Michel Berger’s 72nd Birthday – Today’s animated video Doodle, made in collaboration with Lyon-based animation studio Souviens Ten-Zan (STZ), celebrates French singer-songwriter Michel Berger on his 72nd birthday. Working with some of the biggest names of French music, Berger became a French pop music staple. The song featured in today’s Doodle, “Celui qui chante,” was composed and performed by Berger and spreads a message of positivity and acceptance that still resonates today.
Berger was trained in classical piano at an early age. A gifted pianist like his mother, Berger’s musical interest went beyond those of the symphonies he practiced daily, taking inspiration from artists like Ray Charles to explore varied sounds and arrangements.
French popular music of the 1960s was dominated by Yé-Yé artists. Inspired by American rock music of the same era, jazz, and French chanson, to name a few, Yé-Yé music became synonymous with youth culture and paved the way for Berger to enter the music industry.
A record label’s open casting call for young musicians produced Berger’s first commercial success as a singer with the release of his second single, “Tu n’y crois pas,” featured on the radio before he graduated high school.
By the mid-1970s, Berger began working with his future wife, singer France Gall. The former Eurovision winner and Yé-Yé artist became one of France’s highest-selling female singers. The pair became household names, producing a number of hit albums together, while Berger continued producing his own popular records in parallel. Berger’s reputation as a songwriter led to a notable collaboration with Elton John. Together, the duo produced “Donner pour Donner,” with Gall and John on vocals.
Berger’s music gained rapid popularity for its heartfelt lyrics, making it a mainstay in the French pop scene. Later in his career, he was inspired to help those in need through his participation in the Song for Ethiopia benefit concert, becoming an advocate for children’s philanthropy causes.
Merci et bon anniversaire, Michel Berger!
Q&A with Souviens Ten-Zan (STZ)
Today’s Doodle was produced in collaboration with the collective at Lyon-based animation studio Souviens Ten-Zan (STZ).
Below, they share their thoughts behind the making of this Doodle:
Q: Why was this topic meaningful to you personally?
A: Since all of us at the studio are passionate about music, we were very excited to be able to pay tribute to an artist as emblematic as Michel Berger.
Michel Berger represents the heritage of French music. As we were researching the subject, we rediscovered some classic, iconic songs that we were familiar with, but hadn’t known they were actually written and composed by him. He wrote for so many cover artists back in the day and had such a prolific career!
It allowed us to reconnect with that specific time and pay a tribute to our parent’s generation. We are in our thirties so this was a time we didn’t live in, but we grew up listening to the songs of Michel Berger. Sometimes, we wouldn’t recognize the title of a song, but after hearing the first few notes, the memory of the melody came back; these were the songs our parents were listening to. That is also our heritage.
France Gall and Michel Berger
Q: What were your first thoughts when you were approached about the project?
A: We were so honored that the Google Doodle team contacted us for such an exciting project about an artist we all admire, who had such a fascinating career.
Q: Did you draw inspiration from anything in particular for this Doodle?
A: We researched extensively about Michel Berger’s life and specifically about the time period he lived in. We took a lot of references from the late 70s and early 80s, from documentaries and archival images of everyday French life back then. It was important to also use the visual language from the videos and tapes that were typical from that time, right before the birth of our modern digital pop culture.
With this tribute, we were really looking to represent the whole range of Michel Berger’s talent, both as a singer and composer. We want to show that his songs bring all kinds of people together, as well as show the more poetic aspects of his musical world.
Q: What message do you hope people take away from your Doodle?
A: We wanted to show Michel Berger’s influence on French music.
We get a strong sensibility that comes from Michel Berger’s songs, which we tried to capture in the animation. He sings about love with a romantic passion, but also lots of sensitivity and sincerity in his lyrics.
His melodies are straightforward and unpretentious. We want the audience to feel the optimism that comes through in his songs, which are fun and make you want to dance but also still have that melancholic aspect.
Behind-the-scenes of the making of the Doodle
Directors Valentin Stoll and Johan Ravit sharing storyboards with the Doodle team
Director Valentin Stoll working on the Doodle in the STZ studio
From left to right: STZ Producer Camille Principiano, Doodle Art Director Erich Nagler, STZ Director Valentin Stoll, STZ Director Johan Ravit, and Doodle Artist Helene Leroux at the STZ studio in Lyon.
Early sketches & drafts of the Doodle
MICHEL BERGER DOODLE TEAM
Project Art Director | Erich Nagler
Project Doodle Artist | Hélène Leroux
Program Manager | Colin Duffy
France Marketing & Partnerships | Alice Roy de Puyfontaine, Chloe Broughton
Global Marketing & Partnerships | Perla Campos, Grace Chen
Business Affairs Lead & Partnerships Program Manager | Madeline Belliveau
Doodle Team Leads | Jessica Yu, Brian Kaas
ANIMATION BY SOUVIENS TEN-ZAN
Directors | Valentin Stoll & Johan Ravit
Producer | Camille Principiano
Animators | Valentin Stoll & Johan Ravit
Background Artists | Shang Zhang, Arthus Pilorget, Valentin Stoll, Johan Ravit
Compositing | Valentin Stoll
Special Thanks | Albane Samoilikoff
You can find more about Michel Berger’s 72nd Birthday on the official Google Doodle Page