Lee Petty wins the first Daytona 500.
The first Melodifestivalen is held in Cirkus, Stockholm, Sweden.
Logo since 2016
|Also known as|
|Presented by||List of presenters|
|Country of origin||Sweden|
|No. of episodes||59 editions|
|Production location(s)||Multiple cities in Sweden (Host cities)|
|Production company(s)||Sveriges Television (SVT)|
|Original release||29 January 1959 –|
Melodifestivalen (Swedish pronunciation: [mɛlʊˈdîːfɛstɪˌvɑːlɛn]; literally "the Melody Festival")[a] is an annual song competition organised by Swedish public broadcasters Sveriges Television (SVT) and Sveriges Radio (SR). It determines the country's representative for the Eurovision Song Contest, and has been staged almost every year since 1959. Since 2000, the competition has been the most popular television programme in Sweden; it is also broadcast on radio and the Internet. In 2012, the semi-finals averaged 3.3 million viewers, and over an estimated four million people in Sweden watched the final, almost half of the Swedish population.
The festival has produced six Eurovision winners and twenty-four top-five placings for Sweden at the contest. The winner of Melodifestivalen has been chosen by panels of jurors since its inception. Since 1999, the juries have been joined by a public telephone vote which has an equal influence over the final outcome. The competition makes a considerable impact on the music charts in Sweden.
The introduction of semi-finals in 2002 raised the potential number of contestants from around twelve to thirty-two. A children's version of the competition, Lilla Melodifestivalen, also began that year. Light orchestrated pop songs, known locally as schlager music, used to be so prevalent that the festival was sometimes referred to as schlagerfestivalen ("the schlager festival") or schlager-sm ("schlager Swedish championship") by the Swedish media. However, other styles of music such as rap, reggae, and glam rock have made an appearance since the event's expansion. The introduction of a grand final in Stockholm has attracted substantial tourism to the city.
With seven nations competing, the first Eurovision Song Contest took place in Lugano, Switzerland in May 1956. Sweden's first contest was the third, in 1958. Without broadcasting a public selection, Sveriges Radio (SR)[b] chose to send Alice Babs to the contest in Hilversum, Netherlands. The song selected was "Samma stjärna lyser för oss två" (The same stars shine for the two of us), later renamed "Lilla stjärna" (Little star). It finished fourth at Eurovision on 12 March 1958.
The first Melodifestival, incorporated into the Säg det med musik radio series, took place on 29 January 1959 at Cirkus in Stockholm; eight songs participated. Four "expert" juries in Stockholm, Gothenburg, Malmö, and Luleå decided the winner. The competition was won by Siw Malmkvist performing "Augustin", but SR decided that the winning song—regardless of its original performer—would be performed by Brita Borg at Eurovision. This policy, of selecting the artist for Eurovision internally and having other artists perform potential Swedish entries at Melodifestivalen, was stopped in 1961. The competition became a stand-alone television programme in 1960, known as the Eurovisionschlagern, svensk final. In the event's early years, it was broadcast to Norway and Denmark through the Nordvision network. The competition adopted its current name, Melodifestivalen, in 1967.
Melodifestivalen has failed to be staged on three occasions. In 1964, the competition was cancelled due to an artist's strike; Sweden did not send a song to Eurovision that year. Sweden was absent at Eurovision for a second time in 1970 because of a Nordic boycott of the voting system, which had led to a four-way tie for first place at the 1969 contest. After SR staged the 1975 contest in Stockholm, left-wing groups argued that Sweden should not spend money to win and host Eurovision again. This led to mass demonstrations against commercial music and the organisation of an anti-commercial Alternativfestivalen. Therefore, Sweden decided not to send a song to Eurovision 1976 but returned in 1977.
Hundreds of songs and performers have entered Melodifestivalen since its debut. Although songwriters living outside Sweden were once not allowed to enter Melodifestivalen, the 2012 contest marked the first time foreign songwriters could submit entries, provided that they collaborated with a Swedish songwriter. To be eligible, songwriters and performers must be at least sixteen years of age on the day of the first Eurovision semi-final.
Until 2001, participation in the festival was limited to a single night. The number of contestants ranged from five to twelve. A two-round system was used intermittently between 1981 and 1998, in which all but five of the contestants were eliminated in the first round of voting. Failure to reach the second round under this system was seen as a major failure for a prominent artist; when Elisabeth Andreassen failed to qualify in 1984, it almost ended her career. The introduction of weekly semi-finals in 2002 increased the number of contestants to thirty-two. At least ten of the contestants must perform in Swedish. A CD of each year's competing songs has been released since 2001, and a DVD of the semi-finals and final since 2003.
Melodifestivalen has been the launch-pad for the success of popular local acts, such as ABBA, Tommy Körberg, and Lisa Nilsson. The competition has played host to performers from outside Sweden, including Baccara, Alannah Myles, Katrina Leskanich, and Cornelis Vreeswijk. Melodifestivalen participants have also represented—and unsuccessfully tried to represent—other countries at Eurovision. While local success for Melodifestivalen winners is common, most contestants return to obscurity and few have major international success. The impact that the competition makes on the Swedish charts means an artist need not win the competition to earn significant domestic record sales. For example, the song which finished last at Melodifestivalen 1990, "Symfonin" by Loa Falkman, topped the Swedish singles chart. The most recent occurrence was 2016 with Samir & Viktor's song "Bada Nakna". In 2007, twenty-one participants reached Sverigetopplistan. The week after the 2008 final, songs from the festival made up the entire top fifteen on the domestic singles chart.
Selection of contestants
The process of narrowing thousands of potential entries down to twenty-eight lasts over seven months. SVT directly selects fourteen entries from amongst the submissions from the public at large. Thirteen additional entries come from special invitations made by SVT or other entries that SVT has selected from amongst the submissions. Finally, the twenty-eighth entry is selected via the "Svensktoppen Nästa" competition. At least 10% of the final twenty-eight songs are sung in Swedish. The entire process can begin as early as May of the previous year and is finished by January.
SVT begins looking for songs nine months before the start of the televised Melodifestival (within days of the previous year's Eurovision final). The deadline for submission is in September and songs can be in any language. In the pre-selection, song length is limited to three minutes and twenty seconds; songs must be shortened to three minutes if they reach the final twenty-eight and qualifying songs may also be remixed.
The submission process is overseen by members of the Swedish Music Publishers Association (SMFF), whose task is to reduce the number of songs, which have numbered over 3,000 a year since 2002, to around 1,200. The 3,440 entries received in the preselection for Melodifestivalen 2009 is the most in the competition's history. The SMFF's choices are then given to a sixteen-person jury of music professionals, SVT staff and other members of the public. The jury ranges from teenagers to people in their fifties. The songs that qualify, along with their composers and lyricists, are announced at the end of September. This is often followed by fervent speculation over who will perform the songs. Songwriters that qualify must provide interviews to SVT, attend a press conference before the competition, and remain open to promotional appearances if their song reaches the final.
Artists and wildcards
SVT selects performers for the entries. Artists who perform the demo of a song automatically enter the competition; they must perform their songs if suitable alternate performers cannot be found. The artists' songs risk disqualification if they refuse. In the past, this rule led to the disqualification of, among others, Carola's "När löven faller" in 2003 and Stephen Simmonds's "So Good" in 2006. SVT may also give songs to other performers without considering the interests of the demo artist. This prevented the Brandsta City Släckers (in 2004) and Pernilla Wahlgren (in 2005) from performing the songs they had submitted. Replacements for disqualified songs fare unpredictably at the competition. In 2006, "Naughty Boy" by Hannah Graaf (the replacement for Simmonds' song) finished second to last in its semi-final. In 2002 and 2007, by contrast, the replacements performed by Jan Johansen and Måns Zelmerlöw reached the final ten. The contestants that will perform the twenty-eight qualifiers from the preselection are announced in late November. Singer-songwriters are common. As such, artists often confirm that they will participate before the official announcement.
The wildcard (joker) system was introduced in 2004 to diversify the music featured. Four artists, one in each semi-final, were invited by SVT to enter a song of their choice into the competition, provided it does not breach the rules. The wildcard songs and artists were announced in January. Since the wildcards' introduction, three have won the competition. In 2011 there were 15 wildcards. The wildcard system was discontinued in 2013.
The venues for each year's Melodifestival are announced in September of the preceding year. The semi-finals are held in towns and cities throughout Sweden. The 16,300-capacity Ericsson Globe in Stockholm has hosted the final since the semi-finals were introduced in 2002, through to 2012. In 2013, the final moved to the newly built Friends Arena in Solna Municipality, Stockholm County. The Scandinavium in Gothenburg was offered the 2005 final, but turned it down as it clashed with a Frölunda ice hockey match.
The event spent its early years at one venue: Cirkus in Stockholm, which hosted the first ten competitions. It has hosted the final of Melodifestivalen seventeen times in total. The Stockholm Globe Arena has hosted seven finals, and SVT's headquarters in Stockholm has staged five. The competition first took place outside Stockholm in 1975 as part of a decentralisation policy at SR. Stockholm has hosted 37 finals in total, including the first fourteen. Gothenburg has hosted eight, and Malmö seven. The competition's final has never been held outside these cities. Before the 2002 expansion, the host of the previous year's Melodifestivalen would host the Eurovision Song Contest in the event of a Swedish victory. Hence, the 1985 Eurovision was held in Gothenburg, the 1992 contest in Malmö and the 2000 contest in Stockholm. Since 2002, the only venues that have hosted more than three semi-finals are Gothenburg's Scandinavium, which has hosted one every year since 2003, and Malmö's Malmö Arena. In 2008, Andra Chansen was held in Kiruna, north of the Arctic Circle. Since 2013 the final is held at the Friends Arena.
The televised Melodifestival lasts six Saturdays and consists of six live shows: four semifinals, in which seven songs compete; a Second Chance round featuring songs which narrowly missed out on qualification from the semifinals; and a grand final. Ten songs comprise the final: two automatic qualifiers from each of the semifinals, and the two most popular songs in the Second Chance round. In 2015, there are seven songs for each semifinal, and twelve (eight winners and four from Andra Chansen) in the final.
Semifinals and Second Chance
Prior to the introduction of the current format of semifinals (deltävlingar) in 2002, the competition was usually a single live show. Under the current system, four semifinals are broadcast at 20:00 CET on consecutive Saturday nights. The semi-finals begin in early February, and seven songs compete in each show.
Unlike in the final, no juries are used; televoting decides the results. The songs are performed live with telephone lines open for the first round of voting; two songs with the fewest votes do not qualify to the second round. The top five battle for a place in the final and Andra chansen round – the 1st and 2nd placed songs qualifying to the final, and the 3rd and 4th placed songs progressing to Andra chansen. Both finalists reprise their entries at the end of the broadcast. The organisation of a semi-final system for Melodifestivalen popularised televised heats at national Eurovision selections. A similar system was adopted by the Eurovision itself in 2004.
The Second Chance round (Andra chansen) is the fifth heat in which the remaining four entries to the final are chosen. The third- and fourth-placed songs from each semi-final (eight songs in total) compete in the event. The first Second Chance round in 2002 had a panel of former winners decide the two finalists. Between 2003 and 2006, the semi-final performances were re-broadcast, and a round of voting narrowed the songs to three or four. Another round then determined the two finalists. The programme was broadcast on the Sunday afternoon after the fourth semi-final. It was held in a smaller venue than those that would have hosted the semi-finals—such as Berns Salonger in Stockholm, which hosted the Second Chance round in 2005.
In 2007, the Second Chance round became a full semi-final, taking place in a venue comparable in size to those hosting the others. The expanded Second Chance takes place on a Saturday night, adding an extra week to the event's timetable. The format of voting also changed with the introduction of a knock-out system. The system pairs the eight songs off against each other, then narrows them down to four before pairing them off again. The winners of the two-second round pairings go through to the final. The two finalists do not reprise their songs at the end of the programme.
In 2015, the system was changed again. The eight songs are divided into four duels, with one song from each duel qualifying into the final, bringing the number of finalists to 12.
The final takes place at 20:00 CET on a Saturday in early or mid-March. Twelve songs (11 songs in 2009, 10 before 2015) participate, two from each semifinal, four from the Second Chance round, and, only in 2009, the international jury's choice. A running order is decided by the competition's supervisors the week before to ensure that similar songs and artists are kept apart in the final. Dress rehearsals for the final are held on the prior Friday, and tickets sell out almost as quickly as those for the final itself. The final attracts much tourism to its host city; a survey in 2006 showed that 54% of spectators had travelled from outside the host city, Stockholm. Of these, 6% had come from outside Sweden.
As at Eurovision, a broadcast of the EBU logo introduces and closes the television coverage, accompanied by the prelude to Marc-Antoine Charpentier's setting of "Te Deum". Video "postcards" introduce the entries. The final includes interval performances, which are performed while the juries deliberate and before the tele-vote closes. Former Melodifestivalen contestants have performed as interval acts in the past, including Lena Philipsson in 2005 and the multi-artist medley of former entries in 2000.
The winner receives a trophy, Den stora Sångfågeln (The Great Songbird), from the previous year's winner. The trophy, designed by Ernst Billgren, was unveiled in 2005 and awarded to all previous Melodifestivalen winners at the Alla tiders Melodifestival gala in March of that year. The winner of the competition reprises their song at the end of the event.
Before the introduction of the current voting system in 1999, a group of regional or age-based juries decided the winner of Melodifestivalen. In 1993, televoting was used experimentally but proved unsuccessful. The Swedish telephone network collapsed due to the number of calls, and claims by the Swedish tabloid press suggested the use of televoting had drastically altered the results. Evening newspapers released what they claimed to be the back-up juries' votes, which showed that the winner, Arvingarna's "Eloise", would have finished fourth had the juries' votes counted. SVT never confirmed the accuracy of these claims.
The current voting format introduced in 1999 is a positional voting system, similar to that used at the Eurovision Song Contest. The voting is made up of two segments, in the first of which juries announce their votes; in the second segment, the televoting result is announced. The total value of votes has usually been 2 x 473 points (2 x 638 since 2018), which means that tele-votes and juries have an equal 50/50 weighing in the final result. The juries, usually 11, have represented either Swedish regions or, since 2010, countries participating in the year's Eurovision Song Contest. Until 2017, each jury awarded 1, 2, 4, 6, 8, 10, and 12 points to their top seven songs; however, since 2018, the points have been changed to 1 to 7, 8, 10 and 12 points. After the jury voting, the televoting result is revealed by the hosts in ascending order. Between 1999 and 2010, the televoting points were fixed; the top seven songs would receive 11, 22, 44, 66, 88, 110 and 132 points (12, 24, 48, 72, 96, 120, and 144 points for the 2009 contest). Starting in 2011, televoting points are given to each entry based on its percentage of the total vote. If an entry receives 10% of the televotes it will be equivalent to 10% of 473 points, i.e. 47-48 points (or 638 and 63-64 points respectively in 2018, and 464 and 46-47 since 2019). The song with the highest number of points at the end of the voting is the winner.
Telephone lines open immediately after the radio preview for the final and do not close until the juries have voted. Two telephone numbers are used for each song, giving voters the option of whether to donate money to SVT's Radiohjälpen charity appeal or not as they vote. Viewers can also vote by text message, and only residents of Sweden can vote.
The votes of the juries are announced by spokespeople who are not members of the juries. The votes are read in ascending order, beginning with one point and finishing with twelve. When read, they are repeated by the host, for example:
Spokesperson: "Ett poäng till melodi nummer två." (One point to song number two.)
Presenter: Ett poäng till (name song)." (One point to (name song).)
Since 2012, most spokespeople have announced the points in English, with the hosts repeating them in Swedish.
As the votes are announced, they are collated on a graphic scoreboard. SVT varies the way the jury votes are announced from year to year. For example, the finalists of Expedition: Robinson acted as spokespeople in 2004, and in 2006 Fredrik Lindström announced jury tallies using the dialects of each region. The final of Melodifestivalen has broken Nordic voting records on several occasions; in 2007, voting figures exceeded two million for the first time.
If there is a tie, the song that has received more votes from the public receives the higher position. There have been two ties for first place in the history of the contest. In 1969, Tommy Körberg tied for first place with Jan Malmsjö. The juries then voted for their favourite out the two, leading to Tommy Körberg winning. In 1978, Björn Skifs tied for first place with Lasse Holm and Wizex (performing together); a similar tie-break process resulting in Skifs winning.
Fifty-six of Sweden's fifty-seven Eurovision representatives have come from Melodifestivalen; the 2020 winner was scheduled to participate in Eurovision before the latter was cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic. Sweden has won the Eurovision Song Contest six times: in 1974, 1984, 1991, 1999, 2012 and 2015. Sweden has the second highest number of wins for a country at Eurovision; only Ireland has won the contest more often. The 1974 Eurovision winner, ABBA's "Waterloo", was voted the most popular Melodifestivalen song of all time at the Alla tiders Melodifestival gala in March 2005. Later that year, it was voted most popular Eurovision song of the contest's first fifty years at a gala in Copenhagen. The following table lists those entries which finished fifth or higher at Eurovision:
Most of Melodifestivalen's rules are dictated by those of the Eurovision Song Contest. However, regulations have been introduced by the Swedish broadcasters. The competition's official rules are released by SVT early in preparation for each year's Melodifestivalen, to ensure any changes are noted by songwriters and performers.
There was a limit of six people on stage for each performance. This included the Melodifestivalen choir (huskören, literally "the house choir"), a five-person group of flexible backing singers used by most participants. Artists could use some or all of the back-up singers, or use their own group. All vocals had to be completely live; human voices were not allowed on backing tracks. However, from 2009, the number of performers allowed on stage was eight, and voices were allowed on backing tracks. A live orchestra was used every year from the event's debut to 2000, except 1985 and 1986. Two orchestras were used between 1960 and 1963, a large orchestra and Göte Wilhelmsons kvartett, a jazz quartet. Since 2001, participants have performed to backing tracks.
Entries cannot be publicly broadcast until the semi-finals are previewed on radio. Entries eliminated in the semi-finals may be broadcast as soon as the semi-final has finished. An embargo is placed on songs that qualify for the later rounds until the previews for the Second Chance are broadcast. After this, restrictions on the broadcast of contestant songs are lifted.
Broadcasters sometimes make sweeping changes to winning songs before they go to Eurovision. For example, at Melodifestivalen 1961, Siw Malmkvist won with "April, April". Performing after her victory, she stumbled on the lyrics of the song and laughed out loud. The press criticised this as childish. SR replaced her with Lill-Babs for the Eurovision Song Contest. The 1987 winner "Fyra bugg och en Coca Cola", performed by Lotta Engberg, is another example; the song's title was changed to "Boogaloo" for Eurovision, as use of a brand name was against the Contest's rules. This name was chosen as Sweden's two previous Eurovision winners had also included the suffix "-loo".
Until 1999, competing songs were only permitted in Swedish, apart from 1965, 1973, 1974, 1975. This did not stop most winning entries recording English (and other-language) versions of their songs. Since the abolition of Eurovision's language restrictions in 1999, regardless of the performance language at Melodifestivalen, every Swedish entry has been in English. Spanish, French, Greek, Italian, Portuguese, Bosnian and Persian are among the other languages to have featured. Cameron Cartio's entry in Melodifestivalen 2005 was performed in a constructed language.
Melodifestivalen is broadcast on television, radio and the internet. It is broadcast on SVT1 with international coverage on SVT World. Until 1987, the competition was broadcast on Sveriges Radio TV, later known as TV1. Between 1988 and 2000, the event was broadcast on different channels depending on where it was held. Finals in Stockholm were broadcast on Kanal 1 (formerly TV1) while finals in Gothenburg or Malmö were broadcast on TV2. Sveriges Radio has broadcast the event on P1, P3 and P4, where is currently broadcast.
Although the final is traditionally held on a Saturday, in 1990 it was held on a Friday. TV2 suggested this would attract more viewers. In 1991, it was held on Easter Sunday for the same reason. The 2002 final was delayed by a week for coverage of the 2002 Winter Olympics.
The competition has had an official website since 1999. Webcasts have been provided since 2005. Since 2006, between February and the Eurovision final in May, SR has webcast a radio station dedicated to the competition called P4 Melodifest. On P4, the public previews semi-finalists every Friday. Broadcast the night after the final, a dagen efter ("the day after") television programme acts as an epilogue to the event. It gauges the reactions of the finalists after the competition's climax. No commentary is given for the event on television. Carolina Norén is commentator on the event for Sveriges Radio. The festival has been broadcast in widescreen since 2002 and Dolby Digital since 2004.
The competition's viewing figures have been rising since 2002. In 2007, approximately 4.1 million Swedes—almost 44% of the country's population—watched the final, and between 2.9 million and 3.2 million viewers watched each of the semi-finals. The viewing figures for the 2007 festival are nearly two million short of the highest recorded viewing figures from 1990. Melodifestivalen is given heavy coverage in the Swedish press. A study by the Economic Science and Communication Department at Karlstad University concluded that coverage from the press may have influenced the results of the 2007 festival.
Musical styles and presentation
Melodifestivalen's image has evolved throughout its existence, but one word has defined the competition's music: schlager. In Sweden, schlager (a German word literally meaning a "hit") represents any song associated with the competition, from the jazz music featured heavily in the 1960s to entries such as Linda Bengtzing's in 2006. Christine Demsteader of The Local described Swedish schlager as "typically characterized by an annoyingly repetitive melody and trivial lyrics of little or no meaning".
Jazz artists such as Monica Zetterlund and Östen Warnerbring won the event in the 1960s. ABBA, who won Eurovision in 1974, went on to be Sweden's most successful music export. The group influenced not only Melodifestivalen, but the entire Swedish mainstream music scene. In the 1980s, Bert Karlsson's Mariann Grammofon record label was responsible for the prevalence of "easy, memorable tunes". The early twenty-first century has seen more variety in the competition, such as Afro-dite's 2002 disco winner and The Ark's 2007 "retro glam rock" effort.
On-stage gimmicks have long been a part of performances at the competition. Lena Philipsson's use of a microphone stand in her performance of "Det gör ont" at the 2004 competition is an example. When Philipsson hosted Melodifestivalen in 2006, four tongue-in-cheek short films were broadcast during the semi-finals to show what had happened to the microphone stand in the years since her win. Pyrotechnics are another common gimmick in Melodifestivalen performances. After the 2007 event, Karolina Lassbo of Dagens Media criticised the festival's musical content and production, arguing that the 1988 competition was "the time when Melodifestivalen was still a schlager competition" and the event had become "a cross between [reality series] Fame Factory and [inter-city game show] Stadskampen".
- Lilla Melodifestivalen
- List of historic rock festivals
- Melodi Grand Prix
- Dansk Melodi Grand Prix
- Eesti Laul
- Sanremo Music Festival
- Golden Stag
- Turkvision Song Contest
- Sweden in the Eurovision Song Contest
- Marcel Bezençon Awards – Melodifestivalen Winners section
- Translated by SVT as The Swedish Eurovision Song Contest.
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- Nordman undvek sistaplatsen Archived 30 September 2007 at the Wayback Machine (in Swedish) ["Nordman avoids last place"]. SR.se (13 March 2005). Retrieved on 28 April 2007.
- ABBA win 'Eurovision 50th' vote. BBC News (23 October 2005). Retrieved on 25 April 2007.
- Melodifestivalen förändras Archived 26 February 2009 at the Wayback Machine (in Swedish) ["Melodifestivalen changes"]. Sveriges Television. Retrieved on 27 August 2008.
- Later a quintet. Thorsson, pp. 19, 28.
- Hör låtarna först i Sveriges Radio P4 Archived 30 September 2007 at the Wayback Machine (in Swedish) ["Hear the songs first on Sveriges Radio P4"]. SR.se (30 January 2007). Retrieved on 4 May 2007.
- The press literally described it as having "played the monkey". Melodifestivalen 1961 (in Swedish). Gylleneskor.se. Retrieved on 11 January 2008.
- Christer Björkman (2005). Melodifestivalen 50 år: vinnarna [DVD]. Pan Vision/SVT.
- Pourya E. Cameron Cartio—Borderless: review. Bia2.com. Retrieved on 28 April 2007.
- Thorsson, p. 196.
- Thorsson, pp. 210, 216.
- Thorsson, p. 300.
- Melodifestivalen 1999 (in Swedish). SVT.se. Retrieved on 25 May 2007.
- Melodifestivalen 2005—Om Melodifestivalen Archived 30 September 2007 at the Wayback Machine (in Swedish) ["Melodifestivalen 2005—About Melodifestivalen"]. SVT.se (2005). Retrieved on 20 May 2007.
- Melodifestivalen—Viewing figures. ESC.info.se. Retrieved on 21 October 2006. Archived 29 March 2007 at the Wayback Machine
- Malin Sahl (8 June 2007). Favorites and losers: a study on the reporting of Melodifestivalen 2007 by Aftonbladet.se. Karlstad University. Retrieved on 14 September 2007.
- Schlaget om Leksand (in Swedish) ["The battle (word pun on "schlager") of Leksand"]. Kinda-Posten (18 February 2006). Retrieved on 16 December 2007.
- Christine Demsteader (16 March 2006). Love Sweden, love Eurovision Archived 8 December 2007 at the Wayback Machine. The Local. Retrieved on 15 September 2007.
- Monica Zetterlund, 67, singer and actress, dies. The New York Times (14 May 2005). Retrieved on 16 December 2007.
- "Östen med rösten har tystnat" ["Östen, the voters' favourite, has fallen silent"]. SR.se (in Swedish). 19 January 2006. Archived from the original on 12 June 2012. Retrieved 16 December 2007.
- Thorsson, p. 111.
- 80-talet: Berts decennium Archived 22 March 2009 at the Wayback Machine (in Swedish) ["The 1980s: Bert's decade"]. SVT.se. Retrieved on 16 December 2007.
- Eurovision Form Guide Archived 29 February 2008 at the Wayback Machine. The Sydney Morning Herald (February 2002). Retrieved on 16 December 2007
- Eurovision.tv meets The Ark. Eurovision.tv (9 May 2007). Retrieved on 16 December 2007.
- Linda och Andreas direkt till final Archived 10 April 2006 at the Wayback Machine (in Swedish) ["Linda and Andreas go directly to the final"]. Aftonbladet.se (18 February 2006). Retrieved on 16 May 2007.
- Karolina Lassbo (16 March 2007). Melodifestivalen tappade fattningen Archived 3 November 2007 at the Wayback Machine (in Swedish) ["Melodifestivalen has dropped its composure"]. Dagens Media. Retrieved on 15 September 2007.
- Leif Thorsson. Melodifestivalen genom tiderna (1999, second edition 2006). Stockholm: Premium Publishing AB. ISBN 91-89136-29-2.
- SVT official site (in English)
- SVT official site (in Swedish)
- MSN Melodifestivalen News (in Swedish)
- Reports and pics of Melodifestivalen (in French)
The 1st Annual Grammy Awards are held.
The 1st Annual Grammy Awards were held on May 4, 1959. They recognized musical accomplishments by performers for the year 1958. Two separate ceremonies were held simultaneously on the same day; the first in The Beverly Hilton hotel in Beverly Hills, California, and the second in the Park Sheraton Hotel in New York City. Ella Fitzgerald & Ross Bagdasarian won most awards with 3 each, whereas Count Basie, Domenico Modugno, and Henry Mancini, each won 2 awards.
Archbishop Makarios III becomes the first President of Cyprus.
On 18 September 1950, Makarios, only 37 years old, was elected Archbishop of Cyprus. In this role he was not only the official head of the Orthodox Church in Cyprus, but became the Ethnarch, de facto national leader of the Greek Cypriot community. This highly influential position put Makarios at the centre of Cypriot politics.
During the 1950s, Makarios embraced his dual role as Archbishop and Ethnarch with enthusiasm and became a very popular figure among Greek Cypriots. He soon became a leading advocate for enosis, and during the early part of the decade he maintained close links with the Greek government. In August 1954, partly at Makarios’ instigation, Greece began to raise the question of Cyprus at the United Nations, arguing for the principle of self-determination to be applied to Cyprus. This was viewed by advocates of enosis as likely to result in the voluntary union of Cyprus with Greece following a public referendum.
However, the British government was reluctant to decolonise the island which had become their new headquarters for the Middle East. In 1955, a pro-enosis organization was formed under the banner of Ethniki Organosis Kyprion Agoniston, or EOKA. This was a typical independence movement of the period. Makarios undoubtedly had common political ground with EOKA and was acquainted with its leader, the Greek soldier and politician George Grivas, but the extent of his involvement is unclear and disputed. In later life he categorically denied any involvement in the violent resistance undertaken by EOKA.
On 20 August 1955, Greece submitted a petition to the United Nations requesting the application of the principle of self-determination to the people of Cyprus. After that, the colonial government of Cyprus enforced the anti-sedition laws for the purpose of preventing or suppressing demonstrations in favor of union with Greece; but the archbishop defied them and continued demanding self-determination for Cyprus.
In October 1955, with the security situation deteriorating, the British governor, Sir John Harding, opened talks on the island’s future. By this stage, Makarios had become closely identified with the insurgency, and talks broke up without any agreement in early 1956. Makarios, characterized in the British press as a crooked Cypriot priest and viewed with suspicion by the British authorities, was intercepted by Special Branch officers while attempting to board a flight at Nicosia airport. The joint police/military plan, codenamed Operation Apollo, saw Makarios exiled to Mahe Island in the Seychelles on 9 March 1956, as a ‘guest’ of Sir William Addis, Governor & Commander-in-Chief of the Seychelles. The Archbishop and his staff were flown to Aden and then on to Mombasa. At the Kenyan port the party were embarked in the East African Naval Vessel “Rosalind”, escorted by the frigate HMS Loch Fada. The flotilla arrived in Port Victoria on 14 March.
In the latter years of the 1950s, the Turkish Cypriot community first began to float the idea of Taksim or partition, as a counterweight to the Greek ideal of enosis or union. Advocates of Taksim felt that the Turkish Cypriot community would be persecuted in a Greek Cyprus, and that only by keeping part of the island under either British or Turkish sovereignty could the safety of the Turkish Cypriots be guaranteed. In this way the Cyprus dispute became increasingly polarized between two communities with opposing visions of the future of the island.
Makarios was released from exile after a year, although he was still forbidden to return to Cyprus. He went instead to Athens, where he was rapturously received. Basing himself in the Greek capital, he continued to work for enosis. During the following two years he attended the General Assembly of the United Nations where the Cyprus question was discussed and worked hard to achieve union with Greece.
Under the premiership of Constantine Karamanlis in Greece, the goal of enosis was gradually abandoned in favour of Cypriot independence. Negotiations in 1958 generated the Zurich Agreement as a basis for a deal on independence, and Makarios was invited to London in 1959 to fine-tune the plan. Makarios at first refused to accept the plan. The reversal of his pro-enosis stance, and his eventual agreement to sign the conditions for the independence of Cyprus, have been attributed to moral persuasion on behalf of the Greek and British governments.
On March 1, 1959, the archbishop returned to Cyprus to an unprecedented reception in Nicosia, where almost two-thirds of the adult Greek Cypriot population turned out to welcome him. Presidential elections were held on 13 December 1959, in which Makarios defeated his rival, lawyer Ioannis Clerides, father of future president and Makarios ally Glafkos Clerides, receiving two-thirds of the vote. Makarios was to become the political leader of all Cyprus as well as the communal leader of the Greek Cypriots.
The Declaration of the Rights of the Child is first adopted by the United Nations.
In 1924, the League of Nations adopted the Geneva Declaration, a historic document that recognised and affirmed for the first time the existence of rights specific to children and the responsibility of adults towards children.
The United Nations was founded after World War II. It took over the Geneva Declaration in 1946. However, following the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948, the advancement of rights revealed the shortcomings of the Geneva Declaration, which therefore had to be expanded
They thus chose to draft a second Declaration of the Rights of the Child, which again addressed the notion that “mankind owes to the Child the best that it has to give.”
On 20 November 1959, the Declaration of the Rights of the Child was adopted unanimously by all 78 Member States of the United Nations General Assembly in Resolution 1386.
However, neither the 1924 Geneva Declaration nor the 1959 Declaration of the Rights of the Child define when childhood starts and ends, mainly to avoid taking a stand on abortion.
Nonetheless, the Preamble to the Declaration of the Rights of the Child highlights children’s need for special care and protection, “including appropriate legal protection, before as well as after birth.”
The Declaration of the Rights of the Childlays down ten principles:
1. The right to equality, without distinction on account of race, religion or national origin.
2. The right to special protection for the child’s physical, mental and social development.
3. The right to a name and a nationality.
4. The right to adequate nutrition, housing and medical services.
5. The right to special education and treatment when a child is physically or mentally handicapped.
6. The right to understanding and love by parents and society.
7. The right to recreational activities and free education.
8. The right to be among the first to receive relief in all circumstances.
9. The right to protection against all forms of neglect, cruelty and exploitation.
10. The right to be brought up in a spirit of understanding, tolerance, friendship among peoples, and universal brotherhood.
Typhoon Vera kills almost 5000 people in Japan.
Typhoon Vera, also known as the Isewan Typhoon, was an exceptionally intense tropical cyclone that struck Japan in September 1959, becoming the strongest and deadliest typhoon on record to make landfall on the country. The storm’s intensity resulted in damage of unparalleled severity and extent, and was a major setback to the Japanese economy, which was still recovering from World War II. In the aftermath of Vera, Japan’s disaster management and relief systems were significantly reformed, and the typhoon’s effects would set a benchmark for future storms striking the country.
Vera developed on September 20 between Guam and Chuuk State, and initially tracked westward before taking a more northerly course, reaching tropical storm strength the following day. By this point Vera had assumed a more westerly direction of movement and had begun to rapidly intensify, and reached its peak intensity on September 23 with maximum sustained winds equivalent to that of a modern-day Category 5 hurricane. With little change in strength, Vera curved and accelerated northward, resulting in a landfall on September 26 near Shionomisaki on Honshu. Atmospheric wind patterns caused the typhoon to briefly emerge into the Sea of Japan before recurving eastward and moving ashore Honshu for a second time. Movement over land greatly weakened Vera, and after reentering the North Pacific Ocean later that day, Vera transitioned into an extratropical cyclone on September 27; these remnants continued to persist for an additional two days.
Though Vera was accurately forecast and its track into Japan was well anticipated, limited coverage of telecommunications, combined with lack of urgency from Japanese media and the storm’s intensity, greatly inhibited potential evacuation and disaster mitigation processes. Rainfall from the storm’s outer rainbands began to cause flooding in river basins well in advance of the storm’s landfall. Upon moving ashore Honshu, the typhoon brought a strong storm surge that destroyed numerous flood defense systems, inundating coastal regions and sinking ships. Damage totals from Vera reached US$600 million equivalent to US$5.04 billion in 2017. The number of fatalities caused by Vera remain discrepant, though current estimates indicate that the typhoon caused at least 4,000 deaths, making it the deadliest typhoon in Japanese history.
Relief efforts were initiated by Japanese and American governments immediately following Typhoon Vera. Due to the inundation caused by the typhoon, localized epidemics were reported, including those of dysentery and tetanus. The spread of disease and blocking debris slowed the ongoing relief efforts. Due to the unprecedented damage and loss of life following Vera, the National Diet passed legislation in order to more efficiently assist affected regions and mitigate future disasters. This included the passage of the Disaster Countermeasures Basic Act in 1961, which set standards for Japanese disaster relief, including the establishment of the Central Disaster Prevention Council.
The origin of Typhoon Vera can be ascertained back to a diffuse area of low pressure first incorporated into surface weather analysis early on September 20. At the time, the disturbance was situated between Guam and Chuuk State. Though the Joint Typhoon Warning Center did not classify the incipient system as a tropical cyclone, the Japan Meteorological Agency analyzed the disturbance to be a tropical depression as early as 0000 UTC that day. Initially, the depression tracked westward, but transiently shifted to a more northerly course on September 21. Late that day, a reconnaissance airplane dispatched by the JTWC to analyze the disturbance failed to reach its center due to engine failure. However, the data collected from the storm’s periphery was sufficient enough for the warning center to classify the depression as a tropical storm at 1800 UTC that day. Despite the flight data, the JMA had already determined the system to have been of at least tropical storm intensity six hours earlier. As a result of the reclassification, the tropical storm was designated the name Vera by the JTWC. At this point the tropical cyclone began to take a more westerly course.
Early on September 22, an aircraft fix located Vera 175 km north-northeast of Saipan. Throughout the course of the day, periodic reconnaissance flights into the storm indicated that Vera had begun to rapidly intensify. By 1800 UTC later that day, data analysis concluded that the tropical cyclone had reached typhoon intensity. Rapid intensification continued into the following day, as the typhoon’s maximum sustained winds and barometric pressure quickly rose and fell, respectively. Concurrently, Vera’s size grew to a point at which it spanned 250 km across. At 0600 UTC the following day, Vera achieved its minimum estimated barometric pressure at 895 mbar. This indicated a 75 mbar pressure drop in the preceding 24 hours. Upon reaching its minimum pressure, Vera was estimated to have attained winds equivalent to a Category 5 – the highest classification possible on the modern-day Saffir–Simpson hurricane wind scale. The typhoon’s winds continued to increase before peaking at 1200 UTC on September 23, when reconnaissance aircraft reported maximum sustained winds of 305 km/h. Upon peaking in wind speed, Vera was located 645 km northeast of Guam. The tropical cyclone’s ability to quickly intensify was attributed to conducive atmospheric divergence and highly sustainable sea surface temperatures.
Vera only maintained peak intensity for roughly twelve hours, but still remained a powerful tropical cyclone. With very little change in strength, the typhoon tracked northwestward throughout September 24. Due to the influence of a nearby high-pressure area, Vera began to gradually curve and rapidly accelerate northward towards Japan. At 0900 UTC on September 26, Vera made its first landfall on Honshu, just west of Shionomisaki. At the time, the typhoon had maximum sustained winds of 260 km/h and a barometric pressure of 920 mbar. Vera traversed the Japanese island rather quickly at a speed 61 km/h, and emerged into the Sea of Japan at 1530 UTC that day. Despite its short stint over land, the terrain greatly weakened the tropical cyclone. Tracking into a westerly wind flow, Vera was forced eastward, resulting in a second landfall near Sakata, Honshu, with an intensity equivalent to that of a Category 1 hurricane. Vera re-emerged into the North Pacific Ocean late on September 26, having weakened due to advection of cold air in addition to continued land interaction. At 0600 UTC on September 27, the JTWC analyzed the typhoon to have weakened to tropical storm intensity. The warning center discontinued its periodic monitoring of the system, as Vera had begun to transition into an extratropical cyclone. Consequently, the JMA officially reclassified the system as an extratropical storm at 1200 UTC that day. Vera’s extratropical remnants continued to persist and track eastward for the next two days before the JMA last noted the storm at 1200 UTC on September 29.
The first Melodifestivalen is held in Stockholm, Sweden.
With seven nations competing, the first Eurovision Song Contest took place in Lugano, Switzerland in May 1956. Sweden’s first contest was the third, in 1958. Without broadcasting a selection, Sveriges Radio chose to send Alice Babs to the contest in Hilversum. The song selected was “Samma stjärna lyser för oss två”, later renamed “Lilla stjärna”. It finished fourth at Eurovision on 12 March 1958.
The first Melodifestival, incorporated into the Säg det med musik radio series, took place on 29 January 1959 at Cirkus in Stockholm; eight songs participated. Four “expert” juries in Stockholm, Gothenburg, Malmö, and Luleå decided the winner. The competition was won by Siw Malmkvist performing “Augustin”, but SR decided that the winning song—regardless of its original performer—would be performed by Brita Borg at Eurovision. This policy, of selecting the artist for Eurovision internally and having other artists perform potential Swedish entries at Melodifestivalen, was stopped in 1961. The competition became a stand-alone television programme in 1960, known as the Eurovisionschlagern, svensk final. In the event’s early years, it was broadcast to Norway and Denmark through the Nordvision network. The competition adopted its current name, Melodifestivalen, in 1967.
The Melodifestival has failed to be staged on three occasions. In 1964, the competition was cancelled due to an artist’s strike; Sweden did not send a song to Eurovision that year. Sweden was absent at Eurovision for a second time in 1970 because of a Nordic boycott of the voting system, which had led to a four-way tie for first place at the 1969 contest. After SR staged the 1975 contest in Stockholm, left-wing groups argued that Sweden should not spend money to win and host Eurovision again. This led to mass demonstrations against commercial music and the organisation of an anti-commercial Alternativfestivalen. Therefore, Sweden decided not to send a song to Eurovision 1976, but returned in 1977.
The 1st Annual Grammy Awards are held.
On May 4, 1959, many of music’s elite—including Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis Jr., Dean Martin, Gene Autry, Johnny Mercer, Henry Mancini and André Previn—gathered for a black-tie dinner and awards presentation inside the Grand Ballroom of the Beverly Hilton. At the same time, other new Academy members were gathering at a function held simultaneously in New York City. “The GRAMMY Awards were a formal event from the beginning and very much in keeping with the times,” says Christine Farnon, who was instrumental in organizing the first show and would go on to become The Academy’s Executive Vice President. “As I recall, no one objected to dressing black-tie back then, though like so much else, that would change eventually.”
But this GRAMMY night, and several to follow, was held in hotel ballrooms on both coasts. The Los Angeles event was emceed by popular political comedian Mort Sahl and featured a musical sketch titled “How South Was My Pacific.” The night was by numerous accounts a significant success. Billboard—then actually still called The Billboard—ran its account of the first night of Music’s Biggest Night with a headline declaring that “Academy Smoothly Moves Into Orbit: First Awards Well-Organized Affair As Top Stars Go On Parade.” The trade magazine even favorably compared the GRAMMY’s debut to the far more established Oscars and Emmys: “It sharply contrasted similar affairs staged by the two older entertainment academies in its precision-like pace in handling the presentations.”
As well organized as the night may have been, from the very start at the GRAMMYs, there would be surprises on GRAMMY night. While Sinatra led all nominees with a grand total of six nominations, he would not turn out to be the night’s biggest winner. Rather the very first Record of the Year and Song of the Year awards both went to “Nel Blu Dipinto Di Blu (Volare)” by Domenico Modugno, while Album of the Year went to The Music from Peter Gunn by Henry Mancini.
Lee Petty wins the very first Daytona 500.
On this day in 1959, Lee Petty defeats Johnny Beauchamp in a photo finish at the just-opened Daytona International Speedway in Florida to win the first-ever Daytona 500. The race was so close that Beauchamp was initially named the winner by William France, the owner of the track and head of the National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing (NASCAR). However, Petty, who was driving a hardtop Oldsmobile 88, challenged the results and three days later, with the assistance of news photographs, he was officially named the champ. There was speculation that France declared Beauchamp the winner in order to intentionally stir up controversy and generate publicity for his new race track.
Today, the 200-lap, 500-mile Daytona 500 is one of auto racing’s premiere events and the first race of the NASCAR season. France, a gas station owner and racing promoter, officially co-founded NASCAR in Daytona Beach in 1948. The following year, Lee Petty, a mechanic from North Carolina, began his racing career at the age of 35. He went on to win more than 50 races on NASCAR’s Grand National circuit and three championships before being seriously injured in a crash during a qualifying event at Daytona in 1961. Following the crash, Petty drove in a handful of races before retiring from competition in 1964. He went on to found Petty Enterprises, which became NASCAR’s oldest and most successful racing team. In January 2009, Petty Enterprises merged with Gillett Evernham Motorsports and became Richard Petty Motorsports.
Bonanza, the first regularly scheduled TV program is presented in color.