Norway’s Eurovision entry Alessandra: “My body always knew that I was gonna do this”
Norway’s Eurovision 2023 entry Alessandra has opened up to NME about the meaning behind her song ‘Queen Of Kings’, and how her entire life has been leading up to this moment.
At just 20-years-old, Alessandra has already undergone years of preparation. Set to take to the Eurovision stage in Liverpool this week, the half-Italian, half-Norwegian singer will be representing the latter with her song ‘Queen Of Kings’ – starting with the semi-finals tonight (Tuesday May 9).
Explaining the meaning behind the track, she told NME that the inspiration came from those moments of difficulty and self-doubt which, tackling them head-on, and becoming empowered. “It represents someone, a queen that has gone through a lot in life, but has learned so much from it,” she explained. “She will rise up because of all the shit that she has been going through. It’s a great example of: ‘Feel the pain for one or two days, or how long it has to be, and then because you felt it, you’re going to grow out of it.’”
She continued: “I see myself in her – I think that a lot of people can see themselves in ‘Queen of Kings’ because everyone goes through their stuff and sometimes it’s difficult to stand in it.”
Alessandra has already made a name for herself in her native Norway, having made it through to the live performance rounds in their version of The Voice last year, where she was mentored by songwriter Espen Lind (Beyoncé, Taylor Swift).
However, despite the momentum she has been gathering over recent months, the singer explained the contradiction she felt when it came to putting herself forward for the iconic Eurovision Song Contest: on one hand, the competition had never played a big role in her life, on the other, it felt like an opportunity that she was always destined for.
“It’s never been a path that I knew that I was going to do,” she said. “I’ve never been a dying fan. I’ve watched it — I think it’s amazing and I love Eurovision — but it’s never been like, ‘Oh, today there’s Eurovision so we have to go watch’. But still, there’s always been a feeling inside of me when I watched it… like, unconsciously my body always knew that I was gonna do this.”
Alessandra soon uncovered how big a role the show has played in her life, and recalled that her first memory of performing came from her love of pop icons and past Eurovision winners ABBA. She discovered her love of singing when she was just six-years-old, and would plead with her brother to perform a rendition of ‘Dancing Queen’ on the family’s karaoke machine.
She also credited her experience of being bullied as a child as a pivotal moment in her life, and one that helped make her the perfect candidate to share a message of resilience. “My main reason [for entering Eurovision 2023] is the message that I wanna give through my music… this empowerment,” she explained.
“In elementary school, I was bullied. I remember thinking, ‘OK, I can’t do this anymore… I’ve got to get away from here,’ and that decision changed my whole life… I got a lot of confidence from that. I think that’s the biggest reason why I am like I am now.”
That being said, she still has a competitive approach, and given Norway’s hit-and-miss history with the contest — finishing last more times than anyone else, but also winning three times and having the biggest margin of victory ever in 2009 — the pressure is on for Alessandra to be on the side of the latter. Many are touring Alessandra as a favourite to win this year.
“Of course I’m working to win Eurovision,” she affirmed. “If someone else deserves to win, then good for them, but still I want to work for that [victory]. I don’t usually talk about artists as my competition because I just do my performance and do what I love. But in an objective way and in the competition side of it, then I think that Loreen [who is representing Sweden, with her song ‘Tattoo’] is my biggest competition.”
As for what to expect on the night of her performance and hopes to make it to the finale (May 13), Alessandra told NME that her set will be just as majestic as the queen depicted in her song. “The choreography is going to be adapted for the stage,” she revealed. “I’m so excited for the costume — it’s modern, but takes the idea from Elizabeth I. It’s like a modernised her: royal, but still you have the warrior taste of it.”
Despite being half the age of last year’s Norwegian contestants Subwoofer — the electronic duo revealed to be Ben Adams from ’90s boyband A1 and Norwegian musician and Idol runner up, Gaute Ormåsen — Alessandra has an noticeable maturity when it comes to her abilities as a musician, largely due to the vigorous process it takes to be selected as the country’s representative.
Unlike the majority of countries taking part, in Norway the act chosen to perform at Eurovision is decided through a television show called the Melodi Grand Prix. Organised by NRK (the country’s equivalent of the BBC), the contest sees 21 artists battle it out over three weeks for the chance to become Norway’s entry.
Having beat off the competition to be crowned the winner of the series, Alessandra also enlisted in a year-long course at LIMPI, a prestigious “pop music boot camp”, designed to discover the genre stars of tomorrow.
“The voice was a TV programme. MGP is a TV programme. Eurovision is a TV programme. So I think that helped me a lot,” she said, revealing how these high-pressure environments have helped her prepare for next week’s finale. “Being with cameras and stuff all the time, also being on a stage where a lot of people can see you… I don’t get pressure now. I know who I am and I’ll do what I can do.”
It soon becomes clear that when discussing what she is capable of, she isn’t simply referring to her potential in the competition, but rather her plans for the future too.
Following its online debut, ‘Queen Of Kings’ gathered over five million views on YouTube, hit the Number One Spot in her native Norway, cracked the Top 40 in several other countries, and became a viral sensation on TikTok by racking up over 260million views; but according to the singer, this is only the start.
“I felt blessed. I thought: ‘Wow, so this is what I’m really supposed to be doing,’” she said, discussing the response to the song. “I’d never got such a big reaction to it before, so then when I got it, I was like, ‘OK, so I’m gonna do this’.
“Now I’m writing so many songs,” she added, telling fans what to expect after her appearance at Eurovision. “We’re gonna have a lot of new songs and maybe albums, stuff like that.”
The Eurovision Song Contest takes place in Liverpool this week, with the UK hosting in honour of last year’s winners Ukraine. The semi-finals take place on Tuesday 9 and Thursday 11 May, before the grand finals on Saturday 13 May. Check out all of the competing songs here.
Sam Ryder, Netta and Kalush Orchestra are among the previous Eurovision stars confirmed to perform at the final, while Frankie Goes To Hollywood this weekend reunited for their first performance in 36 years and Sophie Ellis-Bextor and Charlotte Church will also be playing in Liverpool’s Eurovision village. Not only that, but Music Venue Trust also this week announced a free show with The Lightning Seeds on the site.