Sunday, May 17, 2009

And now, for something completely different

Alexander Rybak is this year's winner of the Eurovision contest. Rybak was born in Minsk but moved with his parents to Norway when he was four. His mother is a well known pianist and his father equally well known as a violinist. Alexander plays both.

I am an instant fan. I love the way he has combined different aspects of his own life to create this song. Ryback wrote the song which combines Norwegian music styles with Russian style. He performs the song with the folk dancing group Frikar. He was an overwhelming favorite. His voice is pleasant, the music is lively, the performance is visually appealing as well. I don't know what the competition was like but understand his televote was 747,888 compared to the second place finisher's score of 121,856. That's a landslide. From this performance it was well earned. I think he has cross-over potential for the US as well.

Here is a completely different style from him:

In his interviews he come across as genuinely nice and somewhat bemused that he's attained sudden fame. When asked about the girl, the song is about, he just went silent, not wanting to talk about it. He kept saying he didn't want to speak about it. But, apparently the girl in question was recently featured on a Norwegian magazine cover, with a story about how the song was about her. When Alexander was asked about what he thought about the story his response, was quite amusing: "Well, at least, it was the right girl." In the same interview he talked about the hundreds of text messages he received and he seemed genuinely upset that he couldn't read them all and respond to all of them.

In another interview his father speaks of how the family moved to Norway because there was so much more freedom. Alexander tells the interviewer that thought Norway was a paradise when he was a boy and he too mentioned freedom as being so important.

I love the combination of styles that he manages to bring together. One song he is a classical violinist and the next he's crooning in the style of the torch song singers like Julie London, only to swing into a pop style with the next.

UPDATE: While the Eurovision contest was being held the violent Moscow police were attacking a gay rights rally on orders from the Stalinist mayor of the city. According to press reports: "Ryback criticized the authorities response to the protest, saying 'we've had the biggest gay pride demonstration right here in this hall tonight.'" Good for him.