The tins of Quality Street only have the coconut ones left in them, the hangovers have mostly subsided and having sent an absolute belter last year Albania have reverted to type in choosing three minutes of warbling for Tel Aviv. 2019 has arrived and finally, Eurovision has properly sprung into life. With Destination Eurovision kicking off next Saturday we can wave goodbye to any notion of a social life for the next nine weekends. Thus far the slightly odd nature of the new You Decide format or San Marino’s potential international act may have elicited the odd raised eyebrow. It wasn’t until a few days ago, however, that my dander was well and truly up.
In his ultimate wisdom Sweden’s head honcho, Christer Bjorkman, has decided that novelty comedic acts have no place at this year’s Melodifestivalen. As has been noted elsewhere this would mean the likes of Edward Blom & Rolandz from last year’s edition would not be welcome this time round. Depending on what one classes as a comic entry 2017 may have gone without Road Trip or Boogieman Blues, the latter being my favourite of that year’s competition. Before I explain why this saddens me I should first make it clear that I do understand the reasoning given for this decision.
Bjorkman’s justification that the comedian hosts can provide the laughs without infiltrating the entries is one that makes sense. Not only do they have professional comedians on hosting duties they also have Sarah Dawn Finer, who may know a thing or two about bagging laughs in Sweden as well as continent-wide. Just as long as cheeky little Eric Saade lays off the improvised material, they’ll be fine. Add the current presenting team to the creative skills of Edward af Sillen and the fact they’ve binned ‘Fab’ Freddie and I’m under no illusion we’re in for an entertaining series of shows. That, however, isn’t the concern.
Casting aside the novelty feels akin to having a car that once ran as smooth as you like, but has more recently begun to falter. Rather than trying to actually fix the car, Christer has decided to throw out the furry dice. Although it couldn’t be described as awful, last year’s Meh-lodifestivalen wasn’t exactly scintillating. Frankly, Rolandz’s ridiculous reaction to qualifying for the final was about as entertaining as it got (excluding Renaida, of course). The mediocrity of entries & the diminishing impact of the public vote should really come under closer scrutiny. Banishing entries featuring a man dressed head to toe in tin foil and another dancing with a human bunch of grapes wouldn’t be my top priority.
If you simply look at the numbers Sweden can afford to include a couple of the lighter, campy entries. If two songs out of a 28 strong list stray towards a lighter style it’s not really going to make much of a difference to the final result. It might be a bit of a risk for a smaller one-shot national final to choose a comedic act and see it qualify. But with Melfest you’ve still got plenty of ‘serious’ competitors to battle it out for the Swedish ticket to Tel Aviv. We’re going to go through the same process of four weeks of heats and one Andra chansen only for the international juries to crown the prettiest, just above average male soloist in the final. Again.