For a reality show winner to sing about being voted product of the year must have taken some nerve. It implies a confidence bordering on arrogance.
Yet that is precisely what Christophe Willem did when he released Élu Produit de l’Année. He had just won the 2006 series of Nouvelle Star. Broadcast on M6, the show is the French version of Britain’s Pop Idol.
Willem was something of the underdog of the series. His round shoulders and tatty woollen jumper earned him the nickname La Tortue – the tortoise – from his very first appearance at the casting in Toulouse.
The song proved a big hit, and its follow up, Double Je, even bigger. Both songs were included in his debut album, Inventaire, which went on to sell over a million copies.
Unfortunately, subsequent albums haven’t quite been able to match those sales levels.
Whether that is because the public associate Willem with the rather tired TV format is open to question. Viewing figures for such shows have fallen off in recent years in France, as they have here in Britain.
The high point of Willem’s season of the show attracted 5.9 million viewers, while the most recent final attracted just 1.1 million.
Its winner, Mathieu Saikaly, would never have been able to carry off Willem’s song without setting himself up to be the laughing stock of the year.