Swedish TV song signer becomes global star

Swedish TV song signer becomes global star
Melodifestivalen signer Tommy Krångh. Image: SVT/YouTube
UPDATED: A Swedish sign language interpreter has become an overnight global celebrity after videos of his enthusiastic signing and dancing at this weekend's Melodifestivalen went viral.

While the competition was won by Måns Zelmerlöw, as The Local reported on Sunday, sign language interpreter Tommy Krångh was seen by many to have stolen the show with his emphatic gestures and dance moves.

A video of him performing alongside contestant Magnus Carlsson that went viral in Sweden over the weekend reached international audiences on Monday, clocking up almost a million hits on YouTube and scoring global newspaper headlines.

The British version of Metro suggested he must have had Grease and Abba videos "on repeat" in recent weeks, while The Huffington Post argued that Krångh, from Örebro in central Sweden, had been "stealing the internet's heart" with his version of Magnus Carlsson's track.

US satire site College Humor said: “In the world of sign language, this man is Michael Jackson”.

Some of Tommy Krångh's new fans turned to social media to call for the signer to represent Sweden in Vienna this May, instead of this year's winner Måns Zelmerlöw.

Even The Local received messages from international readers asking if we could somehow influence the decision.

"I am overwhelmed, happy, thrilled," Krångh told The Local on Tuesday.

"I am still trying to understand it all. There has been so much love. I have heard people have been discussing me on TV in Hong Kong, Australia, the United States, Belgium, Spain…I hope that this will help more people understand that sign language isn't just about two deaf people communicating. It is creative, it is an art."

Asked if he would like to compete in Eurovision, he added: "If I go to Vienna, it will be as a signer. I have had some conversations about this, so it is a possibility."

In case you've been living under a rock for the past five weeks, Melodifestivalen is the national television show that selects Sweden's Eurovision entry each year and is one of the biggest nights in Swedish television.

Last year, almost 3.4 million Swedes packed themselves in front of the TV to send Sanna Nielsen off to Eurovision, a huge number in a country with a population still shy of 10 million.

It's not the first time that a sign language interpreter has become a star of the show. In 2012, Tommy Fransson's interpretation of a heavy metal song by the band Dead by April went viral in Sweden.