Twenty-one-year-old Samira Manners will perform her song, ‘I want to be loved’ in Melodifestivalen’s second heat.
That English accent is completely genuine. Samira grew up with a Swedish mother and English father, who comes from the coastal town of Portishead outside of Bristol.
Samira grew up in Sweden, though, in the small town of Svedala, a short hop from Malmö.
Samira started writing songs as she entered her teenage years and has continued into adulthood. Nowadays Samira calls Malmö her home, having moved to Sweden’s third city as she studies at Musikhögskolan. Unsurprisingly, she studies on their singer-songwriter program.
Growing up, it was her father who gave much of her musical inspiration.
“My dad loves music and I grew up a lot with him,” says Samira, who speaks English at home with her family. “He loves Kate Nash, Lily Allen and also reggae. In general, he loves genres that I never normally see or hear here in Sweden.”
While this will be Samira’s Melodifestivalen debut, she has had musical success prior to tonight. In 2020 she released the song ‘Do It All Again’ which currently has over two million streams on Spotify. ‘I want to be loved’ will be Samira’s fifth single and there are plans to release an album later this year.
Her Melodifestivalen entry was written on a warm summer day last year, when she penned personal lyrics about wanting to find a loving relationship.
The co-writer of the song, Fredrik Andersson, is somebody with a great reputation in Melodifestivalen folklore. He was the songwriter behind ‘If I Were Sorry’ for Frans, the breakthrough sensation who represented Sweden the last time the Eurovision Song Contest was held in Sweden in 2016.
After Samira’s song was written, Fredrik was the one who thought it may pass Melodifestivalen and sent the song to Sweden’s public broadcaster SVT, who chose the 28 songs that will compete this year.
Written for the contest, this song is not. For Samira there is a huge chasm between what it means to be taking part in Melodifestivalen here in Sweden, and the impression of her English family about this significance.
“When they called me to say I had got into Melodifestivalen, I told my grandparents”, Samira explains. “They were like, that’s nice, your cousin also plays the violin. I don’t think it’s as big there as it is here.”
Samira is right. The show taking place in the Avicii Arena this week will be watched by millions and will generate huge hits that will last until the summer if not beyond.
The huge event brings in big name acts and record labels in a way that it hasn’t been the case in the UK for this century, where the connotation that all things Eurovision is all things kitsch is still engrained to many in British culture.
“I think here [in Sweden] it is generally so much more competitive,” adds Samira. “You always have the best stuff on show and they make such a big deal about it. It is so sad as I think the UK has such a great music industry.”
Samira is one of the seven acts competing in Melodifestivalen’s second heat, and is not the only one with interest for British readers.
The hard rock group, Browsing Collection, are fronted by lead singer Mimi Brander, who has developed an uncanny Scottish accent thanks to her sister, who is married to a Scotsman. Also taking part this Saturday is John Lundvik, the winner of Melodifestivalen’s 2019 edition, who lived in London until he was six years old.
They will all be hoping to place better than half English/Swedish singer Shirley Clamp, who finished sixth of last week’s seven acts with the song ‘Let There Be Angels’.
Alongside the other names competing this week is former Idol winner Liamoo, with roots in Scandinavia and the Philippines, Alvaro Estrella, who’s parents come from Chile, and Tone Sekelius, making history as the first openly trans artist on the Melodifestivalen stage. In terms of a diverse mix of musical genres and artists this is a hugely varied Melodifestivalen heat.
One can watch Melodifestivalen on SVT Play globally or by tuning in to SVT 1 at 20:00. Viewers can vote in the show by ringing the number on screen or via downloading the free Melodifestivalen app.