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Eurovision 2009: Norway

May 1, 2009

READ REVIEWS: Semi-Final One | Semi-Final Two | Grand Final



I was quite concerned when Mr Rybak came on to perform. Tonight’s running order however left me feeling surprisingly underwhelmed by Mr Rybak’s performance. I like the song but I’m not hugely overwhelmed by the performance. I suspect some of the problem may well have been his distance from the audience. He’s clearly practised in delivering straight to camera and wowing the audience at home (which, lets face it is what this is all about) but in the grand running order for the semi-final I did swiftly find myself forgetting this song and for all the hype Norway has got, I didn’t expect to forget it so quickly. 





I’m in no way trying to make out that I can sum up a consensus, nor am I wanting to shape one either. I don’t want to ruin anyone’s enjoyment of this song, nor the prospect of Norway winning Eurovision again with it. But there is something on my mind about and the performance of Fairytale which is, frankly, getting on my chimes.

Yes, Rybak looks cute and yes perhaps he makes hearts skip a bit and yes, the song is catchy. But repeat listens of the kind I’ve gone through to write these “reviews” combined with the seemingly incessant ranking of Norway at the top of the leaderboard not to mention the seeming consensus on Twitter being in favour of Alexander, the song doesn’t hold up well.

It feels tired having listened to it after what amounts to just five or six listens. So too, watching what is in effect the same stage performance – the first in the promo video (bottom), the second (in the one below) and the third today. He will get through to the final which means come Saturday 16 May I’ll have seen five times. I know I’ll be utterly sick of it by then largely because every single one is exactly the same. This is formulaic – a cheery formula for most but one which is for me at least leaving me feeling rather weary.

This might be merely because I’ve seen a series of TV-ready performances, ones where the lead is so utterly confident on stage rehearsals are nothing but a formality. But maybe it’s because they’re so polished that seeing the same expressions and exactly the same moves every single time leaves me to doubt the sincerity of the excitement in the chap’s face. 

Of course. It’s TV. It’s going to be fake. You’re not going to get the kind of raw, genuine passion I’m expecting in a mere 3 minutes every time it’s rehearsed. I wouldn’t mind however. And regardless of how Rybak does, my judgement will be on how the act makes me feel on the night. Right now I’m thinking I never want to hear it again. 

And yes, I realise I am THE ONLY PERSON who thinks this and I will be ostracised from the club for saying it, assuming I haven’t been already. 



Give Alexander the next few days off. Give the Norwegian delegation some free time too. The dancers would probably like to bounce around Moscow as well. In fact, thinking about it, let’s call the whole thing off and give Norway the crown.

The stage version looks no different from the selection programme video we saw (see below) proving beyond any reasonable doubt that not only has Rybak got a cracking song but the team working on the act knew how to sell it long ago. And not only do I feel so completely and utterly shallow at having concluded this so early on in proceedings, I’ve also got a sinking feeling akin to being surplus to my own life. I hate that.

Mind you, with the extra free time I’m advocating for Alexander, he may want to spend the time getting those eyebrows sorted. Or at least he could read this blog.


This song is irritatingly catchy. I began by hating it. Not least because of the self-consciously and annoyingly cute Rybak does to camera every twenty seconds. There are moments in this studio performance when his apparent enthusiasm for his art and the song he’s singing seem ridiculously over the top that I wanted to vomit.

But more than that, the Mr Rybak is cute. It maybe that which annoys me the most. He looks down the camera with a look on his face that says “I’m going to walk this competition, you know. I’m going to walk it. The rest of you might as well go home.”

This is all questionable, of course. I delving into my internal dialogue. What the song does is flick a few switches for those of us with deep-seated emotional problems, problems we assume can be solved by elbowing our way to the front of the queue in a desperate bid to get more and more of the limelight.

It’s songs like this which make us want to grab the hairbrush and sing in front of the mirror to an imaginary audience who go just as wild when we ‘perform’ it as they do when Rybak does. In short, we want a piece of the action the cuter twentysomething has. We know we can’t really which is why the song is such a bittersweet experience and we’d be quite happy if it didn’t do quite so well. Eurovision fans are complex.

Rybak clearly feels at home on stage and undoubtedly has a bright and shiny future ahead of him. His dancers achieve a rare thing of not upstaging him (possibly beause Rybak’s personality is so unassailable) even if at times their moves skate close to the boundaries of taste and decency. But lets be clear. If you were to remove the dancers and the violin Rybak is miming with (that violin solo is on the backing track not being performed live – there are no microphones attached) then the song would be an entirely different proposition. Indeed, if you remove the audience cheers and pyrotechnics I’m wondering to what extent his performance would be as engaging. This is a song contest after all, not a TV competition.

At nearly 1 million views however, Fairytale (or Fairytail depending on what your proofreading skills are like and whether or not you’ve got access to a poorly translated press release) has performed well on YouTube. Nearly every Eurovision fan will have seen it and will love it. But will they change the performance dramatically in Moscow? I hope not.

One last piece of advice for Mr Rybak however, if he’s reading this. Get your eyebrows plucked mate. Heavy eyebrows aren’t becoming although they are quite handy for those of us who like to pick holes.

  1. Chris permalink

    What can I say? This has been on permanent loop in the car and on the pc. I never play it once – I play it three four or even five times. It never fails to engage me. I love it I love it I love it. Do I have to say it again? I love it.

    Personally I hadn’t noticed the eyebrows. But you’re probably right about them.

    It’s not a song that merits too much dissection. The lyrics don’t actually make a huge amount of sense. The fiddle is repetitive. His singing isn’t the finest. But as a package it’s The Supreme Entertainment.

  2. Steve permalink

    It’s the flared nostrils that worry me. That apart, this has great instant appeal

  3. Chris permalink

    You’re right Jon. Leave the club this instance. Go on, shoo.

  4. Steve permalink

    Yep, Chris is right. Go on, Clear off, Jon. We don’t want your negative comments on this blog thank you…. (oh, sorry, it’s your blog? oh, yeah…)
    Actually I’m not sure any of the songs stand up to the sort of scrunity we submit them to in the run up to the contest, but we need to remember that 99% of the people who vote haven’t heard the songs beforehand, and aren’t caught up in the Rybak/ Rouvas/ Hadese hype. And Fairytale is instantly catchy. I still think it’s a winner.

  5. OMG.. I completly agree with your post. This guy is really annoyingly cute xD too cute 🙂

    The music rythim is cool, even thought the content of teh lyrics isn’t that much deeper. :/ (apologize my grammar mistakes ;))

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. Eurovision 2009: Estonia « Thoroughly Good Blog
  2. Eurovision 2009: Semi-final Two « Thoroughly Good Blog

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