Day 235 — Train wreck narrowly averted

I learned a bit more about the Melodifestivalen song contest and why the songs are generally so bad. This is what I was referring to in last night’s post about the morality of watching a train wreck. The Melodifestivalen is Sweden’s national song contest. But it is a pop song contest, meaning bubble gum songs or schmaltzy ballads. The contest is huge in Sweden with nearly half the country watching the final night each year. Each year more than 3,000 songs are entered and of those 32 are selected and performed over 4 consecutive weeks in February, 8 per week. If the 32 songs are the best of the 3,000 I cannot imagine how bad most of the other entries are.

My reason for mentioning a train wreck is because the third week’s show (last Saturday) was just that, a complete train wreck. Horrible songs performed by horrible performers. We watched it only because it was so bad. A similar fate was narrowly avoided this week but we were watching to see if lightning would strike twice. It didn’t, but just barely. Knowing that these are pop songs made things clear as to why the contest is so bad. Swedish pop music is truly unlistenable. One journalist described the genre as an irritating repetitive melody with lyrics that signify little or nothing.

The winner of the Melodifestivalen goes onto the Eurovision song contest held in April. The only two winners of the Eurovision contest I have ever heard of are ABBA and Celine Dion, so I guess winning all the marbles is not a guaranteed ticket to stardom like winning American Idol is or used to be.

I was glad to find out, though, that it is a pop song contest today, though in the 60s the winning songs were often jazz. I was beginning to think there weren’t other kinds of music in Sweden except pop or old timey Swedish folk songs.

Enough of that. The other big contest in Sweden at this time of year started today, the Vasaloppet ski race. The origin of the race dates back to the 1500s when Scandinavia was ruled by Denmark. A nobleman named Gustav Vasa was fleeing the evil Danish king who had just butchered most of the Swedish elites after inviting them to dinner to patch things up between him and them. He patched them up real good that night. Anyway, Vasa’s parents were murdered in the blood bath and he hightailed it out of there. In the middle of the country he skied his way out of trouble, and the route he took is commemorated today with the ski race bearing his name. He wound up heading the rebellion that freed Sweden from Danish rule in 1523 and Sweden has been independent ever since.

The race is a marathon of 10 Swedish miles which is 90 km or 54 miles. A Swedish mile is 10 km or 6 miles. It is the longest ski marathon in the world and nowadays it is a week long event with several different classes of races, women’s races, kids races, you name it, it is part of Vasaloppet. There was woman’s race today that had 8,000 contestants. 8,000 people on skis going at it for 35 km. The big race itself is next Sunday. The fastest time ever was by some guy in 1998 at 3 hours and 38 minutes. That is almost 25 km (15 miles) per hour. On skis. Most of the race must have been downhill that year. The fastest marathoners only go about 13 mph for 2 hours. This 15 mph for over 3 hours. Imagine the cardiovascular strength.

No train wrecks here. (No pictures today either.)

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