• Sweden edition
 

Melodifestivalen: "It's a dictatorship! Abuse of power!"

Published: 20 Jan 2005 13:09 GMT+01:00
Updated: 20 Jan 2005 13:09 GMT+01:00

Storm clouds are gathering round this year's Melodifestivalen and competition organiser, Christer Björkman. Swedish pop artists, music business insiders, TV executives and journalists are all up in arms at the behaviour of the man seen as having too much power in deciding the line up for the annual song fest - Sweden's biggest TV event.

The last straw for many seems to have been Björkman's final wild card selections for the 2005 competition, announced this week. An uninspiring list was headed by Danish star, Nanne Grönwall. Coincidentally, Grönwall and Björkman are close personal friends and recently toured together.

Or is it coincidence....? Unsuccessful applicant, Pernilla Wahlgren, was in no doubt when she told Aftonbladet:

"I question how he can sit on his high horse and decide so much. Everybody knows he lets his mates jump the queue."

She has no shortage of backers, although most of them, fearing for their careers by getting into Björkman's little black book, prefer to speak off the record. An industry insider told the same paper:

"Everybody knows he favours his friends at the same time as he blanks those he doesn't like."

Wahlgren would presumably be one of those he doesn't like. According to the artist herself, known mostly for her performances in stage musicals, Björkman told her she was too old and not suitable for the competition. Last year, one of Björkman's wild card picks was another stage artist, Petra Nielsen.

1999 winner, Charlotte Perelli, is the only artist willing to speak out openly who doesn't have a personal bone to pick.

"It's dangerous and regrettable if one person sits in a position where he can make or break artists. That's not what the Melodifestivalen is all about."

A third charge against Björkman from this year's competition concerns his partner, Martin Kagemark. Although Kagemark has been prevented by Björkman from entering the competition in his own right, he has got a place as one of the backing singers on the show.

Björkman has been raising eyebrows since the 2003 competition. At the time, he had released an album of his own, which was distributed by song-writer Bobby Ljunggren's company. It then emerged that a disproportionate number of songs in the 2003 line-up were written by none other than Bobby Ljunggren.

GP, whose music correspondent has called for Björkman to resign, has also discovered that one of the judges on the selection panel which chooses 28 of the 32 songs in the competition, also sits on the board of Christer Björkman Artistproduktion AB.

"Never thought about it," said the man himself.

What Björkman and the show's SVT producers do seem to be thinking about is their communications.

"[Some of the criticism is warranted] inasmuch as I and my colleagues have sometimes been naive. In an operation the size of Melodifestivalen there are always things that are obvious to us, but which others interpret differently. Those of us working on Melodifestivalen, including the SVT leadership must be clearer."

Thomas Hall, SVT's project manager for Melodifestivalen agreed:

"SVT as a whole and those working on Melodifestivalen must be better at communicating. We need to explain to everybody how the various stages of the show work and who's responsible for what."

Both men denied categorically that any favouritism was shown towards particular artists. Björkman told Aftonbladet:

"Of course I know a lot of the artists who take part. It's part of my job to have a lot of contacts. I realise that this isn't a job that's likely to make me Mr Popular. A lot of people are necessarily disappointed."

Hall added:

"I'm so involved in the whole process [of selecting artists] that I would have noticed if Christer had been fishing for dinner invitations."

Sources: Aftonbladet, Göteborgs Posten

Don't miss...X
Left Right
Today's headlines
Florida 'mystery knight' dies in Sweden
Michael Boatwright (R) and Medieval knight re-enactors.

Florida 'mystery knight' dies in Sweden

The "motel mystery" American who baffled US authorities by only speaking Swedish when he woke up from a coma last year has passed away, Swedish media reported on Wednesday. READ () »

Swedes open coffin of 850-year-old king
Photo: Bertil Ericson/TT

Swedes open coffin of 850-year-old king

UPDATED: Scientists pried open the 850-year-old casket of King Erik the Holy on Wednesday, hoping to find out more about the king, his crown, and his eating habits. READ () »

TeliaSonera announces first-quarter profit drop
TeliaSonera CEO Johan Dennelind. File photo: TT

TeliaSonera announces first-quarter profit drop

Stockholm-listed telecom operator TeliaSonera on Wednesday said profits had fallen in the first quarter, but hoped offering customers more data solutions in the future would turn things around. READ () »

'Imperfect EU better than revolting nationalism'
Fredrik Reinfeldt. File photo: TT

'Imperfect EU better than revolting nationalism'

Swedish Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt on Wednesday urged young voters to head to the European parliamentary polls on May 25th "to cure the European disease of nationalism". READ () »

Ericsson quarterly profit defies sluggish sales
Ericsson CEO Hans Vestberg at the first quarter press conference. Photo: TT

Ericsson quarterly profit defies sluggish sales

Swedish telecom giant Ericsson on Wednesday announced a drop in sales but posted a sharp rise in first-quarter profit, which nonetheless fell shy of analyst predictions. READ () »

Fatal Norrköping brawl
Four brothers held as cops fear brawl reprisals
Photo: Johan Nilsson/TT

Four brothers held as cops fear brawl reprisals

Swedish police fear that several people involved in a brawl in eastern Sweden on Monday night may be seeking revenge after two brothers were shot dead. READ () »

Sponsored Article
Beautiful pearls of southeast Sweden
The town of Västervik.

Beautiful pearls of southeast Sweden

Ask a Swede, and they are likely to say that their favourite holiday spot is in the southeast of Sweden. Eastern Småland and Öland offer a smörgåsbord of all the things dearest to the Swedes - from the beloved children's book author Astrid Lindgren to deep forests, long sandy beaches, perfect spots for that all-important 'fika', and a surprising amount of space, peace and quiet. READ () »

Weekend weather to bring summer warmth
Swedes enjoy hot dogs and cherry blossoms in Stockholm's Kungsträdgården. Photo: Jessica Gow/TT

Weekend weather to bring summer warmth

The sun is set to stick around and temperatures could climb into the twenties over the weekend, Swedish meteorologists said on Wednesday READ () »

'Day-care rapist' admits molesting eight kids

'Day-care rapist' admits molesting eight kids

A 21-year-old man confessed on Wednesday to sex crimes against eight children at a day care where he was working as an intern. READ () »

Swedish cops nab man for having big muscles
An unrelated bodybuilder. File photo: Ann Törnkvist

Swedish cops nab man for having big muscles

Police in Sweden's south who hauled a muscular man in for steroid testing have had their knuckles rapped, after it was ruled that big biceps cannot be grounds for narcotics suspicions. READ () »

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
TT
Gallery
Inside the 850-year-old king's coffin
Features
Sponsored: South-eastern Sweden offers Öland beaches and more
Gallery
Swedish underwear shop puts staff in front of the camera
Gallery
IN PICTURES: The Local's Property of the Week - Täby
Sponsored: India+Sweden Week - India Unlimited
Features
Sponsored: India+Sweden Week - A film, food, and finance feast
National
University applications rocket to record high
finest.se
Gallery
People-watching April 18-20
TT
Society
Kids in Victorian garb mark Swedish Easter
Shutterstock
National
Swedish MP ordered chemtrail probe
Society
Swedish supermarket Ica pulls contested Easter commercial off air
Kungahuset
Society
Swedish royals set baptism date for princess
finest.se
Gallery
People-watching April 16
Advertisement:
Politics
Who's the prime minister's heir?
Alfie Atkins
Society
Are children's books the key to families integrating in Sweden?
National
'Sweden Dem protests cater to party's martyr image'
National
'Swedish research grants were fantastic, but now it's like Australia'
Society
Only in Sweden: The ten problems you'd never encounter elsewhere
National
Swedes stopped to take my picture, but didn't look me in the eyes
Business & Money
A swipe of the hand replaced cash and cards in Lund
YouTube
Features
Video: Oliver Gee finds out how to embrace The Swedish Hug
TT
National
Abba duo hints at reunion
Private
National
Flash mobs hug it out across Sweden
Finest.se
Gallery
People-watching April 11-13
Stockholm School of Economics
Sponsored Article
Why a bachelor's degree is no longer enough
Latest news from The Local in Switzerland

More news from Switzerland at thelocal.ch

Latest news from The Local in Germany

More news from Germany at thelocal.de

Latest news from The Local in Spain

More news from Spain at thelocal.es

Latest news from The Local in France

More news from France at thelocal.fr

Latest news from The Local in Italy

More news from Italy at thelocal.it

Latest news from The Local in Norway

More news from Norway at thelocal.no

Blog Update: The Diplomatic Dispatch

28 October 15:16

The Green Growth Group Summit »

"Today on the 28 October in Brussels, a large group of key EU Ministers and business people, including UK Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change Edward Davey, and Swedish Environment Minister Lena Ek, will meet to discuss green growth. They all have a stake in resolving a challenge which, although it is crucial..." READ »

719
jobs available
Swedish Down Town Consulting & Productions
Swedish Down Town Consulting & Productions is an innovative business company which provides valuable assistance with the Swedish Authorities, Swedish language practice and general communications. Call 073-100 47 81 or visit:
www.swedishdowntown.com