Måns Zelmerlöw: The Eurovision superstar with big dreams
Måns Zelmerlöw followed in the footsteps of musical giants when he represented Sweden in the Eurovision Song Contest 2015. With a stunning visual performance, Zelmerlöw proved victorious and established himself as the next Swedish superstar in the making. He joins us to reflect upon his incredible achievement and tells us about his new album, upcoming tour and the exciting whirlwind that his life has become in the wake of his success.
The first step on Zelmerlöw’s journey to the Wiener Stadthalle in Vienna for the Eurovision Song Contest was entering his song Heroes into Melodifestivalen, the Swedish song contest that selects the nation’s representative. He had taken part in the competition twice before, most recently in 2009, but this year the stars aligned for Zelmerlöw as he debuted his contemporary track and stunning visual show. “Winning Melodifestivalen was a dream of mine ever since I was a little boy growing up in Lund,” he says. “For me, that was the ultimate accomplishment and I never even considered that I could go on to win the Eurovision itself. Competing in the Eurovision seemed just a bonus of winning at home first.”
A spectacular show
A high standard of songwriting is always expected from the country that produced previous winners such as Abba and Loreen, but audiences across the world were stunned by the visual display that Zelmerlöw also produced. Throughout his performance, he interacted with an illuminated stick figure while donning virtual butterfly wings for an exquisite, perfectlyorchestrated performance. “I knew that we needed a really big show to accompany the song, so I discussed some special effect ideas that I had seen in movies with Fredrik Rydman, one of Sweden’s most famous choreographers, and David Nordström, a digital illustrator,” Zelmerlöw explains. “Fredrik introduced me to the 3D projection mapping technology and I knew that was it. Some people were nervous that it would be too dark and that viewers wouldn’t be able to connect with me, but we were confident that it would work and I’m so happy that we persisted with it.” After two months of intense rehearsals and careful preparation, the visual display helped secure a win for Sweden.
The excitement of winning
Zelmerlöw is still reeling from the huge adrenalin that came with his victory. “When we took the lead for the first time, it felt like the whole arena started screaming, ‘Sweden! Sweden!’ and it was one of the most incredible moments of my life,” he recalls. “Everything after that is a blur and I can’t even remember the moment they called my name. Everything happened so fast after that.” Zelmerlöw’s life has been a whirlwind ever since, with little time to relax. “It has all been very hectic with a lot of promotional work all over Europe, a Scandinavian tour and my new album being released,” he says. “I haven’t had many days off but I couldn’t be happier. It’s all such a rush.”
Life before Eurovision
Zelmerlöw first came to the attention of the Swedish public when he competed in Idol, the Swedish TV singing contest. “Participating in the show was a very important step for me because it gave me the push I needed to pursue my dreams,” he reflects. “I don’t think that I was very good on the show really, but I don’t know if I would have had the energy or belief in myself to really go for it with my career without that experience.” Zelmerlöw, nonetheless, came fifth and proved so popular that he was invited to participate in the celebrity dancing competition, Let’s Dance, on Sweden’s TV4. He won the dance contest with his partner, Maria Karlsson, and his career was truly launched; he took a lead role in the musical Grease, signed a recording contract and released his first album, Stand by For…, in 2007. Heroes, his Eurovision winner, is the culmination of the musical journey that Zelmerlöw has been on since then, as he evolved into the Scandi-pop star we see today.
The new album: Perfectly Damaged
Zelmerlöw released his sixth studio album, Perfectly Damaged, in June this year. The album went straight to number one on the official Swedish Albums Chart on its first week of release and has enjoyed critical and commercial success across Europe. “This album has very much a ‘carpe diem, seize the day’ kind of message that reflects the exact stage I am at in my own life,” he explains. “The sound is organic but with an electronic touch to it and very big powerful choruses and great melodies.”
Taking on Europe
The big dream driving Zelmerlöw’s ambition has always been to tour Europe and perform his music. This year, he will achieve that goal as he tours extensively from September to November. “Music really is my passion, and I love entertaining people because I’ve always felt safe on stage,” says the singer. “I think I’m good at sending out positive energy and I feel like my gift is making other people feel good when I perform.” Fans can expect a lively performance from Zelmerlöw and his band in concert. “At the end of the night, the audience will hopefully feel great joy but be exhausted from high-energy dancing all night. I hope that they will want to seize the day in their own lives too.” Moreover, Zelmerlöw hopes that he will get the opportunity to recreate the visual spectacle from the song contest at some of the shows. “We really want to do something amazing for the European tour, but we haven’t finalised all our plans yet. Having fun on stage is our main focus, but we’ll try to add in some other special surprises where we can, and hopefully include some projections.”
The future for Zelmerlöw
2015 has changed Zelmerlöw’s life forever, but he hopes that it is only the beginning of his musical adventures. “Winning the Eurovision was the biggest achievement of my life so far and definitely my proudest moment,” he declares. “Now I want to really build that momentum into something great and build my career across the world. I want to exist beyond the Eurovision bubble.”
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