The songs were distinctly average, the costumes nothing to write home about, but the voting was simply sensational! In the end a mere three points separated the expert jury's choice, Martin Stenmarck, from the people's choice, Nanne Grönvall.
Stenmarck, who grinned broadly and laughed heartily through most of Saturday night's proceedings at the Stockholm Globe, sang a show-style number called 'Las Vegas'. His performance featured an illuminated microphone stand and several attractive young ladies in tight-fitting jump suits. His success has immediately made him a top national sex symbol, with Aftonbladet dubbing him "Sweden's Elvis".
"Yeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeah!" said Martin after the show, "I can't believe it. It feels incredible."
Nanne Grönvall performed her own song, 'Håll om mig' (Hold me), which the Local finds hard to either categorise or recall. Nanne donned a low cut, short dress, slightly reminiscent of last year's winner, Lena Phillipsson. Sweden's music hacks seemed to favour Stenmarck over the diminutive veteran, so poor old Nanne, who spent the evening not knowing whether to laugh or cry, had to endure some bitchy comments in the Sunday papers.
Aftonbladet's Fredrik Virtanen couldn't resist a dig at the big hair: "It was wider than she's long", he wrote, before dismissing the 42 year old as "sexy in an auntie-ish kind of way".
But the real interest lay in the voting. It created such an uproar that we shouldn't be surprised if Göran Persson appoints a commission to investigate the matter, or if political scientists write theses on the subject.
The final total was comprised of points awarded by ten regional juries of 'pop experts' and points based on the number of telephone votes from the public. The juries gave their points first, after which Stenmarck had a comfortable lead with 102 to Grönvall's 77.
However, Grönvall was a clear winner with the public, polling 373,928 votes to Stenmarck's 208,716. Translated into points, this gave Grönvall 132 to Stenmarck's 110. The respective totals were 212 and 209.
Aftonbladet reported that their phone lines were jammed after the show with furious members of the public claiming Nanne had been robbed and that the jury system should be ditched. An anonymous schlager insider agreed:
"I think the jury should be thrown out for the final. It's the people's competition and the people's will should decide. In this case, it's clear that public opinion and taste have been steam-rollered."
Nanne herself seemed unconcerned about the trifling details of points and placings:
"I'm just unbelievably happy that the people liked my song. To me it feels like a victory. I'm going to celebrate tonight as if I'd won."
The controversy was heightened when it was revealed that significant numbers of voters couldn't get through. Many of them would presumably have voted for Nanne - would it have made a difference? Who knows.
"How the hell can you ring 37 times and not get through," said angry Nanne fan Kurt Lindal.
Unfortunately for all those disappointed people, the result stood in black and white and Martin Stenmarck won. He now gets the chance to represent Sweden at the European final in Kiev, Ukraine, on 21 May. And Sweden's music pundits breathed a collective sigh of relief.
"Phew! Public favourite Nanne almost won," wrote Fredrik Virtanen. "It's better to send a song that you can sing along to to Kiev. A truly sexy international performance."
A slightly more sober Johan Lindqvist in GP wrote:
"It feels absolutely right to give Martin Stenmarck the chance to go to Kiev. He has every chance of doing himself justice against Europe's best."