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Sweden's Biggest Event

New arrivals in Sweden might be startled by the passion with which their Swedish coworkers follow Melodifestivalen, an annual song contest. As an expat myself, when my officemates suddenly broke into exuberant song and dance last week, I was, to put it mildly, confused. Once I got over the surprise of suddenly singing and dancing coworkers, I had to confess I had no idea what was going on. The most dedicated nearby fans looked scandalized by my ignorance, and a fun crash course education in favorite “Melo” songs commenced. I felt as though I had just been let in on a local secret.

So What's Melodifestivalen?

"It's like the Super Bowl of Sweden." - around the office

Since 1959, Sveriges Television and Sveriges Radio have been organizing an annual song contest to determine the country’s representative for Eurovision. The festival, aired once weekly from February to March, has been the country’s most popular TV program for the past 2 decades. The Melodifestivalen champion is chosen by a panel of jurors as well as votes called in by the public.

courtesy of Melodifestivalen

How Are Participants Chosen?

SVT, Sveriges Television, begins the selection process nine months before the start of the competition. Submitted songs can be in any language but cannot exceed 3 minutes and 20 seconds. If they reach the final 28, the songs must be reduced to 3 minutes. The Swedish Music Publishers Association must trim the submissions down to a “manageable” 1200 entries, which are passed along to a jury made up of music professionals, SVT staff, and members of the public.

courtesy of Melodifestivalen

Historical Changes

Part of my introduction to Melo was a selection of performances chosen by a coworker to illustrate how much the festival has changed over the decades. Back when ABBA was dominating the contest, the sets and performances were straightforward and simple. Now,  performances are major theatrical performances with costumes, sets, lights, effects, and dancing.

How To Follow Melodifestivalen

If you’re like me, you might be a little late to this music party. Melodifestivalen is aired on TV every Saturday during the contest, as my coworkers have been helpfully reminding me. You can catch the highlights on the Melo YouTube channel, or get caught up on SVT Play.

Expats, there is still time to join the Melo mania. Take this as an opportunity to get in good with your Swedish friends and coworkers and demonstrate your ability to absorb and appreciate Swedish culture. And honestly, it’s really fun. What’s not to love about a song contest that has everyone excited and happy about the same positive thing?

We love teaching and learning about Swedish culture here at Swedish for Professionals. If you’d like to learn even more about life here, join us for one of our fun Culture Workshops!

You can also join us at Studio Swedish, our language learning platform designed specifically for those in the early stages of their Swedish learning journey. An entirely online study experience you can take at your own pace; learners will meet coaches Oscar and Matilda, who will guide you through each module containing fun videos, digital tools, and exercises to help you apply and retain what you’ve learned. Come study with us!