Seventeen-year-old Frans Jeppsson-Wall represented his home nation of Sweden this year at the Eurovision Song Contest with his entry, “If I Were Sorry”, after winning Melodifestivalen – the Swedish national selection process. Each year the enormous six-week-long competition tours six of Sweden’s biggest arenas, finishing in Stockholm’s famous Friends Arena.
At just seventeen, Frans is one of the contest’s youngest winners, he was still in school even when the contest was hosted in May this year. It’s a young age for fame, but this wasn’t Frans’ first shot at it. One decade ago, in 2006 at the age of seven, Frans released “Who’s da Man?” – a tribute to Malmö football player Zlatan Ibrahimovic. The catchy song went to number one and remained there for ten weeks, shooting him to national stardom. Frans even performed on one of SVT’s flagship broadcasts, the now eighty-year-old Allsång Skansen.
Speaking to Aftonbladet this week, Frans commented that he went from being “the seven-year-old kid who sang about Zlatan Ibrahimovic” to having 117,000 followers on Instagram and being recognised by every person in the country. From the moment of winning Melodifestivalen, Sweden’s famous new ‘city-lad’ had no choice but to take on a bodyguard at school – but that wasn’t the only problem.
Aside from the immense amount of interest he was getting from fans not only in Sweden, but across the continent, and of course, the pressure of preparing to perform live in front of 200,000,000 people – Frans was pushed by the school he attended to study more ahead of upcoming exams. As if this wasn’t already enough, the teen’s persistent knee injury really pushed him over the edge. Despite building responsibilities, Frans “worked broken”, battling through probably the most stressful few months of his life. In his conversation with Aftonbladet, Frans talks of his lack of energy, constantly being ill, and his body crumbling under the pressure.
Described as a “hellish chaos”, the three months Frans spent in quite unbelievable circumstances for someone his age have undoubtedly shaped him for good. The once sweet and innocent perception of him has changed, he won’t ever be seen by the population of Sweden in the same way again and he understands that. Equally, the hard-working months of preparation he endured have created a stronger man – Frans comments how he has become more responsible and how he really thinks about what he does while in the spotlight. Though he has been forced to become more vigilant, and despite the ordeal he’s been through, Frans is undoubtedly grateful for the experience he’s had. If nothing else, 5th place at the Eurovision Song Contest, on home-ground, is most definitely something for him to walk away proud of.