Tonight is a night of anxiety for many Swedes. In fact, the last couple of days has been quite traumatic for them. You see, on Thursday, Sweden failed to qualify for the Eurovision Song Contest final which is being broadcast tonight.
Sweden sent a sweet girl, Anna Bergendahl, with a sweet song, to the semi final in Oslo. And Europe voted. And Sweden failed to impress the voters. And Anna was on the first bus back to Stockholm.
The next day, the papers were full of headlines screaming ‘Fiasco!’ and ‘Ban the Eurovision shit’. It was unjust, they claimed. Anna deserved better. Sweden deserves better. Europe is just jealous of our musical talents so they don’t vote for us. Eurovision should be changed! There should just be a Nordic Eurovision! Sweden should pull out immediately. The rhetoric was rabid, and the people were livid.
Sweden takes its Eurovision very seriously. Since ABBA won in the 70’s, and put Sweden on the musical map, it’s been a matter of national interest and pride to participate in the yearly contest.
But now, it’s fanatical.
One debate in the papers and on the television is about how Europe’s music is inferior to Sweden’s. They claim that all Europe’s music is basically rubbish and Sweden’s is the best. Sweden always sends great songs to the Eurovision Song Contest but they never win. This is because European voters are too stupid, or too tasteless, to appreciate good music.
I have rarely heard such blatant arrogance before.
A reality check is needed. The fact is that Sweden’s results in the Eurovision Song Contest have gone from bad to worse every year, while other Nordic countries have won. Sweden’s music is not the best, in this context. Sweden is out of touch with what music appeals to the masses in the rest of Europe.
What’s worse is that Sweden makes the mistake of believing that the Eurovision Song Contest is a contest for the best song. It isn’t, and it never has been. It is about politics, nationalism and entertainment. It always has been.
So, if winning is important, this is my advice to Sweden. Do not vote for the song you think is best. Vote for the song you think will do the best in Europe. Even if you think it is rubbish, chances are that millions of Europeans will disagree with you. Vote strategically.
Maybe then you will have a shot at the glory and recognition you obviously desperately desire.