A stunned Germany is celebrating its unlikely "Wunderfräulein" Lena for cruising to victory with her song "Satellite" in the Eurovision Song Contest on Saturday. Newspaper commentators here see the first win for a German performer in 28 years as a sign that Europeans are finally warming to them.
This nation, accustomed for decades to being regarded with suspicion, fear and dislike due to its Nazi past, is so paranoid about its image abroad that it scrutinizes its rankings each year in the continent's annual festival of glitzy pop mediocrity.
This year, one might have thought Germany would be showered with "null points" because of its reluctance to bail out Greece in the euro crisis. But 19-year-old Lena cruised to victory with a down-to-earth, unpretentious performance that evidently came as a welcome contrast to the usual Eurovision pop kitsch.
Europe must have been gasping for a change because Lena can't sing especially well and her awkwardly restrained, unintentionally robotic dance movements prompted unflattering comparisons with Joe Cocker's stage style. Not to mention her bizarre English accent.
In true German style, commentators in the nation's broadsheet papers have detected a deeper meaning in Lena's victory and in the song contest per se.
At a time of crisis and division in the European Union over how to respond to the budget problems that have sent the single currency into a tailspin, the contest is a much-needed sign of European togetherness, they say. It showed younger generations enjoying the freedoms that were just a dream in 1982 when Nicole won the song contest for Germany with "Ein Bisschen Frieden" ("A Little Peace").
Lena's victory, some newspapers believe, is a sign that Europe is finally putting the anti-German sentiments of the past behind it. It also holds an important lesson for the economically mighty Teutonic nation -- its neighbors like it best when it stays modest and doesn't throw its weight about.
More importantly, yet utterly unreasonably, some commentators are hoping that Lena's win will provide much-needed impetus for the national soccer team in the World Cup starting on June 11.
The left-wing Die Tageszeitung writes:
"Her song was not necessarily the most original one and her performance definitely wasn't the most exciting, and the 19-year-old high school student from Hanover definitely didn't have the greatest voice heard in Oslo that night. But all the criteria that usually get so much weight only played a subordinate role in the end because Lena Meyer-Landrut made up for her shortcomings with her cheeky charm and unabashed girlishness. This was a victory of the down-to-earth over testosterone and deep cleavage of the stage professionals, of simplicity over perfect show stunts."
"In political and economic terms, Germany may have the greatest weight in Europe. But the country only manages to charm its neighbors when it appears a little awkward, almost naive and modest. In that respect, Lena Meyer-Landrut has successfully applied the Merkel principle to the music world."
The conservative daily Die Welt writes:
"It's a very special feeling: 'Twelve points go to -- Germany!' Points for Germany. Many points. People like us. At least we're not being rejected. We haven't had this feeling since Nicole's victory in 1982 with 'Ein bisschen Frieden.'"
"Lena looks as if she's just tumbled out of bed in her student hall of residence, she sings in English with a strange accent and narrowly misses the right notes. In her plain black dress she's simply Lena. Perhaps a little more friendly, personal and more natural than the others. Her song didn't hurt anyone. That was enough for her to cruise to victory."
The center-right Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung equates Lena's win with the Wimbledon victories of Boris Becker and Steffi Graf, and writes:
"This often discredited song competition and the surprising German win are events confirming that in these difficult times, which are more difficult than ever for the EU, it's possible for a pan-European public to agree in a remarkably fair and scandal-free way on aesthetic issues that have an impact on society and don't just serve superficial interests. Lena Meyer-Landrut's triumph in Oslo shows us, if only for a moment, that Europe has another currency that everyone can agree on -- the human-artistic one."
Mass circulation daily Bild tries to draws parallels with the next big competition, the football World Cup starting on June 11, and presents photo montages of German national team players wearing Lena wigs under the headline: "Boys, now you've got to do a Lena." The paper writes:
"How often was it said in the past that Europe doesn't like us Germans whenever we once again got zero points. To many, the contest was an annual barometer of what our neighbors think about us."
"We thought we had become too big, too arrogant, too humorless as a nation for our neighbors. We thought it was envy that had prevented us from winning for 28 years. But, no, we were simply bad! Lena was simply good. Better than the others. More natural. More affable. A girl has enchanted Europe. A German. It's nonsense when we Germans think no one likes us. We've just got to hit the right note!"
The left-wing Berliner Zeitung writes:
Lena "torpedoes the fond myth of German hopelessness. (...) Lena's charm offensive is resonating around Europe and generating an astoundingly pronounced sense of belonging that stretches from Riga to Barcelona. The young Europe is celebrating itself and its freedom to go wherever it wants with Easyjet and Mastercard. Even a country like Belarus, which is largely deprived of such freedoms, is pushing to join in."
SPIEGEL ONLINE commentator Reinhard Mohr writes:
"The miracle of Oslo is the realization that the historically all-too-justified misgivings about Germany no longer play a role for a large majority of European nations. The miracle of Oslo reminds one a little of the 'summer fairy tale' during the football World Cup in Germany in 2006. And who knows: Lena's spectacular success might give our players some impetus. Everything's possible now."