UPDATED: Norway’s Alexander Rybak, who won the Eurovision Song Contest by the largest number of points in history nine years ago, will be making a comeback in May. Norwegian voters have sent him back to the huge contest that he just may take by storm again.
Rybak’s catchy new tune is called “That’s how you write a song,” but it could just as easily have been “That’s how you win a contest.” He did exactly that in Oslo Saturday night, placing first in Norway’s qualifier for the Eurovision Song Contest and winning the most support from European judges following it from abroad as well.
Rybak, now age 30 and a seasoned entertainer, is back, with another high-energy and fun song, with violin in hand and dancers on the stage. He’s now keen to make a triumphant return to Eurovision in May, representing Norway and already winning strong signs of support in other European countries. Of the 10 countries that chose their favourites among the 10 Norwegian contestants Saturday night, four landed on Rybak: Russia, the Czech Republic, Estonia and Macedonia. Rybak, the son of refugees from Belarus, won Eurovision when it was held in Moscow in 2009 and has long had fans in former Soviet bloc countries.
After his sensational victory with his song “Fairytale” nine years ago, he also won fans all over Europe. He went on to delve back into classical music, continued composing and writing songs, holding concerts, venturing into variety shows and even writing children’s books. He’s serious about his musical career and Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK) urged him several times to take part again in its Eurovision qualifier Melodi Grand Prix. He finally did this year, when he felt he’d written a song good enough to win.
He did, but only after a duel with newcomer Rebecca Thorsen, who emerged as Norway’s version of Adele Saturday night, winning European support from Denmark, Bulgaria and Sweden and sweeping into the finals before squaring off against Rybak. Thorsen matter-of-factly stated that she otherwise works as a bookkeper for a tow boat brokerage firm. On Saturday it was her turn to shine on national TV, with her powerful voice belting out a ballad entitled “Who we are,” written by Eurovision veteran Kjetil Mørland.
Many of the other contestants in Norway’s Eurovision preliminary were also veterans of the contest, including not just Rybak but also last year’s winner, Alexander Walmann and former winner Stella Mwangi, who’d teamed up as a singing duo with Alexandra Rotan.
In the end it was Rybak who prevailed, while his proud parents beamed in the audience. Asked who was the most nervous of his family or friends, he immediately said “Mamma.” Now she’ll likely be traveling to Portugal this spring, where this year’s Eurovision will be held in Lisbon.
Asked whether he thinks he can win Eurovision again, Rybak told reporters after the show that “it will be difficult,” noting that “only Johnny Logan has done that, but his birthday is the same as mine. I just want to make Norway proud.”