PARIS – It's a big day for the first lady of France, Carla Bruni-Sarkozy. Her new album hit the music stores on Friday.
The top model turned singer — who married President Nicolas Sarkozy in February — has become a popular first lady. But will her third album be a hit like the first in 2002, which sold 2 million copies, or a flop like the second, out in 2006?
She has been an image-booster for troubled Sarkozy, so the album's success, or failure, could be critical to the president.
The Italian-born Bruni composed and wrote the lyrics for most of the songs on her new album, "Comme si de rien n'etait" (As If Nothing Had Happened), and sings them with her trademark softly sexy voice, accompanied by guitar and other instruments, be they violin or harmonica. She uses her maiden name on the album.
Bruni, 40, married Sarkozy just months after his messy, high-decible divorce from Cecilia Sarkozy. The new pair were initially criticized as too unpresidential. But Bruni, with her high society upbringing and easy elegance, quickly won hearts.
Her curtsy before Queen Elizabeth II when her husband made his first state visit to Britain in March, was the clincher. What has been called "Carla mania" then took over, with the first lady upstaging her husband on official visits.
Bruni's label Naive has said that album royalties will go to charities.
Sales were thin Friday morning at Virgin Megastore on the Champs-Elysees, not far from the presidential palace, but one customer said he bought the album for the artistry — not the singer's high rank.
"I think it is the artist who is more interesting," said Eric Gardner de Beville. "The fact that she is the first lady adds to her success, of course, but that's not the motivating factor."
The store's music director, Bertrand Dentz, was somewhat critical of Bruni's oeuvre. He said that, for him, only six of the 14 songs really work.
"I think that the rest of the album is a bit boring and not much is happening," Dentz told Associated Press Television News.
A handful of people questioned in the street said that, whatever the reception, Bruni is right to continue with her singing career.
"I think her image stays that of the model and singer before that of being the first lady," said Marion Feurdrinier, 21, a marketing student from Rouen.
Bruni will not be touring to promote her album. She has said that concerts involve too much security because of her status. However, she has vowed to remain a thoroughly modern woman who makes her own decisions and maintains her career despite her husband's job.