From the folk dancers who appear to be doing Russian aerobics, to the blond backup singers dressed as Greek goddesses, Norway’s entry is full of what-the-f*ck moments. At the center of it all is Alexander Rybak, a Russian-born violinist who, by all accounts, is incredibly sweet and lovable. He celebrates his 23rd birthday on May 13—smack in the middle of the two Eurovision Semi-Finals. Will voters deliver him a present? (Update: On May 16 they did!)
Why Norway May Win:
First, his song Fairytale is catchy and has mass appeal: he takes gypsy-style folk music popular in Eastern Europe and translates it into something that will appeal to Western voters. Also, 75% of the entries are ultra-modern dance numbers that are hard to distinguish from one another. Norway is upbeat but different—like a gypsy DJ was set loose in the discotheque!
Second, Rybak looks like he’s from the Balkans—certainly that won’t hurt his chances in places like Serbia, Macedonia and Albania, all notorious for bloc voting. (Of course, he may not be as cute as everyone thinks. See images here.)
Third, this act has got so much spectacle! In the Norwegian final there were plenty of back flips and all sorts of things exploding. Last year Russia won with a world champion figure skater doing circles around the singer, so you really do need something special.
Finally, Rybak speaks fluent Russian—he lived in the USSR until he was four—so watch for him to make pleas on Russian-language stations throughout the former Soviet Republics and in Mother Russia.
Why Norway May Not Win:
Bookies have listed Norway as the favorite for more than a month, so voters may well be sick of him by the time the finals roll around. That could open the door for Greece, currently second among oddsmakers. Rybak may look like he hails from the Balkans, but Sakis Rouvas actually does! Expect the odds on Greece to narrow as the competition grows near.
And despite being more folksy, Fairytale still qualifies as a dance number—and those dance numbers really do start to sound repetitive during a two-hour broadcast. It’s possible voters will prefer a standout ballad, like It’s My Time from the U.K. or Malta’s lovely entry What if We? from Chiara Siracusa.
What do you think? Does Norway deserve to be the favorite? Can anyone stop this boy wonder?