By Adrian Thrills for MailOnline
Updated: 07:00 EDT, 2 July 2010
Teutonic: Lena Meyer-Landrut is releasing her debut album in the UK after winning Eurovision
With its dubious novelty hits, bizarre titles and singers who sink without trace after amassing ‘nul points’ – and that’s just the British entrants – the Eurovision Song Contest is not noted for its enduring contributions to pop.
There are exceptions, of course. Abba launched a glittering career after winning with Waterloo in 1974, and Celine Dion (a French-Canadian singing for Switzerland) warbled her way to victory and global super-stardom in 1988.
Finnish hard rockers Lordi added something different four years ago with monster masks and pyrotechnics.
Now there is Lena Meyer-Landrut, an insouciant 19-year-old German who emerged as an emphatic winner – as the Germans are tending to do this summer – at this year’s contest in Oslo.
A Hanover student who was still doing the equivalent of her A-levels in April, Lena triumphed five weeks ago with Satellite, a raucous pop track sung in heavily accented English.
Performing in front of a TV audience of 124 million, her charisma and easy charm provided a welcome relief from her well-drilled rivals.
‘ I used to watch the Eurovision Song Contest, but I wasn’t a fan,’ she admits. ‘The show wasn’t liked in Germany. It was seen as old-fashioned – something for grandma and grandpa.
‘When they chose me to sing, they were trying to make it more fun for young people. But I didn’t use pyrotechnics or dancers. I didn’t even take it too seriously. I just enjoyed myself.’
In tight jeans and a casual top, dark-haired Lena doesn’t draw as much as a second glance from passersby when we meet for a coffee in London’s Holland Park.
If a similar scene were being played out in Berlin or Cologne, the reaction would be different . A national heroine in her homeland, Lena was greeted with street parties, fireworks and 40,000 fans when she returned home to Hanover as the country’s first Eurovision winner in 28 years.
Now she is aiming to make an impact in the UK with a debut album, My Cassette Player, which earmarks her as a Teutonic equivalent of British singers such as Kate Nash and Adele.
Speaking In perfect English, she says: ‘When I was auditioning for Eurovision, I sang Kate Nash’s Foundations and Mouth Wash. I also did an Adele song. I can sing those songs, as I’m the same age as those girls.’
Like her female idols, the sweet yet quietly determined Lena is no media-trained pop puppet, despite her Eurovision springboard.
Rising star: Meyer-Landruth has a similar style to Kate Bush and Adele, who she has named as inspirations
The only child of a middle-class, single-parent mother, she is the granddaughter of former diplomat Andreas Meyer-Landrut, German ambassador to the Soviet Union as the Cold War ended in the Eighties.
She entered Germany’s Eurovision auditions – held on a TV talent contest – on a whim after surfing the show’s website. ‘I’d never had any professional training or entered a talent contest, so I didn’t tell my friends. I didn’t want any stupid comments if I got kicked out straight away.
‘I treated the whole thing as a game.
The first concert Lena went to was Britney Spears in Hanover. ‘I was only eight and too small to dance, so we stayed in our balcony seats,’ she says
The German viewers chose me for who I am, so I didn’t think they would be too annoyed if I lost.’
Having just finished school, Lena’s original plan was to study drama at the Ernst Busch School For Performing Arts in Berlin. A ballerina in her childhood, she saw her future as an actress rather than a singer until Eurovision.
She expresses sympathy for Britain’s hapless Josh Dubovie, who finished last after amassing a mere ten points (Lena scored 246).
‘Josh is a nice guy, and we talked a lot,’ she says. ‘I liked his song, but the presentation was too safe. We took more chances. I wore a little dress rather than my usual jeans, but my clothes were nothing special. I was still being myself.’
It remains to be seen whether Lena, already a star in Scandinavia and a success in Australia and Ireland, can now break through in the UK.
Her debut album contains worthwhile covers of Ellie Goulding’s Not Following and Adele’s My Same, plus some slick originals that remind me a little of another German singer, Nena, who topped the UK charts with 99 Red Balloons in 1984.
On the downside, My Cassette Player also sounds hurried, and Lena admits she would have liked more time to find her feet musically before entering the studio.
‘I’m proud of the album,’ she says. ‘But I want to spend more time writing songs for the next one. I’d like to work with some of the singers I admire, maybe Kate Nash or Paolo Nutini, to help me come up with better songs.’
With her victory still fresh, Lena, unusually for a Eurovision winner, is vowing to defend her title next year. You wouldn’t bet against another victory.
‘I don’t know whether the UK will grow to like me, but I’m going to do all I can to convince people,’ she adds. ‘If that doesn’t work, I’ll always have my success in Europe. It’s all pretty crazy, but this is just the start.’
MY CASSETTE PLAYER and Satellite are out now on Universal.
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