Sweden – A new broom sweeps clean?

Cornelia Jakobs runs through Hold Me Closer for the second rehearsals in Turin today
Cornelia Jakobs runs through Hold Me Closer for the second rehearsals in Turin today

I am told, from sources I trust, the new Swedish delegation (post-Christer-9-points) is “lovely and not at all Swedish”. Cornelia is equally lovely. I had to sit down when I got told this, because usually Swedes are all stern! Could they be launching a charm offensive for their seventh win?

If ‘Stefania’ wasn’t leading the field for ‘reasons’, ‘Hold me closer’ might well have been challenging for the prize.

The rehearsal gets off to a challenging start when Cornelia halts proceedings, because of feedback on her mic, and she can’t hear the playback. After that aborted start, we get her first run-through. To my ear she seemed to be half a beat off the music for the first 30-45 seconds, and I was correct because this run through was also stopped. She suffered with the most technical problems I have seen with a rehearsal all week. She reported a lot of radio feedback in her ear, adding it wasn’t loud.

Take three, and she’s behind the music again and her mic is still feeding back. Cornelia shouts out and lets the crew know. Despite all these problems, she gets back onto the backing track by the half-way point, because she is both a pro and comfortable with her song. On stage, she has the rotating disc thing from Melodifestivalen, so this negates the fact that the Rai-supplied sun isn’t working. It is hideously effective and the bright strobes towards the end are just enough.

When you mix the ease that she is singing a complex song with the understated and powerful staging, this is definitely in with a shot of coming second provided tech issues don’t sabotage her chances.

What did Cornelia have to say later?

Cornelia at a press conference

At her press conference, Cornelia described what happened as a ‘fun trip’ – saying there were issues with sound and cameras – “sometimes it works, sometimes it don’t.”

When pressed on the subject, she refused to find fault: “The fact we have prepared so much means I stay calm when things go wrong. It’s a process. This is a huge TV programme. In Sweden, we have seven artists at a time, and here there are 40. I have faith and understanding that there’s a lot to do and we’ve spoken to the producers and I’m sure it will all work out.”

Aftonbladet wouldn’t let it lie and poked for another reaction. Cornelia refused. “I know my brain is always all over the place, and it wasn’t any different when this happened … but I tried to focus on doing my job and trust the people I’m here with and the Italian team. I know everyone will pull together and sort things out.”