didn’t know about this. Perhaps its been years since they last had an artist that was from beyond Scandinavia which is why Margaret’s participation created a big buzz.

Polyna
Guest
Polyna

> annoyed that coveted spots have gone to foreigners rather than homegrown talent

And the spot went to homegrown talent! Lot of people forget that Melodifestivalen is primarily contest for *songwriters*, and in Margaret’s case they’re 100% Swedish. Yes, even Arash, fite me.

I would be more concerned that the song will be probably a total ripoff of Camila Cabello, ‘Cabana’ is only two consonants away from ‘Havana’.

Erasmus
Guest
Erasmus

I don’t think so. She’s(Margaret) a too big name to do a rip-off, but it will have a tropical vibe for sure.

Nancy G
Guest
Nancy G

I like Polyna’s point. The “product” — the song — is totally Swedish. I was upset to read so many negative comments about Margaret being Polish in Facebook groups (where, it seems, many trolls go to die)…like, it doesn’t matter where she is from. She earned her spot by having hits in Sweden with Swedes previously. I cannot wait to hear the tune.

G1
Guest
G1

You should add Helena Paparizou.
She may have been born in Sweden but she is 100% Greek.

Nancy G
Guest
Nancy G

Um, WTF? She is both Swedish and Greek. She is NOT 100% Greek unless you think identity is solely based on genes. Totally agree with Mattias.

Denis
Guest
Denis

That was a strange way of thinking! No one is 100% of anything, Unless you think genes are all that matters for one’s identity., as Nancy said. Helena identifies as Swedish/Greek and that’s how we see her!

I mean as Mattias says, thinking like that would expand the list. Mendez would be 100% Chilean then. Kristin Amparo would be 100% non-Swede too. LaGaylia too.
And Sanna Nielsen would be included too, if we lowered the percentage.