We were out in the center of town last night for dinner at 8.30. As we were in Östermalm, it should have been packed at this time on a Saturday night. But it was quiet. And it had been very quiet on the subway as well. In starting to marvel at this fact, Robert and I suddenly remembered: the Eurovision Song Contest was on and Sweden was competing with the rest of Europe in a battle of the pop bands. This is big stuff in Sweden and indeed throughout Europe. Eurovision is where the world was first introduced to ABBA, for instance. And national pride is a at stake as well. But as neither Robert nor I are Europeans, we had forgotten about the contest.
Quite frankly, I don’t get all the buzz about this contest as the pop ballads are generally not to my taste. But it is an interesting cultural phenomenon on a lot of levels, so in the interest of doing as the locals do, I turned on the TV to check out the end of the show when we got home. It was quickly easy to see that this year’s contest was no contest and Norway easily won. Their entry featured a 23-year-old named Alexander Rybak who played the violin and sang a Norwegian folk ballad while a folk troupe danced around him. It was quite an amusing spectacle and not at all my style, but rather entertaining anyway. Interestingly, Sweden’s representative this year was a 38-year-old mezzo soprano named Malena Ernman. She could sing, but she didn’t do so well. At least “we” sent a good singer, even if she did not win!