Open main menu

Kurt Erik Nilsen (born 29 September 1978) is a Norwegian pop/country singer. He won the first season of the Norwegian version of the reality television show Pop Idol, which aired on TV 2 in May 2003. He then won a one-off international version of Pop Idol, called World Idol on 1 January 2004, featuring winners of the various national Idol shows.

Kurt Nilsen
Kurt Nilsen live at Ravnefest 2013.jpg
Background information
Birth nameKurt Erik Kleppe Nilsen
Also known asIdol-Kurt
Born (1978-09-29) 29 September 1978 (age 41)
OriginBergen, Norway
Occupation(s)Singer, songwriter
InstrumentsSinging, guitar, drums, bass, piano
Years active2001–present



Upon leaving school, Nilsen made his living as a plumber. Nilsen became the lead singer in the Norwegian band Fenrik Lane. He is a left-handed musician and plays his guitar with the strings upside down. He appeared on and won Norwegian Idol with 54% of the votes against Gaute Ormåsen. He is one of only seven contestants in the Norwegian Idol history who succeeded in staying out of "bottom three/two" places in weekly votes.

His subsequent single, "She's So High", written by Tal Bachman, went straight to number one in the Norwegian VG-lista singles chart and is among the biggest-selling singles in Norway to date. His debut album was simply called I.

World IdolEdit

He subsequently won the title for the World Idol on 1 January 2004, singing the hit "Beautiful Day" by U2, beating competitors from ten other nations, including the more famous Idol winners, Britain's Will Young, and favourite Kelly Clarkson of the United States, and scoring the first place in 10 out of 11 countries eligible to vote for him (Norwegian voters being unable to vote for him).

In the show presenting the entries on 25 December, Ian Dickson, the Australian (English ex-pat) judge, said: "Kurt, you are a hell of a marketing challenge, because you have the voice of an angel, but you look like a Hobbit."[1] The comment made Kurt laugh out loud.

Post-Idol careerEdit

His second CD, A Part of Me, released in 2004, contains only his own material.

Kurt Nilsen performing in Oslo, Norway
Kurt Nilsen and Marion Raven performing "It's All Coming Back to Me Now" at Tusenfryd amusement park for employees of StatoilHydro, 22. August 2007.

Nilsen performed the duet, "It's All Coming Back to Me Now", alongside Norwegian Pop/Alternative Rocker, Marion Raven at the One Call Event. Taking the place of Meat Loaf, with whom Raven recorded the track for the album Bat Out of Hell III

In 2006, he and three other Norwegian artists Askil Holm, Espen Lind and Alejandro Fuentes, all in the same management, joined forces and went on tour in March as what was known by the media as "The New Guitar Buddies".

Initially, they planned a short tour (five to six concerts), but ended up playing for more than 100,000 people during their tour of around 30 concerts. Although they had not planned to, they subsequently released a live album from that tour.

Nilsen performed the duet "When You're Gone" alongside English pop singer, and former-Spice Girls member, Melanie C at the Top 20 event at Rådhusplassen in Oslo, Norway in the summer of 2007.

In 2008, in connection with his latest and country flavoured album Rise to the Occasion Kurt teamed up with American music legend Willie Nelson to perform the old country music standard "Lost Highway". The song was an instant hit in his native Norway and helped him top both the single chart, the album chart and the radio chart all at once.[2]

In 2009, "The New Guitar Buddies" was back with a new tour and a new album, including one concert on 9 May 2009 at Rockefeller Oslo.

Spring 2010 saw Kurt touring Norway with an acoustic concert tour in intimate concert halls. His guest artist was Elin Gaustad, who was a competitor in Norway's first X Factor show in 2009. In late February 2010, Kurt and Elin sang the duet "The Water is Wide" on the TV2 show Senkveld, to great acclaim.

In 2010, Kurt recorded a Christmas song album entitled Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas with the Kringkastingsorkester (KORK), the Norwegian Radio Orchestra. It was released on 15 November 2010 in Norway. He performs with this orchestra and some guest artists at Lillestrøm messecenter, near Oslo on 18 December 2010. It was broadcast live on NRK television. The album stayed at the top of the Norwegian Albums Chart for 5 consecutive weeks (48/2010 to 52/2010)

2011 saw Kurt going on the road on a new tour in addition to playing at a number of music festivals and venues.

On 15 September 2012, it was announced on the official Norwegian Idol website that Kurt will be the second of an all-new four-member jury of former Idol contestants to celebrate 10 years since the debut of Idol in Norway. Another judge joining in was season three runner-up Tone Damli Aaberge.[3]

Personal lifeEdit

In January 2005, Nilsen broke up with his fiancée, Kristine Jacobsen. They had been together for 11 years and had two children together: Marte (born 1996) and Erik (born 2000). In January 2006, Kurt's new girlfriend Kristin gave birth to her first and Nilsen's third child, Lucas. They married later that year, then separated in May 2013.

Nilsen has received national attention for his guitar-shaped alpine hut, in the Hardangervidda in Norway.[4][5]


The following is a discography of albums and singles released by Norwegian music artist Kurt Nilsen.

Kurt Nilsen discography
Studio albums7


Title and details Chart positions[6] Singles
  • Released: 8 September 2003
  • Released: 15 March 2004[7]
    (International version of I, includes "Beautiful Day")
  • Label: SonyBMG
1 58 8 19 51 69
A Part of Me
  • Released: 8 November 2004
  • Label: RCA
  • "My Street"
  • "Before You Leave"
  • "Never Easy"
Push Push
  • Released: October 2007
  • Label: RCA
  • "Push, Push"
  • "Silence"
  • "Reality Kicks"
Rise to the Occasion
  • Released: April 2008
  • Peak chart positions:[8]
  • Label: RCA
1 39
Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas
  • Released: 2010
  • Peak chart positions:[8]
  • Label: RCA
  • "Himmel på jord"
Inni en god periode
  • Released: 2013
  • Label: Sony Music
Kurt Nilsen Live
  • Released: 2013
  • Label: Sony Music
  • Released: 10 February 2017
  • Label: Sony Music

Collective albums (live)Edit

Title and details Chart positions[6] Singles
Hallelujah – Live 1
Hallelujah – Live Volume 2 1


Year Title Chart positions[6] Album
2003 "She's So High" 1 60 42 9 25 16 38 91 25 I
2004 "Here She Comes" 12 53
"All You Have to Offer"
"My Street" A Part of Me
"Before You Leave" 52
2005 "Never Easy"
2006 "When the Stars Go Blue" (featuring Venke Knutson) 14 Venke Knutson's Places I've Been
"Hallelujah" (with Espen Lind, Askil Holm and Alejandro Fuentes) 1 Hallelujah – Live
"Boys of Summer" (with Espen Lind, Askil Holm and Alejandro Fuentes) 12
2007 "Push, Push" 1 Push Push
"Silence" 9
2008 "Reality Kicks" 20
"Lost Highway" (featuring Willie Nelson) 1 Rise to the Occasion
"Don't Have What It Takes" 19
"Rise to the Occasion" 38
2009 "With or Without You" (with Espen Lind, Askil Holm and Alejandro Fuentes) 1 Hallelujah – Live Volume 2
2010 "Himmel på jord" 4 Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas
2013 "Adieu" 9 TBA
"Engler i sneen" (with Lene Marlin) 7 TBA
2014 "Stjernesludd" 21 Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas
"Gje meg handa di venn"
(with Helene Bøksle)
"Nå tennes tusen julelys"
(with KORK)

Other releasesEdit

  • 1998 Shoe (with former band Breed; later Fenrik Lane)
  • 2002 Come Down Here (EP) (Norwegian album charts: #2)[10] (with Fenrik Lane)
  • 2003 Idol '03 (Norwegian album charts: #1)
  • 2011 Mitt lille land, with other artists

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "Kurt Nilsen: World Idol Comments".
  2. ^ Trippel listetopp for Kurt Nilsen og Willie Nelson – Farojournalen Archived 10 May 2008 at the Wayback Machine
  3. ^ "Nå blir Kurt Nilsen "Idol"-dommer" (in Norwegian). TV2. Retrieved 15 September 2012.
  4. ^ Alexander Nyhagen. "Se Kurt Nilsens gitar-hytte!". VG.
  5. ^ "Kurt Nilsen bygger gitar-hytte". Archived from the original on 24 August 2007.
  6. ^ a b c Discography Kurt Nilsen. Retrieved 21 March 2008.
  7. ^ Kurt Nilsen Archived 14 June 2006 at the Wayback Machine, Norwegian Bandindex
  8. ^ a b "VGlista – Kurt Nilsen".
  9. ^ "VG-lista – Topp 40 Album uke 7, 2017". VG-lista. Retrieved 18 February 2017.
  10. ^ "VGlista – Fenrik Lane".

External linksEdit

Preceded by
Idol (Norway)

Succeeded by
Kjartan Salvesen
Preceded by
World Idol

Succeeded by