European Idol, Sort of…
Every spring something astonishingly peculiar happens across Europe. It’s called the Eurovision Song Contest and, yes, it still exists. In a world of too-cool indie bands and ghetto poets, Eurovision has remained remarkably the same since its inception in the fifties. Like the Olympics for songwriting, it offers nothing but the campiest, most over-the-top performances of the year as representatives from all over Europe vie for the coveted Eurovision title. I watched the contest for the first time when I was over in England last spring and was amazed that it was still watched and loved by so many in this cynical age.
But, enough about Eurovision… what I really want to spotlight this month is Melodifestivalen, the annual competition Sweden puts on to select its competitor/representative for Eurovision. Yes… this is serious business in Scandinavia, and these qualifying rounds are huge in Sweden. With good reason, too.
Melodifestivalen was brought to my attention this year because my favorite band in the world, The Ark, entered and immediately celebrated and subverted the competition. Hopefully they’ll get the chance to do so all the way to Eurovision. But even with my limited understanding of the Swedish language, the show itself has been incredibly fun to watch so far. Like American Idol if it celebrated songs instead of singers, Melodifestivalen is addictive, allowing viewers to vote for the best songs and send competitors to the final round in early March (The Ark’s already made it that far, in case you’re wondering). Sure, the music is pure pop camp, but it’s performed with such relish that it’s impossible to resist.
– Nick James