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Endemol's 'Star Academie' rules Canada CDs, as Stephanie Lapointe wins season 2

By Wade Paulsen, 04/21/2004 

Once again, the Francophones and the Anglophones are headed in different directions on the Canadian music charts -- and it's all based on which reality-TV music program predominates.

Among the English speakers, the North American versions of Fremantle Media's Pop Idol -- American Idol and Canadian Idol -- rule the roost. Thus, the #1 single on the Nielsen SoundScan Canadian SIngles Sales chart for the last three straight weeks (through the week ending April 11) has been 'Solitaire' / 'The Way', performed by American Idol 2 runner-up Clay Aiken. (Clay's single has also been #1 in the U.S. for the last four weeks on the Nielsen SoundScan U.S. Singles Sales chart.)

Among the Quebecois, however, the dominant reality-TV music show is Endemol's Star Academie, which is also #1 in France but (under the name Fame Academy) ranks well below Pop Idol in the U.K. On the Nielsen SoundScan Canadian Album Sales charts for the weeks ended April 11 and April 18, the #1 album in all of Canada is Star Academie 2004 -- the compilation CD featuring the singers from the second season of Star Academie.

In second place for both weeks -- and in first place for the prior week -- is the self-titled debut CD from Star Academie 2003 runner-up Marie-Elaine Thibert. Thus, despite the fact that only about 25% of Canada's 30 million residents speak primarily French and only about 5% of primary English-speakers are classifed as bilingual (according to Canada's Commissioner of Official Languages), the immense popularity of Star Academie within the French-speaking community has propelled its CDs ahead of all the Anglophone CDs on the Canadian charts.

Meanwhile, in the finale of the second season of Star Academie on April 18, the endearing female finalist, Stephanie Lapointe, 20, defeated the male finalist, Marc-Andre Niquet, 19, after she upset the consensus favorite, Veronique Claveau, in the women's finals the week before.

Although we aren't sure that those of us in the States will ever hear Stephanie perform, we are struck by the idea that Anglophone Canada has followed the lead of the U.K. and the U.S. in preferring Pop Idol, while Francophone Canada has followed the lead of France in preferring Fame Academy. Maybe now we know why the Quebecois chose not to secede from Canada -- they already have achieved a de facto cultural secession.


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