Music may be universal, but Swedish is not. If you’re a Melodifestivalen fan outside of Sweden, your knowledge of the language may be limited to direkt till final, nu kör vi, and fångad av en stormvind. So, in a bid to help fans absorb all the action during the Melodifestivalen 2021 final this Saturday, SVT is introducing English-language commentary for the international audience.
Yep. For the very first time, SVT will stream a live version of the final with English commentary. It will be available on SVT Play and accessible to viewers and fans all over the world. It makes a lot of sense. Over the past five weekends the hashtag #Melfest has appeared in the Top 10 trends in countries all across Europe as folks cheered on the likes of Danny Saucedo, Dotter, Tusse, Eric Saade and The Mamas.
An important note: This does not change rules about voting. It is not possible to vote outside of Sweden.
Melodifestivalen 2021: Meet the English-language commentators
The live commentators during the Swedish final are Bella Qvist from Sweden and Olivia Le Poidevin from the UK. Their banter and interaction will come naturally: They’re actually real-life friends with a shared love of all things Mello! Here’s how SVT describe their friendship.
“Great friends as well as Eurovision geeks, Bella Qvist and Olivia Le Poidevin met on Twitter through their shared love of Eurovision and their interest in LGBTQ+ culture. After years of online friendship they finally met in person in the backstage press area for the Eurovision Song Contest in 2016 in Stockholm. They have since then taken every opportunity to dance to Euphoria, Fuego and Love Love Peace Peace, and they even travelled to Lisbon together for the 2018 contest.”
“Bella works at Sveriges Radio, the Swedish public service radio, but has lived in the UK for ten years working as a freelance journalist contributing to media outlets such as the Guardian, as well as frequently appearing as Eurovision expert and guest panellist at the BBC. Bella has a long relationship with both Eurovision and Melodifestivalen. Olivia works as a journalist at the BBC and her life-long love for the Eurovision Song Contest has led her to report on the contest for the BBC World Service and ESC United in Copenhagen, Vienna, and Stockholm.”
Speaking to Wiwibloggs, Olivia said:
“I am so excited that audiences globally will be able to join us in celebrating Melfest in English. It’s amazing how, even during a pandemic, SVT is continuing to innovate with different ways to maximise the audience experience of Melodifestivalen. I am sure this year, in particular, we will appreciate the ability to gather in our living rooms around the world, and enjoy the amazing array of performances that the final will offer. And don’t worry — Bella and I have already had some intense Zoom calls discussing what we will wear for the night. For me it will probably be a sequin top, with pyjama bottoms, as I will be commentating from my living room in London. But I expect something much more glamorous from Bella, who will be backstage at the Annexet in Stockholm on the night. It’s going to be a ball.”
Bella is equally stoked. She told us:
“Melodifestivalen is a pure light and joy during the darkest time of the year, and the fact that Olivia and I this year, in a time when we need that positivity more than ever, get to be part of bringing that love to an even bigger audience, is an honour and a privilege and we are so excited. We can’t wait to welcome the international Eurovision family to 2021s Melodifestivalen. Whether you are joining from Sweden, Spain, or South Africa; we welcome you, we love you. Nu kör vi!”
Anette Brattström project manager of Melodifestivalen 2021, hopes the move will give something back to devoted fans abroad.
“It feels good to be able to reach out with Melodifestivalen to fans outside of Sweden, a body of viewers that year after year show their love for the program which has never been returned,” she says. “With their dedication and their love for the show Olivia and Bella will guide our English-speaking viewers through the night in a fantastic way.”
More about Olivia Le Poidevin
For broadcaster and senior BBC journalist, Olivia Le Poidevin, Eurovision is a family affair. Not only did her parents get married to the Eurovision theme tune, but Olivia even wrote her university history dissertation on the Eurovision Song Contest. From the day she could toe tap, Olivia has been besotted with the contest. She has fond memories of frenzied phone calls during the Eurovision interval acts, comparing voting scores with her family jury in France, Switzerland and the UK. Her love for sequins, smoke machines, and Balkan ballads has led her to report on the contest for the BBC World Service and ESC United in Copenhagen, Vienna, and Stockholm. Of course, her Eurovision reporting experience wouldn’t be complete without her interview with pop royalty, Bjorn from ABBA! Olivia is still pursuing her dream to one day be the UK’s official commentator at the Eurovision Song Contest. And, given that her mum was born in Stockholm, where she also met her Eurovision sister, Bella Qvist, it makes total sense that she will commentate the grand final of Melodifestivalen.
More about Bella Qvist
Eurovision super fan and Sveriges Radio journalist Bella Qvist has been hooked on Melodifestivalen ever since Charlotte Nilsson took her to Eurovision heaven in 1999, and she’s been flying high on the wings of Eurolove ever since. A big fan of epic songs, be it pop or metal, Bella still hasn’t recovered from Loreen’s historic win in 2012 and that first note of Euphoria gives her goosebumps to this day. Bella, who is based in Stockholm, has spent 18 years living in the UK and Germany and has a long record of reporting on Eurovision for various British media outlets including the Guardian, BBC and DIVA Magazine. Bella’s biggest dream is to one day be the official commentator at the Eurovision Song Contest, and she usually spends every Melodifestivalen Saturday glued to the show whilst sofa dancing and chatting along with friends online. This Saturday, she’ll be living that dream whilst chatting with the rest of the world.
Are you guys excited to listen to the English commentary? Do you think it’s as lovely a gesture from SVT as we do? Let us know in the comments box down below!