It’s no secret that the Nordic countries excel at making pop music. Just look at their Eurovision entries – these aren’t throwaway songs, or bits of naff fluff… this is serious business. This year, Norway’s Alessandra is already making headlines, with her take on ‘Queen Of Kings’ already becoming a hit across Europe.
With more than 50 million streams across various platforms, Alessandra has clearly hit a chord. Little wonder – it’s a total banger, a blast of Euro-pop from a half-Norwegian, half-Italian artist with an innate ability to connect.
Charging through Melodi Grand Prix – the Norwegian qualifying heats – this young artist now has her sights set on Liverpool. Clash spoke to Alessandra in the days running up to Eurovision to see what makes this vocalist tick.
How are you feeling today?
Great! I’m drinking my ginger tea.
Important to look after your voice!
As you do.
Are you feeling any nerves ahead of Eurovision?
I’m just totally focussed on being able to give 100%. I’ve had a cold for weeks now, so I’m working on getting rid of it!
You played a special Eurovision event in London recently, how was it?
It was really fun! I’ve done a few of these parties, and I always want to make it fun. That was my first time in the UK, actually. I wanted to go and see Pearl Jam there once, actually, but I couldn’t go… as I was too afraid to fly!
Did you get to see Big Ben and Buckingham Palace this time?
I didn’t have time! But after Eurovision I am 100% going to London and see the city.
‘Queen Of Kings’ is a massive, massive banger. What was it like piecing it together in the studio?
It was great! The writing was really serious and focussed, but the actual recording was fun because it’s so fun to sing.
Why do you feel this song has connected with people in such an evident way?
It gives you power. It makes you want to run, makes you want to dance… it makes you not want to do your chores! The song gives you empowerment.
You shared an Italian version, too.
I’m Italian and Norwegian. My mom is Norwegian. It came out of the blue. It was like, oh what if we released it in Italian? I wrote the chorus in five minutes, so we thought… why not?
Even winning Melodi Grand Prix is a fantastic achievement, what was that journey like?
It’s a big undertaking, as there are semi finals, and the final. I wasn’t the favourite, and there were other, better known artists in there. So I was so happy to win! I didn’t expect it at all.
How did it feel when your name was read out?
I wanted to throw up! (laughs) No, it was amazing.
Did you grow up watching Eurovision?
I was aware of it, for sure. I only really watched recently with friends. I have some fond memories. I always felt, deep down, I would be a part of it. I’m not sure why. A sub-conscious thing.
What is Eurovision like behind the scenes? Do the artists support each other?
I haven’t met anyone who is competitive. Loreen – from Sweden – is a little older than me, and she’s been so, so helpful.
Eurovision is very democratic isn’t it? It’s about the song, and most of the time the big artists don’t actually win.
It’s beautiful… because it’s all about the song. Which is the most important thing!
Do you have any pre-show rituals?
I do voice exercises. I drink tea. (laughs) I also do weird movements! I do weird expressions with my face. It helps before you go onstage.
It must help with over-thinking.
Oh completely. I make weird noises too… like a monkey!
What do you think is going to happen if you win the whole contest?
I’m not sure. I was talking about this with my boyfriend earlier, and we spoke about taking a vacation to Italy or Spain after it’s all done. And he said, remember, if you win then we won’t have time! So we’ll see what happens.
Why are Nordic countries so fantastic at producing great pop music?
It’s the whole process. Before Eurovision, they have camps where people write songs. And then they chose from one of those. It’s not about the person, it’s about the song… and also the voice. I think that’s why the entries are so strong. It’s so well organised.
The Eurovision final takes place on May 13th.