In 2001, native Norwegian Maria Mena became a teen signing sensation when her single "My Lullaby" blew up in that country on ringtone and radio.
More singles followed, as did the hot-selling album Another Phase, and Mena's cred spread throughout Europe. By 2004 Mena was 18, and ready to take her dark-eyed glamour and smooth, faintly-alternative pop (aided in craft by Norwegian songwriter/producer Arvid Solvang) on to the international stage. First, her Mellow LP saw Scandinavian and European issue in January of that year. It was supported by the single "You're the Only One," a sonic sister to Alanis Morissette
's "Hands Clean," and similarly first-person confessional ("You're the only one who holds my hair back when I'm drunk and get sick"). Then, in spring, the single appeared on U.S. shores, with eager adds at tastemaking Top 40 outlets. By May, the video clip for "You're the Only One" -- which might as well have been a Noxema ad with its shots of squeaky-clean teens horsing around and generally looking vibrant and great -- was entrenched at MTV's TRL. Something called the Teen People Rock 'n' Shop Mall Tour was next for Mena. As crazy as the gig sounded, direct-to-audience marketing of this type had been successfully introducing teen pop stars from the hair spray days of Tiffany
to the neckties and scowls of Avril Lavigne
. White Turns Blue, Mena's full-length domestic debut, dropped in July 2004. It featured slightly tweaked tracks from Mena's European output, and put a point on her well-timed U.S. pop takeover. ~ Johnny Loftus, Rovi