Tag Archives: Marie-Mai
Star Académie Noël by Various Artists
As the title suggests, this is a Christmas album by the 14 stellar 2012 finalists of Montréal hit TV reality series Star Académie. In just 17 days, it was certified platinum. Season’s greetings classics were arranged under the artistic direction of multiplatinum recording artist Gregory Charles in a variety of genres: gospel, folk, pop, traditional vocal, AC, jazz, and blues. Hearing these holiday tunes confirms that Leclerc, Bédard, Lachance, Audet, May, Malette, Lee, Couture, Benoit, Morin, Dion, Lafond, Guerrette, and Pelletier are among the best young vocalists in the country.
Mes amours, mes amis by Paul Daraîche
This platinum album contains 15 sumptuous tunes of quintessential country singer Paul Daraîche, all performed in duets with some of Canada’s biggest superstars: Lynda Lemay, Daniel Lavoie, Richard Desjardins, Isabelle Boulay, Roch Voisine, Isabelle Boulay, Mario Pelchat, Yves Lambert, Édith Butler, Maxime Landry, Laurence Jalbert, Patrick Norman, Luce Dufault, Cindy Daniel, and Marc Hervieux. Onboard as well are French stars Dick Rivers and Hugues Aufray. Paul has a music career spanning 45 years and has sold 1.7 million albums. This is his 27th.
Sans Attendre by Céline Dion
A triple-platinum release at home with worldwide sales in excess of 1.3 million, the most successful Canadian recording artist of all-time remains a force to be reckoned with. The album contains “Parler à mon père” which peaked at #53 on the Canadian Hot 100 and was the 77th biggest song of 2012 in France. It is a dedication to Céline’s father (and #1 fan) who passed away several years ago. The disc also has three duets: with legendary Canadian Jean-Pierre Ferland, Johnny Hallyday (best-selling French recording artist of all-time), and virtual duet with Caribbean singer Henri Salvador.
Le Québec est mort, Vive le Québec! by Loco Locass
Around since 1995, Loco Locass perform Franco rap music of a highly political nature. They are a trio with nicknames Biz, Batlam, and Chafiik augmented by several musicians. In the past, the group’s album Amour Oral was certified gold and won a pair of Félix awards. This album of theirs landed on the Billboard Canadian Albums chart at #4, was nominated for Recording Package of the Year JUNO, and funky track “Le mémoire de Loco Locass” finished in the year-end CKOI Top 50 chart. With their sophisticated brand of rap, they have been recognized for their strong compositional skills.
Miroir by Marie-Mai
Upon release, Marie-Mai’s 4th studio album topped the iTunes albums chart. Recently, it has been certified platinum. It contains her smash hits “Sans cri ni haine”, a Franco cover of Robyn’s “Call Your Girlfriend” and “C.O.B.R.A.” both of which made the Billboard Canadian Hot 100. The album presents a thoughtful blend of Marie-Mai’s signature high-energy tunes like “Toujours là”, delicate ballads like “Différents”, heartland guitar tracks like “Je rêve de nous”, and piano-driven melodies like “Si les mots”. The English tracks were taken from 2010 recordings of an unreleased Anglo EP.
(See Part 1 - Songs #20 to #11 - which also includes eligibility rules and our selection process HERE.)
#10. “Gonna Take Some Time” by Len
Gold-selling, JUNO-nominated Toronto band Len released an album in 2012 which was our 6th favourite of the year, It’s Easy If You Try. “It’s My Neighbourhood” was released as the album’s first single. All tracks on the album are jam-packed with sun blasts of pop splendour. We felt that the grooviest of the lot was “Gonna Take Some Time”. Len’s core members are siblings Marc and Sharon Costanzo who are great at combining clever lyrics and rhymes with impressive hooks and unexpected sounds all in a rolled up wheel of spinning summertime fun like a scooter ride through a colourful urban jungle. This song has plunky guitars, a sax solo, and some cool choppy beats.
#9. “Mon Corps” by Ariane Moffatt
Heralding her 2012 album MA, which reached #2 on the weekly Billboard album chart, this mouth-watering electronic rock number, was released at the end of 2011 peaking on the charts this year. It rivals Marianne Faithful’s “Broken English” in style and the greatest hits of Mylène Farmer in substance. Ariane Moffatt is a JUNO-winning, platinum-selling recording artist whose creative genius flows at the rate of water over Niagara Falls. The synthesizer grunts and whirrs glisten over beats as original as the concoctions of Utada Hikaru. “Mon Corps” is both ominous and playful as her vocal delivery is both matter-of-fact and teasing. Brilliant song.
#8. “I Am a Bee” by Lily C.
To prove that mainstream popular music is not all that delighted us this year is this sweet adult contemporary number by emerging artist and Torontonian Lily C. This is delicate “happy pop” in the vein of Jewel, Darrelle London, and Liz Coyles. Off album Reaching for Sunlight, “I Am a Bee” is absolutely beautiful. Verse, chorus, and bridge are all perfect examples of song writing perfection and wing through the 4 minutes in their uniqueness and unity like, well, a bee, butterfly, and bird. Rubbery keyboard blips, driving guitar strums, solid bass, bubbly bells, and free-spirited percussion animate this ode to flight and freedom.
#7. “Riptide” by Marie-Mai
Strange that of all songs on Star Academie finalist, 6-time Félix winner, and Vancouver Olympics performer Marie-Mai’s gold-certified 4th studio album Miroir, we would choose one of the two English tracks, but this song is so good, we couldn’t resist. Marie-Mai has become so popular that two of the four Francophone hits that made the Billboard Hot 100 in 2012 were hers. Fabulous were Félix popular song of the year winner “Sans cri ni haine” (a French language cover of Robyn’s “Call Your Girlfriend”) and album opener “C.O.B.R.A.”. Marie-Mai co-wrote most songs on the album with the likes of Fred St- Gelais and celebrated Canadian songwriter Rob Wells. “Riptide” is the pulsating album closer which caps off a brilliant work.
#6. “Burning” (French Version) by Mia Martina
New Brunswick’s JUNO-nominated Acadian singer Mia Martina sounds stunning in English but her French versions simply floor us. Kaleidoscopic “Burning”, a hot high-society style number with a sensual saxophone, made it to #25 on the Hot 100, was certified gold, and finished as the year’s 64th biggest hit. Enjoying tremendous mileage from her 2010 album Devotion, “Burning” was the third single launched of five. The album contained an English version only, the French version being released as a separate single. “Burning” was the second most successful song from the album, 2010′s “Stereo Love” with Edward Maya being the biggest hit. Straight from Mia’s classy opening vocal, the whole song shines with glory.
#5. “Put Me On” by Diamond Rings
Yes, we do love our independent artists too. And how could you not adore a song that begins with the lyric, “Beneath the sliver of the autumn moon, between the pigeons and the northern loons”? Diamond Rings, the stage name of Toronto’s JUNO-nominated John O’Regan, released his sizzling second studio album Free Dimensional this year. It was our second favourite LP of 2012 bringing back that fabulous new wave 80s synth rock vibe with a modern spin. In “Put Me On”, edgy electric guitars (and even a mid-song solo) combine with cheeky synths and John’s baritone voice to deliver a classy contribution to the magnificent genre created by Kraftwerk and popularized by Gary Numan.
#4. “Body Work” featuring Tegan & Sara
Ah, house music, especially while doing the laundry, never sounded so good. JUNO-nominated Calgarian twins Tegan & Sara co-wrote this killer tune with American EDM master Morgan Page and vocalized the entire track. “Body Work” wrestled its way up to #32 on the weekly Hot 100, while in Morgan’s home country, the charts were not so welcoming. With a beat that could set off an earthquake, shimmering synths that get a sloth jiving, and twin stereo voices that could turn grapefruit into honey, this piece of wizardry attracted mainstream attention to the hitherto underground duo set to release a new album in early 2013.
#3. “Break My Heart” by Victoria Duffield
We named Shut Up and Dance, debut LP from Abbotsford, BC dance pop star Victoria Duffield as album of the year. She topped the Billboard Emerging Artists chart with the album’s title track, a platinum single and 49th biggest of the year. The irresistible “Break My Heart” was the third single released from the album and scaled up the Hot 100 to #35 on the weekly Hot 100. The album is filled with gems, and this dazzling dance tune of flashy Ryan Stewart tweaks, keyboard toots, and unbreakable pop hooks was our favourite. The song is enjoyed best with its suburban neighbourhood dance invasion music video and is so energizing, it’ll have grandpa doing cartwheels.
#2. “Clone” by Metric
Not an uncommon feature in motion pictures, the last time we remember a song about clones was back in the 1980s care of Alice Cooper. JUNO-winning new wave band Metric of Toronto whose members consist of three Js and an E released their fifth album this year, Synthetica, which made it to #2 on the Billboard Albums chart in June and was named by CBC’s Q as the 10th best album of the year. The song deals with the idea of making decisions based on society’s expectations (becoming a clone) or taking the road less taken. In any case, “it’s too late in the day” to change the course one set off on in the past. An extremely catchy song, with a swaggering groove, this one just compels you to keep hitting that replay button.
#1. “Call Me Maybe” by Carly Rae Jepsen
Was there every any doubt? At one point, we were diggin’ “Curisoty” slightly more than the biggest international Canadian hit of the year, but our enjoyment of “Call Me Maybe” was longer lived. Before the endorsement of Justin Bieber on Twitter, before Carly Rae Jepsen was signed by Scooter Braun and company, before the song topped the charts all around the world, before it even entered the Hot 100 at home, we heard this amazing tune when it first came out on Vancouver Radio Station Virgin 953 and instantly fell in love. It was like a tiny, humble seed planted in soil with questionable fertility and did nothing but grow, albeit slowly, until shooting up into a fruit-bearing tree that spread its branches around the globe. This really was the best song released in 2012, fresh-sounding, catchy, expertly produced, and intelligently composed by an exceptionally talented singer songwriter named Carly Rae Jepsen.
She was one of the top finalists of the first season of Star Academie, performed at the closing ceremonies of the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympic Games, and now she has a hot new single that’s landed in the Billboard Canadian Hot 100. Moreover, her 4th studio album, Miroir, will be released tomorrow. Filmed under a moonlit forest, Marie-Mai’s C.O.B.R.A. involves a dance party outside a mysterious building complete with hand-held flares. With all the smoke and mirrors, why not give in to the charm and let yourself be enchanted by the cobra?
Feist was born in Amherst, Nova Scotia but the family relocated to Regina and then Calgary. In 1991, while a teenager, she formed a punk band in Calgary. She experienced vocal cord problems in 1995 and relocated to Toronto a year later where she worked with various local indie artists. She recorded her own album on an independent label which was produced by Dan Kurtz who later created Dragonette. In 2001, with friends, she formed popular indie band Broken Social Scene. She released the acclaimed album Let It Die in 2004 and her cover of the Bee Gees “Inside and Out” was popular. She won the JUNO for Best New Artist in 2005. A remix album, Open Season, came the following year. Her big breakthrough was in 2007 when she released double-platinum The Reminder. It won the JUNO for album of the year, track “1234″ song of the year, and Feist, herself, artist of the year. In all, she has won 8 JUNO awards. “1234” was the 35th most popular song of 2008. Feist released the album Metals in 2011.
Rocker Marie-Mai (Bouchard) was a finalist during the first season (2003) of Star Académie, somewhat of a French version of Canadian Idol. She grew up learning piano and developed a love and a talent for singing. Her grandmother mentored her and was the one who encouraged her to audition for the reality TV show. She released her gold debut album in 2004. She became noticed in Europe opening for Garou. Marie-Mai’s popular standing was sealed with the release of her second (gold) album, Dangereuse attraction, which won the Félix for rock album of the year. “Mentir” was nominated for the Félix song of the year, and she performed “Emmène-Moi” at the closing ceremony of the Winter Olympic Games in Vancouver. She released her 3rd album, Version 3.0, in 2009. It was certified platinum and won her 2nd rock album of the year award. Both “C’est Moi” and “Comme Avant” (co-written by Rob Wells) were nominated for Félix awards. Marie-Mai won the Félix female artist of the year award in both 2010 and 2011. She recorded the song “Kill the Lights” with David Usher (Moist) and provided vocals for the French version of Simple Plan’s “Jet Lag”. In 2012, she had the biggest Francophone song of the year, “Sans cri ni haine”, a French-language cover of Robyn’s “Call Your Girlfriend”. It won the Song of the Year Felix. She released album Miroir which was quickly certified gold.
This Vancouver hard rock band has enjoyed three songs in the year-end Top 100 singles charts: “Best I Ever Had” (#87, 2008), “Money Honey” (#67, 2008), and “Too Pretty” (#100, 2009)—all from their second (gold) album Life, Love, and Lies. State of Shock is special in that it is a gender-combo band, including both male and female members. They released their debut album in 2004 but shot to stardom with their second release. Their lead singer is Cameron Melnyk, originally from Edmonton and of Ukrainian descent. They have toured with Nickelback and Puddle of Mud. State of Shock released its third album, Rock ‘n’ Roll Romance, in 2011.
This band is from Mission, B.C. and has been more successful in the singles than the albums department. Like State of Shock, they have enjoyed three songs in the year-end Top 100 charts: “When I’m with You” (#83, 2008), “G-Get Up and Dance” (#48, 2009), and “Give Him Up” (#84, 2010). “Tongue Tied” was a hit in 2007. The band is named after lead singer Dave Faber and has gone through several line-up changes, the only other consistent member being Jeremy “Krikit” Liddle. They shifted from standard pop rock fare to a more synth-rock sound on their second album.
Toronto’s Aubrey Drake Graham is a Canadian rap artist. He became known as an actor first, however, playing the character Jimmy Brooks on the television series Degrassi: The Next Generation. His recording career was launched when he was signed by American rapper Lil Wayne’s company. He released an EP first (in 2009) and his debut (platinum) album, Thank Me Later, was released the following year. Drake often collaborates with other artists in his recorded singles. “Headlines” is his only gold-certified single. “Best I Ever Had” made the year-end Top 100 in 2009; “Find Your Love” and “Over” did in 2010, when he won two JUNO awards, including one for best new artist. In 2011, he recorded hits with Barbados’ Rihanna and Trinidadian-American Nicki Minaj. That year he released his second full-length studio album, Take Care, with contributions by Chantal Kreviazuk, among others. Drake’s father is African American and his mother is Jewish Canadian.
Edmonton is not known for churning out popular rock bands. But all that changed with the advent of The Stereos who have a gold album under their belt and have managed three year-end Top 100 singles: “Summer Girl” (#35, 2009), “Throw Ya Hands Up” (#85, 2009), and “Turn It Up” (#80, 2010). The first two were double-platinum digital downloads and the latter platinum. The Stereos are led by Pat Kordyback. They formed in 2008 under the moniker Stand By Me, changed it to Turn It Up, and finally settled on The Stereos. They rose to prominence by performing on MuchMusic show disBAND and were judged by Gene Simmons of Kiss. Universal Music Canada signed them immediately. After their gold debut album in 2009, they released a second album the following year.
LIGHTS is a female recording artist and synthesizer virtuoso. She was born in Timmins, Ontario but moved around during her childhood, living in Jamaica, The Philippines, and Vancouver, before settling in Toronto in her teens. In 2006, she got a job with Sony/ATV Music Publishing and composed music for television. Her talents led to a record deal with Sire / Warner Music and her song “Drive My Soul” became a Top 20 hit and the 70th biggest song of the year 2008. Before she even released her debut album, she received the JUNO award for best new artist. The Listening came out in 2009 and was certified gold. Her second album, Siberia, came out in 2011 and was certified gold in 2012. A departure from her more poppy-sounding debut, Siberia showcased a more creative electronic rock sound and drew critical acclaim.
The most significant event that occurred in the latter years of the first decade of the new millennium was that, for the first time in music history, a Canadian of east-Asian descent scored a radio hit. Canadians of Asian descent make up over 12% of the population but have seen little representation in the music industry. Maple Ridge B.C.’s Elise Estrada, born in the Philippines, recorded the R&B hit “Unlove You” which peaked at #11 on the singles chart.
This period also witnessed the 3rd best-selling Canadian single of all-time internationally, after Céline Dion’s “My Heart Will Go On” and Bryan Adams’ “(Everything I Do) I Do It for You”. Avril Lavigne’s “Girlfriend” sold 7.3 million copies worldwide.
Edmonton, which had been left off the map in terms of churning out significant recording artists, contributed two during this time: Kreesha Turner and the Stereos.
Canadian music embraced further diversity. For the first time in a while, Canada gave the world a new male teen international superstar. A couple new electronic artists achieved success. Rock trio Metric released the single “Help, I’m Alive” which peaked at #21 on the singles chart in early 2009. LIGHTS, a female singer-songwriter, won the best new artist JUNO after her electronic pop song “Drive My Soul” became a Top 20 hit. Much of this diversity, however, involved taking on American styles of music, like R&B and rap. This coincided with Billboard magazine’s taking over the Canadian singles and albums charts in 2007.
In the late 2000s, a large portion of Canadian music began to emulate styles popular south of the border. A number of new Canadian artists began performing rap and R&B music. Relatively-speaking, such music did not sell well domestically. Most of these American-style artists arose from Toronto and were heavily promoted by Toronto-based MuchMusic. Although many of them were of Jamaican ancestry, they did not perform reggae music.
While it is true that Canadian artists like Avril Lavigne, Chantal Kreviazuk, and Raine Maida were busy writing and producing songs for American idol winners like Kelly Clarkson, and, in so doing, somewhat Canadianizing American pop, the American influence on Canadian music was much more apparent.
Artists who continued to perform Canadian styles of music began shedding their Canadian pronunciation, adopting American accents. And bad grammar became trendy. By the end of the decade these tendencies had become quite standard.
We can only speculate as to the motivations behind such a trend. Perhaps with the advent of digital music and the looming threat of rampant online piracy, record labels were pushing Canadian recording artists to tailor their music and accents to American styles in order to maximize chances of being successful in the world’s largest market for music. Ironically, many of the artists who did this did not end up making names for themselves in the republic. The most successful Canadian artists during the latter years of the decade were those who made music that was very Canadian: Michael Buble, Avril Lavigne, and Nickelback. The only new artists to sell many records during this period were Feist and Justin Bieber.
Although the year was heavily dominated by pop-punk superstar Avril Lavigne, the Juno gala held the following year gave all three major awards (song, album, and artist of the year) to a folk-pop singer from Amherst, N.S. called Feist. She had received some attention in 2005 for her cover of the Bee Gees’ song “Inside and Out”. Juno-winning The Reminder was certified double-platinum. Feist’s song “1234″ was a Top 10 hit in Britain and the U.S. and made it to #3 at home. In the late 2000s, Feist was the most successful new artist at the Junos, winning eight of 11 nominations.
Five-piece, Vancouver-based, punky grunge band State of Shock scored a Top 10 hit called “Money Honey”. They managed three songs in the year-end Top 100 charts by the end of the decade. They were one of the few male-female combo bands.
Toronto’s Jully Black also made the Top 10 with her cover of the 1960s song “Seven Day Fool”. In Québec, female rocker Anik Jean enjoyed the hit “Oh mon chéri” and Jonathan Painchaud scored with “Pousse, Pousse”. But it was rocker Marie-Mai, Star Académie finalist who shone the brightest. She won four Félix awards, released gold and platinum albums, and recorded songs with David Usher (Moist) and Simple Plan. Although she did not see any hit singles, Peterborough, Ontario’s indie folk singer Serena Ryder scored a pair of gold albums and was honoured with the JUNO for best new artist.
With the handover of the official Canadian charts going to Billboard magazine, there was no year-end chart for the year, and we do not have access to the weekly singles charts for the first half of the year. Nevertheless, we have attempted to piece together data on some of the hits this year which you can find HERE. In brief, besides the new artists mentioned above, Avril Lavigne, Nickelback / Chad Kroeger, Nelly Furtado, Finger Eleven, Michael Bublé, Bedouin Soundclash, and Céline Dion enjoyed big hits.
Like R&B singer Jully Black, Toronto’s Kardinal Offishall (born Jason Harrow) is of Jamaican ancestry. His singles have done much better than his albums. This year, he scored the international hit “Dangerous” (11th biggest of 2008) with American Akon which won the Juno for song of the year. The two collaborated again in “Beautiful” and “Body Bounce” in subsequent years. In 2011, he recorded the song “Ghetto Love” with Montreal’s Karl Wolf, a rap-reggae version of Peter Cetera’s “Glory of Love”. Kardinal Offishall has won 3 JUNO awards.
Edmonton-born Kreesha Turner, whose mother is Jamaican, started her career by performing 70s-style R&B and scored the Top 10 hit “Don’t Call Me Baby”. South of her, in Calgary, Andrew F became a one-hit wonder (so far) with his punky song “The End”. Marie-Pierre Arthur scored the Quebec hit “Pourquoi” as did Yann Perreau with “Beau comme on s’aime”. Gypsy jazz band The Lost Fingers, from Quebec City, scored a platinum album called Lost in the 80s.
Montreal’s pop pianist Béatrice Martin, under the stage name Coeur de Pirate, released her debut album this year. It was certified platinum and was nominated for Francophone album of the year at the JUNOs.
LIGHTS is not a band but a female singer-songwriter based in Toronto. She became one of the most successful electronic pop musicians in the late 2000s, winning the Juno award for Best New Artist. Her “Drive My Soul” was the 70th biggest song of 2008.
Vancouver’s Phillipine-born beauty contest winner Elise Estrada scored the hit “Unlove You” which finished in the Top 100 year-end chart of 2008. As far as we know, she is the first Canadian of east-Asian descent to score a hit on the radio in Canada, a remarkable achievement.
Mission, B.C.’s Faber Drive were signed onto Chad Kroeger’s label 604 Records and performed mainstream pop. “When I’m with You” made the year-end Top 100 and the following year their “Get Up and Dance” was the 48th biggest song of the year.
Many new artists emerged this last year of the decade.
Lebanese-born Montrealer Karl Wolf began performing R&B and his cover of Toto’s “Africa” was the biggest song of the year by a Canadian artist, finishing the year in 9th spot.
A Canadian rapper had a huge hit south of the border. “Best I Ever Had” was the 22nd biggest song in the U.S. (79th in Canada) thanks to Toronto’s Aubrey Drake Graham, known simply as Drake. He started out as an actor playing the character Jimmy Brooks on the television series “Degrassi: The Next Generation”. Drake’s father is an African American from Memphis, Tennessee, and his mother is Jewish Canadian. He started out by collaborating with American rap artists like Kanye West, Eminem, Jay-Z, and Lil Wayne, signing onto the latter’s record label. Drake’s album Thank Me Later managed to go platinum in Canada.
Outselling Drake was a youngster from Stratford, ON named Justin Bieber who managed one platinum and two double-platinum albums. “One Time” and “One Less Lonely Girl” were big hits this year. He became successful by uploading videos of his songs onto Youtube. This led to a recording contract. Although primarily a pop artist, some of his songs feature rap segments from American artists.
Besides Nelly Furtado and Shawn Desman, another Portuguese-Canadian popped out of obscurity; in fact, he is Desman’s younger brother, Danny Fernandes. His “Fantasy” was a big hit this year.
Born in Scotland, naturalized Canadian soul singer Johnny Reid, despite no hit singles, put out an album that went double-platinum this year: Dance with Me. Divine Brown was yet another Toronto R&B singer to arise, though she did not score any significant hits until she teamed up with Nelly Furtado and performed “Sunglasses” (#22).
Toronto’s Suzie McNeil had entered a CBS reality show called Rock Star: INXS to find a new lead singer for the band. She was the last female singer to be eliminated from the competition, having gained by then considerable respect. She relocated to Los Angeles to develop her career. Her “Supergirl” made the year-end Top 100 this year.
Also from Toronto was Melanie Fiona, whose parents immigrated to Canada from Guyana. Her “Give It to Me Right” also made the Top 100 of 2009.
Besides Kreesha Turner, Edmonton produced the band the Stereos who scored two big hits this year: “Summer Girl” (#2) and “Throw Your Hands Up” (#3). The Stereos made a kind of music that blended all the current popular styles: grunge, dance, and rap.
Originally from Trois-Rivières, Québec, The New Cities set up base in Montréal and released their debut LP this year. Gold single “Dead End Countdown” was a big new wave hit, 69th of the year.
Links to Related Posts
Lists of Canadian Songs in the Top 100 of 2008 and 2009 in Canada are HERE.
Mini profiles on semi-major artists Feist, Marie-Mai, State of Shock, Faber Drive, Drake, The Stereos, and LIGHTS are HERE.
Major profile on Elise Estrada is HERE.
Major profile on Justin Bieber is HERE.
A list of Juno and Félix song of the year nominees and winners for the decade 2000-2009 is HERE.
A list of best-selling Canadian albums 2000-2009 is HERE.
A list of best-selling Canadian singles 2000-2009 is HERE.
What Canadian Idol was to English Canada, Star Académie was to French Canada. Although based in Québec, contestants could be from anywhere in Canada so long as they could sing in French. Auditions, however, were normally run only in Quebec, Ontario, and New Brunswick. As with Canadian Idol, Star Academie began in 2003. Young people competed for the title of best singer.
Interestingly, in France the show was called by the English name Star Academy. Politics in Quebec demanded a title in French. Star Académie, however, is not grammatically correct; it should be Académie des stars.
Star Academie was hosted by chat show personality Julie Snyder. After the auditions, fourteen people were selected to compete (seven of each gender). The judges and public voted for the singers after seeing their performances. The singer with the highest votes was safe; the others were put on the line.
Like other idol shows, Star Academie drew criticism for profiteering. Production mega-corporation Quebecor heavily promoted the show to bring in large profits. As a result, artistic integrity turned into a celebrity-making machine. Voters were charged a dollar per vote.
One of the more positive aspects of the show was that it was attended by many high-profile guest performers including Lady Gaga, Bryan Adams, Céline Dion, Roger Hodgson (of Supertramp), Samantha Fox, Isabelle Boulay, Daniel Lavoie, Lara Fabian, Marjo, Beau Dommage, Roch Voisine, Gino Vannelli, Natasha St-Pier, Michel Rivard, Claude Léveillée, Daniel Boucher, and Paul Piché.
After the 2005, season, the show went on a four-year hiatus but returned again in 2009.
Many of the contestants, who did not win, released albums. Generally-speaking the contestants of Star Academy had more successful careers than those on Canadian Idol. Marie-Élaine Thibert, who did not win, has released three albums. Her debut went 3x platinum in Canada and her other two went platinum. She won the Felix for Female Artist of the Year twice. Her single “Toi l’inoubliable” was certified 6x platinum. Whereas no Canadian Idol singers won Juno awards, some of the Star Academie contestants have won Felix awards.
2003: Wilfred Le Bouthillier from Tracadie–Sheila, NB
• Album Wilfred Le Bouthillier (self-titled) 2x platinum
2004: Stéphanie Lapointe from Brossard, QC
2005: Marc-André Fortin from Hébertville, QC
2009: Maxime Landry, Saint-Gédéon-de-Beauce, Quebec
• Album Vox Pop 2x platinum
• Song “Cache-cache” Felix Song of the Year Award
• 2010 Male Artist of the Year Felix Award
2012: Jean-Marc Couture from Val d’Amour, NB
Marie-Élaine Thibert, 2003 Season
• Single “Toi l’inoubliable” 6x Platinum
• Album Marie-Elaine Thibert (self-titled) 3x Platinum
• Album Comme Ça Platinum
• Album Un Jour Noël Platinum
• 2004 and 2005 Female Artist of the Year Felix Awards
Annie Villeneuve, 2003 Season
• Album Quand Je Ferme Les Yeux Platinum
Marie-Mai (Bouchard) , 2003 Season
• Album Version 3.0 Platinum
• 2010 Female Artist of the Year Felix Award
Annie Blanchard, 2005 Season
• Song “Évangéline” Felix Song of the Year Award