Eurovision.tv caught up with Oscar nominee Molly Sandén on location in Húsavík, Iceland as she filmed a special performance for the 93rd Academy Awards.
Before 2020, pop princess Molly was probably best known for her appearances at Junior Eurovision and Sweden’s entertainment juggernaut Melodifestivalen. Now she’s part of a team nominated for the ‘Best Original Song’ Oscar, having provided the singing voice for Rachel McAdam’s character Sigrit in the Netflix movie Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga.
“Húsavík is just beautiful,” says Molly, before pointing her phone out of the hotel window to share the view. “Look: it’s the church from the movie! This town looks like it’s out of a storybook!”
Sandén’s fairytale journey from Huddinge to Hollywood was nearly derailed by a heavy night out on the town:
“Two years ago, I was on a vacation in LA with my best friend - the goal was not to work. I was woken up late one morning after another friend [the Icelandic producer] Arnthor Birgisson phoned to say: ‘Hey, what are you doing today? Fancy putting down some vocals on a fun project?’
I was super hungover. I was also a little hesitant because me and my friend had planned to spend the day hiking. I had to convince her that in return for the trip to the studio, Arnthor would buy us dinner,” she laughs.
“When I got to the studio and found out more about Fire Saga, I just felt that it was meant to be. I am Sigrit - that’s the younger me, wanting to hit those high notes and perform at Eurovision.”
Molly finished third at Junior Eurovision in 2006 with the Swedish entry Det finaste någon kan få (The Best Anyone Can Get) and has built a loyal domestic fanbase through multiple appearances at Melodifestivalen and an impressive catalogue of charting albums and singles.
With the success of the Fire Saga soundtrack the singer suddenly found international fame under her alternate recording name My Marianne (taken from her middle names: Molly My Marianne Sandén).
From JaJa Ding Dong to Double Trouble (which earned itself a remix from the legendary Dutch DJ Tiësto) the soundtrack has delighted hardcore fans and those unfamiliar with the Contest alike.
The movie’s climatic ballad Husavik (My Hometown) has left a considerable impression on popular culture, reaching the official charts of many countries across Europe; securing a coveted spot on BBC Radio 2’s 'A List'; and going top 20 on both the Australian Digital Song Sales chart and the US Digital Song Sales Billboard chart. So it should come as no surprise that this track would be singled out for praise from the Academy.
“I would never have thought that the initial vocals I did on that hungover day would end up with us in this position. But the song is huge. It’s a song that goes through your skin and touches you so deep. There’s something about the melodies and lyrics that give Husavik such a pure, beautiful essence.
Had that song been in Eurovision, I think it could have won. It has the greatness and heart of a winning song.”
Whether Husavik can win the Oscar this weekend remains to be seen but Molly is prepared for the close-up nominee shots either way, joking:
“I practised my winning and losing faces when I was younger; I think that’s something I’ve been doing since Junior Eurovision without knowing! I actually think it’s sometimes nice and refreshing to let down your guard and see people being upset or happy. I’m just so happy with the song.”
Molly’s easy-breezy approach to being a nominee is refreshing, and her attitude goes some way to explain why she’s not too keen to return to Melodifestivalen, Eurovision or even Iceland’s Söngvakeppnin:
“I feel like Melfest and similar competitions are now too scary for me. Fire Saga has been like winning the Eurovision Song Contest, so if I were to be a part of Melodifestivalen or even Eurovision, I’d prefer to be an interval act or something. I love the shows so much, but it’s so hard to compete with music, especially when it’s so close to your heart.”
One final thing Eurovision.tv wanted to know before letting Molly crack on with rehearsals: is she sick of JaJa Ding Dong yet?
“Yes!” she cackles before correcting herself: “Ha! No! I think it’s such a funny thing. It always cracks me up when someone shouts ‘PLAY JAJA DING DONG!’ and I just know it’ll happen at my next full gig in Sweden. It’s gonna happen. I love it.”
The full interview can be viewed on the official Eurovision YouTube channel now, and you can tune in to Molly’s performance of Husavik (recorded in Húsavík) on the awards pre-show Oscars: Into the Spotlight from 00:30 CEST in the wee hours of Monday 26 April.