OSLO (Reuters) - Nineteen-year-old German Lena won the 55th Eurovision song contest with the British-styled pop song “Satellite” Saturday, beating 24 other contestants in one of Europe’s most watched TV programs.
Lena, the second-ever German winner of Eurovision, was an unknown before she won Germany’s qualifiers for the contest and delighted the crowd in the Norwegian capital Oslo with her youthful and energetic personality.
“This is so absolutely awesome. I feel that this is not real,” said the teen-ager, whose full non-stage name is Lena Mayer-Landrut.
“I‘m kind of freaking out. This feels incredibly good.”
Eurovision, which drew 124 million viewers last year, parades a wide array of musical styles in original songs, mostly from relatively unknown artists.
In the self-proclaimed European song championships, flag-draped fans and outrageous outfits are par for the course and contestants mix glitz and kitsch, ballads, rock ‘n’ roll and disco to lure the highest number of votes.
But unlike past years when polished super-productions took center stage, Lena’s fresh and untrained style appealed most.
To promote talent over politically and geographically motivated bloc voting, which has in the past decade mainly rewarded Eastern European countries, professional judges now account for 50 percent of a performer’s score.
The other half comes from the number of telephone and SMS votes each contestant receives, with fans unable to vote for their own country’s entry.
The show was one of the most expensive Eurovision contests ever, with Norwegian broadcaster NRK spending $33 million and having to sell its rights to the soccer World Cup to finance the event.
Four countries had to drop out because of funding woes, including the Czech Republic, Montenegro, Andorra and Hungary.
The competition, whose previous winners have included ABBA and Celine Dion, featured stunts like butterfly wing costumes donned by the Belarus team and sparks from power tools during the Turkish rock entry which won second place overall.
As winner, Germany will host the next Eurovision contest.