The lyrics of her song doesn't seem to fit with the Eurovision Song Contest. When she appears on stage as the sixth entry of tonight's second Semi-Final, Anna Bergendahl from Sweden sings: “I don't wanna win, I don't wanna lose, I don't wanna play – I just wanna remember my name.”
This is very true to the attitude of this young woman, and to her approach to competing in Europe's favourite TV show. When meeting Eurovision.tv, Anna tells that she doesn't aim at winning the contest.
“I can't say that I'm going to win, that sounds wholly wrong in my ears. No one can decide the result in this contest. The only thing we can decide is what we are going to do with the time given to us. How people are voting is nothing that I can rule,” Anna says.
Why do you think that this is a good attitude?
“I think that this is the only attitude that's practicable. I would hate myself if I looked back on this and saw that I thought that I would win everything and that I owned the place. That raises the expectations and creates false premises, but I also want my answers in interviews to be compatible with what actually happens. I don't wanna say that I'm going to win, I just wanna say that I want to do something good on stage. Of course, I want to win, but I can't say that I'm going to do it.”
The best advice – personality
Anna doesn't hesitate about what the artists can do to make the best out of the three minutes given to them on stage. It's the persona that's paramount.
“I think that one should try to express one's artistic profile as much as possible. Azerbaijan has a lot of focus on the voice and the choreography – it's very much Safura. And Tom Dice from Belgium is very much Tom Dice. I try to be very much me. I think that everyone should try to find something that's remarkable and noticeable about themselves.”
But as of yet, Anna hasn't discovered how to find the spark that sets her in the right mood before the performance. When preparing to enter the stage tonight, she won't have any winning method. Nevertheless, she always gets there.
“I've tried many things, but eventually I've found out that I don't have any power over it. But in the end, the feeling arises, no matter what I do. It comes from the song.”
For an 18-year-old, being pushed around between interviews, press conferences and rehearsals could be a difficult experience to cope with. But in Oslo, Anna has come across to people as down to earth and relaxed. She has her own philosophy for how to approach the tasks given to her.
“It feels like I'm very grounded and secure in this. I try to be 100% present in every interview and everything that I do. But that takes a lot of energy. When I get alone I get extremely tired, but it's great fun all in all,” she tells.
For the performance, Anna's approach is obvious: keep it simple. She stands alone up front, dressed in mixed-styled outfit, with a bright dress and red basketball shoes.
“I feel rather common as a person, so it would be difficult for me to do something other than what I do, like for example having an advanced choreography. I aim for a genuine approach, and I want to get a feeling of authenticity across,” she says.
For the stage costumes, the approach is equally simplistic.
“We want to keep it simple. Some performances might be good for angel wings and so on, but that's not really me. I want to keep it simple and almost restrained, but still with a lot of intensity and concentration.”
Her red basketball shoes have become a special trademark for Anna. The Swedish fans travelling to Oslo, took this to the point of starting a movement to all wear red shoes in support of Anna. But in her first rehearsal in Oslo, Anna stunned the onlookers by instead wearing black basketball shoes. Actually, this was a bluff, and she now promises all her fans to use the red pair in the broadcast.
Another special treat in the broadcast, more noticeable to the international audience, is the light-staffs that are planned to fill the Telenor Arena. Each member of the audience will be given a glowing staff to wave during the Swedish performance. The staffs are specially ordered from North America, and the Swedish delegation has 35 000 of them – one set for the Semi-Final and another one if Anna manages to make it through to the Final.
Anna lives in the small Swedish town of Nyköping, where she graduates from school in a few weeks. She finishes her studies in upper secondary school on the 11th of June, and doing this is a big event for students in Sweden.
“In some way I managed to catch up with what I lost when I competed in the Swedish national selections – and then get ahead with all that I needed for the weeks when I'm in Oslo,” Anna tells.
This is an accomplishment that required a lot of work. But besides the studies, Anna has also released her first solo album during the spring. It's the fun of all the activities that has motivated her for all the work.
“This has really been a period of heavy work. When I look back, it's unbelieveable how I managed. But at the same time, it's been so much fun!”
In her performance in TV tonight, Anna is the obvious focal point. Her face is featured in lots of close-ups. But this is nothing that scares her. Rather, it's what she prefers.
“I think that I'm at my best when the performance is simple and subtle. So I like the close-ups, its much better for me than having a load of dancers. I actually think it's hard to sing this song in front of a mirror, but it's easier when I look into a camera. I often think that I'm looking into the eyes of a person when I do that.”
Anna had plenty of training with TV cameras when she participated in the Swedish edition of Pop Idol in 2008. That was her breakthrough in her home country. But in the press conference in Oslo, Anna stated that the Eurovision Song Contest is much more fun. She stays true to that when talking in private to Eurovision.tv.
“This is much larger, it's like 120 million viewers in the Final! Everything feels a hundred times bigger here,” she concludes.