Eurovision winner changes his tune

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Alexander Rybak has been Norway’s darling after winning last year’s Eurovision Song Contest with the most points ever. Now, just weeks before Norway hosts Eurovision in Oslo, Rybak is sounding unhappy and decidedly different on his upcoming CD.

Alexander Rybak was wildly popular after winning last year's Eurovision Song Contest. Now he's not looking forward to this year's show. PHOTO: NRK

The hype around Eurovision has been building for weeks, and Rybak is due to kick off the huge production with a replay of his winning hit song Fairytale. But he’s only been given a minute-and-a-half to sing his three-minute song, so is being forced to belt out a shortened rendition.

“The best really would have been that I wasn’t taking part at all,” Rybak told newspaper Aftenposten on Tuesday. “Then people would have remembered the song as it was performed in (last year’s) final.”

Rybak went on to say that he thinks the short version “ruins” his song, and that he’s not looking forward to opening the show on May 29. “Actually, I couldn’t care less about it,” Rybak told Aftenposten.

That’s a big change in attitude from the endearing and humble young man who leaped into the nation’s heart with his energetic violin playing, dancing and powerful singing. Now Rybak seems sour and keen to move beyond Eurovision. He’ll release his second CD right after this year’s Eurovision final, and it, too, reportedly marks a major departure from his earlier music.

He said it will be a mix of rock, bluegrass, disco and musicals. “It’s important to show variation,” he told Aftenposten. The CD includes a single that also features rap, performed with some old childhood friends, but it didn’t get good reviews at all. One critic called it “an unsuccessful attempt to blend folk music, fiddle and rap.”

Rybak claims the single was more of a “stunt” than anything, to make fun of the myths that have been spinning about himself since last year’s Eurovision victory. 

He remains a busy young man, though, with a series of upcoming concerts in Norway, Russia and other European countries, summer performances at Hotel Klubben in Tønsberg and a tour with singer Elisabeth Andreassen. He also has a new music project with three violin-playing female students from his alma mater, the Barratt Due music institute in Oslo.

NRK officials, meanwhile, claim they have a “good relationship” with Rybak and seemed surprised that he’s unhappy about the terms of his opening act. “We don’t think he’s dissatisfied, and we have a good dialogue with him” said NRK’s Eurovision spokesman Peter Svaar.

Views and News from Norway/Nina Berglund
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