A prank video by university students in Germany has brought two of the country's recent obsessions together. But now, what started as a prank has ended in a recording contract with one of the world's largest entertainment companies and looks set to become a big hit in the next few weeks.
Inspired by Germany's victory in the Eurovision song contest in late May, the students, from the town of Münster, performed a parody of the winning song "Satellite," performed by Lena Meyer-Landrut. But the group changed the lyrics of the catchy pop song into an homage to the German national football team, now competing the the World Cup in South Africa. Instead of "Love, oh, Love," the refrain became "Schland, oh, Schland" -- football shorthand for Deutschland (Germany).
The idea of making the Eurovision hit song World Cup-friendly came from student Christian Landgraf. He changed the lyrics and recorded the new version with his brother Matthias and several friends.
Two days later, they made a video to accompany the music. One of the students dressed up as Lena, complete with a brunette wig and danced around in a Münster park, the extras bedecked in red, gold and black scarves and the national football team's shirts. The entire video was shot in under an hour. The group, which began calling itself Uwu Lena, created a web page and the video was posted on YouTube last Thursday.
More than Half Million Hits in Under a Week
The video quickly became what German media have already described as a "cult football hymn." Within less than a week, it had been viewed more than half a million times.
But the video attracted some unwanted attention as well. Before long, the video was removed by music company EMI, which owns the rights to the composition. It considered "Schland Oh Schland" an infringement on the original song's copyright.
Still, there's no such thing as bad publicity. German television personality Stefan Raab, the mastermind behind this year's Eurovision win, became involved. On the website of his production company, TV Total, it was reported that Raab liked the song: "I think it's super and I would like it if the boys got a record contract," Raab said. Rumors also spread on the Internet suggesting that Raab might have been behind the prank from the beginning because his company had trademarked the phrase "Schland Oh Schland" as far back as 2005. Even Lena herself appeared to be a fan of the parody, posting a comment on her Twitter feed saying she thought the song was "really cool."
Prank Song Results in Recording Contract
Universal Music, Lena's label, soon stepped in to express interest in recording the song. The lyrics were translated for the original songwriters -- John Gordon from Denmark and American Julie Frost (the pair has written for artists such as Rihanna and Mariah Carey) -- and the rights were eventually cleared with EMI.
"We came to an agreement yesterday evening," Ulf Switalksi, Uwu Lena's manager, told SPIEGEL ONLINE on Tuesday. "The boys have been celebrating with pizza and beer. We are finalizing the contracts this afternoon and the song will be released online officially on Friday."
The students themselves have been surprised by the attention their hit has received. "How crazy is this? We still cannot believe how much everyone likes this song," they wrote on their Facebook page.
After Germany's solid win against a floundering Australian team, hopes are high that the side in South Africa might produce the second "German miracle" of the year. Lena Meyer-Landrut's win at the Eurovision, after 28 years of losing, has been described as the first "German miracle" of 2010.
And as to whether the merry band of students might become wealthy rock stars after the release of their song, manager Switalski is not so certain. "I don't think they will get rich off this," he told SPIEGEL ONLINE. "Maybe if it became an international hit? But really this is just for Germany. And anyway," he wisely noted, "nobody really gets rich from making music these days."