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February 01, 2011

Ask the Scandies: Why is Schlager so popular in Sweden?

Eurovision season is well underway in the Nordic lands right now.

Norway, Iceland and Finland are all set for the final rounds of their selection process, while Denmark will be having just one night of fun later this month. However, there’s one country where the event is taken more seriously than anywhere else: Sweden.

You won’t find Melodifestivalen, the festival that celebrates schlager, mentioned in any guidebooks. But it’s an integral part of Swedish culture. For six weeks a year (starting this coming Saturday), a huge part of the nation gathers around its TV screens to watch the phenomenon known as ‘schlager’ unfold. Schlager is pop music – but better. Schlager is shameless. And always involves a key change.

Melodifestivalen is the World Cup, the Olympic Games of schlager.

Everyone wants to be involved. Everyone.

Schlager is not cheesy [writer's opinion.  ed]

The biggest schlager star of all is Carola Häggkvist. The next time you come into Scandinavian Kitchen, ask your Swedish server to sing you a song. We guarantee she or he will sing this:

Carola is a schlager icon. You may remember her from her Eurovision appearance. Or the other appearance. Or the other one. Three times.

This is how special she is.

Another schlager icon is Kikki Danielsson. Here is Kikki. She gets good vibrations.

Here is Shirley Clamp. Shirley is schlager.

Now you know what schlager is, you will have a deeper understanding of the Swedish psyche. For, despite jantelag and liberalism, there is a special place for schlager. Even in Jonas. He just likes to keep it hidden.

Today, a Swedish journalist is arguing in Svenska Dagblad that many schlager stars feel a sense of shame, which is why so many people love them. They share that shame.

This is, of course, nonsense. We love schlager because of the key change. No shame there.

However, there’s another, even deeper reason. Melodifestivalen happens in winter, when it’s dark. So, you see, schlager brings light. It harks back to the pagan days of waiting for the spring to arrive.

That’s how important schlager is.

Is that the smell of Västerbotten...?

Post by David Jorgensen.  Read more about Eurovision and schlager here on Schlagerfiasko

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