Alexander Rybak will represent Norway at this year’s Eurovision Song Contest in Lisbon with his song “That’s How You Write A Song” — an upbeat, instructional and almost tongue-in-cheek guide from the famed singer and composer. After winning Norway’s national selection Melodi Grand Prix in a landslide, the odds continue to shorten for Alexander. He’s currently sitting within the top ten to take home the winner’s trophy in Lisbon, according to the Eurovision Oddschecker.
There’s a lot we know about Alexander given his fame over the last nine years — he won Eurovision for Norway in 2009 with “Fairytale” and he’s without doubt a talented fiddler. But here are 10 more facts that you may be less familiar with.
1. HE WAS BORN IN BELARUS
Even though he’s known as one of Norway’s biggest musical exports, Alexander was actually born in Minsk, Belarus. His family emigrated to Nesodden in Norway when he was five.
Alexander proudly considers himself Norwegian, telling TV2’s Good Morning in Norway last year that, despite getting offers to represent Belarus at Eurovision, he always holds Norway as his priority:
“There’s a production company that offered me millions to represent Belarus next time in Eurovision, but I would rather do it for free for Norway.”
2. HE’S A MUSICAL POLYMATH
Which is just a fancy way of saying he plays multiple instruments. Even though we know Alexander for his famous fiddling, he also plays piano and guitar. Despite his mother being an accomplished pianist, Alexander focused on his violin from an early age.
I remember coming home in tears, because I realized I was the only one in school playing violin. That’s when my dad said: “Us humans will always be afraid of what’s different than us. But if you stay strong and believe in your difference long enough, people will start believing in it as well.” So, I guess that makes the difference. ? Write down your ideas, believe in them, and be yourself. Happy Monday. ?
3. HE’S OBSESSED WITH THE BOOK SERIES ‘ANIMORPHS’
Proudly wielding his whole collection of the series of young adult series Animorphs, Rybak is, without doubt, obsessed. Even though the science fantasy series was released in the late 90s, Rybak, who started reading the series when he was 11 years old, still reads the books backstage before his performances. While in North America, he even put a call-out to meet up with the series’ author, Katherine Applegate.
Let me tell you about my new passion: The ANIMORPHS book series! ??? In truth, it is an old passion. I bought my first book when I was 11, and it literally changed my life. The story is too intricate, for me to write it here, but in short it's about a group of teenagers who one day get the gift of transforming into whatever animal they touch, to fight an alien invasion. The writer, obviously knows a lot about animals, and she has such a good language that it was really fun to pick up this children's collection even now, at the age of 30. It seems I even miss some books, so I surely haven't read all of them. I strongly recommend this series, and I know that many hours of reading awaits me.? Hopefully I'll find inspiration to write new books myself. #animorphs #Trolle
4. YOU CAN ADD ‘AUTHOR’ TO HIS LIST OF TALENTS
In 2015, Alexander released the children’s book Trolle og den Magiske Fela (Trolle and the Magic Fiddle). Based on his own childhood experiences and observations, the book is about a bullied troll whose life changes after finding a magical fiddle. He also composed music for Trolle, which is sold in companion with the book. Trolle was a success in Norway, and has since been translated to Danish.
5. HE LOVES FIFA SO MUCH, HE WROTE A SONG ABOUT IT
We get it. He’s a man of many passions. An avid gamer, LEGO enthusiast, and FC Bayern Munich supporter — Alexander has not shied away from his affection for the world’s most popular video game. Last year, he reworked Peggy Lee’s classic song “Fever” into a tribute song for FIFA — complete with its own video clip. Alexander hands over his joystick to two women in the clip, sharing his FIFA love.
6. HE SLAYED ON THE RUSSIAN VERSION OF ‘YOUR FACE SOUNDS FAMILIAR’
The “Fairytale” singer appeared on the third series of Odín v odín!, the Russian version of Your Face Sounds Familiar. Rybak proved himself to be a master of disguise, delivering show-stopping performances as both iconic male and female singers, including Eurovision winners Dima Bilan and Conhita Wurst.
After 15 weeks of impersonating Russian and international pop stars, Rybak eventually finished in second place, with fellow Belarusian pop star Ruslan Alekhno (who represented Belarus at ESC 2008) winning the series.
7. HE DEALT WITH HIS STALKER…BY WRITING A SONG ABOUT HER
In his 2012 song “Leave Me Alone”, Alexander addresses his real-life stalker — an obsessive fan from Israel who had sent him 600 emails and asked to marry him. The saga caused him to change his phone number constantly as she would call him on every new number, and he was forced to stay with friends whenever he returned to Oslo, as she knew where he lived.
At the time of promoting “Leave Me Alone”, he said of his stalker:
“I have to give her credit for her hard work in finding me wherever I am. I am a lucky man to even experience this, it’s something you normally only see in a movie. I got so inspired, that I had to write a song about it.”
Who needs the police when you can write a song?
8. HE HAS SUBMITTED EUROVISION ENTRIES TO BELARUS AND MALTA
Rybak submitted an entry to Belarus’ national selection in 2015. Rather than singing himself, he put together MILKI, a five-piece girl group, and composed their song “Accent” (which we loved). His hopes for winning the national selection were high, but ultimately the public and jury sided with other favourites, leading Uzari and Maimuna to win the Belarussian national selection with “Time”. At the time, Rybak was bitter with the Belarussian jury for failing to select his act, posting a video to Facebook.
“Every year, I meet the Belarussian delegation and they keep saying, ‘Sasha, please, write us a song. What do we need to do to win in Eurovision?’ And so I wrote a song, spent so much time, so much money. I found some unique and talented girls and I wrote a song about pure and authentic Belarus, how I see it. And then the jury failed it.”
Rybak also worked with Franklin Calleja in the Maltese national selection in 2015, which ultimately placed fifth behind eventual winner Amber with “Warrior”. Franklin went on to enter the Sammarinese national final, 1 in 360, this year.
9. HE TURNED DOWN OPRAH WINFREY AND A TURN AS ‘THE BACHELOR’
After his Eurovision win in 2009, Rybak told Norwegian magazine Her og Nå that he turned down some big opportunities in his career. He says that he turned down a guest performance on The Oprah Winfrey Show, one of the United States’ highest rated daytime programmes, due to scheduling conflicts.
And despite being offered 8 million krone to be the bachelor for Ukraine’s celebrity version of The Bachelor, he had to reject the opportunity as he was in a relationship at the time.
10. HE’S THIRSTY, AND HE NEEDS A DOLLAR
Someone give the man a Coke.
What do you think of Alexander’s entry, “That’s How You Write A Song”? Will he have another fairytale win at Eurovision in Lisbon? Let us know what you think in the comment section below.