Swedish national final to change!26 August 2008 at 16:06 CEST
Melodifestivalen - the most watched show on Swedish television every year - underwent the last major change in 2002 when semi-finals with altogether 32 songs were introduced. Those semi-finals comprise eight songs each of which two go straightly on to the final in two rounds of voting. The ones being placed third and fourth had another chance to qualify in the so called "Second Chance" round. This system basically stays the same for 2009, however, the four songs that got the most votes during the first round of voting will have knock-out matches in the second round: the song placed 1st will meet the song placed 4th and the 2nd placed one will meet the 3rd. Only the winners of both matches will move directly to the final, the other two will have another try to qualify in the "Second Chance" round.
Further changes allow the use of pre-recorded backing vocals and the possibility of having up to 8 persons on stage. An international jury will be introduced as well to select an 11th song for the grand final from the 22 songs that didn't pass the semi-finals and the "Second Chance" round. The international jury will also be able to vote in the final alongside 11 regional votes and the televote.
The final of the 2009 Melodifestivalen will take place on the 14th of March in Stockholm's Globen preceded by five semi-finals in Gothenburg, Skellefteå, Leksand, Malmö and Norrköping.
Sweden has won the Eurovision Song Contest four times: 1974 with ABBA, 1984 with Herreys, 1991 with Carola and 1999 with Charlotte Nilsson who also represented the country in the 2008 Eurovision Song Contest in Belgrade, now called Charlotte Perrelli.