The Swedish pop star Måns Zelmerlöw is sitting in a Stockholm coffee shop explaining how his leather stage pants breathe surprisingly well. The coffee shop is at the entrance of a busy mall, yet Zelmerlöw, one of Sweden’s most familiar faces, seems unfazed by the parade of shoppers. Most of them would recognize him as a former Swedish Idol contestant and host of Allsång på Skansen (Sing-Along at Skansen), a widely watched show shot in front of up to 25,000 people. It’s like Katy Perry hanging at Grand Central.
“In Stockholm, people look, but they never act,” he says. Behind him, two women snap photos of the back of his head with their iPhones.
It’s Wednesday, March 11, and in three days Zelmerlöw will compete in the final round of Melodifestivalen, or Song Festival.
Melfest, as it is known, is a six-week televised competition that SVT, Sweden’s state-run broadcaster, has staged in various forms since 1959. Measured by its popularity, star power, and production values, it makes American Idol look like a couple of people humming a tune in your living room. In recent years, reality singing franchises, including The Voice, X Factor, and Pop Idol, have cropped up from Australia to Britain to Ukraine. None can claim as much domestic influence as Melfest.
This Is How Sweden’s Global Pop Music Factory Works | Bloomberg Business