Taken by a Stranger

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"Taken by a Stranger"
Shot of Lena wearing a black dress and a white neckless. Information on the song is placed on her left and right.
Single by Lena
from the album Good News
B-side "That Again"
(CD single)
Released 22 February 2011
Format
Genre Electropop
Length 3:25 (Single Version)
3:02 (Eurovision Version)
Label We Love Music
Songwriter(s)
Producer(s)
Lena singles chronology
"Touch a New Day"
(2010)
"Taken by a Stranger"
(2011)
"What a Man"
(2011)
"Touch a New Day"
(2010)
"Taken by a Stranger"
(2011)
"What a Man"
(2011)
Germany "Taken by a Stranger"
Eurovision Song Contest 2011 entry
Country
Artist(s)
As
Lena
Language
Composer(s)
  • Raab
  • Schaub
Lyricist(s)
  • Seyffert
  • Morier
  • Birkenes
Finals performance
Final result
10th
Final points
107
Appearance chronology
◄ "Satellite" (2010)   
"Standing Still" (2012) ►

"Taken by a Stranger" is a song recorded by German singer Lena for her second studio album Good News (2011), released as a CD single on 22 February 2011 by We Love Music. It was written by Gus Seyffert, Nicole Morier and Monica Birkenes, while production was handled by Stefan Raab and Reinhard Schaub. Seyffert had originally penned the track for Birkenes to record, but it was rejected by her label and was eventually handed to Lena. Musically, "Taken by a Stranger" is a 1980s and grufti-influenced electropop song characterized by synthesizer sounds. Lyrically, it revolves around the connection between two strangers. While compared to the works of English band The Cure by one reviewer, other speculated lyrical themes were sadomasochism, psychosexual development, kidnapping, dogging and sexual fantasy.

The track represented Germany in the 2011 Eurovision Song Contest in Düsseldorf, Germany after winning the pre-selection show Unser Song für Deutschland. Lena had already represented the country at Eurovision one year earlier and won the contest. In Düsseldorf, the singer finished in tenth place with a total of 107 points. During her show, Lena performed on a dark stage enhanced with rays of light. She wore a black outfit and several make-up, while accompanied by background dancers and backing vocalists sporting silver body suits. Her performance was well-received by publications, noting its sexual elements.

Music critics gave mixed reviews of the song, praising its unusual style and picking it as a highlight in the contest, but also criticizing its lack of catchiness. Several publications pointed out that the recording counteracted Lena's past public image. At the 2011 1Live Krone Awards, "Taken by a Stranger" was nominated in the Best Single category. Commercially, the track fared moderately on record charts, reaching number two in Germany and peaking within the top 50 in Austria, Switzerland and Ireland. Its promotion consisted of various live performances, as well as the release of an accompanying music video on 24 February 2011. Filmed in Berlin by Wolf Gresenz, it portrays Lena involved in various activities in a hotel room. In 2012, the visual was nominated for an Echo in the Best Video National category. Over the years, "Taken by a Stranger" was covered by acts such as German group The BossHoss in 2017.

Background and release[edit]

"Taken by a Stranger" was written by Gus Seyffert, Nicole Morier and Monica Birkenes, while production was handled by Stefan Raab and Reinhard Schaub.[1] The song was originally penned by Seyffert in 2010 for Birkenes to record for a new studio album, but her label rejected it and eventually handed it to Lena.[2][3] In an interview, Seyffert detailed the development of "Taken by a Stranger": "[Morier and I] squatted together and came up with a tempo and some chords to sing along to. We programmed a beat and I recorded a fast bass and guitar track. Then we took turns singing our melody ideas. When we finally had a tune, we began writing the lyrics."[4] "Taken by a Stranger" was released as a CD single on 22 February 2011 in Germany by We Love Music,[1] and was made available for digital download in various other countries through UMG later in 2011.[5] Lasting three minutes and 25 seconds on its initial release,[1] the song was eventually shortened to three minutes and two seconds for Lena's Eurovision participation per the contest's rules.[6][7]

Composition and lyrical interpretation[edit]

"Taken by a Stranger" has been described as a "sombre", "mystical" and "mysterious" 1980s and grufti-influenced electropop song characterized by synthesizer sounds.[2][8][9][10][11] It is composed in a 4
4
metre
, with is instrumentation consisting of "weird, spooky and confusing sounds".[7][12] An editor of German website Eurovision.de likened "Taken by a Stranger" to the material released by English band The Cure.[13] Christina Rietz, writing for Die Zeit, noted the lyrics' complexity and called the song a "sado-hymn".[12] The Guardian's Andrew Khan regarded the recoding as a "wild-eyed piece of psychosexual drama".[14]

Lyrically, "Taken by a Stranger" revolves with a male and a female that have come closer; however, the latter leaves although the male would have wanted to grow a relationship.[12] Seyffert further stated regarding the song' lyrical message: "We decided on a story of a stranger, who seems a little threatening, or to whom the singer might become threatening. I think it is about expressing a fantasy to be together with a stranger".[4] The Guardian speculated that "Taken by a Stranger" would be dealing with kidnapping and dogging.[15] During the track's "mysterious" refrain, Lena sings several clipped sentences that cross rhyme: "Taken by a stranger/Stranger things are starting to begin/Lured into the danger/Trip me up and spin me round again." Selected words in the chorus are sung in a way to match the accentuation of two beats in the song's 4
4
metre.[12] Masen Abou-Dakn, then-lecturer at the University of Popular Music and Music Business in Mannheim, lauded the song's hook as "[one] on which the listener gets stuck". Abou-Dakn further elaborated sexual fantasy throughout the track's refain, as well as in the strophes; according to him, this is supported by the mention of chairs and blindfolding throughout "Taken by a Stranger".[12]

Reception and accolades[edit]

"Taken by a Stranger" was met with mixed reviews from music critics. Prior to Eurovision, Lena was predicted to reach the top ten in betting odds.[16] Tilmann Aretz of n-tv praised the song's power and picked it as one of his highlights on Unser Song für Deutschland,[11] while Sebastian Leber, writing for Der Tagesspiegel, praised the track for being "unusually modern" and predicted it to stand out among several uptempo songs at Eurovision.[17] German actress Barbara Schöneberger and German singer Adel Tawil both noted that "Taken by a Stranger" positively counteracted Lena's "Li-La-mood girl" public image;[18] several publication also noted this.[19][20][21] In a mixed review, Bild called "Taken by a Stranger" a great "electropop-hymn" but criticized its lack of a catchy melody.[20] Vebooboo Nadella from Wiwibloggs negatively wrote of the song's long build-up to the refrain and questioned that it would impress voters at Eurovision.[22] At the 2011 1Live Krone Awards, "Taken by a Stranger" was nominated in the Best Single category.[23]

Commercially, the track fared moderately on record charts. It debuted and peaked at number two in Germany in March 2011, lasting for 16 consecutive weeks in the chart.[24] In Austria, "Taken by a Stranger" opened the Ö3 Austria Top 40 chart at number 32, eventually reaching its peak position at number 18 in May 2011; it spent eight weeks in the ranking.[25] The song further peaked within the top 30 in Switzerland, the top 50 in Ireland and the top 100 in the Netherlands.[26][27][28] In Belgium, "Taken by a Stranger" failed to enter the Ultratop chart in the Flanders and Wallonia regions, instead reaching the top 40 on the Ultratip extension in both territories.[29][30]

Promotion and other usage[edit]

An accompanying music video for "Taken by a Stranger" was premiered on ARD on 24 February 2011,[31] and later uploaded onto the YouTube channel of MySpassde on 2 March 2011.[32] It was filmed "in a hurry" by Wolf Gresenz in Berlin, Germany.[31] The visual begins with a mirror breaking; Lena picks up the keys for a hotel room from its shards. Entering the room, the singer dances and looks around "grumpily". Following this, she gets ready in front of the bathroom's mirror and "wrestles" with her reflection. The music video ends with Lena jumping into a mirror that breaks, with her disappearing. Interspersed scenes throughout the clip's main plot show female background dancers wearing silver bodysuits, as well as the singer lying on a bed with a pug in her hands.[31][32] At the 2012 Echo Awards, the visual was nominated in the Best Video National category.[33] "Taken by a Stranger" was further promoted by several live performances,[34] and was also covered by German group The BossHoss during the fourth season of German reality television series Sing meinen Song – Das Tauschkonzert (2017) in a rock version.[35]

At Eurovision[edit]

National selection[edit]

After Lena won the Eurovision Song Contest 2010 with her song "Satellite", the Norddeutscher Rundfunk (NDR) confirmed that she would represent Germany a second time and opened a submission period for composers to submit their entries. Lena's song for Eurovision was selected by public televoting during Unser Song für Deutschland, which consisted of two semi-finals, one final and the super final. "Taken by a Stranger" qualified from the first semi-final on 31 January 2011 along with three other songs, while advancing to the super final from the final on 18 February 2011 along with "Push Forward". "Taken by a Stranger" was ultimately selected as Germany's entry for the Eurovision Song Contest 2011 after gathering 79% of the televotes in the super final.[36][37]

In Düsseldorf[edit]

A screenshot of Lena's show at Eurovision. She performs on a dark stage in a "temple of white rays of light".[38]

The Eurovision Song Contest 2011 took place at the Esprit Arena in Düsseldorf, Germany and consisted of two semi-finals on 10 and 12 May, and the final on 14 May 2011. According to the Eurovision rules, all participating countries, except the host country and the "Big Five" (France, Germany, Italy, Spain, and the United Kingdom), were required to qualify from one semi-final to compete for the final; the top ten countries from the respective semi-final progressed to the final.[39] There, Lena performed 16th, preceded by Romania and followed by Moldova.[39]

During her show, Lena sang "Taken by a Stranger" on a dark stage in a "temple of white rays of light", sporting a black outfit and "skyscraper-high" high heels. She wore several make-up and had smokey eyes. The singer was further accompanied by two female backing vocalists and three female background dancers, all sporting silver elastic body suits.[20][21][38] TV Today praised Lena's performance, noting "most erotic hip swings and the most lascivious look".[9] An editor of Eurovision.de lauded the singer's facial expressions onstage that, according to them, enhanced the song's impact.[40] Oberösterreichische Nachrichten noted Lena's sex appeal,[41] while The Guardian compared her stage show to ones conducted by English singers Kate Nash and Cheryl. The publication further likened the background dancers' outfits to those worn by Norwegian band Hole in the Wall.[15] In his book The Palgrave Macmillan Performing the 'New' Europe, Karen Fricker wrote that Lena portrayed a femme fatale, comparing her sexualized appearance to German playwright Frank Wedekind 1895 Lulu play series.[42]

Points awarded to Germany[edit]

Below is a breakdown of points awarded to Germany in the Grand Final of the contest. The country finished in tenth place with a total of 107 points, including ten awarded by Austria, and eight from Belarus, Denmark, Latvia and Switzerland.[43] Overall, Germany came ninth by the public televote with 113 points and tenth by the juries with 104 points.[44]

Track listing[edit]

  • German CD single[1]
  1. "Taken by a Stranger" (Single Version) – 3:25
  2. "That Again" – 3:03
  • Digital download[5]
  1. "Taken by a Stranger" (Single Version) – 3:23
  2. "Taken by a Stranger" (Live) – 3:24

Charts[edit]

Release history[edit]

Region Date Format Label
Germany[1] 22 February 2011 CD single We Love Music
Various[47] N/A 2011 Digital download UMG

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e Taken by a Stranger (Liner notes). Lena. Germany. (Barcode: 0602527646244): We Love Music. 2011. 
  2. ^ a b c "Gus Seyffert kritisiert Lenas Bühnenshow" [Gus Seyffert criticizes Lena's performance] (in German). Bild. 10 May 2011. Archived from the original on 18 March 2018. Retrieved 18 March 2018. 
  3. ^ "Songwriter musste Lena erst mal googeln" [Gus Seyffert had to google Lena first] (in German). Focus. 24 February 2011. Archived from the original on 18 March 2018. Retrieved 18 March 2018. 
  4. ^ a b "Mein Lied hat es zum ESC geschafft" [My song reached the Eurovision Song Contest]. Eurovision.de. ARD. 21 February 2011. Archived from the original on 16 May 2011. Retrieved 18 March 2018. 
  5. ^ a b "Taken by a Stranger – Single von Lena in iTunes". iTunes Store. 2011. Retrieved 18 March 2018. 
  6. ^ Siim, Jarmo (4 March 2011). "Pre-order your Eurovision CD right now!". European Broadcasting Union (EBU). Archived from the original on 28 January 2016. Retrieved 18 March 2018. 
  7. ^ a b "Produzent Gus Seyffert im Interview: "Lena musste ich erst mal googeln"" [Producer Gus Seyffert interviewed: "I had to google Lena first"] (in German). Stern. 24 February 2011. Archived from the original on 29 December 2015. Retrieved 18 March 2018. 
  8. ^ a b "Dauer-Lena-Sendung mit schwachen Quoten" [Only-Lena-Show with low ratings] (in German). Die Zeit. 20 February 2011. Archived from the original on 29 May 2011. Retrieved 18 March 2018. 
  9. ^ a b c "Pressestimmen zum ESC: Düsseldorf gut, Lena zu düster" [Press reaction to the ESC: Düseldorf fine, Lena too sombre] (in German). Augsburger Allgemeine. 16 May 2011. Archived from the original on 23 August 2011. Retrieved 18 March 2018. 
  10. ^ a b "2011: "Unser Song für Deutschland"" (in German). Eurovision.de. ARD. 19 February 2011. Archived from the original on 1 September 2017. Retrieved 18 March 2018. 
  11. ^ a b c Aretz, Tilmann. "Lena singt gegen sich selbst: So wird das nichts" [Lena sings against herself: It won't work this way] (in German). n-tv. Archived from the original on 13 September 2011. Retrieved 18 March 2018. 
  12. ^ a b c d e Rietz, Christina (12 May 2011). "Deutschlands Lena singt quasi eine Sado-Hymne" [Germany's Lena sings a sado-hymn] (in German). Die Zeit. Archived from the original on 27 November 2016. Retrieved 18 March 2018. 
  13. ^ "Die ersten drei Songs für Lena" [The first three song for Lena] (in German). Eurovision.de. ARD. 31 January 2011. Archived from the original on 10 January 2018. Retrieved 18 March 2018. 
  14. ^ Khan, Andrew. "Pop musik: the sound of the charts in ... Germany". The Guardian. Archived from the original on 22 December 2017. Retrieved 18 March 2018. 
  15. ^ a b "Eurovision 2011: the final – live blog". The Guardian. Archived from the original on 19 October 2016. Retrieved 18 March 2018. 
  16. ^ "ESC 2011: Wettquoten sprechen gegen Lena" [ESC 2011: Betting odds rise against Lena] (in German). B.Z. 13 May 2011. Archived from the original on 18 March 2018. 
  17. ^ Leber, Sebastian (9 May 2011). "Mystischer Auftritt" [Mystical performance] (in German). Der Tagesspiegel. Archived from the original on 18 March 2018. Retrieved 18 March 2018. 
  18. ^ "Lena singt beim Grand Prix "Taken by a Stranger"" [Lena sings "Taken by a Stranger" at Eurovision] (in German). Welt. 18 February 2011. Archived from the original on 1 December 2016. Retrieved 18 March 2018. 
  19. ^ "Die Verwandlung von Lena Meyer-Landrut" [The development of Lena Meyer-Landrut] (in German). Stern. 8 June 2017. Archived from the original on 12 September 2017. Retrieved 18 March 2018. 
  20. ^ a b c "Warum hat es Lena diesmal nicht gepackt?" [Why did Lena not win this time?] (in German). Bild. 16 May 2011. Archived from the original on 18 March 2018. Retrieved 18 March 2018. 
  21. ^ a b "Unsere Lena ist erwachsen geworden!" [Our Lena has become an adult] (in German). Bild. 9 May 2011. Archived from the original on 18 March 2018. Retrieved 18 March 2018. 
  22. ^ Nadella, Vebooboo. "Will Lena finish last at Eurovision 2011?". Wiwibloggs. Archived from the original on 7 September 2013. Retrieved 18 March 2018. 
  23. ^ "1Live Krone: Lena rennt – ein Film von 1Live" [1Live Krone: Lena runs – a film by 1Live] (in German). Universal Music Group. 5 February 2011. Archived from the original on 19 March 2018. Retrieved 18 March 2018. 
  24. ^ a b "Offiziellecharts.de – Lena – Taken by a Stranger". GfK Entertainment Charts. Archived from the original on 21 July 2017. Retrieved 17 March 2018. 
  25. ^ a b "Austriancharts.at – Lena – Taken By a Stranger" (in German). Ö3 Austria Top 40. Retrieved 17 March 2018.
  26. ^ a b "Swisscharts.com – Lena – Taken By a Stranger". Swiss Singles Chart. Retrieved 17 March 2018.
  27. ^ a b "Chart Track: Week 20, 2011". Irish Singles Chart. Retrieved 17 March 2018.
  28. ^ a b "Dutchcharts.nl – Lena – Taken By a Stranger" (in Dutch). Single Top 100. Retrieved 17 March 2018.
  29. ^ a b "Ultratop.be – Lena – Taken by a Stranger" (in French). Ultratip. Retrieved 17 March 2018.
  30. ^ a b "Ultratop.be – Lena – Taken by a Stranger" (in Dutch). Ultratip. Retrieved 17 March 2018.
  31. ^ a b c Pilz, Michael (25 February 2011). "In Lenas Musikvideo geht einiges zu Bruch" [Things break in Lena's new music video] (in German). Welt. Archived from the original on 5 April 2013. Retrieved 18 March 2013. 
  32. ^ a b "Lena Meyer-Landrut – Taken by a Stranger (Official Music Video)". YouTube. 2 March 2011. Archived from the original on 3 January 2018. Retrieved 19 March 2018. 
  33. ^ "In den finalen Top 5: Unterstützt Lena beim Echo "Bestes Video National"" [In the final top 5: Support Lena in the Echo "Best National Video" category] (in German). Universal Music Group. 24 February 2012. Archived from the original on 19 March 2018. Retrieved 19 March 2018. 
  34. ^ Citations regarding the live performances of "Taken by a Stranger":
  35. ^ "The BossHoss rocken die Bühne mit "Taken by a Stranger"" [The BossHoss rock the stage with "Taken by a Stranger"] (in German). VOX. 6 June 2017. Archived from the original on 24 September 2017. Retrieved 18 March 2018. 
  36. ^ Unser Song für Deutschland. Cologne, Germany. 31 January – 18 February 2011. 
  37. ^ "Unser Song für Deutschland" (in German). Norddeutscher Rundfunk (NDR). 16 December 2010. Archived from the original on 19 December 2010. Retrieved 16 December 2010. 
  38. ^ a b Heise, Helene (7 May 2011). "Lenas Tanz im Lichttempel" [Lena's dance in the light temple] (in German). Eurovision.de. ARD. Archived from the original on 19 July 2017. Retrieved 18 March 2018. 
  39. ^ a b Eurovision Song Contest 2011. Düsseldorf, Germany. 10–14 May 2011. 
  40. ^ Stober, Marcel (14 December 2017). "Auftritte beim ESC: Das Auge wählt mit" [Performances at Eurovision: The eye chooses] (in German). Eurovision.de. ARD. Archived from the original on 14 December 2017. Retrieved 18 March 2018. 
  41. ^ "Sexy Song Contest-Kandidatinnen: Lena auf Platz eins" [Sexy Song Contest -candidates: Lena is number one] (in German). Oberösterreichische Nachrichten. Archived from the original on 18 March 2018. Retrieved 18 March 2018. 
  42. ^ Fricker, Karen (2013). "The Palgrave Macmillan Performing the 'New' Europe". Google Books. Archived from the original on 18 March 2018. Retrieved 18 March 2018. 
  43. ^ "Eurovision 2011 Results: Voting & Points". Eurovision World. Archived from the original on 19 March 2018. Retrieved 18 March 2018. 
  44. ^ Lee Adams, William. "Eurovision 2011: Complete Jury and Televoting Results". Wiwibloggs. Archived from the original on 19 March 2018. Retrieved 18 March 2018. 
  45. ^ "Chart: CLUK Update 28.05.2011 (wk20) Chart Log UK: New Entries Update". Official Charts Company. Zobbel.de. Retrieved 22 March 2018. 
  46. ^ "Top 100 Single – Jahrescharts – 2011". GfK Entertainment (in German). Official German Charts. Archived from the original on 9 May 2015. Retrieved 17 March 2018. 
  47. ^ Citations regarding the release of "Taken by a Stranger" in various countries: