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Just another American living in Sweden

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eurovision song contest

If you don’t recall my other post about Eurovision, read up here. There I explain all about how the contest works. Guess what, one week ago today, Sweden did it again!


This post won’t be quite the same detailed run-down as my previous post was, but I will have you know that I personally think that this year’s Eurovision Song Contest was the best one I have ever seen. Every country that made it to the final really stepped it up. Every single song and artist was truly amazing. And I’m pretty hard to please, seeing as I’m a native English speaker I’m hard on artists. If they can’t sing in English, I’m a firm advocate for them singing in their native tongue. This year, however, no one’s English caused me to cringe or want to turn off my TV. Everyone brought their A-game.

That being said, here are the results, as well as links to the songs from the official ESC site.

ESC(picture found here)

  1. Sweden – Måns Zelmerlöw – Heroes: 365
  2. Russia – Polina Gagarina – A Million Voices: 303
  3. Italy – Il Volo – Grande Amore: 292
  4. Belgium – Loïc Nottet – Rhythm Inside: 217
  5. Australia – Guy Sebastian – Tonight Again: 196
  6. Latvia – Aminata – Love Injected: 186
  7. Estonia – Elina Born & Stig Rästa – Goodbye To Yesterday: 106
  8. Norway – Morland & Debrah Scarlett – A Monster Like Me: 102
  9. Israel – Nadav Guedj – Golden Boy: 97
  10. Serbia – Bojana Stamenov – Beauty Never Lies: 53
  11. Georgia – Nina Sublatti – Warrior: 51
  12. Azerbaijan – Elnur Huseynov – Hour of the Wolf: 49
  13. Montenegro – Knez – Adio: 44
  14. Slovenia – Maraaya – Here For You: 39
  15. Romania – Voltaj – De La Capat/All Over Again: 35
  16. Armenia – Genealogy – Face the Shadow: 34
  17. Albania – Elhaida Dani – I’m Alive: 34
  18. Lithuania – Monika Linkyté and Vaidas Baumila – This Time: 30
  19. Greece – Maria Elena Kyriakou – One Last Breath: 23
  20. Hungary – Boggie – Wars for Nothing: 19
  21. Spain – Edurne – Amanecer: 15
  22. Cyprus – John Karayiannis – One Thing I Should Have Done: 11
  23. Poland – Monika Kuszynska – In the Name of Love: 10
  24. United Kingdom – Electro Velvet – Still in Love With You: 5
  25. France Lisa Angell – N’oubliez Pas: 4
  26. Germany – Ann Sophie – Black Smoke: 0
  27. Austria – The Makemakes – I am Yours: 0


Definitely click the link to listen to Sweden’s song, and I even encourage you to click all the links. Form your own opinion. Learn a little about European music. Although I thought this year’s performances were above and beyond, as per the usual I did not agree with this year’s voting.

If I was the Queen of the Eurovision Song Contest this is how I would have ranked the songs:

My list

This year’s song contest did not occur without a little drama. Half way through the contest Russia was winning. The audience did not like this, and they started booing when Russia received points. The TV hosts reminded the audience that the song contest is completely outside of politics, and all artists should be supported. A bit later on a Sweden chant began.

Little awkward, but the ESC has been very pro LGBTQ, and Russia these days is the opposite of that. So, although awkward, not unsurprising in the least. I do think that what the hosts said was important though, the music is the focus, and the music this year was GREAT.


I’m super glad Sweden won, and if any of you readers can get me tickets to the song contest next spring I would be forever in your debt!



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Melodifestivalen, what is it? Well it directly translates to Melody Festival. Idiomatically it translates to Song Festival. I’m sure you never would have guessed that, so I’m glad to help. As you all remember my thoroughly in-depth description and analysis of Eurovision 2012, I’m now here to explain how Sweden chooses the song they send to Eurovision. (Get caught up on Eurovision here.)

Eurovision 2013 was held in Sweden, where Denmark won. (If you have been waiting for my analysis of Eurovision 2013, it’s not happening. Sorry for the letdown.) This year the song contest will be held in Denmark.

In order to decide which song will be sent to the Eurovision Song Contest, Sweden has a song contest. What else? Melodifestivalen lasts six weeks, where artists from across the land compete with one another to get the Swedish populace to vote for their songs. (At a price. Imagine if it cost money to vote for American Idol? Think there’d be as many votes? Now imagine you could also choose to call a number where money would go to charity (as they do in Sweden). Imagine…) Anyway…

Melodifestivalen is shown on Saturday nights (high time for lördagsgodis – Saturday candy – remind me to tell you more about this later). The first four showings consist of eight songs competing for your vote. During the first four shows two songs are sent directly to the final competition. Two songs are also sent to the second chance. The competition travels around Sweden and is sent live to all the televisions across Sweden.

The first four weeks the competition is pretty much set up how you would expect it to be. Eight groups/artists perform their songs, and Sweden calls in to vote. The two songs with the most votes get sent directly to the final (and are preformed one more time). The two songs receiving the 3rd and 4th most votes are sent to the second chance week.

Week one in Malmö saw YOHIO with the song “To the End” and Ellen Benediktsom with “Songbird” move directly on to the final. Linus Svenning singing “Bröder” as well as Helena Paparizou with “Survivor” were sent to the second chance competition.

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Week two broadcasting from Linköping sent Panetoz and Sanna Nielsen, singing “Efter solsken” and “Undo” respectively, to the final. Martin Stenmarck singing “När änglarna går hem” and JEM singing “Love Trigger” went to the second chance.

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In week three the artists sent directly to the final from Göteborg were Oscar Zia with “Yes We Can” and Ace Wilder singing “Busy Doin’ Nothin’”. State of Drama and Outtrigger singing “All We Are” and “Echo” respectively were sent to the second chance.

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Then in week four, from Örnsköldsvik (I don’t know where that is either), both Alcazar and Anton Ewand were sent to the final singing “Blame it on the Disco” and “Natural” respectively. Ammotrack singing “Raise Your Hands” and Elinor Holmer with the song “En himmelsk sång” were sent to the second chance show.

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Last week, week five was second chance week in Lidköping. Second chance week is a little different from the first four weeks. First, all eight artists/groups perform their songs. Then Sweden calls in to vote (much the same). However after the votes are counted, things get interesting. The top four songs are paired up two and two, and the artists prepare for a duel. The top four songs chosen by Sweden were: “Echo” by Outtrigger, “Survivor” by Helena Paparizou, “När änglarna går hem” by Martin Stenmarck, and “Bröder” by Linus Svenning. Linus sang against Martin Stenmarck, and Outtrigger sang against Helena Paparizou. In the end it was Linus Svenning and Helena Paparizou who walked away with golden tickets to the final competition. (Figuratively, I saw no actual golden tickets.)

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The final gets even more interesting than second chance week. It starts in much the same way all the previous competitions have begun. This time, however, ten performances sing their songs for a live audience instead of eight. Sweden then calls in (or texts, not sure if I mentioned yet that you can also text – if you’re not the phone-call-type-of-person). It then gets even more interesting, as 11 international juries also vote on Sweden’s final 10 songs. This year Denmark, Estonia, France, Germany, Israel, Italy, Malta, Netherlands, Russia, Spain and the United Kingdom weighed in. The Swedish people and the 11 international juries have 473 points each to divide amongst the songs.

The points that the people of Sweden award are divided up based on percentage of votes. (If 12% of the votes were awarded to one song that song would receive 12% of 473.) The awarding of the points from the international juries is very similar to that of Eurovision, where the best song receives 12 points, the next 10, then 8, 6, 4, 2 and 1. Once all the votes are counted the winner is announced!

If you ask me….

This year Evelina and I enjoyed the whole of Melodifestivalen comfortably from our couch….or a couch at least during those Saturdays we weren’t at home. However, I highly recommend seeing Melodifestivalen live. In 2012 Evelina and I worked at Cloetta Center in Linköping, along with 6 of our closest teammates during the Melodifestival performance. (Well 6 of our teammates anyway.) We got to see a bunch of fun performances (after hanging everyone’s coat in the coat check). Plus, the jokes from the hosts of the program are just a little bit funnier in person.

The final is right around the corner, a mere 15 minutes away. And if you ask me, I vote for Ace Wilder’s “Busy Doin’ Nothin'” Since you did ask me, I think her song is a lot of fun, and will do the best at the Eurovision Song Contest. It’s not my favorite song in the competition, or necessarily the best song…but, like I said, I think it will do the best at Eurovision. But everything remains to be seen.

If you’re ever in Sweden in February or early March, you now know what to do. (AND you now hopefully understand all the minute details of the Swedish song contest.) When in Sweden…




pictures from svt.se



Eurovision, what is it? It’s a song contest, across Europe (and some countries that I wouldn’t necessarily count as Europe, but we’ll let that slide – like Morocco). Apparently, I’ve just been told, anyone within the European Broadcast Area is eligible to send an entry. This includes North Africa. This year, no non-European countries made it to the final. The name of the game is singing, and the winner takes all. Or hosts the contest the following year. So by take, I mean spend, and by spend I mean an exorbitant amount of money to put on a huge show that is broadcast across the world. (This year it was broadcast in Australia and New Zealand for the first time.)

Each country sends one song, which is to be sung live. The methods of choosing which song is submitted vary from country to country. I cannot vouch for all of them, but here in Sweden there is a vote. A pre-Eurovision competition is held, called Melodifestivalen (literally translated to the song festival). Appropriate. There are 32 songs that initially compete in a televised competition where the residents of Sweden vote for their favorite song. Up until the final, where the residents of Sweden’s votes are accompanied by votes from a selected group of countries who give their favorite songs points.

The countries who send a singer don’t necessarily get to perform their song in the final. There is a semi-final first, your place in which is determined by your positioning in the ranks of last years votes. However, since 2000 the United Kingdom, Germany, France and Spain all qualify automatically for the final, as these are the four countries who contribute the most money to the European Broadcast Area. And in 2010 Italy joined this group, known as the Big Five. (Slightly different from the Big Five of the African bush.) Another fun fact, is that in 2010 Germany became the first country of the Big Five to win Eurovision, with Lena’s song ‘Satellite‘. (Which I do actually like.) The other country that automatically qualifies for the final is the hosting country. This year that was Azerbaijan, who won last year with the song ‘Running Scared‘ by Ell and Nikki.

The final consisted of 26 countries this year. And here’s a rundown of the show:

1. First up, Great Britain. My summary of the performance: pretty old guy, sings a pretty old song. But, he does have a pretty nice voice. The best part: his name is Engelbert Humperdinck. He sang ‘Love Will Set You Free’.

2. Then came Hungary. Not the song for me, but in order to stay positive, I will comment that they have won 5 Eurovision competitions, and have come in second place 15 times. A pretty impressive track record! ‘Sound of Our Hearts’ by Compact Disco.

3. Albania. Again, aiming to stay positive. . .I just really have to comment on her dreads. Do you see the one, snake-like dread, slithering out of her bun and down across her neck? Pay attention people, this is the fashion of the future. Y’know, when we have consumed all precious metal and stones. Rona Nishliu sang ‘Suus’.

4. Lithuania. Don’t worry guys, he’s only wearing the blind fold because he’s singing about how love is blind. It’s a metaphor. Or a simile. Or. . .art? The song was titled ‘Love is Blind’ sung by Donny Montell.

5. Bosnia and Herzegovina, and yes, every time I try, I spell Herzegovina wrong. It’s a tough word. Gimme a break. MayaSar, the singer, sang in the native language of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Bosnian and Herzegovinian. I know you already knew what it was called. I’m just trying to show off. She sang ‘Korake ti znam’ which translates to — I have no idea. Let me know if you know.

6. Then there was Russia. Oh Russia. They sent a group of babushkas to sing about how it’s a party for everybody. A party for every body. Come on and dance! Come on and boom boom. Now, I don’t know what you associate ‘boom boom’ with. . .but I don’t want my grandmother singing it. It was said during the competition they missed home. Some of them never venturing out of their village before in their lives. I hope they had at least a little fun. Group name: Buranovskiye Babushki. Song title: Party for Everybody.

7. Iceland sent a duo Greta Salome and Jonsi. (Both O’s are accented, as well as the first E. I can’t figure out how to add accents on the computer at work.) Oh, also, Jonsi is probably the boy. Summary of the song: some very Icelandic people sand about how attractive they are. Or something. Regardless, I couldn’t help but like their song ‘Never Forget’.

8. Cyprus sent Ivi Adamou to sing ‘La La Love’. She stood on a table made of stone. Or made to look as if it were made of stone, and sang and danced. I could understand her English, as long as I focused very, very hard.

9. France, who always sings in French (who would have thought) sent the song ‘Echo (You and I)’. Yes, there was English involved. And, although my French is poor, I did enjoy the song. I also enjoyed the attractive athletic men doing tricks across the stage. Not un-enjoyable in the least. Sung by Anggun.

10. Italy sent a beautiful woman, Nina Zilli, who they say is compared to Amy Winehouse, and I suppose she did look like an Italian version of her. However the similarities stopped pretty much there. Don’t get me wrong, she had a strong voice, and I’d say ‘L’amore e femmina (Out of Love)’ was a good over all performance.

11. Estonia. This was the song that I enjoyed the most that was sung in the native language of the country. Ott Lepland sang ‘Kuula’.

12. Norway sent Erik Saade?? Wait, Adam Lampert?? Nope, no, that’s Tooji. You heard me right. Tooji. Born in Iran and taken to Norway as a one year old (don’t worry, taken by his family) he then went on to take the stage in Azerbaijan at age 25. His song ‘Stay’ wasn’t half bad in my opinion.

13. Lucky number 13 went to host country Azerbaijan. At first I thought it was an old Beyoncé song, but don’t worry, they haven’t infringed on any copyrites. Or whatever it is they use to protect music with these days… They had a cool thing going with her dress and the lights, but over all Sabina Babayeva’s performance of ‘When the Music Dies’ wasn’t my favorite.

14. Romania sent a woman and band. And the band had a bag pipe. You pretty much couldn’t get any cooler, unless you also had an accordion. Far and away one of my favorite performances of the night, and a song that I actually wouldn’t mind listening to in my free time. (Yes, watching TV is considered work in my world.) The group was named Mandinga and their song ‘Zaleilah’ was sung in both English and Spanish.

15. Denmark was up next. With a sailor. Oh, no. A graduating Swedish high schooler. Oh, oh, sorry, that’s fashion. Despite the outfit, this was one of my favorite songs, ‘Should’ve Known Better’ sung by Soluna Samay.

16. Greece sent. . .Paula Abdul from the 80’s?? Pretty much actually. During the entire performance all I could think about was what Greece would do if they actually won. The amount of money necessary to put into the Eurovision production is, I assume, above their current spending budget. Which, from what I understand, is zero. Eleftheria Eleftheriou sang ‘Aphrodisiac’. And, frankly, I’m not sure what it means to want your aphrodisiac. The specifics escape me.

17. SWEDEN!!! Yes! Finally. The song I’d been waiting for. Kind of. Seeing as they’ve plastered it onto every radio station, where it is played at least once an hour, as mandated by the King, I have heard the song enough. But it’s always fun to see a live performance, and I do think that Loreen sang ‘Euphoria’ to the best of her ability. Which is pretty damn good. I love the choreography, and her outfit. I pretty  much wish I was as cool as she is. Heja Sverige!!

18. Turkey sent Borat. Or at least that’s what Evelina thought. I must say, it does seem like it. A clean-cut version of Borat. Turns out his name was Can Bonomo, and he sang ‘Love Me Back’ well.

19. Spain sent the second Spanish language song of the evening. Not a shock. It was a very beautiful song, ‘Quedate conmigo’ (again the e is accented, sorry about my lack of computing abilities). Performed by Pastora Soler.

20. Germany sent Roman Lob, who I really truly hope did not change his name, or come up with a stage name, because Roman is an awesome first name. He sang ‘Standing Still’ and it was one of my favorites. His performance was good, although I think this was more due to the enjoyment of watching attractive people do things, than his actual singing ability.

21. Malta. Some fun facts about their history in Eurovision: their national languages are English and Maltese, and the last time they sang in Maltese was in the 70’s when they came in dead last. From that point on it was decided that English would be the only language they would sing in, in Eurovision. True story. I’d say it was a good choice, because it lead to this song, ‘This is the Night’, sung by Kurt Calleja. Who brought it with his awesome dance moves.

22. F. Y. R. Macedonia sent this woman, Kaliopi. If I knew Macedonian I may have enjoyed the song. The music was pretty, but there wasn’t much of a performance on stage. Honestly, she scared me a little bit half way through with a combo of electric guitar and angry voice. ‘Crno i belo’ turned out to be a pretty fun song though.

23. Ireland sent JEDWARD. Yes!! These blond, energetic, twin brothers made their first Eurovision appearance the previous year with their song ‘Lipstick’ which was epic. To the nth degree. They’re a ton of fun to watch on stage. But in this performance I did miss the energy a little. Their song ‘Waterline’ was a mellower version of their usual hype. Still fun to see them.

24. Serbia sent Zeljko Josimovic, with lots of accents and fun things attached to his name. ‘Nije ljubav stvar’ was the song he sang, and yes, you guessed it, it was in Serbian. I cannot be certain, but I do think that he said poop in the first line of the song. Don’t quote me on that, because my Serbian is also poor. This lack of language ability probably inhibited my enjoyment of the song, but I just don’t seem to have the time to learn Serbian. Maybe next year.

25. Ukraine’s song was all about me being a guest. Which is pretty awesome, because when you’re the guest places you usually get stuff. And as I always say, free stuff is the best stuff. ‘Be My Guest’ was the song title, sung by Gaitana. There was a lot of fun and color going on on stage. One of Evelina’s favorite songs.

26. Last but not least, Moldova. They sent Pasha Parfeny with the song ‘Lautar’. I honestly thought it was the guy from Fight Club for the first half of it. Then Evelina said, no, no it’s the guy from American History X. Turns out that’s the same guy, Edward Norton, and it turns out he is not a singer in Moldova. An entertaining performance, with some very cool dresses (not on the guy, on the other dancers.) To be clear.

Humperdink. I just needed to say it again.

Anyway. Quickly after the culmination of performances, while Europe was voting (not me, because you  have to PAY… MONEY to vote) I composed my top 12 list. 12 songs that I would voluntarily put on my iPod and listen to on a day to day basis. For downloading onto Spotify in the future, as well as to compare to the actual voting results.

My Top 12:

  1. Sweden
  2. Denmark
  3. Romania
  4. Spain
  5. Iceland
  6. Germany
  7. Norway
  8. Ireland
  9. Italy
  10. Hungary
  11. Estonia
  12. Turkey

    Note: The competition has already been completed, voting is not longer accepted.

After waiting and waiting, for approximately 10 minutes. The results were in, and each country who voted awarded points to the performances. Depending on the vote of the people of the country a performance received 12, 10, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, or 1. Then comes the real suspense as you view a representative from each country come on the air and award the points. 42 countries voted, and the winner was SWEDEN!! Yes! Go Loreen!!

Just look at all those Swedish flags in the crowd!

It was a very exciting night in Sweden. For me at least. And yes, I do plan on attending Eurovision next year when it is in Sweden. So look for me in the crowd.

After performing an encore of her song, Loreen was presented with flowers and an award.

Europe’s Top 12:

  1. Sweden – 372
  2. Russia – 259
  3. Serbia – 214
  4. Azerbaijan – 150
  5. Albania – 146
  6. Estonia – 120
  7. Turkey – 112
  8. Germany – 110
  9. Italy – 101
  10. Spain – 97
  11. Moldova – 81
  12. Romania/Macedonia – 71

In the history of Eurovision Sweden has now won 5 times. Also, in the voting this year Sweden was awarded points by every country. Except Italy. Which begs the question: Italy, what’s the deal???

(All flag photos were found on Google Images. All other photos were taken with my iPhone of the broadcast by SVT. All editing was done on my iPhone.)