I love Melodifestivalen because it brings so many different kinds of Swedes together at the end of the cold, dark winter. Families and friends gather on successive Saturday nights in February & March to watch the early rounds and semifinals, and large viewing parties are common for the final. (Dr. Darling and I attended one such gathering last night and we had a lovely time, despite not having seen a single second of the early rounds.)
I hate Melodifestivalen because historically, the part of the population that actually calls in to vote invariably picks a song that A) is musically questionable and/or B) has no chance of doing well at “the big dance.”
Melodifestivalen organizers themselves recognized this problem a couple of years ago and added a European jury of music “experts” to the process. This group gets to award points to the final competitors before the public vote is counted, and last year this process actually resulted in a Swedish entry that placed a respectable third at Eurovision.
This year the European jury and the Swedish tele-voting public were actually in sync, selecting a song and performance (Euphoria by Loreen) that was not only one of the most musically sound of the night, but should also do well against the Eurovision competition in Baku, Azerbaijan in May.
And no, I don’t think Azerbaijan is in Europe either.