Thursday, 4 March 2010

Some thoughts on Melodifestivalen 2010

I’ve been thinking a lot about MF this year, more than other years, so I figured I may as well write those thoughts down in a blog. For those who don’t know, Melodifestivalen is the Swedish festival, held over a period of six weeks, which eventually selects their Eurovision representative.

There’ve been a couple of big changes this year. The first is a shift (probably conscious) away from the schlager entries to a greater variety of genres and styles, debatably more relevant to the general music scene. Whether the entries themselves are better or not is a matter of personal taste.

What has resulted is quite a variety of qualifiers to the final. Of the eight entries there already, only one could really be described as the kind of schlager that normally dominates this contest (Eric Saade's Manboy), with one other skirting the boundaries, being closer to the more old-fashioned dansband-schlager type of music (Timoteij's Kom), which would nevertheless be a different kind of winner for Sweden. The question is: does this mean more of a chance for Sweden to finally choose something different as its winner? Statistically, it does, but some have argued in previous years that if there were just one schlager to choose from, the voters that would normally be split between those entries will all gravitate towards one.

Then there is the change in the announcements of the qualifiers from the semi-finals. In a break from tradition, this year we know which of the two qualifiers won the first round of voting each time. Some might consider that the winner would definitely come from these four (which are Salem Al Fakir's Keep On Walking, Anna Bergendahl's This Is My Life and the aforementioned Kom and Manboy). Will fans of these songs realise they have a big chance of winning, and vote for them more vehemently? Or will they relax, feeling that they’re already popular and their vote isn’t needed? And will fans of the songs and artists who qualified in second place not bother voting, because they feel their favourite cannot win, or will they vote more, knowing their favourite is in greater need of their votes? It’s a difficult question to call, and it will be interesting to see if any conclusions can be drawn from the televoting results next Saturday.

The final change that’s been made is on the juries. Instead of eleven juries based in cities around Sweden, there will be just five of these, with the remaining six calling in their votes from around Europe. It’s hard to predict what difference this will make (if any), but it will be interesting to see if they differ from their Swedish counterparts – and especially the reaction if they happen to swing the result away from the Swedish choice!

It remains to be seen, then, whether these changes will result in Sweden choosing something different and fresh as its Melodifestivalen winner (and Eurovision entrant). One thing that is clear is that the contest definitely feels different this year, and is fresher and more varied. Personally I like this change (though not necessarily all of the songs), though I know many, suffering from schlager withdrawal, would disagree with this. My personal prediction is that Eric Saade will win the final, which would really disappoint me after all the potential of several of the other finalists (though the blow would be softened somewhat by the winnings from the bet I’ve put on him). Regardless, I’m really looking forward to the final!

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