Rybak returns as Eurovision hopeful

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The young Norwegian man who won more points at the Eurovision Song Contest than anyone ever had before, Alexander Rybak, is mounting an attempted comeback. Rybak is part of the line-up in this year’s Norwegian run-up to Eurovision, called Melodi Grand Prix.

Alexander Rybak, still with violin in hand, will be making a comeback at Norway’s Eurovision preliminary called Melodi Grand Prix next month. PHOTO: NRK

“This is a small country, and I’ve been asked to compete again at regular intervals,” Rybak told news bureau NTB shortly after he emerged last month as one of the 10 singers who’ll be competing in the Norwegian preliminary at the Oslo Spektrum Arena on March 10. “I’ve thought, ‘yes, maybe,’ but never felt I had a song that deserved a spot among the contestants.”

He said he “got inspired” after hearing another singer with his name, albeit a different spelling, sing the winning song last year. Aleksander Wallmann from JOWST’s “Grab the Moment” motivated Rybak to write his own new song, which is actually called “That’s how you write a song.” Newspaper Aftenposten reported that only Rybak could honestly get away with such a title, calling the song “pure pop” that’s light, happy and catchy. “Fans will like it,” wrote Aftenposten’s reviewer Robert Hoftun Gjestad. It may not measure up to Rybak’s iconic “Fairytale” that conquered Eurovision in 2009, but Gjestad thinks Rybak “can quickly win again.”

Rybak after winning more points than any other artis in Eurovision ever, and being called “the cutest guy in the contest,” in 2009. PHOTO: Wikipedia

He has some tough competition, with Aleksander Wallmann also mounting a comeback with a song called “Talk to the hand,” and the popular Norwegian rock star Ida Maria (Børli Sivertsen) taking part with a song called “Scandilove.” Former Melodi Grand Prix (MGP) winner Stella Mwangi is also returning, this time as part of a duo with Alexandra Rotan, as is MGP veteran Alejandro Fuentes. His chances of winning Norwegian votes with a song in Spanish, however, may be slim.

Rybak doesn’t seem to want to steal the show, professing respect for his fellow contestants. Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK), which produces MGP and broadcasts Eurovision every year, is delighted to have him back. Stig Karlsen, MGP chief at NRK, told NTB that “we’ve wanted him back for nearly 10 years.”

“They’re just being polite and generous towards me,” Rybak told NTB, admitting that MGP and Eurovision had been in his thoughts. He’d determinedly wanted to do other things after all the Eurovision hype, reverting to classical violin for awhile but eventually mounting some popular traveling variety shows around Norway. Now age 31, he also has debuted as an author of children’s books and is committed to communicating directly with his many young fans, also musically. He has older fans as well, and sang in 48 Christmas concerts around the country in December.

He claims he’s still a perfectionist, for better or worse. Asked who his own heroes are, he told newspaper Dagsavisen they include veteran Norwegian pop star and Eurovision participant Jahn Teigen (famous for not winning a single point during a performance in the 1980s), his father (a refugee from Belarus) and Eminem.

Rybak is also proud of his sweetheart named Julie, whom he met via the online dating service Tinder two years ago. What makes him happy? “Absence of unhappiness, and a happy Julie,” Rybak said.

newsinenglish.no/Nina Berglund