Swedish Language Blog

Sweden: Deux points Posted by on Jan 22, 2010 in Culture

It’s quiet up there in the north at the moment. It’s still freezing cold, the days are still black and the snow is still covering most parts. But guys, this is about to change in approximately 15 days, 8 hours and 24 minutes and… So what happens then? The arrival of spring (våren)? Another weird pagan festival? Well, it’s not far off, I tell you. It’s time for Melodifestivalen 2010!

Our fellow European readers are probably very much familiar with the big Eurovision Song Contest. But for those of you who don’t know, the Eurovision Song Contest is a big music contest (tävling) that’s happening in May every year where almost all European countries get together and battle over who could come up with the best song (Read: who has the most neighbouring countries. Many neighbours – many public votes!) It’s a huge event, watched by hundreds of millions Europeans, and it has been going since the end of the 1950’s. In short, every country send one carefully chosen (utvald) entry to the hosting country (the previous year’s winner) and the singing battle of the nation begins. Eurovision Song Contest is the perfect mix of kitsch, cringe and fun and boy do we love it and love to hate it.

Anyway. Back to Sweden. I wrote “carefully chosen entry” above. Well, I think it safe to say that no other country in Europe chooses their entry with so much effort, passion and organization as the Swedes. In fact, we spend all of February and most part of March to handpick the nation’s favourite. Everything kicks off February 6 at 9.00 pm with the first leg of the competition. Eight artists perform (uppträder) in a big stadium, (sold out of course) live broadcasted (direktsänd) and watched by approximately 3 million Swedes (one third of the population). Out of these eight, the public televote for their favourite and in the end of the evening, two artists are crowned the winners. Well, the winners of the night that is, because the following Saturday, we do the same procedure all over again. And the following. And the following. In the end of February, we finally have eight handpicked entries that will compete in le grande finale where we FINALLY choose who gets the honour to represent Sweden in the great Eurovision Song Contest. Oh, almost forgot! Of course, we have one more live broadcasted gala where the “losers” get a second chance to steal a slot in le grande finale. Phew! That’s SIX galas before we are ready to face Europe. Add a month of headlines (rubriker) about or biggest artists, clothing scandals, voting scandals, new heart throbs, new bands etc. and I bet you can figure out what the coming months will be about up there.

So, do all these gala efforts pay off in Europe? Sadly, no. Sweden has not won the Eurovision Song Contest since 1999, and back then we only had ONE gala to chose the nation’s favorite. But, we still have a burning hope and it got fuelled last year when our neighbours Norway won the whole shebang. This year, our starting field is bigger, better, more credible and more good looking than ever (of course!) and contains everything from traditional ballads to a great all female metal band (all the songs are a well kept secret until the gala evening, thought) and this year our efforts should pay off…

Or? In the end, everyone always agree on that we picked the wrong song – despite all the efforts – and next year, next year we must… Well, that’s the beauty of Melodifestivalen and the Eurovision Song Contest.  It gives us something to talk, read, blog (watch this space…) and moan about. To be fair, does anyone really care about the music? Judge for yourself:

The winner of the Swedish Melodifestivalen and the Swedish entry in the Eurovision Song Contest 2009, Marlena Ernman.


 The winner of Eurovision Song Contest 2009, Alexander Ryback from Norway.

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  1. Len:

    Another interesting aspect of Melodifestivalen is how closely it is tied in with the Swedish music industry. As opposed to a country like the UK, where Eurovision artists are almost always obscure beginners or “washed up” veterans, in Sweden there is a strong economic motive for even big stars to participate. The CD release calendar and the top singles of the year are closely aligned to MF entries, and many record companies threaten not to release artists’ CDs without the sales boost of a Melodifestival entry on the tracklist.

  2. jennie:

    I know, it has become qiute some business for the record companies but also something quite credible and honourable for the musicians.
    Does anyone know what it’s like in other European countries?