Last Brit Standing: Alexander Grove and his quest for Melfest

In the first heat of Melodifestivalen Brits in Sweden lost the British-Swedish singer Shirley Clamp from the competition. The second heat saw 21-year-old Samira Manners with her distinctive English twang eliminated. Now there’s only one person to save British hopes in Sweden’s biggest TV spectacular - Alexander Grove.

Alexander Grove (right) and his bandmate Kalle Leander (left) perform as Tenori
Alexander Grove (right) and his bandmate Kalle Leander (left) perform as Tenori. Photo: Annika Berglund/SVT

Born in London in 1978, Alexander is a classically trained tenor singer with experience studying at, amongst other places, the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester, England.

As a soloist Alexander has travelled the world, performing in venues from Japan, the White House and all the way to the Amazon rainforest as well as holding leading roles in numerous operas around Europe. Since 2016 Alexander has been based as an operatic tenor at Gothenburg’s Opera.

However, Alexander’s Melodifestivalen appearance doesn’t see him compete on his own, but instead with the group Tenori that he founded back in Manchester.

Since 2003, the group has been one of Alexander’s projects to take his classical training into the opera-pop crossover genre. While the group originally was made of fellow members from the Royal Northern College of Music, today Tenori exists as a duo.

Alexander’s partner is the Swedish tenor Kalle Leander, who will have the lead role of Anatolj in the Helsingborg Arena production of Chess this summer.

Alexander Grove performs La Stella

Alexander Grove performs La Stella. Photo: Annika Berglund/SVT


What brought two classically trained singers to the Swedish qualifiers to the Eurovision Song Contest is the song itself.

‘La Stella’ is a product of a team of Swedish songwriters including Bobby Ljunggren, a composer with five Melodifestivalen victories to his name. After being connected to Bobby Ljunggren and listening to various songs it was this one that stuck with the Tenori gentlemen, and they transformed it from the “calm, chilled Mello-pop” as Alexander described it to the crossover number it is today.

Kalle continued, “It was a long journey from the first demo which was nothing like this. Finally, we came up with this hybrid that we felt could actually work for Mello. We put the Italian in it, we put in the harmonies and everyone in the team was happy with the end result.

“This is what Melodifestivalen and Eurovision is all about. It is the massiveness of not holding back. If there is any arena where this should be allowed, it’s this one.”

And as three minutes of Eurovision entertainment, my goodness does the song promise all that Kalle claims. There are hints of James Bond themes in the dark, heavy verses that light up with pastiche Italian choruses – and vocals that knock your socks off.

And to keep the kitsch coming on strong, that oh-so-Eurovision key change has, as Alexander puts it, been “pumped up” – and includes the only pyro curtain in any of the 28 competing Melodifestivalen songs.

“We are in February and March, it is the darkest time of year here in Sweden,” adds Alexander. “When Melodifestivalen comes, it comes with colour, with energy, lights, passion – everybody gives it 120 percent and we’ve tried to do the same. You could say it is kitschy – but it is also Melodifestivalen.”

Signed to Universal, the group are looking to make crossover opera-pop a reality in the Swedish music scene. While die-hard Melodifestivalen fans will be remembering Malena Ernman’s victory in 2009 with her theatrical opera-pop song ‘La Voix’ – thirteen years have passed since with little else existing in this hybrid space both inside and outside the Melodifestivalen circus.

And Tenori forms a group that is a blend of genres. Unsurprisingly, the group has an immense classical repertoire, but their concerts contain opera, pop and film music. Like fellow crossover acts Catherine Jenkins, Russell Watson and Andrea Bocelli, all of whom Alexander names in our interview, the goal of the group is to stretch the boundaries away from what classical singers can do and give that to a broader audience.

And there is no more broad audience than Sweden’s largest entertainment show, and possibly beyond that to the Eurovision Song Contest itself. The group will perform fourth out of the seven acts on Saturday night’s fourth heat.  The top two will qualify directly for the final in two weeks’ time, while the 3rd and 4th placed will qualify for next week’s semi-finals.

You can watch Alexander and Kalle by tuning in to SVT 1 at 20:00, or via streaming service SVTPlay. Viewers based in Sweden will be able to vote for Tenori to the other six acts via telephone (viewers using the higher rate Radiohjälpen number this week will see their donations added to the fund for supporting the people of Ukraine at this time) or via free votes on the Melodifestivalen App.

Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.


VIDEO: Three times Sweden poked fun at Eurovision

With Sweden one of the favourites to win Eurovision this year, let's take a look at the times when the country showed up the sheer ridiculousness of the song contest.

VIDEO: Three times Sweden poked fun at Eurovision

Eurovision is often known for eyebrow-raising entries featuring bizarre local traditions or, frankly, eccentric outfits. Although Sweden takes the contest seriously when it comes to its song entries, that doesn’t mean Swedes don’t sometimes celebrate the weirdness of Eurovision.

Love Love Peace Peace

Who could forget Måns Zelmerlöv and Petra Mede’s run as Eurovision presenters in Stockholm in 2016? Zelmerlöw, who won the contest the year before in Vienna, was joined by comedian Mede, who had presented the contest in Malmö three years earlier.

The two performed a sketch titled, “Love Love Peace Peace”, an attempt to make the perfect winning Eurovision song. The clip features former winners Lordi who won for Finland in 2006, and Alexander Rybak, the Norwegian violinist who won for Norway in 2009.

Watch the clip below and see how many references to previous Eurovision entries you can recognise.



In this bizarre clip from Sweden’s Eurovision Song Contest qualifiers Melodifestivalen in 2009, Swedish comedy group Grotesco perform a mid-show sketch full of Russian stereotypes, including Cossack dancers, matryoshka stacking dolls, and a chorus of men dressed like Russian soldiers. The choreography also featured several scantily clad women wearing tight-fitting shorts with a single red star splaying their legs toward the camera in unison.

The clip caused controversy in Russia, after The Local reached out to Russia’s embassy in Stockholm for a comment – a spokesperson called the song “offensive” and “disconnected”, and condemned the sketch in an official statement:

“We do not react to eccentricity by some lunatics whose Russophobia should place them in an asylum rather than on Globen’s stage.”

See the clip for yourself here:


Lill Lindfors and her wardrobe malfunction

Lill Lindfors, a Finnish-Swedish singer and comedian, presented the 1985 Eurovision Song Contest in Gothenburg following Sweden’s win the previous year in Luxembourg.

Prior to hosting Eurovision in 1985, she had placed second in the 1966 contest with the song “Nygammal vals”.

In a clip which reportedly displeased the European Broadcasting Union who manage the contest, the bottom half of Lindfors’ dress was ripped off by a piece of set, exposing her underwear.

Lindfors paused, feigning shock, before quickly pulling a new dress down from the remaining top half of her outfit.

You can watch the iconic moment here (narrated by Terry Wogan, the BBC’s Eurovision commentator for many years) and decide for yourself whether it was meant to happen or not: