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Winning smiles, but is it folk music?

Swiss television viewers have voted for the four singers who will represent the country at this year's international Folk Music Grand Prix in Zurich. But some afficionados of Folk have criticised the entrants for being too 'poppy'.

Swiss television viewers have voted for the four singers who will represent the country at this year's international Folk Music Grand Prix in Zurich. But some afficionados of Folk have criticised the entrants for being too 'poppy'.

Viewers voting by telephone chose Diana, Maria da Vinci, Raphael Haslinger and Marianne Cathomen (pictured, left to right) as the Swiss entrants for September's final. Haslinger polled the most votes for his song, "Heimat" ("Home").

The other finalists sang of subjects as varied as a little sunshine and their love for life, but not all onlookers were in as happy a mood. Wilfred Richter of the folk music radio station, Eviva, complained that while some of the songs tried to remain traditional most seemed to be aimed at the hit-parade.

While pop music has definitely taken its toll on the folk scene in Switzerland, traditional bands still pull strong audiences and can still be seen in prime-time television slots.

The four Swiss entrants will have the chance to prove their folk credentials when Zurich hosts the final tournament. The competition will be made up of singers from Germany, Austria and, for the first time, Italy, although Slovenia's entry has been forced to pull out on financial grounds.

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