A Swede who lives in Finland and who is lost in Euroland - the wonderful world of Eurovision
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Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Tobson takes on Melodifestivalen 1986

For the first time in five years Stockholm got to handle the national final and they managed to pull off a truly legendary edition that most people who were around at the time will remember vividly and fondly. How ironic that most things that added to making this edition stand out came out of budget restraints and being simply pennywise and nothing else.

It was decided - again - to host Melodifestivalen within the frame of another popular show and "Razzel" was the perfect fit. It was an all-evening-event of a tv show and lived highly on segments coming back week after week. During spring 1986 one of the recurring segments was meant to be Melodifestivalen semi finals, but when the news leaked out it sparked an outrage. People wanted one final where all the songs were new. The whole idea was scrapped.

Two major things were kept from the original concept: an unusually late date for the final (to allow many weeks of semis) and an unusual way of presenting the songs. The first circumstance turned out to be vital: on the very weekend when the national final was usually held - the last Saturday of February - Sweden's prime minister Olof Palme was murdered. Had the final been scheduled for that date it would have been cancelled. Possibly Sweden would have withdrawn from the Bergen final.

In order to make the low budget show more interesting - possibly originally to make the semi finals more interesting - it was decided to present all ten songs as video clips and only the five acts that made it into the super final got to perform live for the audience. Several of these clips made it into the shared collective memory and are considered classics today. The general standard was also sky high compared to previous years and most of the songs met with some sort of success afterwards.

Picture borrowed from oppetarkiv.se

10. Baden Baden / Jag har en dröm
They wanted to be a pop group but looked and sounded like a dansband. Their entry - a typically 80's plea for world peace - sounds extremely cheesy and dated today but stayed in the Svensktoppen chart way longer than any of its competitors.
Grade: 1/5

9. Karin Risberg / Stopp stopp stanna
A decent little pop number that suffers heavily from the fact that it is too short for its own good and keeps repeating its fairly simple chorus a few times more than anyone could stand. Its video clip also reveals how quickly these presentation films were made - in particular, the "photo session" during the musical break should be enough for poor Karin to take the director to court.
Grade: 2/5

8. Style / Dover-Calais
The biggest commercial hit of the lot appealed to a young audience that also found its male members really attractive. A simple singalong, in the words of my father a song "begging on its bare knees to be ridiculed". Very dated by nice at the time.
Grade: 2/5

7. Dan Tillberg / ABCD
Dan Tillberg was back again, still singing in his Scania dialect, but sporting an even softer image than the year before. Now he had a cute little song about the need to listen to our children and subsequently packed his clip with cute kids that were singing and dancing along. Catchy but a tiny bit too sweet to fully work.
Grade: 3/5

6. Git Persson / Du förför mig
A real curiosity. A Swedish tv show had had a feature on how to make a schlager star and suddenly she makes it to the Melodifestivalen final - as if by chance - with a good but odd song written by Anders Berglund, who was contracted to conduct the winning entry in the final. It does sound a bit fishy but all of that was forgotten as soon as the clip went on air, featuring top journalist Jan Guillou as Dracula, wearing the worst vampire teeth ever seen on television.
Grade: 3/5

5. Anna Book / ABC
Teenage starlet Anna Book had made memorable appearances in two popular tv shows for kids and had an entry aimed squarely at the younger audience. Clearly a non-winner but also this video clip lingers in the collective memory of the Swedes and thanks to these three minutes, Anna Book is still retaining some sort of star status to this day.
Grade: 3/5

4. Lasse Holm & Monica Törnell / É dé det här du kallar kärlek
The eventual winner clearly had the most amusing clip that managed to stir up quite a lot of emotion at the time. A most unexpected duet consisting of top songwriter Lasse Holm - scoring his fourth victory in five years - and rock singer Monica Törnell whose career was unfortunately in the process of pretty much derailing. This would be a well deserved moment in the sun for her.
Grade: 3/5

3. Fredrik / Fem i tolv
Teenage heartthrob Fredrik was - surprisingly - not among the five super finalists despite being cute as a button and having a real quality schlager to sing. This was another amusing clip but the juries were not allowed to see them at all before giving their marks and maybe this became just one little schlager among the others. One of my personal favourites, however.
Grade: 4/5

2. Sound of Music / Eldorado
Brace yourselves, ladies and gentlemen: Nanne Grönvall is in the house for the first time (even if she was still Nordqvist at the time) equipped with a contemporary entry with quirky and unusual lyrics. At the time most people expected Angelique - the other girl in the band - to be the star of the trio, but Nanne would prove them all wrong. Eventually.
Grade: 4/5

1. Lena Philipsson / Kärleken är evig
There she was - Torgny Söderberg's new talent - and how she shone. From the word go, it must have been obvious for everyone what star material Lena Philipsson was. Almost thirty years later, "Kärleken är evig" has a life of its own, remaining a true pop evergreen. Lyricist Per Gessle would soon go on to even greater things as his duo Roxette was about to make it to #1 in the US charts a few years later.
Grade: 5/5

A great year full of classic entries. It's just too bad that the juries went for the oldies in the super final as there were so much young talent bubbling right beneath the surface. In retrospect a highly successful final which is not necessarily how it was perceived at the time.

In a parallel universe:
Could anyone have bettered Lasse and Monica's fifth place in Bergen? Maybe Lena could. Maybe Sound of Music could. And if Sweden had sent young Anna Book - would Sandra Kim then have had as easy a victory in the end?

Lena Philipsson / Kärleken är evig (Sweden 1986 NF, video clip)


  1. How familiar was the Swedish public with Sound of music as a group and it's individual artists before they took part in Melodifestivalen two years in a row? Was the family background of Peter Grönwall (despite misleading surname) a widely known fact already back then?

    1. Sound of Music had released a single or two prior to MF 1986 and had a few hits in between their participations. Peter Grönvall being Benny's son was heavily used in the PR of the group and the need to underline the fact make me suspect not everyone was aware of the link to start with.