• Sweden edition
 

Love Sweden, love Eurovision

Published: 16 Mar 2006 10:32 GMT+01:00
Updated: 16 Mar 2006 10:32 GMT+01:00

As Carola, Kikki, Magnus et al warm up to take their place in the pantheon of European music greats, Christine Demsteader explains how Sweden brainwashed her into becoming a Eurovision addict.

It wasn’t so much the formality of the skål that fazed me, nor was it the infamous rule of shoe.

After landing on Swedish soil, I seemed to navigate the maze of social quirks with surprising ease and honeymooned happily in my newfound home.

Nothing, then, prepared me for an embarrassing first encounter that sent a cacophony of cultural shock waves through me – experiencing the Eurovision Song Contest, Swedish-style.

At the time I knew very little about Saturday’s star line-up – those vying for the honour of representing Sweden this year. These were the days when Carola still loved Runar, when Magnus Carlsson wore far less make-up and when Kikki Danielsson was half the Eurovision heavyweight she is today.

I was, however, quick to observe that the continent’s indecent tribute to music was placed worryingly high on the Swedes’ social calendar. What’s more, they toasted the event with the kind of ceremony and anticipation usually reserved for a defining moment in history.

It’s Europe’s annual musical extravaganza – or a wealth of spectacular tuneless drivel – whichever way you look at it.

The butt of many a joke back home, Eurovision was one of those things I took great pleasure in mocking within the company of my fellow English countrymen. To take it seriously would be a heinous crime against humanity’s good taste. Surely?

Apparently not. Not in Sweden anyway. Here, the whole ridiculous stunt serves to unite the nation, gripped by the soaring temperatures of Eurovision fever every year.

Momentum is built up months in advance courtesy of Melodifestivalen, a colourfully camp cabaret and the country’s song-picking prelude to the main event.

Over a number of nail-biting weeks, artists parade their vocal wares and, egged on by the tabloids, partake in backstage backstabbing to varied degrees.

The songs and artists are narrowed down until the final victim, or rather the holy Swedish entry, is crowned.

Many a Melodifestivalen winner has been inducted into Sweden’s schlager Hall of Fame. The self-styled Eurovision music genre is typically characterized by an annoyingly repetitive melody and trivial lyrics of little or no meaning.

For some people schlager is simply a form of discordant torture. But for others, myself included, it is simply a way of life.

Oh dear. Having been brainwashed over the last few years of life in Sweden, the words Eurovision, schlager and Melodifestival are now a permanent part of everyday vocabulary.

Even worse, from innocent foot-tapping behind closed doors, the catchy schlager refrains and feel-good harmonies send me strutting straight to the dancefloor. Without fail.

Like a compulsive addition to semlor, it is has become somewhat of an unhealthy obsession; yes Sweden has successfully turned me into a Eurovision junkie.

Despite all of the above, over the course of the last month, and naturally one night in May, prime-time Saturday evenings are solely spent in the company of my sofa and SVT1.

I’ve since become somewhat of a Eurovision whizz, and freely admit to spending my free time swotting up on 50 years worth of statistics.

Sad, perhaps. But knowing your Eurovision provides you with a bumper-pack of benefits in Sweden. For instance, it’s an acceptable way of breaking the ice with the token group of icy Swedes, habitually found at house parties.

Test them with a touch of trivia and, more often than not, they will be impressed with your expertise in the art of Eurovision.

“Wasn’t it scandalous that the UK jury gave ABBA’s winning Waterloo nul points in 1974?” and nod convincingly.

“Isn’t it bizarre that Germany has only won the contest once, in 1982?”and look sincere.

“Just remind me again, who represented Sweden in 1968?”* and scroll to the bottom of this article.

Or you can even try stating the obvious. “Don’t you just love Johnny Logan?” and try not to laugh.

Later in the evening, I find it customary to treat guests to a live ‘n’ unplugged version the Carola classic, Fångad av en stormvind. (note: Eurovision winner in 1991 for Sweden).

Far from a sober performance, it never fails, however, to win a round of impromptu cheers from the same, now fully-thawed-out Swedes in the corner.

Ironically, the contest, notoriously rich in national stereotyping with its powerful political voting, can help to break down social barriers in Sweden.

Scrub up on your Eurovision history, arm yourself with a list of Melodifestivalen winners or learn the chorus of a schlager classic and you’re laughing.

As will be your Swedish peers, safe in the knowledge that you understand and appreciate the place of Eurovision in the scheme of Swedish culture.

*Claes-Göran Hederström represented Sweden at the 1968 Eurovision Song Contest held in London. The song Det börjar verka kärlek, banne mej finished fifth out of the 17 countries taking part that year. The contest was held at the Royal Albert Hall and was broadcast around Europe in technicolour for the first time……blah blah…you get the message….

Discuss this topic!

Christine Demsteader (christine.demsteader@thelocal.se)

Don't miss...X
Left Right
Today's headlines
Students to keep paying off debt beyond 67

Students to keep paying off debt beyond 67

The Swedish government has proposed scrapping the 25-year span for repaying student loans, by suggesting those who attend higher education should keep paying the money back well into retirement. READ () »

Drowned puppies found in crayfish cage
The crayfish cage in the picture is not the one mentioned in the story. Photo: Christine Olsson/TT

Drowned puppies found in crayfish cage

Police in eastern Sweden have launched a preliminary investigation of animal cruelty after two puppies were found drowned in a crayfish cage. READ () »

Three rescued after cruise ship sinks boat
Rickard Rundgren Björk of the coastguard services speaks to the media after the rescue operation on April 19th 2014. Photo: Maja Suslin /TT

Three rescued after cruise ship sinks boat

Three Saturday morning sailors had a lucky escape after their small boat collided and sank after it crashed into a cruise ship whilst sailing in the Stockholm archipelago. READ () »

Missing Swede found alive and well in UK
Sofie Marie Jansson. Photo: Metropolitan Police

Missing Swede found alive and well in UK

British police have found the missing Swedish girl Sofie Jansson in London, exactly a week after she was last seen, with authorities saying she is doing well. READ () »

Social Democrats make tax pledge to elderly

Social Democrats make tax pledge to elderly

Sweden's opposition party has stepped up its efforts to secure the pensioner vote by pledging to lower taxes for the elderly and make higher earners pay more. READ () »

Malmö Nazi attack victim on the mend
Showan Shattak pictured in Malmö before his attack. Photo: Facebook

Malmö Nazi attack victim on the mend

The 25-year-old man, whose stabbing by neo-Nazis sparked mass demonstrations across Sweden, has made a strong recovery in hospital and took to social media to thank supporters for campaigning against fascism. READ () »

Police seeking missing Swede in London

British police have issued a plea for tips in the search to find Swedish national Sofie Marie Jansson who hasn't been seen for almost a week. READ () »

University applications rocket to record high

University applications rocket to record high

Swedish universities continue to draw vast amounts of applicants with the number of prospective students seeking a third level education increasing for the seventh year in a row. READ () »

Man jailed in US over Lars Vilks murder plot
Swedish artist Lars Vilks pictured in New York in 2012. Photo: Linus Sundahl-Djerf/TT

Man jailed in US over Lars Vilks murder plot

American authorities have sentenced a 20-year-old accomplice of 'Jihad Jane' to five years in prison for an attempted terror plot to kill Swedish artist Lars Vilks, after getting involved with the murder plans when he was a teenager. READ () »

Sweden scraps 'new start zones' after EU input
Integration Minister Erik Ullenhag visits a school in Tensta, one of the neighbourhoods mentioned when he and his colleagues first floated the new start zone proposal. File: TT

Sweden scraps 'new start zones' after EU input

Sweden has abandoned a plan to ease taxes for small companies in blighted areas after the European Commission challenged its legality. READ () »

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
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
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
Advertisement:
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
TT
Politics
Swedes to give six-hour workday a go
TT
Society
Aussie choir member wows Abba in Sweden
YouTube
Society
Stockholm magic a surprise YouTube hit
Fastighetsbyrån
Society
Gallery: The Local's Property of the Week
Private
Society
Swedes find 200-year-old gravestone in living room
Stockholm School of Economics
Sponsored Article
Why a bachelor's degree is no longer enough
Deepti Vashisht
Features
Deepti Vashisht dissects the magic of Sweden's personal ID number
Shutterstock
Society
Ten signs you've been in Sweden too long
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 »

740
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