If you have school-aged children, you’ll probably spend your Saturday evenings in February watching Melodifestivalen, the annual competition to select Sweden’s Eurovision entry song.
If you are anything like me, you’ll have groaned when you realised what time of year it was. How can it already be this time again?
The problem is that Melodifestivalen is a big deal is Sweden. And it becomes a major topic in the playground each year. Which means that we are forced to watch it, each Saturday night, each February.
Don’t get me wrong; I love Eurovision. The songs (the good, the bad, and the truly terrible), the sequins, the glitz, the glamour, and the silly presenters trying to pull off awful jokes in English. And not forgetting the bitchiness of the commentators. I adore it all.
Melodifestivalen, though? No, thanks. Eurovision seems to know that it is silly and that’s what makes it work. Melodifestivalen takes itself a little bit too seriously. There are some forays into silliness, but it doesn’t embrace the frothiness in the same way.
And then there is the fact that the general public just has dreadful taste and will usually vote for the latest pretty boy singer (looking directly at you, Robin, Felix, Benjamin, and all the rest…). Or even worse, the old timer who has already represented the country 4 times and never won.
After sitting through the first round this year, I’ve decided that the best way to get through these next few weeks is to embrace Melodifestivalen in true Eurovision style.
- Make sure you’re fully equipped with snacks, popcorn or something sweet (now’s the time to make the most of that Swedish tradition of lördagsgodis (Saturday sweets/candy).
- Turn it into a competition each Saturday: draw up a sweepstake, vote amongst yourselves, or make like the Eurovision commentators and throw some serious shade on the contestants and their songs.
- Immerse yourself in Melodifestivalen culture. Read every single article that Aftonbladet and Expressen write. Use Google Translate if you need to but read them all and become an expert. Impress everyone with your new-found knowledge about Robin Bengtsson’s toe injury or the shocking news that Felix Sandman has only made it through to Andra Chansen (the Second Chance round).
- Take this one step further and read up about previous years’ contests. Did you know that contestant Anna Book was disqualified in 2016 for using a song that had already been used in another country’s national selection? Or that SVT won’t say how much it costs to arrange Melodifestivalen? Well, you do now.
- Many people cook different foods from the Eurovision countries in May. That’s not an option but you can investigate regional foods each weekend of Melodifestivalen. Why not try a half special for Gothenburg (a hot dog sausage in a bun, topped with mashed potato), reindeer meat or cloudberries when the competition moves to Luleå, or spettekaka when it reaches Malmö?
Or you can just tell the children that it was cancelled this year. Good luck!