But they wanted to do things a little differently. In the past German contestants had already either been successful in German entertainment in their own right, or else they were "manufactured" artists, groomed by seasoned entertainment industry professionals especially for the contest. But this time, in the first co-operative venture between private broadcaster ProSieben and public channel ARD, they decided to put together a talent show which would seek out what is known within the industry as "authentic" performers. That is, performers who were not manufactured by music managers and who had their own artistic style and who were determined to continue to be themselves.
"You can't make a star like Lena, you have to find them," says Frank Briegmann, the head of Universal Music in Germany, one of the most powerful executives in the country's music industry. "You can outline specifications, in that you can say, we want artists who are authentic, who have their own ideas, who don't fit into a (tight) corset. So you communicate that and you hope that these kinds of artists turn up. And after that you take care of them."
And along came Meyer-Landrut -- with her homemade English accent (she has never been to England), her turns of phrase, now known among fans as Lena-isms, with the enthusiasm with which she sang and with all these funny little quirks that saw her chattering her way into her audience's heart.
Early in May Meyer-Landrut also came under fire for what some in the media called "nude pictures" of her. In fact, the singer, who says she always wanted to be an actress, appeared in a docu-drama sitting in a pool with a young man. Apparently viewers get a glimpse of her chest. Interviewed about it, Meyer-Landrut simply told German reporters that it was just a role she played. "I was acting and that means it was not my privacy. Give me one reason why I should be upset about this. IN our family we have always said: today's newspaper is used to wrap the fish in tomorrow."
Meyer-Landrut's meteoric rise to the top has been different than the usual one-hit-wonder tale of celebrity among reality TV stars, too. Yes, everyone can have their fifteen minutes of fame these days. You can win a talent show, but it is also still possible to sit your final exams -- because there are other things in life, too. That is down-to-earth Meyer-Landrut's message and that is why people love her. "I don't want to rehearse any choreography or practice being a character. That's too exhausting," she says. "The most important thing is that I am happy within myself."
Meyer-Landrut's performance on "Wanna Bet…?" in Salzburg in April was something of an experiment. But how will she fare beyond the television talent show? Can she perform on one of the entertainment industry's biggest stages? And how will she behave when she doesn't have to perform in a competitive situation?