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MUSIC

What’s your view of Sweden’s Melodifestivalen?

Every week, we ask a regular panel of readers to discuss a particular aspect of life in Sweden. This week: Melodifestivalen.

What's your view of Sweden's Melodifestivalen?

Graeme Newcomb

Graeme Newcomb

Frankly my dear I could not give a toss! The sooner this national embarrassment disappears into the dustbin of tasteless entertainment the better. Or better still…syndicate it to Kazakhstan and have Borat present it!

Emma Chataway

Emma Chataway

Although I fear being hunted down by crazed, patriotic Swedes for saying this, I’m going to say it anyway. Before this question was put forward I never thought about watching it, I never wanted to and didn’t have a clue who or how many were competing. Actually that’s not completely true, when my boyfriend (ruler of the remote control) was zapping he stoped at The Melodifestivalen and said, “Hey that Sofia girl is my cousin!” – and continued flicking.

A few days later he read in the paper that she had been one of the people chosen by the International Jury but didn’t make the cut by Swedish voters. I just tried looking it up but I’m still confused about it all, still not sure if that means she is in or out or whatever. So if I want anyone to win its Sofia. I haven’t listened to any of the others’ songs besides hers and it isn’t at all ABBA-ish as I feared it might be, go Sofia!

Apart from anything else this show reminds me all too much of a glittery version of Idol, although to be fair I’ve only seen about five minutes of Melodifestivalen. I guess it’s just not my thing, plus I’m abit scarred by all of those singing/dancing shows since mum used to watch Dancing With The Stars back home. That’s probably the worst show ever made, I dont want to see a dead beat Neighbours star from the 90s do a come back because they learned how to tango. It’s just not right.

So maybe I’m being a little unfair in comparing the two, but I just refuse to watch any of it. I’ll let the Swedes take this one; they can watch and enjoy it all they want, just as long as I’m not in the same room, I don’t mind one little bit.

Igor Trisic

Igor Trisic

Last year I followed Melodifestivalen closely because I was in Sweden for the final and because the Eurovision song contest would be hosted in Belgrade, where I come from. I liked a couple of the songs then, specially “One Love” from Andreas Johnson and Carola Häggqvist. The song was knocked off in the Second chance so I guess my taste was not in tune with the average Svensson.

I listened to a couple of songs from this year but my first impression is that songs are a bit worse than the previous year. So right now I don’t have any clear favorite. If you add that to the pretty bad song that won in my country, Serbia, after voter irregularities and the jury deciding the winner at the expense of the voting public (the winning song got less than 4,000 text message votes) it seems that I will not be watching this year’s competition at all.

Thomas Smith

Thomas Smith

I would like to see Erik Segerstedt win. I was a big fan of Korslaget 2009 and enjoyed his enthusiasm and energy he showed with his group of singers. I also thought that he had the best choice of songs and thought that he should have won.

Daniel Nyström

Daniel Nyström

Well, I don’t really like (or follow) Melodifestivalen, but I did see “Andra chansen” a couple of days ago while eating dinner. The only band that had any character was ‘Rigo feat. Topaz Sound & Red Fox’ with ‘I got u’, so that would be my pick. The rest was crap.

Mary Uhlin

Mary Uhlin

I have to say that I don’t really have an interest or an association with the Melodifestivalen this year. Oops, I know that it not the right way to be in Sweden but it is just true. I have lived here for four years now and I have tried to watch and “get into” it, but it takes a bit of effort on my part.

Last year I actually voted in a couple of sessions if that counts, but I find it to be nothing more than an adult talent show and am shocked at the outcome of the votes – which are based more on a factor of culture, history, and reputation of the artist than on the song/talent being performed (at least I would hope so). On a more positive note, I do think Medlodifestivalen is much better than the Eurovision Finals – I find that extremely painful to watch.

MUSIC

What are the best concerts in Sweden this autumn?

Now that Sweden has lifted its audience restrictions for public events, The Local's Paul O'Mahony lists his recommendations for the best gigs to attend over the coming months.

Crowd at a music concert in Debaser, Stockholm
Crowds return to Stockholm venue Debaser after pandemic restrictions on events were lifted. Photo: Pontus Lundahl/TT

Sweden’s musicians, concert promoters and venue operators have struggled to varying degrees through the pandemic. One surefire way to help get them back on their feet is to give organisers and artists the financial reassurance they need by pre-booking concerts. 

Of course these recommendations only apply if you feel safe attending large events; remember that you should stay home and take a Covid-19 test if you experience any symptoms that could be linked to the virus, even if vaccinated. And make sure to check with organisers if there are any specific coronavirus requirements you need to be aware of. 

Coming up: top gigs in Sweden over the next few months 

As a regular gig-goer, live music is the one thing I’ve missed most over the past year and a half. So it is with some excitement (and, I’ll admit, a degree of trepidation) that I prepare to go see Norwegian band Pom Poko this Friday at Hus 7 in Stockholm. Their melodic art-punk album Cheater sparked the year into life on its release in January. They’re also playing Plan B in Malmö on Saturday night

Plan B is also the venue when Squid hit Sweden with a thrilling dose of post-punk on October 15th. Tickets remain available for the show at the time of writing (an absolute steal at 120 kronor), though that’s sadly not the case in Stockholm where their October 16th gig at Melodybox sold out a long time ago. (Although you can sign up to be added to a waiting list). 

Another artist well worth checking out in October is Gothenburg guitarist and singer Amanda Werne, better known as Slowgold. Her live shows are great and she is embarking on a Swedish tour on October 8th. 

Emma-Jean Thackray, one of the UK’s most interesting jazz artists, will be at Fasching in Stockholm on October 15th

For the best kind of sonic assault, Anna von Hasswolff’s band Bada are scheduled to play in Stockholm, Malmö and Gothenburg in late October. 

Have any of you ever seen Gothenburg electronic veterans Little Dragon live? I haven’t but might check them out in November when they swing by Malmö, Stockholm and Gothenburg

Amason are also heading out on the road for a Scandinavian tour in November. If you haven’t heard Amanda Bergman’s voice in a live setting before this will be a treat. 

The inimitable Sibille Attar released her superb second album A History of Silence at the start of the year and she’s finally getting the chance to play her eighties-inspired gems live at Slaktkyrkan in Stockholm on November 18th

Cassandra Jenkins long lurked in the background as a musician in touring bands for people like Eleanor Friedberger and Purple Mountains. But this year’s album An Overview on Phenomenal Nature has really established her as an artist to be reckoned with in her own right. She’s coming to Södra Teatern in Stockholm on November 26th

Always popular in this part of the world, The Jesus and Mary Chain return to Sweden for dates in Stockholm and Gothenburg at the end of November

Wry Finland-Swedish indie outfit Vasas Flora och Fauna have some of the funniest (Swedish) lyrics and catchiest tunes around. They’ll be in Stockholm and Gothenburg the first weekend of December

UK experimental rockers Black Midi are also playing Stockholm and Gothenburg on December 4th and 5th. So prepare to travel if you want to catch both them and Vasas Flora and Fauna. 

As if that wasn’t enough, Bob Hund’s annual ‘week 48’ show also takes place on December 4th. But that has been sold out for ages so no decisions to make there. It is also worth noting though that Sweden’s hardest working band has also written a musical that’s going to be performed in Helsingborg (October-November) and Gothenburg (November)

Bonus: For a post-Christmas pick-me-up try to get down to Little Simz at Slaktkyrkan on January 14th if you’re in Stockholm. The UK rapper’s new album Sometimes I Might Be Introvert is one of this year’s best releases. 

Selected artists playing Sweden in 2022: Henry Rollins, Sarah Klang, Yann Tiersen, Mogwai, Pearl Charles, Wolf Alice, Lloyd Cole, Lord Huron, Future Islands, Josh Rouse + Vetiver, Tricky, Snail Mail, Porridge Radio, Aldous Harding, Shame, The Kooks, The War on Drugs, Echo and the Bunnymen, Kings of Convenience, Fontaines D.C., Alex Cameron, Lucy Dacus, The Divine Comedy, Mdou Moctar, Iggy Pop, Chubby and the Gang, Sparks, Belle & Sebastian, The National, Sharon Van Etten, Teenage Fanclub, Tindersticks, Suede, Viagra Boys, Pavement. 

For bigger arena shows, Ticketmaster covers a lot of the bases. Big-name acts with gigs in the offing include Ed Sheeran, Zara Larsson, Whitesnake and, lest we forget, ABBA

And that’s just a fraction of what’s going on. Tour schedules are busier than ever now that artists are finally getting back on the road. To keep track of what gigs are coming up I can recommend checking in with Luger, FKP Scorpio, and Live Nation. Follow your favourite venues too: sometimes they cut out the middleman and do their own booking and promotion. I also use the Bandsintown app, which comes with the added bonus of receiving messages from your favourite artists which let you pretend to be their friend. 

Enjoy the gigs, and stay safe! 

Paul O’Mahony is editorial product manager at The Local. In his spare time he plays the best new indie and alternative music as host of the Signals show on Nerve Music.

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