• Sweden edition
 

Love Sweden, love Eurovision

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

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)

Today's headlines
Science
Swedish women in two-year sex pill study
Contraceptive pills have been linked to mood swings. Photo: Shutterstock

Swedish women in two-year sex pill study

Three hundred women from across Sweden are taking part in a study designed to demonstrate that modern contraceptive pills don't lead to decreased libido or mood swings. READ  

National
Stockholm 'sinking' oil spill ship safe
The ship was rescued on Thursday. Photo: Swedish Coast Guard

Stockholm 'sinking' oil spill ship safe

After fears a ship carrying around 52 tonnes of oil could sink in Stockholm's archipelago, Sweden's Coast Guard said the vessel had been towed to safety. READ  

National
Dog attack policewoman acquitted on appeal
A scene from a video of the attack published by Dagens Nyheter

Dog attack policewoman acquitted on appeal

A policewoman accused of letting her dog attack a drunk man while she repeatedly hit him with a baton, has had her conviction overturned by a court in Stockholm. READ  

Entertainment
What's On: October 31st - November 7th
Uma Thurman will soon be on her way to Stockholm. Photo: TT

What's On: October 31st - November 7th

Halloween fun and an international film festival are the big events hitting Stockholm this week. We cast our eye over the capital and the rest of the country for the best activities to check out this week. READ  

International
Pirate Bay Swede found guilty in Denmark
Gottrid Svartholm Warg. File photo: TT

Pirate Bay Swede found guilty in Denmark

Sweden's Pirate Bay Founder Gottrid Svartholm Warg was found guilty of hacking crimes in a Danish court on Thursday. READ  

National
Malmö loses out as rare toads move in
The European green toad. Photo: H. Krisp (WikiCommons)

Malmö loses out as rare toads move in

After a rare species of toad moved into southern Sweden's Malmö, builders have had to tone down massive expansion plans in the area. READ  

Politics
Palestine recognized as state by Sweden
Sweden's Foreign Minister is Margot Wallström. Photo: TT

Palestine recognized as state by Sweden

The Swedish government has officially decided to recognize Palestine, with the move announced in a speech by the country's new Foreign Minister Margot Wallström. READ  

Interview
Stockholm's shocking take on Halloween
For ten days, Globen is transformed into a giant pumpkin. Photo: Shockholm

Stockholm's shocking take on Halloween

American Bill Schacht missed the spooky outfits, family feasts and charity events he associated with Halloween when he moved to Sweden. So he did something about it. The Local meets the founder of the capital's annual Shockholm parade. READ  

Business & Money
Huge losses for energy giant Vattenfall
A Vattenfall plant in Germany. Photo: TT

Huge losses for energy giant Vattenfall

Swedish energy company Vattenfall has reported losses for the third quarter in a row. READ  

International
Malala donates prize winnings to Gaza
Malala receives the Children's Prize from Queen Silvia. Photo: TT

Malala donates prize winnings to Gaza

UPDATED: Girls' rights champion Malala Yousafzai, who was in Sweden to accept the World's Children's Prize on Wednesday, said she would use all her winnings to help rebuild schools in war-ravaged Gaza. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
Business & Money
Get your own office in Gothenburg or Stockholm - free for a day
Gallery
People-watching: October 30th
National
Sweden remains fourth best for gender equality
National
Timeline: Julian Assange sex allegations
Sport
World Cup ski race on 'fake' Stockholm slope
Blog updates

29 October

Scariest day (Blogweiser) »

"This is what’s frightening me on Halloween. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D4OFZVCu8J0&list=UUJu5J7jG4uoYSjWbpFsJBuQ Follow my posts on FB. ..." READ »

 

24 October

Editor’s blog, October 24th (The Local Sweden) »

"Hi readers, Get ready to read our weekly digest of Swedish news in less than 60 seconds. The..." READ »

 
 
 
Society
An Arctic tradition: hunting and handicraft
Society
Stockholm taxis offer free therapy sessions
National
The Local meets Health Minister Gabriel Wikström
Gallery
Property of the week: Österåker
Society
Homeless turtles get Stockholm police ride
National
Construction worker has 'Sweden's best beard'
National
Italian musician jazzes up Sweden's Lapland
Gallery
Zlatan's career in pictures
Finest.se
Gallery
People-watching: October 25th and 26th
Lifestyle
'Swedes are funnier than they think'
National
Swedish town 'like Venice' after heavy rains
Lifestyle
What's On in Sweden: October 24th - 31st
Gallery
People-watching: October 22nd
Gallery
In Pictures: Prince Carl Philip and Sofia Hellqvist
Lifestyle
Eight things to love about renting a Swedish apartment
National
Vasa ship cannon blasted in Sweden
National
Sub hunt: Day-by-day
National
Sub hunt: Stockholm islanders share their fears with The Local
Sponsored Article
The best options for oversea transfers
National
Dentist gives free care to Roma beggars
Gallery
Property of the week: Malmö
Gallery
PHOTOS: 'Foreign activity' in Swedish waters
TT
Society
QUIZ: How good is your Swedish?
Society
The nudity... and nine other things expat men notice in Sweden
Gallery
People-watching: October 15th
Gallery
Your views: Should outdoor smoking be banned in Sweden?
Business & Money
Sweden has 'large hole' in finances
Sponsored Article
Introducing... Finding a job in Stockholm
Society
Monster salmon caught in northern Sweden
Gallery
Property of the week: Lorensberg
National
Scandinavia's child bride
National
Ebola crisis: How is Sweden preparing?
Business & Money
How Sweden is becoming a cashless society
Gallery
Stockholm Burlesque Festival 2014
National
How a little red horse became a symbol for Sweden
Gallery
People-watching: October 12th
Business & Money
The hottest start-ups from southern Sweden
National
Stockholm is 'best' region for well-being
Gallery
People-watching: October 8th
National
Five facts to know about Patrick Modiano
Sponsored Article
How to catch the first lobster of the year
Team SCA
Sponsored Article
All-female SCA team takes off on Volvo Ocean Race
Latest news from The Local in Austria

More news from Austria at thelocal.at

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 Denmark

More news from Denmark at thelocal.dk

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

1,008
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
PSD Media
PSD Media is marketing company that offers innovative solutions for online retailers. We provide modern solutions that help increase traffic and raise conversion. Visit our site at:
http://psdmedia.se
If you want to drink, that’s your business.
If you want to stop, we can help.

Learn more about English-language Alcoholics Anonymous in Sweden. No dues. No fees. Confidentiality assured.
AA-EUROPE.ORG/SWEDEN