Sweden has proven itself to be a musical nation – topping pop, rock and dance music charts all over the world for decades. After the USA and the UK, Sweden is the world’s largest exporter of pop music, which says a lot for a country this size. But there’s one type of music we should be grateful for. And by that, I mean grateful that it generally doesn’t get exported outside the Nordic region and Germany. I am talking about the odd Swedish music style called Swedish ‘Schlager’. It is unfathomably and inexplicibly popular in Sweden.
What is Swedish schlager music you may wonder? Let me attempt to explain.
It is a style of popular music The style emerged in Europe after World War 2 as a backlash against American rock and roll. The style uses very simple patterns of music and they are either sweet, highly sentimental ballads with a simple, catchy melody or light pop ditties. Sometimes the songs integrate folk instruments. Often the lyrics are about love and relationships. Titles such as ‘Good Vibrations’, ‘Take me to your heaven’, ‘Captured by a storm wind’ give you an indication.
To get the idea of what schlager is, it’s best to think about the Eurovision Song Contest. It’s more or less that type of music. In fact, the competition and the selection trials are often referred to a ‘Schlagerfestivalen’ in Sweden – the festival of, yes you guessed it, Schlager.
Schlager music might not be intellectually challenging but it is disgustingly catchy. It is old fashioned, simplistic and annoying. But it immensely popular around the country and is almost always the music that gets played at parties once people have had a few too many drinks and dare to approach the dance floor.
Tomorrow night the trials begin for who will represent Sweden in the international final in Stockholm in May. And Swedes take this very seriously. More people watch these trials than watch televised sporting events or royal weddings. And tomorrow’s trial is already making the headlines. Tragic schlager hasbeen, Anna Book, was disqualified as it turns out her song was involved in 2014 in Moldavia!! Shock! Horror! Poor Anna Book is devastated and the media is calling it a sensational and tragic scandal.
- People dying in make-shift boats as they flee for their lives across the ocean is a scandal.
- Gangs of masked men marauding through the streets of Stockholm and attacking immigrant children is a scandal.
- That over 20% of Sweden’s population vote for a right-wing racist party is a scandal.
- That young women get groped and physically abused when they are in public places is a scandal
- That health care, elderly care and education are rapidly deteriorating in Sweden is a scandal
Anna Book being disqualified from a music competition is not a scandal.
Maybe some people are so obsessed with the inanity of schlager and Eurovision that they can’t lift their eyes and focus on more important issues. For me, that’s a sensational and tragic scandal.