Country – Sweden
Broadcaster – SVT
Created – 1959
Melodifestivalen (Melody Festival) has been staged almost every year since 1959 bar three occasions in 1964 (due to an artist’s strike), 1970 (due to a Nordic boycott of the Contest) and 1976 (due to mass demonstrations against commercial music). The competition was not used as a direct means of selecting Sweden’s Eurovision entry until 1965, and did not adopt the “Melodifestivalen” name until 1967.
The competition used to take place on a single night until 2002, when then head of SVT’s entertainment division Svante Stockselius organised a revamp to modernise the competition, appointing 1992 Melodifestivalen winner Christer Björkman as supervisor. Pre-revamp, the competition fluctuated in popularity throughout the decades, reaching its lowest spell of popularity in the 1990s.
Since the 2002 revamp, Melodifestivalen has become bigger and more successful ratings-wise than ever before, and is the most popular TV programme in Sweden. It also attracts a healthy amount of overseas attention, in fact the Final attracts many tourists to Stockholm where it is held every year, and the Final is also usually one of the key dates for Eurovision fans during the ‘national final season’.
Melodifestivalen is held over six weeks during February/March. Four Semi-finals of eight songs (32 songs in total) are held in various towns and cities across Sweden, the final being held in the capital Stockholm, as well as a “second chance” round. Unlike Eurovision, acts are allowed to have up to eight people on stage (compared to six in Eurovision) and pre-recorded backing vocals are used (forbidden in Eurovision).
In the Semi-final Round, the televote opens for a short period once all the songs are performed. Then the top 5 songs go through to another round of televoting. After the lines are closed again, the two acts with the highest votes go directly to the Final and reprise their songs at the end of the show, whilst the third and fourth placed songs go to a “second chance” round known as Andra Chansen.
Andra Chansen is in a different format from the Semi-finals. As of 2013, all eight songs perform in order with the top four being paired into two duels after a round of voting (1st vs 4th and 2nd vs 3rd), with the winner of each duel taking up the last two spots in the final.
Ten songs altogether compete in the Final in Stockholm. The running order of the show is decided by the producers in order to avoid similar songs and acts being performed against each other (naturally this attracts some controversy over how fair this is).
The voting procedure in the Final is split between 50% international juries and 50% televote. First, eleven juries from overseas countries give points using the same 1-12 system used in Eurovision. Once the juries have voted, the televote is closed and the percentage of an entry’s televote translates to a percentage of 473 points (same number of points the juries give), so if an entry got 10% of the televote, that means they’ll receive 10% of the 473 points. The song with the most points after the televote is declared the winner.
Key Phrases for Non-Swedish Speakers:
- “Melodi nummer ett/två/tre/fyre/fem/sex/sju/åtta/nio/tio” – Melody no. 1/2/3/4/5/6/7/8/9/10
- “Resultat” – results
- “Direkt till (venue of Final)” – Direct to Final
- “Andra Chansen” – Second Chance
- “___ poäng till melodi nummer ___” – ___ point(s) to melody no. ___