The Swedes take Melodifestivalen very seriously- they even repeat the whole (and I mean whole, no editing here, the whole 3 hour plus) thing the next day in case you missed it...
By comparison the only reason its on UK TV is the fact that Terry Wogan needs a job (and that the BBC is one of the 4 networks that pay for it...)
I will admit to watching it in the past- We would get together on a Saturday night after a days work at Russell's and make fun of the contestants, flip popcorn at the screen and generally abuse the performers- I think that's the traditional British approach. We realise that its useless fluff and drivel and either ignore it, or mercilessly mock it. (The first time I realised that somebody took it seriously was when I was at college: I was working in pizza restaurant and a Croatian colleague was bemoaning the fact that he was missing Eurovision. It took us all a while to realise that he was serious!)
Anyway as I was saying, the Swedes take it all seriously (I don't know, maybe its their ABBA History...) even holding televised regional contests in order to find their entrant.
You see the Swedes make the mistake of thinking that the music really counts and that Eurovision is a genuine cultural, artistic and musical event...
So they turned up with their entrant, Charlotte Perrelli (although why anyone would want to change their name from a normal sounding "Nilsson" to a topless car tyre calendar is beyond me...)- the only singer who can make themselves look 10 year older than they really are, and expected to win.
To be fair, even the BBC news website tipped them, so I suppose someone outside this small country must have rated her song (I will admit to hearing it- I wore some radio headphones on the afternoon of the contest to drown out the sound of a chainsaw- although personally I preferred the sound of the saw to "hero"... sadly the 43% of Swedes who bought the single disagreed). So the country went into corporate shock when she ended up 18th!
Newspapers called it a scandal, editorials claimed they should pull out of future contests, and I even heard it referred to from the pulpit the next morning!
Sweden had finally discovered that Eurovision is a thinly disguised political freak show with votes going to fraternal nations with little regard to the quality of the music (although as that too is lacking is this surprising?). This is something that the rest of us knew and took for granted for years.
Have the Swedes lost their Eurovision cherry? We'll see what happens next year!