Tonight’s the night that Måns Zelmerlöw finally gets to perform on the Eurovision Song Contest stage for the first time. He’ll compete in this evening’s second semi final, and he WILL progress in the competition taking Sweden to the final on Saturday night. In fact, two months after winning Melodifestivalen with his song ‘Heroes’ – he’s still the big favourite to take home the winner’s trophy on Saturday.
His performance of ‘Heroes’ is a show stopper. Arguably THE show stopper of this year’s Eurovision. And so after tonight’s contest and especially after Saturday night’s final – there’s going to be a lot of people in Europe wondering who Måns Zelmerlöw is. And we envy them – because they’ve got a LOT of excellent pop music discoveries ahead of them. Three albums, all of which spawned fantastic singles, and housed hidden gems of album tracks.
So we thought we’d make it easy for all of those people unearthing Måns Zelmerlöw for the first time. And for the rest of us – a blissful trip down memory lane. Or Måmzerlöy lane, as is the case here. Sorry.
In 10 steps – here’s the story of Måns Zelmerlöw so far;
An obscenely fresh faced Måns auditioned for the second series of Swedish Idol in 2005, aged 19. His audition piece? ‘Hero’ by Enrique Iglesias. It (and he) impressed the judges and he inevitably made the live finals. Popular as he was though, he didn’t win. He made it to week 7 (ahead of another youngster from Lund who was also to go on to bigger things – Ola Svensson), before being eliminated and finishing in 5th place. International Scandipopstar Agnes went on to win the series.
Here is Måns Zelmerlöw’s very first Idol audition;
2: LET’S DANCE
Such was his popularity in Swedish Idol in 2005, that in 2006 – before he’d even signed a record deal or released any music – he was chosen to compete in the first ever series of Let’s Dance (the Swedish version of Strictly Come Dancing or Dancing With The Stars). He went on to win the competition, beating 80s schlager singer Anna Book into second place. And Sweden fell in love with him that little bit more.
Here is his last dance on the final of Let’s Dance;
3: CARA MIA
Music had to come next. And in 2006, after his Let’s Dance win, he signed a record deal with Warner Sweden. And what better way to launch the pop career of an artist who had made his name in TV competitions? Melodifestivalen of course! So in November 2006 it was announced that he would make his debut in Melodifestivalen 2007, with the song ‘Cara Mia’ (written and produced by Fredrik Kempe, Henrik Wilkström and Koshiar Mehdipoor). And what a debut it was. Thanks to a corker of a song (which we still rate as a 10/10 today), some eye catching choreography, and an impressive performance for such a fledgling of a performer – it won over the nation, taking him straight to the final. Despite earning 402,133 televotes, he didn’t win – instead finishing third behind Andreas Johnson in second, and The Ark in first. But within a few weeks of the contest being over, ‘Cara Mia’ shot to number 1 on the Swedish singles chart, where it stayed for four weeks.
Here is THAT ‘Cara Mia’ performance;
4: STAND BY FOR…
Following up the debut single was naturally the arrival of the debut album. And ‘Stand By For…’ was released in May 2007, two months after ‘Cara Mia’s number 1 success. On the album, he teamed up with ‘Cara Mia’s songwriters, as well as the head judge who he’d faced on Swedish Idol – Anders Bagge. Zelmerlöw co-penned seven of the tracks himself. And the album gave Måns his first number 1 on the album chart, staying on the chart for a further 29 weeks. In that time, it spawned a total of four hit singles for him.
Here’s our favourite of those singles (‘Cara Mia’ aside) – ‘Brother Oh Brother’;
5: HOPE & GLORY
In November 2008, it was announced that Zelmerlöw would once again compete in Melodifestivalen, this time in the 2009 contest with the song ‘Hope & Glory’ (written by Fredrik Kempe, Henrik Wikström and Måns Zelmerlöw). He entered the contest as the big favourite to win. Even going into the final, in a line-up which fans regard to be THE strongest Melodifestivalen final of all time (and we’re with them on that one), it was considered his to lose. But despite scoring the most points with the juries, and delivering another eye popping performance, the song didn’t pick up enough televotes – and Måns finished in fourth place. We therefore got to witness the Zelmerlöw disappointed face for the first time.
Here is his performance of ‘Hope & Glory’.
With lead single ‘Hope & Glory’ peaking at number 2, and with it being a full two years since his debut album – it was time for album number two. ‘MZW’ was released in March 2009, and gave Måns his second number 1 album. It’s our favourite album of his, housing some pretty damn stonking dance and pop tracks. On it, he worked with some Swedish songwriters who would go on to even bigger things – Moh Denebi (Loreen), Jason Gill (Eric Saade), Michel Zitron (Swedish House Mafia), and Aleena Gibson (Molly Sandén, Sanna Nielsen, and Jessica Andersson). And he co-wrote all of the twelve tracks himself.
We LOVE ‘Forever’, ‘Find Love’, ‘One Minute More’, ‘Home’ and ‘Impossible’ almost as much – but here’s ‘Rewind’ which just pips them all as our favourite album track;
7: MELODIFESTIVALEN 2010
At the end of 2009 it was revealed by SVT that Måns Zelmerlöw would once again be returning to Melodifestivalen the following year. But this time as a host. Alongside Christine Meltzer and Dolph Lundgren, he greeted 3.5 million Swedish TV viewers for six weeks, taking on somewhat of a ‘straight’ role, in comparison to the comedy of Christine and the WTF-ness of Dolph. As well as hosting, he also took part in musical numbers and skits every week.
Here’s the most memorable of those – a parody of a Japanese TV commercial;
8: CHRISTMAS WITH FRIENDS
Later in 2010, Måns announced the release of his first Yuletide album – ‘Christmas With Friends’. It was a collection of timeless festive classics, some translated into Swedish, and all performed in an old fashioned, classy, chestnuts-roasting-on-an-open-fire kind of setting. It was so well received, that the following winter he released a second Christmas album – ‘Kära Vinter’. The albums weren’t his first foray into festive music though – earlier on in his career he had released a cover of ‘All I Want For Christmas Is You’, with his fellow Swedish Idol contestant Agnes. Their version remains Zelmerlöw’s second most streamed track on Spotify (after ‘Heroes’) – much to his chagrin, we’d imagine!
Here’s the definitive take from his Christmas offerings – ‘Christmas Song’;
Following his successful stint presenting Melodifestivalen, SVT announced Måns Zelmerlöw as the new host of Allsång på Skansen. He started in 2011, lasting three seasons until 2013 when he revealed that he would be ending his run. He was considered a success for the show by and large. The youngest host they’d had for quite some time, he brought a fresh feel to the time honoured tradition. And as a singer himself, he brought more than one facet to his role as host.
Here he is performing ‘Human’ by The Killers, on that legendary stage with that stunning view;
10: BARCELONA SESSIONS
Five years after his previous album, it was time for Måns to leave hosting and Christmas music behind temporarily, and get back to pop. And in February 2014, he released his third studio album, ‘Barcelona Sessions’. Understandably, given the time that had passed since his last effort, the new album was a big departure in sound for him. Like the man himself, the music had matured. And while the record does have some fantastic moments on it, it arrived dead in the water and pretty much bombed for him. The timing wasn’t great, in fairness. He chose to release the first single ‘Broken Parts’ on the same day that all of the finalists of Melodifestivalen 2013 unleashed their songs to buy and stream. And with such competition for radio play, it never really took off for him – meaning that the release of the album was pushed back. Lessons weren’t learned however, and they chose the following February to release the album, along with lead single ‘Run For Your Life’ – competing again with the next batch of Melodifestivalen songs. In the end, the album charted at number 3 – but disappeared quite quickly. And none of the album’s three singles charted either. Its performance was in no way indicative of the quality of the album though. More perhaps a hint that it isn’t the type of music that people want from him. And most definitely a case of some very bad timing.
Here’s the highlight from that whole era – the stunning first single ‘Broken Parts’;
AND THE NEXT CHAPTER?
Regardless of whether he wins the Eurovision Song Contest on Saturday night, or simply gives Sweden their fourth Top 3 finish in five years, Måns Zelmerlöw has a busy summer ahead of him. ‘Heroes’ is quite likely to turn into even at least a minor hit across the continent. And on June 5th he’ll release his new album ‘Perfectly Damaged’. Back home in Sweden, he’s bigger now than he ever was – as hard as that is to imagine. ‘Heroes’ achieved a record breaking win at Melodifestivalen earlier this year, and went on to clock up 15 million streams on Spotify, and 40 days at number 1 on the Swedish iTunes chart. He’s the nation’s sweetheart right now – with Sweden awaiting what comes next, and Scandipop here to chronicle the next 10 steps of his career.