OSLO (Reuters) - Nineteen-year-old German Lena won the 55th Eurovision song contest with the British-styled pop number “Satellite” on Saturday, beating 24 other contestants in one of Europe’s most watched TV programs.
Lena, the second 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 teenager, 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 and glamorized American-style performers took center stage, Lena’s fresh and uncontrived 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.
Lena, who is awaiting her high school exam results, bubbled with spontaneity and charm, asking the hosts “Do I have to sing now?” when she was awarded the top spot after votes from 39 countries were counted.
She performed in a tight short black dress, singing a catchy modern love song that included the lyrics: “Love my aim is straight for you, Cupid’s arrow is just for you, I even painted my toenails for you, I did it just the other day.”
When the Hanover native entered the Eurovision preliminaries in Germany, she did not tell her friends “so there wouldn’t be any stupid comments if I got kicked out straight away.”
Before then she had trained only as a dancer, shot homemade videos and had a few attempts at singing with a school band.
The show was one of the most expensive Eurovision contests, 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 - 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.