Singalongs are perhaps the most Swedish activity there is. (Well, that and drinking.) Students at prestigious universities are given song-books so they can sing together at dinners and reunions, Swedes have specific songs for essentially every holiday, and Sweden is one of the world's top exporters of music. And Swedes have been gathering at Stockholm's outdoor museum Skansen since 1979 – to sing.
Allsång på Skansen, an "enormous undulating crowd of sweaty Swedes", is a tradition like no other, a tribute to summer and equality, where people of all ages gather for an open-air concert of professional performers, interspersed with folksy Swedish tunes from days gone by. The songs are about things like walking through Stockholm in the summer, kicking off your shoes and dancing, and boats courting each other. (Yes, boats.) Typically Swedish things.
But this year they got a Brit to kick things off.
UK musician James Blunt is the sole foreign artist on the 2014 programme, which was released on Tuesday.
Traditionally the singalong artists have been Swedes of the schlager persuasion, but Skansen got a glimpse of globalization in 2001 when Ricky Martin participated. Since then foreign artists have been a rarity, but not unheard of. Wyclef Jean has also participated. Last year's artist from abroad was (also British) artist Passenger.
None of them sang in Swedish.
James Blunt's language skills – or should we simply call it bravery? – remain to be determined. But if nothing else he may satisfy audiences by gazing out upon the Stockholm islands and the crowds of flawless Swedes and uttering the words for which he is known:
Other artists at Skansen this year include Melodifestivalen contestants Ace Wilder, Alcazar, and Panetoz, as well as Eurovision runner-up Sanna Nielsen and hit Swedish artists Icona Pop, Laleh, Takida, Linnea Henriksson, and Timbuktu.
Singer Petra Marklund will be hosting the show, taking over the mic and mantle from heartthrob pop star Måns Zelmerlöw. It's the first time the show will be hosted by a woman.
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