Fans fly over Europe skies to support Alexander Rybak’s return to Melodi Grand Prix in 2018: Stories from Oslo
Nine years after his victory at the Eurovision Song contest in Moscow, it was revealed in January that Alexander would return to the Melodi Grand Prix (MGP) stage to compete for the chance to represent Norway again in the Eurovision song contest. This caused a wave of excitement amongst his fans, and some started making their plans immediately to travel to Oslo for the 10th March to be there to show their belief in his talent and support him at the live show.
Fans came not only from many parts of Norway, but many other countries including Germany, UK, Hungary, Russia, Netherlands, Belgium, Poland, Czech Republic and Estonia. And some of those fans have shared their adventures with us.
My name is André. I’m 20 years old and I come from Telemark, Norway. On Saturday 10th March, I attended, for the first time, the Norwegian selection for Eurovision. I’ve only been to the semi-final in Skien back in 2011 before. And that was a real pleasure! That was the year Stella Mwangi won the Norwegian contest with the catchy song “Haba Haba”.
As I headed for Oslo the day before the big final, I was super excited! My train ride to the city of Oslo, Norway’s capital took only two hours, but felt like a lot more. I was so excited and couldn’t wait to get to the town for a real “MGP” weekend. I was so excited about everything that was going to happen and all the lovely people I was going to meet.
The day before I was heading to Oslo I asked a textile printing company to make me a unique T-shirt. I came up with this idea earlier that week and I really wanted to make the idea a reality. The company said that they gladly would do It for the price of 250 NOK (approx. 26 EUR/23GBP). I was a little unsure about making the T-shirt, for a couple of reasons. But when day came, I was in no doubt. I had to make the T-shirt! So as I stepped out from the train, I ran towards the hotel to throw my luggage in, before running to the textile printing company. I had to make it before closing time, so that I was all ready for the big day. The company were open on Saturdays too, but everything that’s done in advance is good.
After collecting the T-shirt I got to the hotel to change my clothes. I had to wear the T-shirt to spread the word to as many as possible. Everyone had to know the important message! As many as possible needed to know the importance of voting for the best artist, Alexander Rybak!
Later on that evening there was going to be a “vorspiel”(pre-party) hosted by the OGAE Norway at César Bar & Café. At the vorspiel many of the artists were supposed to come and present themselves in front of a group of MGP/ESC fans. I arrived a little nervous and afraid because I didn’t know anyone at the event. But the T-shirt did its job! Many fans of Rybak and others greeted me, and within two seconds I had a lot of new friends. Excellent! And later on that evening a lot of fans I knew from the internet came by, and the event got just perfect! After waiting a while all artists arrived. Almost every one of them was there except Ida Maria. She had a job in Mo I Rana that night in Northern Norway, and unfortunately couldn’t come. The event was amazing especially when Alexander hit the stage. I was at the front, and hoped he saw my T-shirt. After a while someone asked if they could put my T-shirt on Instagram for the fan site of Alexander Rybak. All the attention I can get I love, so “go on” I said! “Go ON, do It!” And was it nice to be put on the Instagram of the greatest fan site ever made! Hell yes! Some fans tagged Alexander in the comment section and he actually responded with “Oooooh ❤ ❤ ❤”. Amazing! He loved It!!! And the evening was complete. I couldn’t believe It!
Then the vorspiel ended with the tribute “Voi Voi”, a group singing all the classics from MGP/ESC. After a while I headed back to the hotel, to sleep for the night. I went to bed “early” as I knew the next day would be a long one.
Now it was Saturday. The big day, with the big final! I was supposed to go for dinner with some fans later on before the final, but those plans were quickly cancelled! I got up, went to a local pizza place which I LOVE, and ate like crazy on the pizza buffet. Then I headed out to look for some funny things to pimp me up with. I found some glow sticks and ran to the hotel. I took a shower, charging up my phone and headed to Oslo Spektrum. I was invited to join the dress rehearsals! What a joy! I love MGP, and can’t get enough of It. So I didn’t mind hearing all songs an extra time! The time went so fast, and that made me so sad knowing that it all would be over that quick.
After the dress rehearsal I went to the hotel, picking up my jacket and headed for a pre-party at a bar called “Dattera til Hagen”. With a couple of other fans, I mingled there for an hour before heading back to the city centre and Spektrum. As I walked along the streets of Oslo I made sure everyone saw my T-shirt and my important message. I went to the ticket office to get my ticket for the after party. After that was done I ran into Spektrum ready for the big final.
I headed to my seat, and was NOT happy with the seat I got. I complained, nicely but slightly irritated. And that worked! I got one of the best seats! At the side of the stage, but almost perfect. Everything was set for a perfect evening! And it was! So many good songs, but the best won. Alexander Rybak!!! The show went so fast, and I was “tissatrengt” as we say in Norway and sad for it being over. “Tissatrengt” means in desperate need of pee. I ran to the toilet and headed right after across the road to “Radisson Blu Hotel Plaza” for the after party.
So happy!!! The party started, and all of the “participants” started to arrive. I was excited and hoped to meet the winner himself. And I did. About thirty minutes after the party started he arrived. And one of the first things he did was head towards me after we yelled that we wanted him to come over. I asked him to sign the shirt, and he did! And he said that he loved the shirt very much! He said it was fantastic! And he took some photos with me! That was the best part. And he had to take a photo himself to have on his own private phone. What a great moment!!!
The party went on, late in to the night. All artists sang their songs again, and the DJ played a lot of good music mostly from MGP/ESC. At 3am the party was over. Me and some friends headed to a McDonald’s for food before everyone headed home for the evening. The night was so perfect, and after waking up the day after I had to pinch myself to make sure it wasn’t a dream! And the best. It was real! So I headed home after a fantastic weekend! The best one in a long time!
André Thomassen Haugen: A huge MGP/ESC and Alexander Rybak fan!
Dorota, Magdalena, Agnieszka: Poland
When we found out that Alex would take part in the MGP, we immediately decided to go and we organised everything all in just one day. Going to Norway we were not thinking about Alex’s victory, but about supporting him and about having fun.
Just before the trip we managed to fit marker pens and Polish flags into the suitcases.
We met in Oslo on Friday. After a short refreshing in the hotel we went to the pub for a pre-party. We were waiting there for a very long time and were wondering if Alex would come. After some time the participants of the MGP started to appear. After a few short questions and singing a fragment of favourite songs from the MGP by the other participants, it was Alex’s turn. Because he said that he wouldn’t sing anything (he saved his voice on the MGP) the whole hall sang the immortal “Fairytale” for him 🙂
On Saturday, after an early breakfast, we went for a short walk around Aker Brygge. We drank coffee in our favourite cafe and then went back to the hotel to get ready for the MGP.
We wanted to prepare gadgets for the evening 🙂 We had Polish flags but we didn’t have any of Alex’s photo so we came up with the idea to print them. Tessa helped us to do that. We made a few of them and added a number to vote.
We put the photos on the flags, on the mirror in the elevator. We also left them in the lobby of the hotel and in the cloakroom in Oslo Spektrum.
During MGP were the most nervous hours. We were prepared in 100%. We had flags with a photo of Alex, we had glowing gadgets and we shouted as loudly as possible. We were very happy because Alex noticed us. He showed us raised thumbs and sent us a heart made of joined hands.
When the results of 4 and then 2 finalists were announced, Alex looked very stressed. After announcement of the winner of the competition Alex was probably completely shocked but at the same time he seemed to be very happy. Just like us! 🙂 It was a thriller and we felt like we were at the match of FC Barcelona – Real Madrid :). His performance was very energetic and he made the whole hall sing together.
Then we went on the after party and we met Alex, we got the chance to congratulate him and the most importantly – we could hug him. These were very warm, special, long hugs.
After returning to the hotel, we relived these wonderful moments watching a replay of MGP on television.
We returned home full of hope for Alex’s victory in Eurovision Song Contest 2018 in Lisbon!
(A special thanks to Anna Katus for translation of this report from Polish to English)
Dorota, Magdalena, Agnieszka: Showing the support from Poland
To be present at the live final of Melodi Grand Prix was very special and a great honour for me. It’s a big show and there were many happy people in Spektrum supporting their favourite artists on Saturday evening.
The opening of the show was very funny. My Norwegian is not good enough to understand everything, but I quickly understood that the opening had something to do with the song “ My Heart is Yours” by Didrik Solli-Tangen. So I had the hope that Didrik would also perform somewhere in the show.
We had a nice place in the arena to see everything and the view of the stage was perfect.
All ten artists performed their songs and then the Norwegian people had time to vote.
After the first round of voting the artists returned to the stage and here they were told if they have made it to the next round of the competition. For me it was confusing what the presenters were saying. Because I understood that the people mentioned did not make it. (That they are out of the show. ) But these artists were still happy. It quickly became clear that it was the other way around.
The show starts with 10 artists and then to 4 and then to 2.
Alexander and Rebecca were the last 2 artists remaining, they had to perform their song once again and then there was a chance to vote for a final time.
During this voting time there was a dance performance and Aleksander Walmann sang his song from last year. There was a great surprise in this song, Didrik Solli-Tangen also sang a short part. I was so happy to see him there also. Didrik is a great artist as well and certainly a good friend of Alexander.
At last it was time for the final results and we had our fingers tightly crossed. Waiting to hear the result of the vote was so exciting and Alexander was very nervous.
Yeahh Alexander Rybak was the winner of Melodi Grand Prix 2018! Gratulerer Alexander!! :)
Alexander was so happy that he couldn’t believe what had happened.
A great last final performance from Alexander ended in a big, big party on stage.
We went to the after party as well. It was great to meet the other fans there. Everyone had a big smile and the party continued. After a while Olivier arrived (one of Alexander’s agents ). I greeted him and gave my congratulations. He was so happy and proud. Olivier gave me a big hug and said it was great that I managed to make the trip. This made me realise how lucky I was to be there. Yes I really managed it!
After a while Didrik showed up and I went over to him to say hi. Didrik and I have talked a lot and he was happy to see me.
The after party still was going strong and the artists sang their songs again and people danced and talked a lot.
I gave Alexander my congratulations, we talked a little. Alexander still couldn’t believe that he actually had won!
The next morning there was a surprise. Alexander posted a video on YouTube to thank all the fans for their support. It was a fantastic honour to see the monkey from the Tusen Takk benefit concert in the video. A Cystic Fibrosis monkey. Wow, I have no words for it and don’t know what to say. But it makes me happy every day again. Tusen takk Alexander.
Niels Peeters: Holding on being strong with laughter and smiles.
It was one of the brightest trips! The road was difficult, but it is worth all the emotions.
On the first day we met with Tessa, Anni and Suzanne… It’s been a year since we last met! I was very happy to see them again! Pre-party started… I saw live all the MGP participants (except for Ida Maria who couldn’t make it), all are pretty nice guys. Sasha (AlexanderRybak) had a cold. Each artist was asked to sing their favourite ESC song, but when Sasha had the whole audience sing instead of him …I felt goose bumps. It was indescribable.
The next day was very important for us-the contest itself. We are so thankful that we managed to get to go to the dress rehearsal…. enjoying the performances for an extra time and feeling the atmosphere.
During the contest the excitement was through the roof. I felt dizzy and euphoria from Sasha’s victory for a long time afterwards…
The evening continued with a pleasant communication with Sasha’s parents and a joyful after party, where I danced on stage with Ida Maria and Alejandro, also left a lot of impressions, because in those moments I was delighted with Sasha’s victory.
I was glad to get the chance to speak Alexander at the after party too . I embraced him and congratulated him on his victory. In response I received a few kisses in return. I intend to go to Lisbon as I want to support Sasha and there! I believe in it! Believe in his victory! And I want to experience again those feelings of excitement and experiences like those at the time of voting.
But good things never last and everyone went home …Me and Galina had 3 more days to enjoy Oslo, walking around the city and its environs, visiting many museums…
Now a new wave is coming-preparations for the Eurovision song contest, where I hope we will meet again with our company, and this time will be even more memorable and fun!
Julia (Russia): Forever with you Alex!
Anni : United Kingdom
When I heard that Alexander Rybak was going to participate again in the Norwegian Melodi Grand Prix (MGP) 2018 (selection show for the Eurovision Song Contest) I knew there was absolutely no way I was going to miss the opportunity to go to Oslo and be there and witness this piece of Eurovision history in the making. I’ve been a huge fan of Rybak since his selection in MGP in 2009. Back then, I think he was pretty much favourite to win MGP without a question, so his landslide number of points was no surprise. And it was evident this young man had something special about him… combine that with the magic of “Fairytale”, and you have no doubt this would go forward to win Eurovision 2009.
From the very first time I heard ‘That’s How you Write a Song” I loved Alexander Rybak’s entry for this year’s MGP, it’s so catchy! For two whole months I woke up singing it every morning! To me it felt like a timeless dance classic with a modern twist and a fizz! The Official Video was so full of fun and joy. I couldn’t wait to see how it would be staged at Spektrum! There were some other very strong contenders this year. I also really liked Aleksander Walmann’s beat tapping “Talk to the Hand” and Rebecca’s hauntingly beautiful ballad “Who we are”. But I had every faith that Alexander would steal the show, he is a born entertainer.
So I arrived to a winter wonderland in Norway, two days before the show giving me time to relax and enjoy some sightseeing and pampering before the big day.
On Friday we met up with friends at the MGP fan club pre-party, before being introduced most of the artists on stage. It was a really lovely informal atmosphere at the César Bar. The members of the Norwegian fan club were all very welcoming and friendly. There was a real buzz of excitement as we all chatted about the show and Eurovision in general. The artists were all very relaxed and full of smiles for everyone. I was able to have a chat with Aleksander Walmann (who assured me that should he win he was definitely taking Alexander Rybak to Lisbon with him), Kjetil Møreland and even the big producer of the show Stig Karlsen. I grabbed a photo with Vidar Villa, and a hug from Rebecca just as we were leaving. I really didn’t want to leave, but fearful I had no idea how to get back to the hotel by myself, I figured I’d better go home then!
Next day after breakfast and a shopping trip, we made our way to Spektrum arena as we had been invited to attend the final rehearsal. Watching the rehearsal means I can enjoy the real show more as I can try and understand the spoken Norwegian at the rehearsal and know what to expect, instead of driving myself crazy later at the main show trying to figure it all out! Wow and what a show, even more songs started to grow on me. Tom Hugo in a suit- I like, I like, I like!, (regretting not grabbing the photo moment with him at the party now) Nicoline “I don’t wanna go home yet” – my official Oslo theme tune of the weekend, Stella and Alexandra managed to “get me” dancing along with them. Gosh, this is a tough year! But saving the best till last, I was delighted to see that Alexander would deliver a firework of a finale this evening and absolutely certain of a place in the Gold Final. In the arena he sounded and looked amazing, my only slight worry was that when they played the recaps back his voice was weaker than it sounded in the arena. If this is how he sounds at home on TV then it might cost him some votes. (He has been ill with the Flu the past couple of weeks.)
We arrived back at Spektrum for the show in the evening. We had chosen seats well back and high up to get a great overview of the whole arena, the other benefit to this is we were well out of the way of the TV camera gantries swinging around and blocking our view. The show was fabulous and Alexander delivered a strong performance, both vocally and visually, which had us screaming cheers from our seats.
The anticipation as the final four acts to remain were announced was nail biting as Alexander was the final one to be told he was safe and through to the silver final. But the fact he scored highest number of flags with the international juries was very reassuring. It was amazing to hear that he also made it through to the gold final too along with Rebecca. In all of the elimination rounds he looked really nervous, but keen to go forward, and such relief when he did!
The interval act during the final round of voting was big stage performance of last year’s Norwegian entry, “Grab the Moment” by JOWST featuring Aleksander Walmann and a surprise guest appearance of backing vocals by a very glittery Didrik Solli-Tangen. This was a great distraction to calm MY nerves before the final result.
So finally it was time to find out who would represent Norway in ESC 2018… (long pause which felt like it was never going to end! )… ALEXANDER RYBAK! And I screamed from the heavens of Spektrum along with the rest of the audience.
After the broadcast was over we headed down to the front of the stage to meet and hug our friends who had attended the show, but who we were not seated with. Alexander was extremely sort after by press on stage for interviews, and it was great to see his mom and dad there with him looking so proud and happy of their son. It was great to soak in some of the good vibes atmosphere and collect some of the golden tinsel for my scrapbook!
We made our way to the official after party across the street at the Radisson Blu Hotel. On the way in I was chatting with a lovely Norwegian lady who turned out to be Rebecca’s aunty. The party was incredible; the room was decorated with endless balloons, and was already pretty full of people in a great mood to party. It was really a lot of fun to mingle and meet and chat with so many lovely familiar people, including other Rybak fans , some ESC friends I know from London, the Norwegian fans and of course the artists and production team.
There was quite a queue at the bar inside the party room, so I ventured outside to the lobby bar which was much less crowded to buy some refreshments. While I was in the lobby I met Kjetil and Rebecca ,who were just arriving, we talked a little and I congratulated them both on a great song and making it to the gold final. Alexander arrived shortly after and it was great to see his reaction to André’s T-shirt, both were smiling so hard! So happy that André had the chance to get it signed, I just stood back and took as many photos as I could. Julie arrived after that, and I think this must have been the first time she had seen Alexander since he had been announced the winner, she greeted him with the biggest hug and kisses, it was so lovely to see this precious moment. She was absolutely thrilled about her boyfriend’s victory. While Alexander was busy talking to Stig Karlsen, Julie and I had time for little chat and we both couldn’t stop smiling as we talked about the result.
The party continued with all the artists returning to the stage to perform their songs again. I had quite a good position very close to the front, but as time passed the area in front of the stage got more and more crowded, I got a bit jostled and claustrophobic and decided to move out of the crowd to watch from the side-lines. It was such a small stage and room that even stood back a few metres I still had a great view, but with a lot less hassle. It was great to hear all the performances one more time, and still with such energy. And even more fun to see some my friends invited onto the stage to dance with Ida Maria and Alejandro Fuentes. Alexander returned as the final one to take the stage (or so we thought). He made a long speech (which you can see the translation of in the following video) and in that speech he stressed his wish that after his song Aleksander Walmann would return to perform his song again so that Alexander could join in on violin. Alexander gave a joyous sing along rendition of “That’s How you Write a Song” giving a shout out to Charla K, Vidar Villa and Aleksander Walmann instead of the scatting.
And Alexander’s wish came true as Aleksander Walmann joined him at the end to perform “Talk to the Hand” again. Suddenly I lost all sense of claustrophobia and found myself at the front of the stage dancing like crazy to the dynamic duo of Alex/ksanders on stage. It was the icing on the party cake for me!
After the “After Show” I was still “mingling” and managed to find my Norwegian friend Trine. We chatted more with Kjetil, and I met Jonas McDonnell (Songwriter of “Grab the Moment” and “Talk to the Hand) for the first time! And I caught up with Aleksander Walmann once more. Towards the end of the evening I finally managed to get a chance to greet and congratulate Alexander Rybak personally, he had understandably had a busy evening, very in demand. We made a quick photo but the lighting was so crazy in the party you would hardly know it was me. But at least Alexander is unmistakable. As he left the party he kissed the top of my head, a beautiful moment and my heart melted!
I really am the worst person to ever go to a party with because I never want it to end, I never want to leave! But my friends finally managed to persuade me to collect my coat! But still on the way out I managed meet Stella Mwangi, have another chat with Rebecca and say goodbye to Didrik. And we still didn’t go home quite yet, because we called in at a pub for a night cap and reflective chat before heading back to the hotel for another “nachspiel”.
My faith was rewarded, he did indeed steal not only the show but also the pre- show, the rehearsal and the after-party show! I truly believe he’s Norway’s most engaging entertainer. Everything about him invites you in. His voice… his bright smiling eyes…Even the crazy dance moves. As if he needed any of that. As if we cannot fail to hear the musicality. As if we could resist his violin!
Gratulerer Alexander, Keep your sparkle and enchant us again the Eurovision stage in Lisbon!
Anni Jowett : UK fan hopelessly devoted to Rybak since 2009
Many thanks to our roving reporters in Oslo for sharing their impressions of attending MGP 2018. And AlexanderRybakNews.com looks very much forward to Lisbon and a new chapter in our Fan reports!