We're getting to the pointy end of the Eurovision season, as the clock ticks down to on-the-ground action in Turin. Let's check in with another fan to find out how they think the Contest is shaping up - and get to know how they fell in love with Eurovision in the first place.
This week, we meet Daniel (@daniel__little), who lives in Sydney but originally heralds from the epicenter of modern Eurovision - Sweden! We were excited to pick his brains about all things Sweden at the Contest (like, just how big is Melfest and what's the deal with Anders Bagge?) And we'll all be booking in haircuts at his Newtown salon after reading what music he plays for clients.
Hello, Daniel! So happy to welcome you aboard as the newest Aussievision Fan of the Week. To start, tell us about yourself!
Hej! My name is Daniel, I live in Sydney together with my husband Bluey, our daughter Alex and our two Burmese cats. I’m a salon owner/hairdresser in Newtown where clients and staff are these days VERY familiar with Eurovision music as it is often played in the salon (some appreciate it more than others!) I moved to Australia from Sweden in 2006 because of love. I am still very much in love, albeit with a different person to back then! In my spare time I love to bake, run, go to the theatre and travel. My big interest growing up (besides Eurovision) was Ballroom and Swing dancing in which I spent 10 years competing.
How and when did you discover Eurovision? (tell us about that 1987 VHS tape breaking!)
Melodifestivalen and Eurovision have a very strong following in Sweden so I grew up pretty much surrounded by the contest. I do remember watching the 1987 edition of Eurovision (I was 7 years old at the time) and due to it finishing way past my bedtime Mum taped the show so that I wouldn’t miss the ending. I then watched the recording so many times that the VHS eventually snapped and dad had to use sticky tape to fix it! Israel’s entry 'Shir Habatlanim' and Belgium’s 'Soldiers Of Love' were my favourites (I still absolutely love Liliane Saint-Pierre’s choreography!) - besides Sweden's oddly renamed 'Boogaloo' of course! It originally contained both Coca Cola and Bugg (a Swedish chewing gum brand) in the song title but since brand marketing at ESC is banned the word 'Boogaloo' was invented as the song’s title. No wonder the song flopped (however that probably had more to do with the cheesy song itself!) My love for Eurovision took off there and then and I have religiously watched the competition ever since. I even stayed home from an important dance competition to watch the 1994 Eurovision final - much to the displeasure of both my dance partner and trainer.
~Hell hath no fury like a ballroom dancer scorned! As for the VHS tape, modern Contests go for so long I don't think they'd fit on the one tape anymore... (Mark)
This is a tough one, but what’s your single favourite Eurovision performance, ever?
It has to be Loreen and her iconic 2012 win with 'Euphoria'. It was a turning point for Sweden after a few years residing at the lower part of the scoreboard and I really admire that Loreen stood by her creative vision and presented something with a fresh vibe at Eurovision. It is such a banger! My partner and I were lucky enough to be in Stockholm to watch her win Melodifestivalen that year and you could just tell that something big was about to happen! Magic.
Who was your 2021 winner and why did they get your vote?
The Roop with 'Discotheque' from Lithuania. A really catchy song with quirky choreography. Just what at least I needed mid pandemic! On top of that the singer managed to look sexy in yellow - no easy feat!
It’s still early, but any stand-outs in 2022 yet?
I have to say Cornelia Jakobs from Sweden. It’s been a long time since I felt this strongly for a Swedish entry (last time would have been 'Undo' with Sanna Nielsen in 2014). From week one Cornelia was my favourite at Melfest and I am thrilled that she won. Another early Eurovision favourite this year is 'Snap' from Armenia.
What Swedish and Australian artists would you love to see go to Eurovision, and why? Give us a song of theirs that showcases what they could bring to the Contest.
I am still bummed that Alcazar never made it to Eurovision for Sweden. 'Not A Sinner Nor A Saint' from 2003 and 'Stay The Night' from 2009 are classics and I think they would both have done really well at ESC. Who knows - maybe it’s time for (yet another) comeback next year? From Australia I would love to see Ricki-Lee Coulter on the Eurovision stage. Her song 'Can’t Touch It' would have been the perfect entry!
So, if push came to shove, who are you backing at Eurovision: Sweden or Australia?
Both! I really can’t choose. I love both my countries and it would be fab to see them battle it out for the crown one year! I vote for Sweden each year and my relatives in Sweden always tele-vote for Australia. Equal love there!
~I love this. We need all Australians with family in Europe (and that’s quite a few of us!) to adopt this strategy so we never have a repeat of 2016’s televote heartbreak! (Mark)
Us Eurofans love Melfest. But can you tell us just how big is Melodifestivalen is to Swedes?
Melodifestivalen is HUGE in Sweden. The final is usually the most watched TV show of the year and many songs from the show make an impact on the Swedish charts. It has always been a fairly popular show, although the popularity and standard of songs dipped in the mid 90’s. Since the 2002 revival and revamp with semi finals and a national tour the interest amongst Swedes really has exploded. The artists get extensive media coverage and the show generates a lot of public interest. It is by far the best way to promote a new single in Sweden, which may explain some artists fondness of repeat appearances.
~I dream of the day that millions of Australians engage with Eurovision - Australia Decides. I hope we can get to that point; what a wonderful thing to bring a country together - even if it is divisive! (Mark)
We’ve got to ask: what’s the deal with Anders Bagge? Why is he so loved in Sweden?
Anders is a well known music producer and composer and has been a very popular judge on Swedish Idol since 2008. He suffers from bad self esteem and stage fright which has previously stopped him from performing. He did however do well at Masked Singer Sweden in 2021 which inspired him to have a go at Melodifestivalen this year. I think the fact that he is a very likeable, high profile person partly explains his popularity with the televote. People sympathise with him and appreciate his openness about his personal battles. His song has a very Swedish sound to it so I am not surprised that the people embraced it. I am however relieved that the song did not win as I don’t think it would do well with a broader European audience who don’t know his backstory.
I would think that coming second at Melfest was the ideal result for Anders as he now doesn’t risk a bad Eurovision result - and he has scored a big hit in Sweden. Possibly that the result is also a bit of revenge for Cornelia as she was rejected for Idol back in 2008!
We’re in the post-Christer Björkman era now, so it’s likely we’ll see some changes to the way Melfest works (we already are!) What would you like to see happen?
I think one could tell that Christer and a big part of the team that used to work with him were not present this year. The broadcasts were not as slick and well produced as they have been previously and it all felt a bit messy. I do wish for the return of an experienced TV host, rather than singers, to anchor the show. I thought Farah Abadi did a fab job as sidekick this year and would love to see her host the whole thing sometime soon. I think it may be a good idea to not have artists return too regularly (hello Linda Bengtzing!) and also to possibly cut the four semifinals down to maybe two heats to ensure a higher quality of participating songs.
Sweden hasn’t had it all its own way in recent year, with not enough televote love and often being the whipping boy of the fandom. What do you make of all that?
I think it’s a fairly small but vocal group that whip up the 'Sweden hate' amongst parts of the Eurovision fandom. I guess it stems from the fact that Sweden regularly performs very well in the competition, and that these fans would rather see other countries (maybe their own) at the top of the scoreboard. It is to be expected that Sweden sometimes performs poorly in the televote (and also with the juries). Several countries end up with no to few points awarded each year, however when it happens to Sweden it does get talked up (and cheered by some) a lot. I don’t think there is a broad hate of Sweden at Eurovision though - if the audience don’t love the song a country sends then they simply won’t vote for it. Alright, now that you’re warmed up, the questions come thick and fast! Hands on buzzers for the rapid-fire round! Which Eurovision song:
Is the best winner? 'Euphoria' by Loreen (Sweden 2012)
Has the best live vocal? Sanna Nielsen in 'Undo' (Sweden 2014)
Is your favourite Australian entry so far? Dami Im, 'Sound Of Silence' (2016)
Was robbed? Joëlle Ursull, 'White & Black Blues' (France 1990)
Is your guilty pleasure? No guilty pleasure - I stand by my taste in music 100%!
Is your favourite National Final song (that didn't make it to Eurovision)? 'Stay The Night' by Alcazar (Melodifestivalen 2009)
Do you have a 'Eurovision community' - like, do you connect with fans on Twitter or are there a group of friends you watch the contest with? Or is it something you enjoy doing solo?
Every year a group of friends gather at our place just before 5am on the morning of the Grand Final to watch the show together. It has become a tradition that has grown from two of us to about 10 people now. It’s my favourite morning of the year and a wonderful thing to do together. I also work with another hardcore Eurovision fan so we sure do discuss the competition a lot at work!
~*invites self to 2022 contest at Daniel's house* (Mark)
Daniel, it has been an absolute pleasure. Thank you for helping us delve deep into the story of Sweden at Eurovision. I hope Cornelia (or Sheldon!) can bring home a victory for you in 2022.