GD's Sofia Strandberg gives the low-down on Melodifestivalen:
Melodifestivalen is a song competition where glitter, big hair, high heels, wind machines and endless smiles are standard ingredients. It's not just a matter of singing well, the whole package counts; lyrics, performance and music, and of course there are rules that must be followed. The winner will represent Sweden in the Eurovision Song Contest held in Malmö in May this year.
Eurovision started in 1956 and has grown popular in northern Europe, especially in Germany, Austria and the Nordic countries. In England the popularity of the spectacle is declining. When I once mentioned the song contest I was asked, "Do you actually watch that stuff?" by a seriously stunned Britton (and out the window went my cool image).
The music, which has become known as Schlager, some would describe as catchy and fun and others as boring, flat and predictable. Either way, Schlager is huge in Sweden. In the months leading up to the grand finale the media go Schlager crazy and bloggers wear out their keyboards in endless rants about outfits, lyrics, dance steps and hairdos. It is no longer a matter of winning one single sing-off and then being whisked off to somewhere in Europe for the real deal. Now you have to prove your talent in pre-comps in order to get to compete in Globen, Stockholm.
Love it or hate it, whether it's in disgust or in absolute awe Schlager brings people together, and that makes for great entertainment. So if you want to have fun and at the same time get more insight into Swedish culture and our quirky interests, Melodifestivalen is a must.
Think glitter, glam and pink boas, get the score cards ready, stock the fridge and put the Champagne on ice, and before you know it you'll be thinking, "fel låt vann" wrong song won, of course.