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!

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James
James
7 months ago

This is good, but I downloaded the app and it’s all in Swedish. How do you know how to select the English version, or am I being stupid?

L'oiseau
L'oiseau
7 months ago

I do think this is a great initiative from SVT for all the fandom. It shows that Sweden is indeed a great outlooking nation. Although I will not watch it for musical reasons… 🙁 Have fun, guys!

Whisker
Whisker
7 months ago

Thank you Finland!

Teddie
Teddie
7 months ago

Hey guys, in case you didn’t know — you CAN watch Melfest with ENGLISH subs. The trick is to turn on the swedish subtitles in their video player and then translate the page via Google Chrome’s internal translator (the promt is in the right-click menu). This thing updates the original subs almost instantly, I did this for the last two years and it works perfectly.

Last edited 7 months ago by Teddie
Koen
Koen
7 months ago
Reply to  Teddie

Really? That’s cool. Good to know. I’ve never watched it because of it being in Swedish, but now my curiosity is tickled.

Edit: oh my God. I just tried it with a random programme on SVT player. It even works with Dutch. I think you might have changed my life a little. 😀

Last edited 7 months ago by Koen
Teddie
Teddie
7 months ago
Reply to  Koen

Haha awesome!!

Migs
Migs
7 months ago

Just show the “fair play” over the other countries…. What a joke!

FinGuy
FinGuy
7 months ago

we have also Finnish live commentary in Finland!!

Nicolas
Nicolas
7 months ago

Cultural impoverishment. 90% of songs in english seems not enough for them. Move to London next step ?

Peter Schofield
Peter Schofield
7 months ago
Reply to  Nicolas

I’ll use the google translate option. That way, I can use my native language, not English.

Lolek
Lolek
7 months ago

This is awesome!! The only downside is I have one less reason to try and practice my Swedish haha.

Joe
Joe
7 months ago

Hey, fantastic!

Joe
Joe
7 months ago
Reply to  Joe

Also, Austria just leaked. It’s…eh? Liora remains unchallenged for the best Eurovision song called “Amen.”

Whisker
Whisker
7 months ago
Reply to  Joe

Thanks for sharing. I listened to the song.

Tobias Andersen
Tobias Andersen
7 months ago

WAUW. I was so impressed Finland did it, personally I understand Swedish but it’s awesome they do this!

Andi
Andi
7 months ago

Nice, it was such a nice service at the UMK final… but the Finish was still a bit too loud back than. I hope they make the original language a bit less loud.

Martyna
Martyna
7 months ago

Oh my gosh, Sweden, you’re A A A A-mazing. I do not speak Swedish but I do laugh at their jokes anyway, now I can laugh at their jokes, and also understand them. Such a fabulous idea. Melo is going to be even more spectacular and thrilling. Tack så mycket, Sverige!

Last edited 7 months ago by Martyna
Bob
Bob
7 months ago

No thanks!!! I’ll stick to the Swedish. Heaven forfend national selections cater to their national audiences and not the Eurofandom. (Love from UK)

James
James
7 months ago
Reply to  Bob

For a show with such an international profile, and also happens to be one of the major drivers of traffic in the broadcaster’s livestream platform, it actually make sense.

Finland has done this recently with UMK, but also included Swedish and Russian commentary this year as YLE happens to also serve the programming needs of Finland’s non-Finnish speaking communities.

Tobias Andersen
Tobias Andersen
7 months ago
Reply to  Bob

it’s not like you are forced to it 🙂
You can chose original or with English commentary (at least that’s how I see it)

Denis
Denis
7 months ago
Reply to  Bob

Seeing how the YouTube comment section for a Swedish show is mostly filled with English comments and non- Swedes it makes sense

Jimmy Smit
Jimmy Smit
7 months ago

Wow, nice. I think it’s really sweet of Melfest and UMK to offer this kind of service. With this and the sign language service, SVT has set good examples for accessibility.

I’ve always enjoyed watching Melfest without understanding Swedish—it’s good for the mind to hear and see things not in the languages you know—but I’m sure this will be a helpful inclusive step for fans, and bring in new international viewers.

Jamie
Jamie
7 months ago

Fantastic! I loved the English commentators during UMK final. Such a great idea.