Sweden is great at music. Music is their number one export product. I believe the long dark winters have something to do with it. In winter music softens the darkness, in the summer months they celebrate light and warmth and music is always a part of this. While the rest of Europe often is a little giggly about the Eurovision Song Contest, for Sweden it is big business! The Eurovision fever begins in February when Sweden chooses their candidate in the national preselections: Melodifestivalen.
SVT, Swedish radio and TV, organizes Melodifestivalen to select their candidate for the Eurovision Song Contest. These national preliminaries are immensely popular. About half of the Swedish population is watching! Melodifestivalen is more popular than the Eurovision contest itself. Many large Swedish artists participate in Melodifestivalen, not only to win a place in the Eurovision Song Contest but mainly because it is a nice promotion for their new single or upcoming album.
Each ‘deltavling‘ takes place in a different city. After the preliminaries, there is Andra Chansen, a second chance for numbers that could not be placed directly. The final takes place in the Friends Arena in Solna (Stockholm).
Melodifestivalen has always been popular but since Christer Björkman is the producer, the program reaches even higher highs and even brought some Eurovision victories to Sweden. I was totally fan girling when I met Christer Björkman at the bar of my hotel at the afterparty of the Eurovision Song Contest 2016 in Stockholm! (Sorry, Christer!)
The history of Melodifestivalen
Melodifestivalen was organized for the first time in 1959. Since 2002, the language for Melodifestivalen is free to choose (in 1999 this already changed for the Eurovision Song Contest) but many Swedish artists still choose for a song in Swedish during the preliminaries. In 1999, Charlotte (then Nilsson, now Perelli) won Melodifestivalen with Tusen och en Natt and performed the English version ‘Take me to your Heaven’ at the big contest.
Since the beginning of Melodifestivalen a jury determines the winner and since 1999, the public can also vote via telephone voting. SVT selects 16 songs from the submitted contributions, and in addition, they hold 15 seats open for artists they invite to participate. The 32th song is from Webbjoker, an online competition for artists whose work is not yet for sale.
Will you be watching Melodifestivalen? Tune in to SVT Play, Saturday at 20h!