Melodifestivalen 2005: public silenced

It seems the Swedish public will have little to say in this year’s Melodifestivalen, Sweden's competition to pick the country's representative in the Eurovision Song Contest. Instead, a jury of experts will provide the "taste injection" that’s been so sorely lacking in recent years.

It’s still not clear how strong the jury’s voice will be, but Melodifestivalen project leader Thomas Hall is optimistic about what the new structure will mean for Sweden’s entry to the Eurovision Song Contest – he feels that the public tends to simply vote for the artists that have had the most media attention, and he’s putting together a jury that will listen more than they look.

Nevertheless, Hall’s clarifications of the new jury system tend towards the vague.

“At the heart of things, the viewers should still feel that they have the power. Then you can have a jury that works as a sort of taste injection or provocateur,” Hall told Göteborgs Posten this week.

He was unable to clarify exactly how the jury would be chosen or what sort of power they would have either in the semifinals or in Stockholm’s final competition. Expect heated public debate.

This year’s Melodifestivalen will start out in Gothenburg and travel through Linköping, Skellefteå, and Växjö before the final competition at Globen in Stockholm.

In an attempt to break with the ’08’ flavour that the competition has gained after several years’ placement of the final in Stockholm, Swedish Television initially offered the chance to host the final to the Scandinavium in Göteborg. But despite a strong sense of pride at the offer, they had to turn it down as they were already booked with a Frölunda hockey match.

It’s the fiftieth year of the Eurovision song contest, so expect more ‘Schlager’ than usual in the coming months. The fun starts with a Christmas special this year and will continue with a Eurovision retrospective, all on Swedish Television.

SVT has committed extra money to the 2005 Melodifestival, and producer Christer Björkman tried to explain what this might mean for an artist like E-Type:

“If he had fifty-seven explosions on stage this year, he’ll be able to have closer to one hundred eighteen next year,” Björkman told Sydsvenskan. Get ready.

Budding songwriters have until September 28 to send their contributions to Swedish Television. Readers of The Local take heart – most of the songs vying for a chance to represent Sweden to the world will be in English, so even if you’re not quite managing poetry in Swedish yet you can still have a shot at this particular type of culture. Good luck.

Melodifestivalen dates for 2005:

February 12: Scandinavium, Göteborg

February 19: Cloetta Center, Linköping

February 26: Skellefteå isstadion

March 5: Tipshallen, Växjö

March 6: Second chance program- undecided

March 12: Globen, Stockholm

The winner will represent Sweden in the Eurovision song contest in Kiev in May.

Sources: Sydsvenskan, Göteborgs Posten