Monday, 17 September 2012

If you haven't heard Norwegian singer Kurt Nilsen, he (and his chums) are astonishingly good

As another video of this performance has received over 50m hits, you may very well already have seen it. But I only saw it for the first time yesterday (I'm always behind the curve), and when Kurt Nilsen starts to sing, it was a definite Susan Boyle moment.

Of course, there's no law against a chap who looks like a big, amiable lump of a Minnesota farm-boy with dodgy teeth having a superb voice - it's just that the music industry assumes that successful singers have to look like male models. As one of the judges put it on World Idol - a one-off international version of Pop Idol, featuring winners from around the globe (Kurt, obviously, had won the Norwegian version) - "Kurt, you are a hell of a marketing challenge, because you have the voice of an angel, but you look like a Hobbit." Kurt laughed at that - and went on to win the competition.

But it's not Kurt's looks that are surprising (after all, the Irish guy who sang lead in Alan Parker's movie, The Commitments, wasn't exactly an Adonis, and he could sing) - it's a Norwegian sounding like the top act at the Annual US Country Music Awards (and a damn sight better than most of them) that creates cognitive dissonance. Here's Kurt doing what he was evidently born to do - pure country (there's 45" of Kenny Rogers to start with - I reckon Kurt's better!):

Just to underline the point, here he is duetting with none other than Willie Nelson on the old Hank Williams' classic, "Lost Highway":

At Kurt's audition for Pop Idol ten years' ago, most of the judges recommended he stuck to singing with a band, imagining he didn't have what it took to make it as a solo singer. Well, they were wrong - he's had a string of best-selling albums and singles in his home country. But Kurt went on tour as part of a nameless band (dubbed "The New Guitar Buddies" by the Norwegian media), featuring three other impressive singers -  Askil Holm, Espen Lind and Alejandro Fuentes. Here they are doing a splendid version of Bruce Springsteen's "The River":

Hurra for Norge!


  1. Really good singer.

    One of the great mysteries is why a big front-teeth gap [diastema] makes women look sexy [Lauren Hutton, Lorraine Pascal, Beatrice Dalle, Condi Rice, Jane Birkin etc] whereas men with the condition always come across as Afred E. Neuman or Simple Jack.

    Anyway, you are well connected to the orthodontist world in Norway. Why don't you supply Kurt with an introduction?

  2. You make an interesting point about the difference re men and women re the gap between front teeth. I will research.

    I am afraid my Norwegian orthodontic connections have lapsed, but I imagine Kurt has had every dentist in Norway knocking on his door (one of the other singers in the group could do with sorting out as well). I had always imagined that Norwegians were like Americans when it came to their teeth - but they evidently take the same approach as the Scots on this issue.

  3. Caledonian Fang Doctor21 September 2012 at 22:53

    When Celtic marched out in Lisbon to take on Inter-Milan in the 1967 European Cup Final all the Scottish players deposited their false teeth to a man in the goalie's cap which was deposited at the back-post. The Italians were disconcerted by all these toothless mouths. The cap was lost and then found again and the Scots just managed to get their gnashers back in before trooping up to pick up the trophy. It is the soft loch water that erodes the enamel.

  4. Fe fark's sake, I never found mine. I spent a wee fortune on a new set and now youse tell me ma top set's in Bobbie Simpson's cap the while? Thanks a bunch pal. Can I ha' them back, Bobbie?

  5. Ye cannae, Tom, ya wee nyaff - I pawned 'em and spent they money on electric soup. An noo mah heed's mollucated - lucky this is one of mah guid days.

  6. Perhaps the issue with the front teeth is that a correctivemeasure may affect the voice. Leave him be to do what he was born to do.

    1. I never thought of that - you could very well be right. I promise to leave him alone!