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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!

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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

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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.

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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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norlie & kkv with melissa horn

You know what they say. That children learn new languages easier than adults. They also say that children more easily learn a new language through singing in that language.

I’m not sure who “they” are but I buy it. Seeing as I also consider myself to be a child the logical next step is to start singing in Swedish. Considering my never-ending-quest to learn the Swedish language.

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I have discovered two favorite artists since moving to Sweden, who always sing in Swedish. (As far as I know.) It’s important to note that they sing in Swedish. A LOT of Swedish artists sing in English. Like ABBA, Agnes, and Roxette – if you’ve heard of them. I think it’s so they can make it big worldwide. That’s just one theory though. Anyway….

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I love listening to Norlie & KKV. Their song “När jag går ner” just makes me smile every single time I listen to it. (Translation: When I go Down – clearly a top-notch title.) I also love listening to Melissa Horn, pretty much everything she has ever sung makes me just want to sing along. Which is the idea here, seeing as I need to sing along in order to learn me some Swedish.

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Now is more important than ever that I focus on my Swedish learning (through listening to my iPhone a lot). Why, you ask? As of last week I am enrolled in the second high school Swedish class. Thus technically fulfilling all of my Swedish requirements for higher level learning (provided I pass said Swedish class). This is exciting stuff people. Wish me luck.

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melodifestivalen

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…

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pictures from svt.se


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happy lucia!

It’s that time again! Today is Lucia, so I hope you all have a happy happy day. Last year I wrote about the Lucia tradition here in Sweden. It’s a pretty big day.

You all remember the general gist of things. Swedes dress up in one of four outfits, walk around in a line while sing traditional songs, and then eat lussekatter & drink glögg.

This year at work a colleague and I were in charge of planning the Lucia train for the children at the pre-school. It was quite the task as over 200 people would be present. We were in charge of scheduling, assignment of different tasks, attendance, food, et cetera. Basically, this was my first endeavor into party planning – for 5 year olds. I think we pulled it off. My biggest fear was not realized (that someone would get set on fire – which was rational, we had open flame), and none of the children cried. The children seemed to have a grand ol’ time singing away the an outdoor stage, and the parents crowded around trying to get a good photo.

I would do it again next year. To be honest, just give me an excuse to wear a Santa hat and I’m in.

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lucia: tales and traditions

Lucia

Happy Lucia everyone! Or Saint Lucy’s Day, as we say in English. Apparently, my sources tell me, Lucia is celebrated mostly in Sweden and Norway, but is also observed in one way or another in Denmark and Finland…and a few other countries in Europe. My sources also tell me it’s one of the few saint days observed in Scandinavia.

I have now been in Sweden for two Lucias (not counting today). From what I understand of the tradition, a girl is elected (possibly out of her class at school, or by the city, depending on the planned venue of the tradition). My first winter in Sweden Evelina and I were in Eskilstuna for Lucia. We saw the city’s Lucia celebration, where the elected girl leads a “train” (direct translation), or procession, of both boys and girls. The elected girl portrays Lucia and wears a white gown with a red sash. Upon Lucia’s head burns a wreath of candles.  The red is to represent blood, the wreath of candles represent the fire that was to burn Lucia when she was sentenced to death. The procession sings traditional Lucia songs, which, when viewing the procession the first time without an understanding of Swedish, have a chilling air to them. Now that I know Swedish, the chilling air is only magnified by the meaning of the lyrics. All the participants of the procession wear white robes, but it is only Lucia who has a red sash, the others wear black. The girls, aside from Lucia, wear wreaths with no candles, and the boys wear white cone-shaped hats with gold stars on them.

The story behind Lucia is that she is a saint from Sicily whose death was rather tragic. When Lucia saw an angel in a dream she became a devout Christian, she was denounced by Roman authorities, but despite their threats refused to renounce her beliefs. The authorities were going to drag her off to a brothel, but Lucia refused to move, and the authorities could not move her, even with a thousand men and fifty oxen pulling her. Instead they stacked timber around her and prepared to burn her where she stood. Lucia was not perturbed, and continued to preach her Christian beliefs. That was when one of the Roman soldiers stuck a spear through her throat to keep her from speaking. This did not kill her, however, she was only able to die after being given the Christian sacrament.

Lucia is celebrated on December 13th because this was once considered the shortest day of the year. The 8 day difference is possibly accounted for with use of the Julian calendar (in the 14th century) – when winter solstice would have fallen on December 13th. Then when the switch was made to the Gregorian calendar the 13th stuck. Although if you ask me, it’s pretty damn dark for the whole of December, so I’m not sure how anyone can tell the difference.

This year we have a hockey game, so we weren’t able to go into the city and see the Lucia traditions. Otherwise you would have been graced with awesome pics. Now the Microsoft Word image above will have to suffice…and feel free to use your imagination. We did however get awesome lussekatter and gingerbread cookies to eat in celebration of the day.

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P.S. I do not claim any of this information to be 100% accurate. This is the corroboration of an assortment of different stories that I have heard from Swedes, as well as some wiki information (because what’s a story without some wiki-facts?) So please don’t be offended if this is entirely wrong. It’s just…y’know, word on the street.

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