New year, new rules

This year Melodifestivalen will undergo many changes. An international jury and head to head matches in the semi finals are just two of them. Will this have any effect on the artists? And if so, how?

If you look at Sweden’s result in Eurovision Song Contest over the last couple of years they haven’t been great. The Swedes have finished 18th two years in a row. If you take in consideration that Sweden has won four times and besides that has finished at top ten a great number of times, an 18th place finish is quite poor. SVT will introduce a raft of rule changes to try to remedy this.

– Head to head matches in the Semi-finals. Up until now there has only been head to head matches in Second Chance. SVT hopes that this will keep the excitement about the competition up.

– There can be eight people on stage instead of six.

– Pre-recorded backing voclas will be allowed. This together with the fact that there can be eight persons on stage will make it easier for artists to make more of a show number on stage. For example they can choose to only have dancers on stage since they can use pre recorded backing vocals and don’t need to have a backing singers on stage.

– An international jury. There has been international jurymembers in the jury that selected the songs for Melodifestivalen 2009. And now there are going to be an international jury that will choose one song of the 22 that hasn’t reached the final. The international jury will also be voting in the actual final.

Melodifestivalen managers are implementing all these changes in the hope that they will help us Sweden choose a song that has an international flavour and that could stand a good chance of winning the Eurovision Song Contest. I agree that something has to be done if we want the Swedish songs to have a slightest chance to win or even qualify to the final. But is this the recipe? I don’t know. Christer Björkman once said in an interview that ”we have to act and react on the fact that Eurovision Song Contest has changed”. And thats true, if we want to be a part of the game we have to keep up with the developement of the other countries. Some might say that this is not what the contest is about and that the contest should be about who has the best song, not the best shownumber. But at the same time it would be really really boring if the contest stayed the same year after year. To keep the audience interested there has to be developement.

But some of the Swedish artists do not like the new rules, especially not the head to head matches and the international jury. In an interview E-type called it a freak show and said that the head to head matches can be very easily unfair. He does not like the international jury and thinks that it will be a risk that all the songs in Eurovision Song Contest will sound alike. It’s not a good thing for Melodifestivalen if the new rules affect the artists like this. If the artists don’t want to participate, what happens then? Let’s hope we don’t have to find that out. And while I’m counting down to the first semi-final on the 7th of February I will keep my fingers crossed that the new rules will help us to pick a song that will be a great success even outside Swedish borders.

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