Starmania: ou la passion de Johnny Rockfort selon les évangiles télévisés is a 1978 Franco-Quebecois Rock Opera with music by Michel Berger and lyrics by Luc Plamondon. It's usually shortened to Starmania. While various versions have been produced through the years, the basic plot runs as follows:
20 Minutes into the Future, the West (comprising the Americas, Europe, North Africa, Russia and Japan) has united as the new country, and Zero Janvier, president of the biggest Mega-Corp in "The Occident" (as the new country is known) is now campaigning to become President. The chief plank in his platform is a promise to eliminate the terrorist group Les Etoiles Noires (the Black Stars) and their leader Johnny Rockfort, and to this end he has convinced the Etoiles' information broker Sadia to secretly work for him instead while he also courts the retiring film star Stella Spotlight. Johnny Rockfort's own plans involve the kidnapping of television sweetheart Cristal, but his heart starts beating to a new rhythm when he falls in love with her instead. Overlooking all of this is Marie-Jeanne, who's a waitress in the Underground Cafe where the Etoiles Noires meet, and her friend Ziggy, an obsessive David Bowie fan whose dearest wish is to get to be a disc jockey on Cristal's music program Starmania.
Tracklist (of the 1978 album recording)
- "Ouverture (instrumental)" (2:55)
- "Quand on arrive en ville" (3:40)
- "Complainte de la serveuse automate" (4:50)
- "Le Blues du businessman" (4:25)
- "Monopolis (dans les villes de l' an 2000)" (4:30)
- "Un garçon pas comme les autres" (3:05)
- "La Chanson de Ziggy" (4:35)
- "Travesti" (3:55)
- "Banlieue nord" (3:35)
- "Petite Musique Terrienne" (1:30)
- "Paranoia" (1:30)
- "Ce soir on danse à Naziland" (4:35)
- "Les Adieux d'un sex-symbol" (5:50)
- "Ego Trip" (2:30)
- "Les Uns contre les autres" (3:00)
- "Quand on n'a plus rien à perdre" (3:50)
- "Le monde est stone" (5:30)
- "Petite Musique Terrienne" (0:45)
- "Starmania (L' air de l'extraterrestre" (5:55)
- "Le Rêve de Stella Spotlight" (2:10)
- "Monopolis" (reprise instrumentale)" (2:00)
Personnel (on the original 1978 recording)
- Daniel Balavoine, Nanette Workman, Fabienne Thibeault, Claude Dubois, France Gall, Éric Estève, Michel Berger, Diane Dufresne, René Joly: vocals
- Michel Berger, Michel Bernholc, Francis Monkman: keyboards
- Claude Engel, Mike Grabham: guitars
- Paul Stallworth: bass
- Jim Keltner: drums
- Marc Chantereau: percussion
- Michael Brecker: saxophone
- Randy Brecker: trumpets
- Tom Mallone: trombone
- A Match Made in Stockholm: Cristal takes to being one of Les Etoiles Noires quite eagerly, to the point of becoming a more enthusiastic terrorist than Johnny himself (much to the trying-to-reform Johnny's chagrin).
- Ambiguous Gender: Sadia, in theory anyway. In practice she's repeatedly described as a "daughter of the upper classes" and is usually costumed as an obviously female, if slightly butch, punk girl, despite her crowing "but I'm not a woman/I'm a transvestite".
- Bourgeois Bohemian: The Grand Guru, Zero Janvier's opponent in the presidential elections. Lest you get the mistaken idea that there are any nice people besides Marie-Jeanne and possibly Ziggy (whose biggest sin is ambitions of stardom) in this world, the Guru's platform, in contrast to Janvier's plans for martial law, was all about violence and destruction in hopes of forcing humanity to start over again. The character has been deleted from the show in post-1978 versions, but the 2022 French version brings him back (and given the revised ending, his position comes off more justified).
- BSoD Song:
- "The World is Stone" for Marie-Jeanne.
- "Only the very best" for Johnny (in the English version).
- "Stella's dream".
- Crapsack World: Let's see... the newly elected leader of the Occident is a A Nazi by Any Other Name (and his opponent was not better), his opponents are terrorists, the capital is an underground city, everybody is addicted to television and dreams of being a star (apart from Marie-Jeanne), the only sympathetic characters are killed or crushed...
- Darker and Edgier: The 2022 French version is darker than the previous ones, including the original. The Black Stars are explicitly shown killing people on-stage, and some lyrics referencing that people died because of their actions, that had been changed since the first version into "nearly died", have been restored to the original version. Stella Spotlight commits suicide at the end, while previous versions were left to interpretation. Finally, the Black Stars actually succeed in bombing Zero Janvier's tower, resulting in the deaths of all of the remaining characters save Marie-Jeanne.
- Destructive Romance: Stella Spotlight and Zero Janvier, whose relationship is nothing more than a publicity stunt. They spend their entire time together fighting, and Stella ends up suffering from depression before potentially committing suicide at the end.
- Does This Remind You of Anything?: Zero Janvier expounds at great length upon how becoming an evil, free-world-conquering bastard was his second career choice after he realized he'd never be a great artist. (Also, the man owns a nightclub called Naziland. It's not exactly subtle.)
- Downer Ending: Zero Janvier wins the election, Johnny and Crystal make a terrorist attack on the Naziland, presumably killing Ziggy who finally was on his way to stardom by getting a DJ job in the club, Crystal dies in the police chase following the terrorist assault (in some versions, Johnny is also heavily wounded, and it is hinted that he will not make it), Stella leaves Zero after he made clear that she was no longer of use to him, and goes back to her alcoholic ex-idol life (she commits suicide in the 2022 version), and Marie-Jeanne turns to drugs to escape reality (this one is subtle, but is a possible interpretation of her final song, "the world is stone". That, and the fact that Marie-Jeanne literally translates to Marijuana). Sadia is unheard of but probably suffered the same fate that Ziggy, being in the club shortly before. The 2022 version makes even clearer the fact that Marie-Jeanne is the only one to survive.
- Dystopia: Most of the Western countries are united in a single political power, but it is a dictatorship full of uncaring people.
- First-Person Peripheral Narrator: Marie-Jeanne, who only really interacts with Ziggy and doesn't influence the plot.
- Gender Flip: In the 2022 version, the Grand Guru is played alternatively by Simon Geoffroy (a man) and Malaika Lacy (a woman).
- Gray-and-Grey Morality: Zero Janvier, a ruthless dictator, is opposed by terrorists who want to kill as many people as possible to pass their message, and (in the versions where he's included) by the Grand Guru, an ecological extremist leading a cult with orgy-like ceremonies. And everybody is more concerned with becoming a star or staying one than anything else.
- Greek Chorus: The frequent news from Roger-Roger, along with Marie-Jeanne's soliloquies.
- Heel–Face Turn: Johnny Rockfort falls hard and fast for Cristal after he and Sadia abduct her, and this makes him realize that he'd rather build a new, better world with and for her than simply wreck the old one. Too bad Cristal's decided she's totally fine with destruction now herself...
- "I Am" Song: "A Child of Pollution", "The Ballad of the Automatic Waitress", "The Northern Suburbs"
- Every character (except Crystal) has one:
- "Ziggy's Song": Ziggy
- "Working girl (The Ballad of the Automatic Waitress)": Marie-Jeanne
- "Nobody chooses (The Northern Suburbs)": Johnny
- "The Businessman's Blues": Zero
- "Farewell To A Sex Symbol": Stella
- "You get what you deserve": Sadia
- "Do you want to play with me" was Crystal's, but the song is cut from most of the adaptations.
- Averted with "Pollution's Child": It was first attributed to Johnny as a sarcastic answer to Crystal's interview, but was passed on to Ziggy in later versions.
- Every character (except Crystal) has one:
- "I Am Becoming" Song:
- "Disc-Jockey's song", where Ziggy sees his dream come true.
- The Finale for Johnny
- Incompatible Orientation: Marie-Jeanne is in love with Ziggy, who's gay. She even spends a little time in her song "A Boy Unlike The Others" wishing she could be a boy for him.
- Minimalistic Cover Art: The album cover.
- Punny Name: Johnny Rockfort can be translated as "Johnny Rocks Hard", but also sounds exactly like the name of Roquefort cheese.
- One-Word Title: "Starmania".
- Quarreling Song: "Ego Trip" between Zero Janvier and Stella
- Sanity Slippage Song: "Sex Shops, cinemas Pornos" for Stella.
- Screw the War, We're Partying: Invoked in "Tonight, we dance!"
- Sinister Tango Music: Appropriately, during the "Tango of love and death"
- "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Stella delivers it to the Apathetic Citizens of Monopolis when Zero Janvier is elected:
- Stella: Ladies and gentlemen, you won't want to believe it / but after all, you're the ones who voted [...] If you want to know The Aesop of this story / go home and take a look at yourselves in the mirror.
- Welcoming Song: "Tonight, we dance" during Naziland's opening.
- White-Dwarf Starlet: Stella's on a sort of in-between spot where this trope is concerned; she's become a bit of a joke for still claiming she's 39, but is still a popular actress retiring on her own terms rather than because her roles are dwindling.
- Woman Scorned: After Johnny falls in love with Cristal, Sadia abandons the Black Stars and betrays them for Zero Janvier. In the 2022 version, she goes so far as to kill Cristal herself.