Our family has finally succumbed to Melodifestivalen – Sweden’s run up to the Eurovision Song Contest. We are all glued to the TV, with 3 million other Swedes. As I write, the country is casting its vote for Sweden’s entry to Eurovision 2009, which will take place in a few months time in Moscow. The gorgeous Petra Mede, whose fame as a comedian has been established with her late night talk show, Morgonsoffa (literally, “morning sofa”), is busy chattering her way through the 11 songs for this year, which have been sung in either Swedish, English, or oddly, Greek! By the time I finish this blog, the votes will be in and we will know who we will be cheering for in Moscow…

Sweden is a land of pop music and corny songs, a land of melancholic sentimentality. Melodifestivalen creates a national frenzy. It has been worth watching just for Petra’s dry comments, which, oddly, have not been greatly appreciated by the Swedish population. She has received enormous criticism – her comments are unpredictable, uncomfortable – is she being funny or just plain rude? – and maybe that is why we like her so much, in the midst of so much predictable Melodifestivalen schmulz. She has been a breath of fresh air…

But the votes are in and it seems that the winner is… Malena Ernman, with her extraordinary song, La voix. She was Maria’s favorite, so there was much rejoicing from the lady of the house, while the kids are devastated that their respective choices didn’t win. To be honest I was just thankful that Snälla, snälla… didn’t win. Malena’s song is a bizarre mixture of pop, opera and stage musical. But to be honest, I think she won with her smile. The lighting on her brilliant blond hair made her look like an elven princess from Middle Earth, but her mischievous smile couldn’t help but make us all smile too. No idea what she was singing about, not even what language she was using, but there is no doubt that at the end of her song everyone felt happy. The Swedish people just couldn’t fight that feeling, or so it seems. Will Europe succumb too?

So La Voix, “the voice”, has taken the day, or the night. And we have been won over to Melodifestivalen madness. Another step towards becoming real Swedes… dreadful thought!


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