In the last five to ten years, Melodifestivalen, the Swedish final leading to Eurovision, has been plagued by controversy.
The controversy derives almost completely from the complex voting system. In what seems to me like a giant national version of “scissors, paper, rock”, there’s a popular vote (telephone voting), a Swedish Jury vote, and now an International Jury Vote with one or both cancelling out the decision of the others.
On top of that, there are four heats leading to the final, and there’s something called “Andra Chansen” (another chance) which sometimes means a third-rate song from an earlier heat still has a chance of making it through to represent Sweden.
The voting system has led to some controversial decisions. In 2005, for example, Nanne Gronvall won the popular vote for the contest, but Martin Stenmarck won the jury vote.
Other times, you have to wonder about who votes. Last year, for example, Anna Bergendahl was selected to represent Sweden. Weeks later, her song – which I like very much – had disappeared from the Swedish charts while runner-up Eric Saade was still top of the charts. And then at Eurovision, poor Anna made history when she failed to make the Eurovision Final. It was a “day of national mourning” for the Swedes, as Sweden has a pretty good reputation for pop songs and has won Eurovision a number of times.
For just a moment, this morning, I thought Sweden was about to stuff it up again. As I woke early this morning, and went immediately to the SVT (Swedish TV) website a bloke called “The Moniker” with his song “Oh My God” appeared to be doing very well. In fact, for a brief moment he was ahead in the international voting section, the Swedish voting section and he seemed to be getting a good response from the audience at Globen, the sports arena in Stockholm where Melodifestivalen is held.
“Oh My God”, I thought to myself. “They’re going to send the third rate version of Mika to Eurovision”. But thankfully, in the end, Eric Saade – last year’s bridesmade, never a bride – made it through.
Oddly enough, I like his song from last year a little bit more. Even though “Man Boy” had a pretty dodgy lyric “Manboy, manboy you can call me manboy” the lyric for this year is even worse. “Stop, don’t say it’s impossible, because I know it’s possible” is not a great opening line, is it? Still it’s a fun, memorable song, and he performs it well, and he has a bit of the boyish charm that Alexander Ryback from Norway had a couple of years ago. So don’t tell me it’s impossible, because I know it’s possible Sweden just might have half a chance of doing well in this year’s Eurovision.
Chatting with my friend, The Best Judge tonight there was a collective sigh of relief that Sweden hadn’t stuffed it up again.