ENTERTAINMENT
19/05/2021 05:00 BST | Updated 19/05/2021 07:30 BST

Måns Zelmerlöw: 'Despite Everything, Eurovision Can Still Bring Us All Together'

The Heroes singer has reflected on his own five-year Eurovision journey in the lead-up to this year's song contest.

DIETER NAGL/AFP via Getty Images
Måns Zelmerlöw

It may be just five years since Måns Zelmerlöw first stepped onto the world stage, but in that time he’s become nothing short of a Eurovision legend.

His winning entry is now considered a modern Eurovision anthem, and a year after his initial victory, Måns returned to the competition, that time as a host, providing fans with the iconic musical number Love Love Peace Peace.

More recently, he has performed at the live final in 2019, and hosted national selection shows in his native Sweden as well as the UK, where he now lives with his wife.

Now as synonymous with the competition as key changes, barbed commentary and the dreaded “nul points”, Måns tells HuffPost UK his proudest Eurovision remains his 2015 win.

“I still think that Heroes is something that I can really stand for,” he says. “It was a performance that stood out really, and it showed a modern part of Eurovision.

“And for me, it was very special, having dreamt of Eurovision my entire life, and then standing there, somehow carrying the weight of my country on my shoulders, knowing there are 200 million people watching, and dealing with all the emotions that come with that, and how nervous I was and everything, and still being able to perform. I’m very proud of that.”

In the lead-up to this year’s contest, we spoke to Måns about the throwback performance that put the contest on the map for him and the oft-forgotten Eurovision classic he considers one of his favourites ever...

Were you always a fan of Eurovision, and has your opinion of it changed over time?

I’ve always enjoyed it. I remember as a child sitting with my grandmother watching both Melodifestivalen – which is massive in Sweden – and Eurovision with her. So I always dreamt of one day performing in Melodifestivalen. And I’ve grown to love it even more having participated and been part of the Eurovision bubble, which is incredible. 

Nigel Treblin via Getty Images
Måns Zelmerlöw on stage at the Eurovision final in 2015

What’s your first memory of watching Eurovision at home?

It was when Jan Johansen competed for Sweden in 1995. We had a show at that time that was kids miming songs of their idols, and I remember me standing in the living room, miming to his song. It was called Se på mig, which means Look At Me, and I don’t know, I just loved that song so much.

My dreams of becoming a singer had already started then, and standing on the Eurovision stage was the peak for singers. That was as big as you could get.  

Do you have a favourite memory of being a part of Eurovision?

Because 2015 was so hectic – being a participant and also being the favourite to win when I got to Vienna – there wasn’t much time to really enjoy those two weeks and enjoy being in the Eurovision bubble.

I enjoyed it a lot more in 2016, hosting the contest with Petra Mede. We started rehearsing about three months in advance, and those months were so much fun, I felt that I was very much in my element. I got to use everything that I have, and I felt very at home on that stage.

I do feel there was less pressure hosting, I probably put less pressure on myself, because I don’t feel that hosting is my main profession. I’m a singer, but I do hosting on the side. So I felt that, “this is going to be fun, because I get to do Eurovision again, and I get to do these amazing performances with incredible budgets, just for fun”.

MAJA SUSLIN/TT via Getty Images
Måns and co-host Petra Mede performing the legendary Eurovision parody Love Love Peace Peace during 2016's live final

Who are you rooting for at Eurovision this year?

I think Tusse for Sweden is great, and he’s a great guy. I think he has a very good song, a good message, and a great performance. But I think it’s going to be a tight race this year. Malta’s up there, great song. But my favourite this year is definitely Switzerland, Gjon’s Tears.

He had a great song last year, which he unfortunately couldn’t compete with, but this one is so big and I’m very excited to see what he does with it on stage. I think those are the stand-out ones for me this year.

James Newman, I think, is a great singer, and I can’t decide whether I love that song or whether I don’t. It’s definitely a grower.

EBU
Gjon's Tears is representing Switzerland at Eurovision in 2021

What are your three all-time favourite Eurovision songs?

Jan Jan by Inga & Anush. Armenia 2009. I just remember it very well, and I loved it so much. It had kind of traditional vibes, but was still very catchy. And it had a chorus in English, which makes things easier. They were really good.

Soldi by Mahmood. This song is so good. Soldi stands out because Mahmood was so laidback and cool. When a song hits you as much as Soldi did in a language you don’t understand, and you still sing along to it, that gives a singer extra points in my book. And the signature hand-clap. And the fact that I was there that year makes it more special, I think. And when we went out afterwards, at every club we were at we just wanted to hear Soldi.

And the obvious favourite is always Euphoria by Loreen. For me, it was a very special moment, because me and my friend, we started a record label in 2009 or something, and our first artist was Loreen. So I consider her a close friend.

Everything she did in that performance was so good, I can’t ever see that being topped. I think that was definitely the start of the new Eurovision chapter. And doing something that stood out completely and was cool, and would have been cool on a different stage other than Eurovision.

Michael Campanella via Getty Images
Mahmood performing Soldi at Eurovision in 2019

Why is Eurovision so important?

Because it spreads so much joy. For us Eurovision fans, especially, from February onwards we have national selection shows and things to debate, and then we come up to Eurovision and it’s all just joy and fun and love.

I really do think that Eurovision brings us all together in a very nice way, despite all the political things that go on on the side, I think that the core of it is still there.

This interview has been edited for clarity and length.

We’ll be publishing an interview with a new Eurovision legend every day leading up to this year’s live final. Come back on Thursday when we’ll be speaking to game-changing Euphoria singer and 2012 champion, Loreen.