Hello Europe, this is Stockholm calling!

Even if the final of Melodifestivalen is still 4 days away, almost all shops here in Stockholm have started to play Eurovision-related music. Haters of this genre must have a difficult time right now as you hardly here any different music - so probably it's better for them not to go shopping these days! All newspapers - tabloids and serious papers - are covering Melodifestivalen massively. The headlines today are about warnings that you will probably have to try calling several times for your favourite this coming Saturday as the phone system might be on the verge of breaking down as millions of people are trying to vote for their preferred songs! Last weekend, the fifth Swedish semi-final for Melodifestivalen, the so-called Second Chance Round collected 1,4 million votes! 1,4 million votes - and Sweden just has about 9 million inhabitants! If a big country like Germany had the same percentage voting, it would mean 13 million people frantically trying to vote! 

The final of Melodifestivalen 2008 will take place again in Globen - the golfball-like hall almost in the centre of Stockholm. About 13000 people will attend the final and almost the same number will already see the general rehearsal on Friday evening! You can bet on the winner, too, and the current favourite is Charlotte Perrelli, formally Charlotte Nilsson, who won the whole Eurovision Song Contest already in 1999. She will sing Hero which is an uptempo and incredibly catchy poptune. But she can't take victory for granted as she faces tough competition of Sanna Nielsen's brilliantly performed ballad Empty Room and BWO's dance stomper Lay Your Love On Me which are second and third respectively with the betting agencies. Strangely enough, all these three songs have been co-composed by one of the best-known composers in Sweden, Bobby Ljunggren!

Rehearsals will kick off on Thursday and of course I will be there - with the help from our great photographer Alain Douit! So keep checking Eurovision.tv - there will be interesting updates!

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