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Kurt Erik Nilsen (born September 29, 1978 in Bergenmarker, Norwaymarker) is a Norwegianmarker 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 January 1, 2004, featuring winners of the various national Idol shows.


Upon leaving school, Nilsen made his living as a plumber. . Nilsen became the lead singer in the Norwegian band Fenrik Lane. He appeared on and won Pop Idol with 54% of the votes against Gaute Ormåsen. His subsequent single, "She's So High", written by Tal Bachman, went straight to number one in the Norwegian singles chart and is among the biggest-selling singles in Norway to date. His debut album was simply called I.

He subsequently won the vote for the World Idol title on January 1, 2004, singing the hit "Beautiful Day" by U2, beating competitors from ten other nations, including the more famous Idols, Britainmarker's Will Young, and favourite Kelly Clarkson of the United Statesmarker, 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 December 25, Ian Dickson, the Australian (English ex-pat) judge, said: "You have the voice of an angel, but you look like a Hobbit." Nilsen's gap-toothedness did not seem to bother the viewers and voters, though.

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

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 Bat Out Of Hell 3 album

Nilsen is left-handed and plays his guitar with the strings upside down. He is one of only seven contestants in the Idol history who succeeded in staying out of “bottom three/two” places in weekly votes along with Gaute Ormåsen (season 1), Susanne Nordbøe (season 2), Jorun Stiansen (season 3), Alejandro Fuentes (season 3), Tone Damli Aaberge (season 3) and Jonas Thomassen (season 4). Of them, Nilsen and Stiansen went on to win the competition.

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 just a short tour (five to six concerts), but they got so popular that they 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 that turned out to be the fastest selling album of all time in Norway. So far they have sold around 250,000 copies of it. On the heels of this success, they released a live DVD, which also soon became a commercial hit. After only two weeks, it was almost the best-selling music DVD of all time in Norway.

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 Americanmarker 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.

In 2009 "The New Guitar Buddies" will be back with a new tour and a new album, tour start is scheduled to be May 9, Rockefeller Oslo.

Personal life

In January 2005, he 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).

Nilsen has received national attention for his guitar-shaped alpine hut, in the Hardangerviddamarker in Norway.


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


Statistics Singles
  • Released: September 8, 2003
  • Released: March 15, 2004 (International version of I, includes "Beautiful Day")
  • Peak chart positions:
  • Label: SonyBMG
A Part of Me
  • Released: November 8, 2004
  • Peak chart positions:
  • Label: SonyBMG
  • "My Street"
  • "Before You Leave"
  • "Never Easy"
Push Push
  • Released: October 2007
  • Peak chart positions:
  • Label: Sony BMG
  • "Push, Push"
  • "Silence"
  • "Reality Kicks"
Rise To The Occasion
  • Released: April 2008
  • Peak chart positions:
  • Label: Sony BMG


Year Title Chart positions Album
NO BEmarker NLmarker NZ ATmarker CHmarker PL
2003 "She's So High" 1 9 16 38 42 91 - I
2004 "Here She Comes" 12 - - - - - -
"All You Have to Offer" - - - - - - -
"My Street" - - - - - - - A Part of Me
"Before You Leave" - - - - - - -
2005 "Never Easy" - - - - - - -
2006 "When the Stars Go Blue" (featuring Venke Knutson) 14 - - - - - - Venke Knutson's Places I've Been
"Push, Push" 1 - - - - - - Push Push
2007 "Silence" 9 - - - - - 23
2008 "Reality Kicks" 20 - - - - - 48
"Lost Highway" (featuring Willie Nelson) 1 TBR TBR TBR TBR TBR TBR Rise to the Occasion
"Rise to the Occasion" - TBR TBR TBR TBR TBR TBR

Other releases

  • 1998 Shoe (with former band Breed; later Fenrik Lane)
  • 2002 Come Down Here (EP) (Norwegian album charts: #2) (with Fenrik Lane)
  • 2003 Idol '03 (Norwegian album charts: #1)
  • 2006 Hallelujah - Live (Norwegian album charts: #1) (Kurt Nilsen, Espen Lind, Askil Holm and Alejandro Fuentes)

#1 Singles in Norway


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