The last heat of Melodifestivalen 2013 featuring original songs took place in Malmö, where the Eurovision Song Contest 2013 is going to take place in two months’ time.
The connection appeared then like a natural and obvious idea to have and that SVT remarkably gave shape to, to the pleasure of the viewers and the fans.
The show thus started like a real eurovision show, but what made the introduction really funny is that they didn’t quite make it like people would expect the Eurovision Song Contest 2013 to start, obviously because it wasn’t Eurovision Song Contest 2013 starting yet…
So instead, we were offered a lovely 1980’s eurovision opening theme and subsequent pictures of Sweden through very long and clumsy shots, characterised by the poor quality of the video really making the whole beginning very original, greatly using this offbeat humour which is a famous landmark of the Swedish televised selection for the European song contest.
This offbeat humour is even more obvious when we notice that these pictures come along with the voices of Swedish commentators doing their job very seriously before the actual presenters get on the stage.
When they do, we can very quickly understand by their looks that their first announcements are not going to be done as seriously as the commentators we just heard did their job…
Wearing costumes of the Swedish folklore making them look like peasants (here a cliché clearly and greatly pushed to its paroxysm) – which can also appear like a wink to the lack of representativeness of national identity in the Eurovision lately (Azerbaijan organising a contest in 2012 looking everything but Azerbaijani – notably by showing off their couple of skyscrapers in as many postcards as they could) – Danny and Gina open the contest speaking a very approximate English, delivering a whole lot of little phrases and expressions supposed to be funny (but actually are because of their appalling level – here once again winking to the desperate need and overly ambitious attempt to use humour in an international television programme).
Indeed, in case you haven’t noticed before, humour, especially in textual and spoken forms is everything but international ; SVT has understood that, and it’s with their impressive-in-ratings national audience, that they share it.
Keeping on thus with this never-ending series of gags / funny winks in a show which – let’s not forget – firstable is to decide the Swedish entry for the Eurovision, it’s now the great Petra Mede, who is appearing on the stage, joining Danny and Gina, in a beautiful and modern dress. The great Eurovision 2013 presenter is here now, and it’s time to end the bad jokes/looks. Sharply destroying the Melodifestivalen presenters in a few words (now back in Swedish), she is here to enlighten and amaze us, to show what humour really is and the role of a Eurovision presenter, very soon moving to some voting procedures explanations in French (after Danny and Gina have done it in the national language, bringing even more to the humour of this powerful introduction).
Is there anything left to watch the show for ? You already made our day, some fans could have thought, but we were only ten minutes into the show.
As funny as the presenters and their jokes / scenes can be, it’s not a scoop to say that this heat made no exception in terms of musical quality, obviously making the success of this TV show, a success thanks for instance to the participation of the band Army of Lovers, very famous since their foundation in the late 1980’s.
Among the contestants we also noticed the participation of Robin Stjernberg who actually might not be very famous outside Sweden at all but has this interesting particularity to have come second in the national version of Pop Idol, in 2011, a year when Alexander Bard, member of the band Army of Lovers was a judge = curious but efficient and common practice in this contest also making it very popular, by giving the idea that anyone can compete against the most popular / famous. An element probably strongly linked to the importance of national music / artists promotion, sometimes appearing as more important than making a right choice to represent the country at the international song contest.
Getting back to the humour we can find a lot in the show, we were offered between two songs, another brilliant scene, efficient in the sense that it could have been real, and probably was ! Indeed, while starting to announce the next artists to get on the stage, Gina – wearing a colourful but wonderful dress – gets completely distracted when she notices that Sarah Dawn Finer (her fellow presenter the previous year, and hugely famous singer in Sweden, who by the way also took part in Melodifestivalen as a contestant twice in the past) is sitting in the audience, surrounded by two men smartly dressed, looking like bodyguards. Gina, although explaining her great pleasure to see her friend here, is showing a lot of perplexity about this two guys around her. And very quickly we understand that something is wrong. Sarah Dawn Finer misses presenting the contest way to much, and very quickly the tone of her speech turns into a junky’s. She is thus allowed for a few minutes to do the show, and the “bogyguards” whom she just introduced to us as her brothers – but obviously aren’t – suddenly get up and start to dance while after taking her coat off unveiling a blindingly bright dress, a disco ball dress, Sarah amazes us by singing a short part of “Moving On” reaching very high notes, and stops as suddenly as the three of them got up to “burst”. Tremendous cheers and applause in the Malmö arena, we don’t even have time to think that we actually miss her too, the next artist’s about to get on stage.
Later in the interval acts, which is not surprising sometimes to be even more exciting and pleasant to watch and listen than the competing songs themselves, it’s Danny Saucedo who is in the spotlight, after becoming the 4th member of Alcazar for a few minutes, a presenter – artist who really turned out to be quite a good choice, turning the show’s atmosphere in something even younger, modern, energic and festive than it already was.
After all the suspense which is too, remarkably worked and held in this show – with nice sound effects, among other elements – it’s Ulrik Munther, huge favourite and Ralf Gyllenhammar who have made it to the final, while Robin Stjernberg progressed to the 2nd chance round, doing better than Army of Lovers, who were voted out – the Swedish public has decided that the former Pop Idol runner-up had a better song than the band his former judge is part of.
Here you have thus a few elements of how Sweden has really managed to make the best of a contest which has unfortunately lost too much interest in the countries that have founded it. By making it a national musical celebration, SVT places artists and their potential at the heart of this show, which really is the most important at the end of the day, winning the Eurovision Song Contest and organising it afterwards always sounding like a simple “bonus”.
Danny Saucedo and Gina Dirawi, Melodifestivalen 2013 presenters, aren’t they lovely ?
Gina, playing the “Swedish journalist” about to interview the contestants, while people are voting, the costs of which are, at every round, for a big part donated to the country’s biggest foundation for humanitarian aid in third-world countries.