These are not the best of times for Star Academy, with the French media reporting that viewing figures of both the weekly prime gala and the daily updates are plummeting in freefall, and the show doesn’t command the audience share that it once did.
Thankfully the hideous jury idea has been dropped this year and Star Ac has gone back to basics, with three nominees, one being saved by the public and one by the students, leaving one student each week to be eliminated. The students are also marked by the profs’ panel (Armande, Kamel, Anne, Dominique, Rafael and Philippe) during the prime.
This is not a full review but only edited highlights as I only watched about three-quarters of the prime, it feels as if it goes on for hours now and that would try the patience of even the biggest Star Ac fan!
The second prime of this series kicked off with the students, minus the nominees, performing "Superstar", the new theme tune.
Harold and Joanna duetted on "Ain’t No Mountain High Enough" and these two vocally are streets ahead of the other students, a situation very reminiscent of Star Ac 4 when Gregory and Hoda were clear front-runners from the beginning. But we know what happened to Hoda...anyway it was 14.7 for Harold and a big 16 for Joanna.
Bit of controversy this week as new prof, singing teacher Anne Ducros was clearly out to make a name for herself, refusing to mark Yvane for his rapped contribution to "American Boy" only for Yvane, Star Ac’s answer to Sean Paul, to demonstrate some showstopping freestyling and earn an average of 15. Ms Ducros is annoying me already. She is not Raphie and should stop trying to be.
A romance is always a good ratings grabber, and Alice would be yet another in a long line of blonde female wannabes inventing some love action to keep them in (SA5’s Maud & Jeremy, SA6’s Faustine & Brice, and at least half of the contestants who’ve ever been on Big Brother). Alice, nominated this week, shamelessly and embarrassingly milked her ‘romance’ with Gautier during her nomination song "Oh".
According to French internet sources, mean moody rock boy Gautier with the lip piercing and the permanent scowl would appear to be the ‘chosen one’ this year. To his credit he gave a surprisingly mature and assured performance this week, earning 15.5.
An extended - no make that interminable - version of "Rockollection" with Laurent Voulzy and the students.
Julia, Anissa and Joanna gave us "I’m Outta Love". They were also outta Anastacia, who cancelled her appearance due to illness, and on this one Julia was outta her depth, getting 13 with Anissa getting 15.2 even though I thought she performed better on "Mercy" with Duffy. Indeed singing with Duffy may be a good thing, as Julia also did better with her.
I find Edouard quite likeable now, and thought he sang well on his duet with William Balde on "Rayon de Soleil" and thought he deserved more than the 13.7 mark awarded.
Maryline could also be a dark horse and she got the tableau this week, did quite well too with 14.8.
Laure was average on her nomination song and her mark of 12.5 reflected that fact. Much more entertaining was Gaetan who makes up for lack of singing talent with bags of personality and 14 wasn’t a bad mark for him.
Mickels singing Radiohead got him 14; Ana got 14.3; and Solene earned 15.2.
Quentin, for such a young man, has a great feel for variete francaise, if his faultless rendition of "Partir" in duet with Julien Clerc was anything to go by. The profs thought so too, awarding him this week’s top mark of 16.2.
And so to the vote. The viewers saved Alice, leaving the students to choose whether to save Gaetan or Laure. For the first time in eight series, a student refused to cast their vote. Guess who: yes that student was Yvane ‘the rebel’, and he will probably pay for this. Or maybe not: he’s controversial, and controversy might just pull some viewers in.