She’s the Swedish songstress that came close to giving Estonia a victory on home soil at Eurovision 2002. But despite three appearances in Sweden’s own Melodifestivalen over the following years, Anna Sahlene is doubtful about her chances of returning to the famed selection show.
Speaking on the Schlagervännerna: Eurovision Legends podcast, Anna says “the door has been closed for me”.
Anna Sahlene on her Melodifestivalen future
The “Runaway” hitmaker competed in Melfest in 2003, 2006 and 2009. On her first two attempts, she placed fifth in her semi. Her last effort — “Killing Me Tenderly” — proved to be her least successful in the competition, finishing seventh in its semi. However, it remains her highest-charting single to date, reaching number ten.
For some time afterwards, her Mello exile was self-imposed.
“The first years after ’09 I didn’t, because I felt a little bit ashamed that I hadn’t passed through to the finals. I felt like I had three chances, I didn’t make it. So, my self-esteem was a bit low”.
However, Sahlene soon picked herself back up again and submitted songs to the Swedish selection on multiple occasions over the last decade. But she never got the call asking her to compete again.
And now, the singer has come to the conclusion that her Melodifestivalen days are behind her.
“To be honest, the door has been closed for me in Sweden. I think it’s two reasons.
One reason is that the songs that I performed didn’t do as well as expected. In combination with that, we had some different opinions about my performance, to keep it a bit diplomatic”.
For instance, Sahlene had always believed that “Killing Me Tenderly” worked best as a solo number. However, the powers that be wanted a duet and Maria Haukaas Storeng was drafted in.
Estonia didn’t offer much hope for Anna either. But things are changing there.
“And also, in Estonia, the door has been closed for non-Estonian singers for many years. But now that door is open. And boy, would I love to go back to Estonia and meet my Estonian audience”.
Of course, Sweden’s Victor Crone sang for the Baltic nation in 2019.
Despite the obstacles, Anna is adamant that she wants to get back on to the Eurovision stage as the lead artist at some point.
“So, I just want to tell you all that I would love to return to the Eurovision stage but my hands have been a little bit tied”.
Anna Sahlene rejected Melodifestivalen songs
Many of Anna’s failed Melfest submissions remain under lock and key.
However, she does reveal the story behind one of the unreleased numbers.
“There are a couple of songs that have been written together with Eurovision winners. And one song was kind of a feministic anthem that we did right after “me too”. I did that together with one fantastic female producer, one extremely known Swedish writer (when I say writer, I actually mean a writer of books, she’s a woman too), together with Linnea Deb who won with Måns Zelmerlöw’s “Heroes”, and myself.
So, it was actually the first time that it was an all-female team in Sweden that sent something in, with four prominent female writers. But unfortunately, it didn’t.
Find the full podcast online, on Spotify and on Facebook.
What do you think of Anna’s past efforts? Do you want to see her return? Let us know in the comments.
I’m really racking my brain to think of Swedish acts not named the Mamas that I think are overdue for a comeback. Truth be told, the only ones I was kind of rooting for were Arvingarna with “I Do,” and even that was more out of nostalgia and I knew “Too Late for Love” was the right choice. None of the comebacks from 2020 impressed me all that much (“Kingdom Come” was alright), save for – again – “Move,” and they weren’t even the main artists last year. Sweden has such a big talent pool and so many acts that… Read more »
It’s a little bit strange to read that none of the comebacks from 2020 was impressing – I mean Dotter was comeback act as well !
I meant “comeback” as in “Melfest winner,” not “Melfest contestant.” Plenty of Melfest contestants have impressed me multiple times. (Just saying: I adore the Mamas, but if Jon Henrik Fjallgren keeps up his trend of competing every other year, send him to Eurovision already!).
I don’t think the following should have gone back; Niamh Kavanagh, Dana International and Alexander Rybak…..
Niamh Kavanagh was a nice victory lap, but the earnestness and sincerity of “In Your Eyes” isn’t easily replicated, and “It’s for You” doesn’t hold a candle. I’ve been on a real Dana International kick lately (at least in terms of watching her interviews) so I have a lot of respect for her as a person and an artist, but yeah, “Ding Dong” was embarrassing. And I kinda liked “That’s How You Write a Song” and I figured it was a foregone conclusion the moment he was announced as an MGP competitor that he’d get the ticket to Lisbon (I… Read more »
Send her to the UK! As long as there is a strong and powerful song, she would do well.
(I think she was a backing singer in 2019 for the UK – so it’s not like she’s unknown to the powers that be at the BBC)
The country she actually sang for was Estonia and she’s done backing vocals for Malta, Australia, and the UK in addition to her own country. Lady gets around! (I also find it fascinating that Estonia’s been represented by three different Swedes, one of them on home ground, and not once has anyone been bothered by it. Maybe ‘cuz at least one got a strong result and another got them a second qualification in a row?)
Never say never
I hope She Will be back for Estonia soon. I really liked the demos and her version of Stjärna på himlen was beautiful.
Love this podcast. Just heard the episode with Charlotte Perrelli and Ralph Siegel. Looking forward for more
The kind of schlager pop songs Anna performs isn’t the thing any more. Maybe if the changes genre I dont know
Some old school schlager-style songs have done really well recently. I’m thinking Victorious, Party Voice, Gamla Stan and some others. So I wouldn’t say the genre is necessarily the problem. I’d love to hear what her collaboration with Linnea Deb sounded like.
Well is a relative term. Those songs all ended up near the bottom or even last with tele voters. So it clearly isn’t a big audience drat to that any more.
None of which actually competed at Eurovision. I dunno, every year we get some kind of schlager, but I feel like Nordic countries are less about straightforward schlager anymore. There’s usually some kind of twist now (“Spirit in the Sky” is the closest example I can think of from 2019 and even that has some Sami elements to make it unique. 2020 had pretty much none, unless “Attention” kinda qualifies as a schlager ballad).
Schlager ballad? Ha ha. What Love Is probably fit in that category representing – Estonia, which sort of squares the circle!
I think many people would be happy to simply see her back at Melfest, maybe even in the final. And the examples I’ve mentioned have shown that such songs can do well in both the competition and commercially. Of course, Eurovision is a different beast entirely.
That’s true. I often forget that Melfest as an event is about as popular, if not more so, than Eurovision itself, so just participating there is enough to build up a reputation.
The one I miss the most is Velvet. The Queen is a bop. Chemistry, Fix Me and plenty of other great songs. Unfortunately I think Swedish people do not like it
Velvet was great as the Euroclub co-host in 2016. A comeback is long overdue!