One of our favourite Swedish traditions of the winter season is the Julgala, the Julfest, or the Julshow. They can have a few different names, but they all come in the same form – Swedes sitting down to dine at a buffet, drink a lot of snaps, and be entertained by schlager stars! Some of them are even in the form of full on concerts, where the food and drink isn’t involved at all and it’s just the schlager! But every year, any self respecting schlager star will have a busy schedule in the run up to Christmas, appearing at some of these shows.
So naturally, we HAD to go along to one of them.
Our debut Julgala of choice was last month, at the second annual Stjärnorna På Travet show. We’d heard very good things from friends about the previous year’s event, and the line-up this year promised Pernilla Wahlgren, Anne-Lie Rydé, Suzzie Tapper, Kayo from Afro-Dite, Christer Björkman, Erik Linder, and Niklas Andersson. Sounds like a pretty good way to start things off we think. And indeed it was! The show was a mixture of each of the artists’ own hits, and traditional Christmas classics too. Some of them were sung solo, and others performed as duets, with the artists changing their duet partners throughout. And then for the final part of the show, the big schlager hits came out, and closed the night with a bang.
We have to say, music aside, one of the most entertaining elements of the evening was the crowd itself. Once the food and snaps had been consumed, everyone was in happy spirits. But as the show started and continued, and more alcohol was brought into the equation, everyone went a bit mad – fabulously so, of course. So the first part of the show, people were sat down enjoying it. For the second part of the show, as things got merrier, some people took to dancing on their chairs. Until the final part of the show, when the big schlager classics were booming from the stage, people were ACTUALLY dancing on the ACTUAL tables! Amazing. A schlager Christmas show seems like the tamest of events when you think about it, but the reality was quite different. Think of the ‘Blinded By The Lights’ video by The Streets, but where the only drug being consumed is schlager!
Our absolute highlight of the night though, was at the very end, when all of the artists came out and performed together in a row. And the song of choice?….. Anne-Lie Rydé’s ‘Sån’t Är Livet’!
And we’ve clearly caught the Julgala bug, as we’re attending another one tonight – featuring Velvet, Alcazar, Darin, Brolle, Hanna Lindblad, and again, Pernilla Wahlgren!
A very good friend of ours was also at the event, filming the show and goings-on, for the website of the company affiliated with the venue. So you can watch below and get some idea of the atmosphere. Although most of the questions are about horse racing (as the venue was a race course)! And it’s all in Swedish! But still.
After the show, we went backstage to meet the lovely Pernilla Wahlgren and to have a chat with her about things and stuff. And here’s how it went;
scandipop: Pernilla, how are you?
Pernilla: I’m very good thank you!
scandipop: It was nice to see you back in Melodifestivalen this year. And it wasn’t just a standard Pernilla Wahlgren return, it was big, massive, ‘here I am’ schlager show comeback. It was great for us, but how was it for you?!
Pernilla: Yes, it was a good eight years since my last time in Melodifestivalen, 2003 I think, I’m so bad with years! But yes, it was great to be back and it was nice to be singing a schlager song too because we had a sort of ‘’save the schlager’’ campaign, ha ha! We don’t want it to die out completely.
scandipop: Yes, I had noticed that. This year at Melodifestivalen you were alone in flying the flag for classic schlager. And a lot of fans have said that too. So I was actually going to ask you if that was conscious thing, if you were aware of that.
Pernilla: Really? Ha ha. Well I wasn’t aware of that at the time, but I did feel like that was my mission because I was really the only completely schlager song. I think it’s nice when you mix it of course, to have pop and rock and everything. But I want schlager!
scandipop: True. It’s good to have a mix, SO LONG as there’s schlager in there too. Normally when artist such as yourself has a comeback in Melodifestivalen, it’s usually because they’re all ready to go with a new album, and some new music, or even to release a Greatest Hits album. But with you, that was the last we heard of you. In March. So what’s happening, music wise, with you?
Pernilla: That was because I was just changing my agent and everything, so I was just….we have this expression in Sweden, ‘falling in between chairs’….so yeah. But now I’m hoping to do a jubilee album, because I’ve been doing this for 30 years now. 30 years in the business, ha ha! So I’m gonna do a Greatest Hits album. And I don’t have so many hits, but I’m gonna put in also my pop songs from the 80’s, the songs that my old fans like.
scandipop: And maybe having some new songs on there too?
Pernilla: Yeah, two or three new ones too.
scandipop: Schlager perhaps?
Pernilla: Ha ha! Maybe, maybe. Do you want that?!
scandipop: Of course we do!
Pernilla: Ah ok, ha ha ha! I’ll do my best.
scandipop: Cool. And speaking of the 80’s, we heard that back in the late 80’s, you were very close to actually being Kylie Minogue! Stock, Aitken and Waterman had met you and were working with you and were very close to giving you the songs ‘Locomotion’ and ‘I Should Be So Lucky’ and some others, but at the last minute, went with Kylie Minogue instead. Can you tell us what happened there?
Pernilla: Well back then I was performing shows just as I am now. And Pete Waterman was in Sweden and he saw one of my shows, and he liked what he saw! So I went over to the UK with them, and I went to their Christmas party with Rick Astley and everyone. So I was signed to the record company but put on hold while we were deciding what the first single would be. But during this time I got pregnant. And I decided that I wanted to keep the baby and not start a big career step. And then they found Kylie!
scandipop: Wow! So to this day, do you still often think about what could have happened or what could have been. Or was it something that you stopped thinking about a year or two later?
Pernilla: No, I mean I’m happy that I made the right decision. I’ve been fortunate all of these years too.
scandipop: And of course your family has now made you happier than a Kylie-like career would have.
Pernilla: Exactly. And that wouldn’t have been possible maybe if I’d become a huge star and was touring all around the world. So I’m very happy. But, ha ha, I’m not as rich as I could have been, ha ha ha! Happy and poor!
scandipop: Going back to Melodifestivalen now, your career has been punctuated with appearances in the contest. I’m sure you’ve loved all of it, but could you pick an absolute highlight for us?
Pernilla: For me everything has been very special. But the first time is always special. And of course Melodifestivalen was not so big back then, it was rather small, but it (the song) had a big big influence on the audience. So for me, that was my breakthrough. But we had a lot of fun with it this year too, because I wasn’t nervous or anything. And I thought, ‘’I’m not gonna win, but we’re gonna have a fun time’’!
scandipop: And do you think you’ll do it again?
Pernilla: Maybe, maybe. I didn’t want to be a part of this next year, as it’s too soon. And maybe if I do it again, I’m not gonna do a schlager song, maybe a mature song with a good lyric.
scandipop: Cool, we’ll look forward to it. Thank you very much Pernilla and thanks for your amazing Melodifestivalen song this year too!
Pernilla: Ha ha, thank you, thank you so much.