Sweden’s best Eurovision moments you’ve probably never heard of

With Melodifestivalen's six-week parade around Sweden set to kick off, Ben Robertson looks at their biggest pre-show announcement for 2020. SVT will be starting the Melodifestivalen Hall of Fame, and Ben Robertson wonders how this works and who should be part of this list.

Sweden's best Eurovision moments you've probably never heard of
Nanne Grönvall controversially did not win Melodifestivalen 2005. Photo: Mark Earthy/TT

Melodifestivalen, the six-week parade around Sweden to pick the country's Eurovision contestant, is set to kick off on Saturday – but this year there's a new addition to the schedule: The Melodifestivalen Hall of Fame.

The moments that are to be inducted into the the Hall of Fame will be presented during this year's shows, handpicked by public broadcaster SVT's Melodifestivalen leadership team. In the future however, an SVT committee will only suggest names, and the people will be able to vote to have the final say. 

These moments could be entire songs, or bits of choreography, lines of text or even moments such as an interval act. The Hall of Fame prize will go to the person responsible for whatever has happened (in terms of songs, it will be the artist and composers receiving the nomination).

Ben Robertson, writing for Eurovision news and commentary site ESC Insight, has asked some commentators on Eurovision and Melodifestivalen to give their comments as to what moments should be in Melodifestivalen's Hall of Fame. Do you agree with their suggestions? Will SVT agree with their suggestions?

Ben Robertson, ESC Insight: 'Satellit' by Ted Gärdestad

I moved to Sweden in 2011. Ted Gärdestad had already passed away many years before I arrived. The Eurovision 1979 artist committed suicide at only the age of 41.

I've learned over the years living here how beloved his songs are to the Swedish population. Throughout a sadly shortened career he's written tonnes of hit songs. Enough that even a musical of his life was commissioned and Erik Linder, known from competing in Melodifestivalen 2011, spent two years touring Sweden covering his music. 

Ted Gärdestad's songs especially hit home during the summer allsång season,with thousands of Swedes joining in sing-a-long sessions around the country.

Of all of them, I find ‘Satellit' is one of the most bouncy and fun tracks that is a cult classic – even now it reaches fans from ages three to 93 in a collective choir. Eurovision wasn't its natural environment, and it's hard to argue with the single digits it received on the 1979 scoreboard. However, Hall of Fame entrants don't need to be successful on the scoreboard, they need to resonate with the Swedish nation. 

‘Satellit' was the first song that came to mind.

Ken Olausson, Schlagerprofilerna: 'Främling' by Carola

I don't know if the same person can get chosen twice, but even if it means that someone else needs to get the “blame” for the 1991 ESC-victory, Carola need to get a mention for her 1983 debut with 'Främling'.

That night, so much more than Abba, single-handedly changed Sweden's relationship to Melodifestivalen and Eurovision. Something close to five million people saw this 16-year-old girl get all the available 12 points (still an unbeaten record) and overnight become one of the country's greatest superstars – and I think the possibility that something like this might happen again kept the Swedes in front of their TVs through several decades to come. The defining moment of Melodifestivalen – no doubt!

On a more modern note I also would love to nominate Fredrik Kempe for his outstanding efforts in the 2009 Melodifestivalen final. This year he won the public vote, the Swedish jury vote and the international jury vote – with three different songs! That is also a difficult record to break.

Monty Moncreiff, Second Cherry Podcast: 'Ska vi Plocka Körsbär i min Trädgård' by Ann-Christine Bärnsten

My nomination is 'Ska vi Plocka Körsbär i min Trädgård', the fifth placed song in 1975's Melodifestivalen by Ann-Christine Bärnsten. It's a Swedish cult classic but one mostly overlooked by international fans.

A little knowledge of Swedish helps you understand the song is laden with risqué sexual innuendo, with 17-year-old Ann-Christine selected by composer Little Gerhard to innocently deliver the lines as naively as possible, a role she acquiesced with claiming, publicly at least, she hadn't realized what the song was about.

Although it might well raise an eyebrow or two were it to compete in today's Melodifestivalen, the song has an of-its-time charm, reminiscent of the bawdy humour of the British Carry On film series.

I've learned over the years that trotting out a line or two of it to Swedes when they're least expecting it makes for a great party piece and they're astonished that I know it.

Trivia: There's a brief glimpse of half of Abba in the audience about halfway through the song.

(Editor's note: We could not find the original song on Spotify, but you can listen to a cover version by the Drifters below)

Peter Baston, Melodifestivalklubben (OGAE Sweden): The voting in Melodifestivalen 2005

The artists had given their all. It was a final with many good songs, half of which have entered the “Mello canon” and would have done Sweden proud in Kyiv.

This was my first final. Along the row of seats fellow fans cheered their favourites: Alcazar, Clamp, Bengtzing, Grönvall. None of us could see Martin Stenmarck's lounge style doing well at Eurovision.

Hearts jumped into mouths as the first regional juries announced their results. 24 points to 'Las Vegas' from two northern cities. Never mind, they always vote differently. Who sits on those juries anyway?

The nagging feeling wouldn't go away. Sure enough, 5 of 11 juries rewarded Stenmarck with 12 points. Now began the nailbiting wait while the TV audience continued to call in. In the end Nanne Grönvall's 'Håll om mig' failed to overtake Stenmarck by just three points.

But the televote was not just a two-horse race. A few more votes for the untipped 'Different kind of love' would have been enough to send Nanne to the Ukraine. My lasting memory of that evening is the look of disbelief among us fans as the shock sank in.

The press was not kind. 'Håll om mig' had won almost 25 percent of the popular vote against the winning song's 14 percent. It was not the first time, and certainly not the last, that the voting system would be questioned!

Katja Vidojevic: 'En Dag' by Tommy Nilsson

In the Melodifestivalen fan discourse, the 1989 edition is rated as one of the best of all time.

Held in the newly opened Globen Arena in Stockholm, the 1989 lineup considered of some of Sweden's top artists, from the sister pop duo Lili & Susie, to the songwriters Orup and Anders Glenmark, to the new talents Sofia Källgren and Lisa Nilsson (both among the more prominent artists nowadays).

Instead the contest was won by Tommy Nilsson who had scored a massive hit with a film soundtrack song a year earlier  and what has proved to be an evergreen Swedish song, 'En dag'.

The song is still considered one of the strongest Swedish entries and was also written by the Sweden's equivalent of Stock-Aitken-Waterman, namely Norell-Oson-Bard. The anthemic midtempo ballad was also accompanied by backing singers who were stars in their own right, from the 80s pop princess Ankie Bagger to the (recently deceased) musician Jerry Williams.

This entry rounded up the 80s in the Melodifestivalen history very well by also doing well in Eurovision (many fans think it should have won even) and by becoming a classic, not merely among fans by the whole of Swedish society. 

Ben Robertson will be covering Melodifestivalen 2020 for both The Local and ESC Insight.

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