Always a Bridesmaid: Magnus Carlsson’s Lost Opportunity

Of all the heartrending stories of those who entered their country’s Eurovision national selections without ever winning, none is more vexing than that of Sweden’s hardest -working vocalist, the phenomenally gifted Magnus Carlsson.  Magnus has competed in Swedish Melodifestivalen an amazing SEVEN times, twice as a solo artist, three times as lead vocalist of dansband Barbados, and twice as a member of international disco sensation Alcazar.

Magnus at the height of his youthful beauty and vigor.

Magnus started out as the lead of popular dansband Barbados, which gained fame by combining the traditional Saturday night coverband quality of traditional Swedish dansbands with a youthful, attractive roster and original songs more associated with 90s era boybands.  Barbados’ first foray into Sweden’s selection process came in 2000, with the touching boyband ballad “Se Mig” (See me) which reached 2nd place.


The next year, Barbados came back with a carbon copy, “Allt Som Jag Ser” (All That I See) which also reached a carbon copy 2nd place.

In 2002, Barbados entered again with a big sweeping schlager, which was probably their best entry.  “Världen Utanför” (The World Outside) came in 4th in Melodifestivalen that year.

Then something amazing happened to Magnus.  He fell in love with the lead singer of Alcazar, Andreas Lundstedt, and switched bands.  He left Barbados and became the 4th member of Alcazar with his new boyfriend.  In 2003, the new Alcazar lineup stormed Melodifestivalen with the amazing “Not A Sinner Nor A Saint”, which placed 3rd in the finals and became a #1 selling hit. (Incidentally, Barbados and their new replacement lead vocalist, mathias Holmgren, entered and came 10th in the finals.)

In 2005, Alcazar was offered a spot in the BBC’s national selection for the UK, but instead chose to compete again for Sweden with the massive, overblown, cheesy, but still ultimately winning “Alcastar” which again came 3rd and reached #1 in the Swedish pop charts.

Then Magnus and Andreas broke up, and magnus was out of the group and back performing as a solo artist.  His first individual entry was 2006’s rousing and silly pop schlager, “Lev Livet” (Live your Life), which scored with the jury but flopped with the public in the finals to reach 8th place of 10.

Are you beginning to see a pattern here?  As with several of the singers who enter a Eurovision national finals only to JUST miss out, the public seems to slowly feel that you’ve had your chance.  You score lower and lower in subsequent tries, until you finally realize it is time to pack up and move on. In 2007, Magnus had one of his finest entries, the 80s A-Ha-inflected “Live Forever”, which scored in the pop charts but scandalized fans by not even qualifying for the Melodifestivalen finals. So far, Magnus has not come back to Melodifestivalen to compete again. Since this song really had more of a life as a pop single than a contest entry, let’s watch the music video:

So what’s the future hold for Magnus? He is still a star in Sweden, seen as a TV reality show judge on Dansbandskampen (Battle of the Dansbands). His recording output has been mostly disco-themed albums and Christmas releases, and he seems to have concluded that his time as a song contest contestant has come and gone.  Too bad, since his voice is as rich and beautiful as ever.  But Eurovision is more and more about young singers, and Magnus would probably never place again in Melodifestivalen or ever get his chance to represent his country in Eurovision…

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