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2. Januar 2004  
Norwegian plumber is World Idol

Kurt NilsenBergen plumber turned pop singer Kurt Nilsen repeated his national success on a global scale, becoming the convincing winner of the first "World Idol" competition on Thursday night. Nilsen's unconventional looks were supposed to rule him out of pop stardom, but the power of his voice overcame all obstacles.

Kurt Nilsen raises the World Idol trophy, one of the few clear memories he had in the dizzying finish of the competition.

Nilsen, 25, was reportedly the favorite with the majority of his competitors, and bookmakers began slashing his odds as the final voting approached, but American Kelly Clarkson and Briton Will Young remained top favorites.

But on the night the juries in nine of the 11 participating countries gave Kurt top votes and a crushing victory in the competition. What he actually won, besides a massive trophy, remains to be seen, but the former plumber is now close to gaining an international recording contract.

Nilsen was one of the few artists to impress the ordinarily vicious panel of judges, and the only criticism the toughest of them could find was with the Norwegian's tousled, gap-toothed appearance.

But being told by the UK's Simon Cowell (acting as US judge) that "If this competition had been on radio you'd walk it", and having the Australian judge say he had the voice of an angel but the looks of a hobbit, probably only boosted the Norwegian's popularity with the public.

"I wasn't taunted (by the judges) so badly. None of them got me for the song. And it seems that those who voted for me ignored the jokes about my looks. People are beginning to understand that it isn't just glamour that sells any more, but the opposite. People listen to the music, the song, and that was lucky for me," Nilsen said.

Nilsen was stunned by his victory and was looking forward to continuing to pursue his music career on a larger scale, and agreed that his plumbing days were now behind him.

"And that means that I need to have a think. But I still have my plumbing tools and had to use them at home last week, when a pipe sprung a leak," Nilsen said.

Nilsen, a father of two, is due to release his cover version of Tal Bachman's "She's So High", which was a big hit in Norway, in the UK shortly, according to newspaper The Sun.

Via Aftenposten News in English.

Music [19:17]


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