Count Thierry Amiel among the myriad young singers launched to fame via the reality TV phenomenon of the early 21st century. Born October 18, 1982, in Bouches-du-Rhône, France, Amiel was studying psychology when he quit school to pursue a career in music. After auditioning unsuccessfully for the television amateur showcases Rêve d'un Soir and Popstars 2, in 2003 he was selected to compete in the first season of A la Recherche de la Nouvelle Star, the French spinoff of the international Pop Idol juggernaut. After narrowly avoiding elimination on the May 29 episode, Amiel gained momentum as a fan favorite and on the series' July 10 finale competed for top honors, ultimately losing out to Jonatan Cerrada. Amiel nevertheless landed a record deal with BMG International, issuing his debut LP, Paradoxes, in late 2003 and debuting at number three on the French pop charts on the strength of the debut single "Les Mots Bleus." His self-titled follow-up appeared three years later.