German teen wins Eurovision Song Contest
Over 100 million watched Lena Meyer-Landrut triumphCOLOGNE, Germany -- Germany has a new sweetheart.
Lena Meyer-Landrut, a 19-year-old amateur singer, has become an overnight pop sensation after winning the Eurovision Song Contest over the weekend.
More than 100 million viewers across Europe watched Lena's improbable triumph Saturday night as her catchy love song "Satellite" beat out the 24 other finalists in the singing competition, a sort of pan-European "American Idol."
A reported 14.7 million Germans tuned in, resulting in an astounding 49% market share for public broadcaster ARD, the kind of ratings usually only seen during major sports competitions.
The celebrations following Lena's win were also comparable to a World Cup victory.
Tens of thousands of fans celebrated at open-air viewing parties in Hamburg, Dusseldorf and Lena's hometown of Hanover. Berlin set off fireworks after the results of the Eurovison voting were announced. Political leaders, including Chancellor Angela Merkel, congratulated the teen, praising her warmth and honesty.
"Europe does like us!" wrote leading German tabloid Bild am Sonntag on its front page Sunday morning.
Many see the Eurovision competition as a tacky display of mawkish power ballads, an accurate description of most of Saturday's live acts. But Germany takes the event very seriously, using the annual vote tally as a barometer of its popularity in Europe.
"Why doesn't anyone like us?" Bild asked in 2008 when the German girl band "No Angels" got zero votes from 40 of 42 countries participating.
But Lena, with her signature short black dress and creative, Bjork-like English pronunciation won over Eurovision fans. She received votes from most countries and was the clear favorite with 246 points. Turkish heavy metal band Manga was a distant second with 170 points.
While most of the acts competing were professionals, Lena is an absolute beginner. She was a complete unknown who had never taken a singing lesson before she won Germany's televised qualifiers for the contest earlier this year. Since then she has become a national celebrity and her rushed-out debut album, "My Cassette Player," an instant hit. She has had three singles in the German top five at the same time, something not even the Beatles or Michael Jackson have managed here.
Lena is only the second German to ever win Eurovision, the last being folk singer Nicole, who won in 1982 with her anti-war ballad "Ein bisschen Freiden" ("A Little Peace"). Nicole's song went on to top the charts across Europe. It remains to be seen whether, after conquering Germany and Eurovision, Lena's "Satellite" can also circle the globe.