The song contest to pick Sweden's song in the Eurovision Song Contest has almost always been a big event here, but in 2002 things changed, and it got even bigger.
Instead of one contest one Saturday night in early Spring, the contest exploded into four semi-finals, a runners-up heat, and finally the final. Six week's worth of tv domination, meaning huge ratings for Swedish Public Service TV, SVT, and also six weeks of tabloid Eurovision-frenzy.
You just can't miss the contest when it is on here, even if you don't watch the programmes, the newspapers are filled with the latest scandals, and the charts filled with the various contestants. But has it all become too much now? Is Eurovision-fatigue setting in? One expert who thinks that that might be the case is Carolina Norén, presenter of one of Sweden's biggest radio chart shows, Svensktoppen, she says the contest should be made smaller.
"I think they should cut it down a bit, two semi finals would be enough", she told Radio Sweden. "What I hear from 'ordinary people' is 'I'll follow it this weekend, maybe not next weekend, and of course the final', and you could see that in the last week in Luleå there were a lot of people watching, but not so many voting."
She adds that the media domination by Melodifestivalen also means other artists decide not to release music during the six weeks of the festival. "A lot of musicians say that there is no use to have a record out at this time because there is no one that wants to talk about it because it's just Melodifestivalen. In Svensktoppen we can only test Melodifestival songs, if we have other artists or bands, they can't compete against Melodifestivalen because it's still such a big TV show."
Yet, despite the complaints that Melodifestivalen is way too dominant in the Swedish entertainment scene, there are those that defend it. And even reporters in the same newspapers that have criticised the mammoth production. Torbjörn Ek is usually tabloid Aftonbladet's London correspondent, but has been brought back to Sweden to cover the contest as their Eurovision expert. He says that isn't too big right now, but that Swedish TV SVT will have to take care of their most popular programme.
"I think that people still like the festival. They enjoy the music, they enjoy the party, and during February, when it's the darkest in Sweden, they just enjoy some glitter and glamour as well." he says.
So how does he then explain the many negative readers' comments picked up by his paper?
"Well, yes we do hear that, but you can also say that people that vote on Internet surveys and polls have a tendency to always be very negative." he says.
Torbjörn Ek adds that he thinks Swedish public service TV, SVT, has a responsibility to provide mainstream entertainment shows for the whole family, like Melodifestivalen.
"The public service channel needs to do entertainment as well as they need to do the investigative journalism and everything like that." he says, "The commercial channels are very focused on certain age groups, and with SVT they don't really look at that, they go for both the older audience and the younger audiences. The audiences that the commercial channels don't really want. They should absolutely continue doing this."