Carla Bruni in spotlight as new record hits shelves
French first lady’s third album comes under heavy criticism in the media and among left-wing supports in Internet chat rooms.11 July 2008
PARIS - France's first lady Carla Bruni comes under the spotlight Friday as her much-hyped new album hits record stores across Europe, set for a tough welcome from critics of her husband President Nicolas Sarkozy.
The third album by the supermodel-turned-chanteuse, "Comme Si De Rien N'Etait" (Simply), has sparked frenzied media coverage, but also an outpouring of vitriol on the Internet by French voters hostile to the right-wing leader.
Fans have been able since Wednesday to preview the 14 tracks, which include "Ma Came," a love song that draws a tongue-and-cheek parallel with drug addiction, at Bruni's website.
Half a million people had logged on to listen by Thursday, according to her record company Naive, which told Le Figaro it wanted to "put the focus back on the artistic side of things", and away from Bruni's official status.
The 40-year-old first lady said in a pre-release interview she would "understand" if the French public scorned her album because of her marriage to Sarkozy in February, which followed a whirlwind three-month romance.
"If people don't listen because I married the president of the republic, I understand. If they do listen because I married the president of the republic, I will be delighted," she said.
Based on a survey of Internet chat rooms, Bruni looks unlikely to escape the ire of Sarkozy's opponents.
"I won't buy it, I won't listen to it, I won't download it, even for free," wrote one user, Padre, in a chat room on the left-wing Nouvelobs.com website.
Another called for an outright "boycott."
Bernard, writing on the website of left-wing newspaper Liberation, was equally virulent: "I won't let her in my house."
Of those who had listened to the album, many were scathing: Sumiko called it a "pale copy of the first record," released in 2002.
"All those breathy notes just become annoying: you feel like telling her to have a good cough and give up smoking."
But some gave it the thumbs-up: "I listened without taking Bruni's new role into account, and I liked it! In any case if you liked the first album, you can't in all honesty hate this one," wrote Elichat.
Bruni's first record wowed both critics and the public, selling two million copies worldwide, although her second, last year's "No Promises" which put the words of English poets to music, did less well, with 380,000 copies sold.
Though her new status as first lady proved a headache for music critics, French reviews of the new album, written by Bruni except for three tracks, have generally been good.
Didier Bouchend'homme, head of programming at Cherie FM radio, said he snapped up the first single, "L'Amoureuse" (The Lover), for the station.
"We have always played Carla Bruni, since before she married the president. Her music is well suited to our audience, mainly women in their 30s and 40s."
But he also admitted that "for this album, there are higher expectations, so there's bound to be more reactions, both positive and negative."
Reviewers in Britain - where Bruni received rave reviews for her elegance and poise when she accompanied Sarkozy on a state visit in March - have been unimpressed.
"First lady... of schmaltz," headlined the Independent newspaper, which wrote that the former supermodel came across as "simpering and weedy".
The Times dryly noted that it "may be the best album ever made by the wife of a head of state."
Listeners hoping for a give-away to the private lives of France's pre-eminent couple risk being disappointed - only one song "Ta Tienne" (Yours) appears to refer to her romance with Sarkozy, calling him "My lord."
"I, who used to make men dance, I give my whole self to you... Let them curse me, let them damn me. I don't give a stuff," run the lyrics.
As first lady, Bruni is not planning a tour and will donate her share of profits to charity -- though she has set up a slew of promotional interviews, including on France's main evening news on Friday.
Bruni says she has no regrets about making the album, but she suggested this week her official functions would take priority from now on.
"If I give enough to my new role, in terms of what I can really do to help other people, would that not take up all of a person's time?"
people, would that not take up all of a person's time?"
[AFP / Expatica]
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