“I’ll bet they’re not an official licence by ABC Commercial”, I said to my friend, Patrick tonight as we entered Friends Arena in Stockholm for Melodifestivalen, the Swedish competition which chooses the song which will represent Sweden at Eurovision in May.

I was referring to B1 and B2. “We’re from Austraia”, I told one of the blokes dressed as a banana who I suspect, from his non-plussed reaction, may not been as aware of the cultural significance in Australia of Bananas In Pyjamas. But anyway, these two blokes were there dressed up to support comedy act, Sean Banan who was in the finals with his song, Copocabanana. It’s a reggae/rap kind of number which is actually quite catchy. The act associated with it, as Sean changes costume several times, performs some acrobatic feats, and ends up being suspended in mid-air wearing a nappy was also pretty impressive.

“Which is your favourite?”, I’d already asked Patrick, to which he replied “none of them really”. I tend to agree, as I also had no firm favourites going into this weekend’s final. There were quite a few songs I “liked” but none which I had strong feelings for. In the end we agreed we would “support” Louise Hofsten and her very zen sounding, “Only The Dead Fish Follow The Stream”.

In the end I was pretty happy that Robin Stjearnen was chosen to represent Sweden. He and Anton Ewald were the firm favourites in the arena, based on the amount of applause they received. Interestingly, and perhaps controversially, it was the support of the international juries which got him over the line. In terms of the popular vote in Sweden, that went to Yohio, the band led by a 17-year old androgynous male singer. Although I quite liked Yohio, I noticed in the real life situation of an Arena performance, his vocals weren’t that strong. Robin, on the other hand, is a good singer, and he seemed genuinely emotional in his response to winning.

The absolutely highlight of the whole show, though, was “Euphoria”, last year’s winning entry by Loreen. Each year for Melodifestivalen, the winner of the previous competition is asked to come back and re-imagine their song in some way. This year, Loreen performed the song backed by students of the Deaf and Blind School in Stockholm. When I say “backed”, really, they were the stars of the show, and it was only in the latter third of the song that Loreen joined them on stage. It was a beautiful and touching moment.

Another couple of favourite moments included the return of Sarah Dawn Finer and her comedy character, Lynda Woodruff, and the appearance of the bloke from Cyprus, Klitos Klitou (“yes it really is my real name”, he told us). The audience cacked its pants over his name.

It certainly was a big Melodifestivalen day for us both, as we went to both the rehearsal in the afternoon (where we were seated close to the stage) and the main show tonight (where we were seated further back). It was good to have both these experiences, as they were quite different. The rehearsal was more informal, and it provided opportunities for the media nerd in me to observe what was happening behind the scenes, and to note the absolute smoothness of the operation from a technical perspective. The main show was more formal and spectacular, as you might expect.

It was also really lovely sharing it with Patrick, as he’s a lovely bloke, and we have this common shared passion for Melodifestivalen. We also noted the good, friendly vibe in the audience, with people on both sides of us willing to have a chat and share their passion also.

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