Swedish artists are upset by the way artists for Melodifestivalen are selected. Swedish broadcaster SVT's artists responsible Christer Björkman has been accused of preferring his nearest friends in the selection process and for having a dictatorial behaviour.
Christer Björkman is a man with power in Sweden. It�s he who decides which artists are in or out of Melodifestivalen every year. Lately he has been struggling to find artists for the three remaining wildcard entries in the Swedish national selections. Christer Björkman is now under heavy criticism by artists and people in the music business in Sweden.
Swedish artist Pernilla Wahlgren who participated in Melodifestivalen in 1985 and 2003 was originally intended to sing the song Alla flickor, but early in the selection process she was rejected in favour of debutant Linda Bentzing who will sing the song instead. Yesterday, Pernilla Wahlgren explained Swedish newspaper Aftonbladet what happened. “Christer Björkman did absolutely not want me to sing the song. I was completely stunned to hear this. I didn�t understand it at all. He explained his decision by the fact that I�m a musical artist and therefore don�t suit the genre and that I�m too old.” In a reaction to Aftonbladet, Christer Björkman told that he has never said anything like this to Pernilla. “The fact that I have chosen a debut artist has nothing to do with how I judge other artists,” he says.
However, today other artists are joining in on the criticism. Among them Charlotte Perelli, winner of the 1999 Eurovision Song Contest and one of last year's three Melodifestivalen hosts. In her opinion it�s “dangerous and sad that just one person has a position allowing him to choose whatever he wants.” People at SVT and several artists who do not dare to reveal their names are also heavily criticising Björkman in Aftonbladet, alleging that when it comes to selecting artists for Melodifestivalen, he prefers people who he has a personal friendship with.
Christer Björkmans colleague Thomas Hall, project manager of Melodifestivalen at SVT reacted on the criticism: “Christer has a creative power, since he is very well orientated in the music industry, but I must approve everything he proposes.” Christer Björkman himself adds “of course, I know a lot of people who are participating. My contacts are a part of my job. I�m aware that this job doesn�t make me the world's most popular guy. You simple have to disappoint a lot of people” In conclusion Björkman says: “As long as my bosses and colleagues are satisfied, I don�t give a damn about what other people believe.”
The work of finding performers for the three last wildcard participants in this year's Melodifestivalen is expected to be finished very soon. Speculations and rumours in various papers and on websites have mentioned artists such as Danish popstar Sanne Salomensen, Magnus Uggla, Günther, Samantha Fox and even Carola. As soon as SVT found the three wildcards left, the names will officially be made public.