Something Swedish


Eurovision 2016 to be hosted in Sweden

This year was the 60th anniversary of Eurovision with the slogan of “Building Bridges” and it featured a lot of new things: Australia competed for the first time (came in 5th place) China was watching live for the first time, a record amount of performers wearing capes, and sadly there were no ridiculous, over the top performances that showcase the true (weird) spirit of Eurovision.

There was however, Sweden – which was a refreshing change from all the boring (yet, admittedly sometimes very beautiful) ballads this year. It was a very unique performance and a fresh sound that made Måns Zelmerlöw a favorite to win from the very begining …and then won after a tight point race with Russia and Italy.

This victory officially puts Sweden in second place for most Eurovisions wins ever (previously tied for second place with two others) with SIX successful songs!  Check out this blog post for videos of Sweden’s five previous winners (1974, 1984, 1991, 1999, 2012), the four different arenas where Sweden hosted. The 2016 Eurovision is expected to once again, for the third time, be hosted at Globen.


Congratulations to Sweden and Måns! Looking forward to seeing the show next year.

If you weren’t following #Eurovision2015 on twitter last night while watching – you missed out on half the entertainment, I’ve found that it’s the best way to enjoy Eurovision



Eurovision 2013 – in SWEDEN (Featuring a song ABOUT Sweden)

Last night Europe was huddled around their television sets watching the finally of The Eurovision Song Contest, crossing their fingers for their own country to win, or at least a neighboring country. It’s usually a love hate relationship; there are die hard fans of the competition and then there are people who think it’s a joke. Either way it is an acquired taste. One of my favorite parts is following Twitter #Eurovision2013 and reading the comments and reactions.


Last year I wrote all about the Eurovision contest, recap  or learn all about it for the first time by clicking this link: Sweden Wins Eurovision AGAIN! A History Starting With ABBA

This year The Eurovision Song Contest was held in Sweden because of Loreen’s powerful hit, “Euphoria.” Hosting Eurovision is a big deal; bringing in thousands of tourists and being able to show off your country to the world.

Instead of telling you about all 26 finalists (or even highlighting them all) I want to show you my favorite part of the show, which was an intermission song called, “Swedish Smörgåsbord” performed by the host, Petra Mede, singing all about every (true) Swedish stereotype and characteristic that exists. It’s hilariously accurate and paints a great picture of Sweden and the Swedes.  (Read the lyrics  HERE) It really is a must watch:

Sweden has been getting a lot of credit for putting together a great show this year, with special attention to this song, calling it a “Show Stopper” and that the host “Steals the Show” with a disappointment that you can’t vote for intermission songs.euro2013twit

Sweden’s entry unfortunately came in 14th place:

However, our neighboring country, DENMARK, won by 50 points!:

So, next year Eurovision will still be right around the corner, in Copenhagen.


Melodifestivalen 2013

It’s that time of year again! Melodifestivalen! Last year I wrote a few posts about this popular Swedish song competition: read it here and here.

This year I skipped the long in depth play by play and am just curious about your votes! The songs range from serious to funny, with lyrics in English or Swedish, Pop, rock, or ballad styles all with great choreography. Tomorrow is the finale which will decide which one of these songs will represent Sweden in the Eurovision Song Contest in May. Watch these 10 videos (in order of their line up schedule tomorrow) and let me know which one you think will win! (or any commentary about the acts) Lets vote!












Sweden Wins Eurovision AGAIN! A History Starting With ABBA

Last night was the annual Eurovision song contest- an event not to be missed if you live in Europe!

It’s hard to believe that Eurovision began in 1956 with only 7 countries. Since then 52 countries have participated over the years, and this year 42 countries competed against each other. From those 52 countries, 26 different countries have won over the years. Eurovision is always hosted in the country that won the year prior- which means that next year it will be in Stockholm thanks to Loreen and Euphoria!

This years competition was hosted in Baku, Azerbaijan. They have been competing since 2008 and won for the first time last year. The Azerbaijan venue truly set the stage for this years performances. Baku built a very impressive venue for the occasion, the Baku Crystal Hall, which holds 25,000 persons and a VIP lounge. The construction took eight months (completed only four weeks before the contest) and cost approx. 150 Million Euro (190 million USD). The hall was built with more than Eurovision in mind, wanting a notable landmark for the country, and it succeeded – I for one was in awe of it, inside and out!

Thankfully, Sweden will not have to undergo expensive and stressful last minute construction in order to host Eurovision 2013. Not only has Sweden already hosted the Song Contest four times in the past, but it has always been held at a different theater each year.

After ABBA won in 1974 Eurovision was held at the Stockholmsmassan, which was constructed in 1971 and held a mere 4,000 people.

In 1985 Sweden used the Scandinavium in Gothenburg, which was built and used primarily as a sports arena, also completed in 1971, which could hold 14,000 persons.

Then in 1992 the contest was hosted at the Malmö Isstadion, which was built in 1970 with a capacity of 5,800.
Most recently, in 2000, the Globen, built in 1989, was home to Eurovision, where 16,000 spectators enjoyed the show.

[Edit – this theater was NOT chosen to be used for Eurovision 2013 afterall, instead being hosted in Globen again] ]This time will be no different. In 2009 construction started on a new Concert Hall in Stockholm, and will be completed by November 2012. The Friends Arena will be the largest stadium in all of Scandinavia, with a capacity of 65,000 persons, a retractable roof, and a football (soccer) arena. A project that will cost 1.9 Billion SEK (170 million Euro/ 212 million USD). Alongside the venue, hotels and the largest shopping center in Scandinavia are also being built.

Sweden was the 11th country to participate in the Eurovision song contest in 1958. Since then, Sweden has won the competition FIVE times, which is the second most wins tied with Luxemborg, France, and the United Kingdom. Ireland has the most wins, with a total of seven. Since 1958 Sweden has only missed participating in the contest three times, out of those 52 times Sweden has ALWAYS made it into the final show, except once, when losing by five votes. In order to find the song that will be entered into Eurovision Sweden has its own competition every march, Melodifestivalen – which I wrote about here and here. Not only has this pre-contest generated five winners, but has also landed Sweden in the top FIVE 20 times, and the top TEN 32 times. This year Loreen’s Euphoria won with the second highest margin in Eurovision history- 113 points. The win was so predicted and expected after her show in the Semi-finals on Thursday that betting offices closed placing bets on her because the odds were too much in her favor. Right now Euphoria is #1 on the radio in 13 countries. #Sweden and #Loreen were top trending World Wide on Thursday during the semi-final and again last night.

The competition used to have a requirement that the song writers must be from the country participating. That is no longer the case, which is something the countries take advantage of, especially fond of using Sweden as it is known for having talented song writers, lyricists, and composers. Many entries through out the years have been created by Swedes, most notably last years winner. Ten out of the 26 finalists in this years contest were songs written by Swedish song writers.  Additionally, the host country used Swedish back up dancers, song writers, choreographer, and wardrobe this year as well.

For many years it was required that all countries must sing  in official languages of their country. This was put in place in 1966 after Sweden performed a song in English. Once the rule was lifted in 1973, Sweden won the following year with Waterloo– in English. Twenty-seven out of all the 56 winning songs have been sung in English. Three out of the five Swedish winning songs have been in English.

It was really exciting to be in the winning country watching Eurovision for the very first time. It was fun to watch and comment on, through both the good and bad parts. I didn’t expect to get so excited and nervous when the votes came in from the 42 countries, but I was sitting on the edge of my seat and applauding when ever we got any score above an Eight. (Only one country didn’t give us any points, and another only gave three points- all 40 other countries gave at least six points – but usually 10 or 12!). Grattis Sverige!!

Enjoy these clips from all the Swedish Eurovision Winners:

ABBA – Waterloo, 1974

(Start at 1:00)

Herrys – Diggi-Loo Diggi-Ley, 1984

Carola – Fångad av en stormvind, 1991 (Caught by a stormwind) (With translation)

Charlotte Nillson – Take me to Your Heaven, 1999

Loreen – Euphoria, 2012

See the cutest-ever runners-up here. Russian Babushkis singing “Everybody dance.”


And The Winner is….

I’ve mentioned the Melodifestivalen before so I will try to make this short and sweet. Last night was the big finale in Stockholm which determines which song will represent Sweden in the international Eurovision Song Contest in the end  of May. The competition ran for five weeks which resulted in 10 competitors last night, I only recognized half of them since I’ve only seen two of the shows.

This finale is voted on very differently than all the previous weeks, where 100% of the votes came from the audience, this round was 50% audience and 50% international jury. The jury consisted of Belgium, Estonia, Cyprus, United Kingdom, Bosnia-Herzegovina, France, Ukraine, Malta, Germany, Ireland, Norway. Each jury awarded 1, 2, 4, 5, 8, 10 or 12 points to their top 7 performances, which means that each juror gave zero their bottom three. With all the comedy acts in between and after performances when the jury started we didn’t know if it was real or not until half way through.

As you can see by this list only two out of the 10 songs in the finale are in Swedish.  The two Swedish songs also got the worst voting from the international panel of jury, which makes sense because they cannot understand the lyrics as my husband pointed out but I disagree and think that the songs were just THAT bad. Songs should not only rely on the language of the lyrics, but should be enjoyable through the music as well.

However, one of the Swedish songs did get the THIRD best percentage of votes by the public (about 9%), bumping him up from 9th place to 8th place, which is something to walk away with.

Melodifestivalen is not only an annual tradition that Swedes enjoy to follow but it is also collects a huge amount of money for charity with every single vote. Each voter has a choice to donate 3.60 kr or 9.90 kr depending on which number they dial, that doesn’t mean that  your vote means more but that you are donating more to charity. Throughout the weeks of Melodifestivalen over one million dollars was raised (9million kr +), just by people voting on their favorites –  which makes this event not only popular and fun to watch but also raises money for a good cause which is pretty incredible.

Now to the show!

  • The first act was suit and sneaker wearing David Lindgren who sang Shout it Out. This catchy song was a great opener with lots of energy, and is still stuck in my head. He has a great stage presence, dance moves, upbeat and feel good music with a good voice and he’s not so bad to look at. Hubby was not impressed until  the end when he heard the recap of all the songs and was able to compare him to the rest of the competition, then determined he was one of the top. Came in rank #: 4
  • The second  song was a Swedish song called Jag Reser Mig Igen (I rise myself up again) , sung by Thorsten Flinck.  Seemed to be an emotional song by the song title, but I didn’t feel that emotion in the music powerfully enough. This song is the one that got 9% local votes but almost no international votes. This act did not get into the finale right away but was pushed through as a “second chance.” He has a very raspy voice and a crazy look in his eyes.Came in rank #: 8

  • Dead By April was an interesting band, in a not so good way. Their song Mystery was some sort of mix between pop singing and metal growling, which can work except that the singing was too puppy dog sweet-n-light while the growling was too severe.  Came in rank #: 7

  • Why Start a Fire A beautiful song by a beautiful face, sung by  popular singer/songwriter Lisa Miskovsky. Unfortunately, like a lot of the other slower songs in the competition, while they sound great they don’t seem to be catchy or memorable enough for an international contest. Would listen to it on the radio, but it’s not powerful enough for Eurovision. Came in rank #: 9

  • The old school rockabilly band, Top Cats, brought from the 50’s  were also here on a “second chance” to sing Baby Doll. While one of my favorites, we thought it was a very fun song with great stage presence including a pianist playing with his feet and a cello player standing ON TOP of his cello, however our conclusion was that they are just too…American for a European contest. We were correct as the catchy tune just wasn’t enough to win the votes. Came in rank #: 6

  •  From the very beginning of the song Loreen singing Euphoria was my husbands favorite, which surprised him because it’s not really his type of music. I wasn’t a huge fan of it right away, but I might have been distracted by her strange dance moves and overgrown bangs. Was definitely in my top four favorites, but number two on who I thought would win. I was wrong – she was voted number one in both forms of voting, by a landslide: with 32% of the international jury votes and 268 out of 473 points from local voters. Came in rank #: 1 – WINNER

  • The seventh act was by Ulrik Munther, an 18 year old with a surprisingly strong voice who plays the harmonica and guitar as part of his song, Soldiers. A young performer, it is apparent how he has already had some success and will continue doing so. Very powerful and emotional song, with two drum sets as his back up. Came in rank #: 3

  • The most controversial performance of melodifestivalen is performed in half by the overly orange suntanned Björn Ranelid. This is a face we haven;t been able to avoid over the past few weeks in the papers, having been under a great deal of criticism. Many people were upset and surprised that this song was voted to finale. Mirikel was one of the two songs that was sung in Swedish, which he tried to change to English but was not allowed. It’s a half poem, half song about “love” which lyrics were under scrutiny. It is mostly spoken with some singing from his female partner, Sara Li.  Came in rank #: 10
  • Song number 9 was sung by Molly Sandén, it was a powerfully emotional ballad. Why Am I Crying fell in the same category as Why Start A Fire- Beautiful songs by beautiful women, but the slow pace makes for an easily over looked, under appreciated, unmemorable song in a competition this huge. Came in rank #: 5

  • Last but certainly not least (unfortunately) was Danny Saucedo singing Amazing. While the song is catchy we agreed right away that the lyrics were pretty pathetic and could be written by a ten year old. Something so simple should not be thrown into an international competition. “I’m feeling great, I’m feeling awesome, let me explain its because you’re amazing” on repeat didn’t really do it for us. We couldn’t believe it and were very nervous when we saw he was a close second from the international Jury and also second from the voters. I would have been embarrassed if this song represented Sweden. He was voted #2 last year as well. Came in rank #: 5

And so in the end of May Sweden will be represented by this face:

This is her performance last night and what we have to expect in May:


Throughout the show there is some comic relief and skits that I never get to understand, but this time since hubby was (kind of) watching with me he translated anything he thought was worth while. At the end of the song list during each show every week there is this strange clip that “interrupts” the show. I was never really able to understand but hubby explained it to me that it’s kind of making fun of the show a bit, the fun part is that one of the hostess’s (who is an actress) plays all four parts:

Another clip was shown last night which was in English and was pretty funny, she was supposed to be from the UK and kept mixing up names and mispronouncing things and not knowing where countries were – most notably calling the Swedish people Swiss.

Well, that was not as short and sweet as I had hoped- sorry!! I don’t know about you but I am all Melodifestivalen’ed out! Looking forward to Eurovision but need this break!



Yikes! Second Saturday into February and I haven’t mentioned Melodifestivalen?! “The Melody Festival” is a huge event in Sweden and cannot will not be ignored! Melodifestivalen is the most popular, maybe most important, show in Sweden. Every year 3-4 million Swedes faithfully watch it (have I mentioned that the population of Sweden is roughly 9.4 million?). Melodifestivalen is tradition since 1959. But what is it!? It’s a competition.

Let’s just say that in 1974 a band named ABBA won the Melodifestivalen. That year Sweden came in first place in Eurovision. The whole purpose of Melodifestivalen is that the winner of the competition goes on to represent Sweden in the international Eurovision Song Contest, which is an even bigger deal… a huge deal, 100-600 million viewers world wide type of a huge deal. Four winners of the Melodifestivalen have also won the Eurovision contest, Sweden has been placed in the top 5 places 14 times. With four wins under its belt, only four other countries have won more often, so Sweden must be doing something right with this Melodifestivalen!

Melodifestivalen is something I’ve heard of but never seen, until now. Having remembered too late, I missed the first installment (Hence the post two weeks into the month) but I made sure not to miss today’s performances. I enjoyed it a lot- more than I expected considering I couldn’t understand most of it. Maybe next year I’ll be able to understand the introductions, interviews, and the comic relief, and all of the songs instead of half. Or maybe I’ll force my husband to watch it with me next week and do some translations (Ya, right! He’s not a fan of the competition)

Every Saturday in February the Melodifestivalen competition continues, and all across Sweden people watch it unfold. Over time and with a bunch of changes to the festival over the years, including the 2002 introduction of weekly semi-finals, the amount of competitors has risen from 5 to 32, thus stretching the competition out for the duration of five weeks  instead of a single night of two round elimination. A panel of judges along with a public telephone voting system now determines the semi finalists each week.  The semi final show and finale being the most watched segment.

If you are thinking somewhere along the lines of American Idol, you are half right but not really. There are no embarrassing auditions aired (the best part and the only episodes I watch). There are no obnoxious commentary from judges, although there is a few minutes between each performance of the hosts talking about something or other that I can’t understand, seems  to be comic relief filler. Each performance is well polished, rehearsed, with set design, wardrobe, back up singers, and back up dancers. Remember this isn’t just a competition for some money or fame, its to become the face of Sweden in the bigger international contest. However there is a trophy – “Den stora Sångfågeln” (The Great Songbird), and of course there is fame. Only days after the Eurovision contest ends does the selection process for contestants and song choices begin for the following year, thus taking 9 months to narrow down the competition for next years Melodifestivalen. There is a mix of begining and experienced performers, songs are not limited by language, but most are Swedish or English, and the genres have become increasingly diverse.

Each of the six shows are aired live, the first four shows consist of eight songs that are voted on solely by the viewers to determine which proceed to the final round or second chance round, which are then determined by judges.

Onto the  show!

Tuning in via webcast I was greeted with a count down of when the live show would start, with a photo of the hosts in the background:

After a small amount of talking and joking in the beginning for a few minutes the first performance was on stage rather quickly. It wasn’t until half way through that I realized that it was the hosts  in black vests and hats along with two men singing a melody of boy band songs such as “I want it that way” and “Larger than life.” (I’m pretty sure those are both backstreet?) I’m assuming that each show starts with a performance from the hosts.

The audience is waving colorful balloons which makes it feel like a party. It starts with showing photos of each of the eight contestants for the evening. I tried to get screen shots or each performance and jot down some thoughts. Each contestant is introduced by the host and they walk up the catwalk with a voice over and music. I assume the voice over is a short description of each performer, but I wasn’t able to understand it.

The first act was a teenage boy named Ulrik, I assume 16 or 17 since you have to be 16 to enter the contest. He went on stage armed with a guitar, a harmonica, a great voice, messy hair, and stunning eyes. He sang a song in English, “Soldier” which was very catchy and well done. He didn’t dance but he was multitasking instruments, so who can blame him?

The second performance was Five guys  with 60’s styled slicked back hair, called Top Cats singing a song in English, “Baby Doll.” They were extremlly energetic while each playing an instrument- piano, drums, guitars, and a cello. Fun old school rock and roll sound while the pianist is standing and dancing while playing and  the  cello player is standing ON TOP of his cello.

The third performance was a slow paced Swedish ballad by Sonja Alden. She was alone on stage, no back up dancers or singers, no instruments aside from her soothing smooth voice. The set was filled with smoke and lights for atmosphere and a bridge. She wore a beautiful flowing dress that moved in the wind as she sang. Seemed like a classic song, was a bit too slow for my taste.

The Fourth artist was a guy named Andreas Lund, he strutted and danced up the catwalk to a Jay Z song, which I found pretty amusing in his shiny gold and black suit. He sang a Swedish song called “Aldrig, Aldrig” and had a great stage presence and a lot of energy.  He had three back up dancers/singers all dressed the same as him but with reversed colors.

The fifth performance was a Swedish song by four young women, blond hair and beautiful- the stereotypical Swedish woman in an Americans eyes. Their set was filled with smoke and they were joined by 3 male dancers.  They stayed pretty close to their microphone stands but did break away and move a little bit twice. The unique part was their instruments: Guitar, accordion, violin, and flute- and they all sang beautifully in unison with perfect harmony.

Sixth up was David Lindgren who sang an English song “Shout it Out.” Upon first seeing him in his suit and sneakers fist pumping to the music I thought he was awkward but I was wrong. He was soon joined by four co-ed dancers and he starts to dance along while singing, before you know it he shed his jacket and starts break dancing! It was interesting to see him sing and dance mixing in and even being in back of the other dancers. He was fun to listen to and watch- I was a bit scared to look away after being surprised with Flames shooting from the set and him break dancing.

The Seventh contestant up was Mimi Oh singing a Swedish tune. She was wearing bright yellow and pink along with massive eyelash extensions and doe eyes. She was surrounded by four co-ed dancers but only managed basic movements, slight dancing with mostly jumping and walking. I can’t really recall the song or how she sounded.

Last but not least was the eccentric Thomas Di Leva, I wish I could understand the background information on him, I am guessing it was pretty interesting. He sung a Swedish  song and wore a long sleeved, floor lengthed “dress?” with a lightening bolt on the chest and long curly hair. He only sings  but has a male and a female back up dancers in white and gold who move somewhat unconventionally. He was the only performer to walk into the audience, shaking hands and singing into the crowd.

All eight performances with some short dialogue and introductions in between took about 45 minutes. Then there is a recap rundown of each performance with a 15 second clip of every song along with which number to call to vote for that contestant.

I expected that to be the end, but the show went on. There was about five minutes of some stuff I couldn’t understand and then it was back to the contestants waiting with some comic relief from the host with a sign pinned to her bottom saying “Do not touch” – too bad I didn’t understand the context.

Apparently the votes are tallied immediately and you only have a few minutes to vote. I expected the results to be reveled next show. Within ten minutes of the eighth song the five songs that are voted to stay are announced followed by a second vote. I found it interesting that the contestants wait on the floor sitting at tables, as opposed to standing on stage.

There is a bonus performance while we wait, a “mash up” with who I can only assume are previous contestants from last year or last week? I was admittedly confused.

And the winner is…..

Ulrik- the first performer! He quickly ran to the catwalk and posed for photos, jumping high with his arms stretched out. He was rushed to the stage to perform an encore of the same song he played before. I thought the winner would be Lindren, the cheers were loudest for him.

I thought it was over but then… to my surprise there was a THIRD vote. What the heck!? Then I recalled reading that there are two semifinalists from each week. The vote was from the remaining four contestants and seemed much quicker. and the winner is….Lindgren! So, my suspicions were spot on. When his name was called his eyes were filled with tears and there was laughter in his voice as he performed his song again. It really felt like a celebration. The winners were given huge bouquets of flowers and posed for photos together.

So, that’s the Swedish Melodifestevalen in a very big nutshell. It was enjoyable and I’ll probably watch it again,  however I will certainly skip the hectic gathering of notes and screenshots. Hope you all enjoyed this piece of Swedish Entertainment! Search for “Melodifestivalen” on youtube and watch some clips!