Roll With the Wind
Kiss and Tell
Funny Little World
If You Were Gone
Songs From a Secret Garden
Half-baked release to satisfy audience demand following a landslide Eurovision victory.
Alexander Rybak is the doey-eyed 23-year-old fiddler who won Norway the 2009 Eurovision final by a landslide. His performance of the self-penned Fairytale landed him 387 points, a record in the history of Eurovision. The love song with elements of traditional folk music became a hit, popping up on charts all over Europe, both pre- and post- the Moscow final.
To satisfy audience demand, Rybak's debut album Fairytales was released shortly after his Eurovision victory. Rybak said in an interview with NRK's Redaksjon EN that his main challenge was to release an album that would please everybody – children, teens, pensioners, the classically minded (Rybak is a long-time student at the renowned Barratt Due Institute of Music in Oslo) and the folk music enthusiasts. A challenge indeed, as pleasing an entire demographic is next to impossible. Especially if you're in a hurry. And Rybak's ended up with an album that sounds both disparate and rushed.
Opening cut Roll With The Wind is Fairytale's tired brother – less energetic, but build around a similar arrangement and with the same howling chorus. Kiss And Tell sounds like Ricky Martin meeting Hot Club de Norvège with a strange two-second hip-hop outro. Funny Little World is a naive ode to Sondre Lerche, while If You Were Gone is a cheesy cruise-jazz version of Henning Sommerro's Vårsøg. Abandoned and 13 Horses are the power ballads on the album: the former is based around a soundtrack by composer Kirill Moltchanov, the latter – in true Eurovision style – unsuccessfully aims to provoke waves of emotion through a series of modulations. To top it all off, Rybak's thrown in a nod to Secret Garden, the act who banked Norway's 1995 Eurovision victory, by covering their Songs From A Secret Garden.
Rybak is a brilliant violinist. He plays his instrument with remarkable authority, and the violin arrangements on Dolphin are both elegant and beautiful. But small shimmers of delight are crushed to smithereens by naff lyrics, a cheap production and lack of musical focus.
And as such, Fairytales belongs at the bottom of the scale. But being in a generous mood, Rybak gets a brownie point for his ways with the violin. He would be a strong and serious contender in the circle of classical or folk music, so why choose to be a failing pop star?
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