Monday, 26 May 2014

Craving for French music

Inspired by Muriel's post about her weird addiction to French movies, I decided to share my own dirty little secret: I'm craving for French music!

The problem is, French music is almost never released outside France, so there is little chance I would hear it on the radio here. I can keep up quite easily with French movies because I watch a daily French breakfast show on TV5 (my other guilty pleasure!) and they have weekly movie reviews. But it's definitely harder to find out what kind of music is popular in France or which artists have released new material. I usually rely on friends to keep me up to date, or I wait until I go home, but you can imagine I'm missing out on a lot of new music...

Why is French music so hard to market in English-speaking country? Why is it that the only French song Irish people know is Joe Le Taxi (and I actually like Vanessa Paradis, but this is definitely her worst song!). I was recently discussing the Eurovision with a colleague and I was complaining that the majority of the participants were singing in English and not their native language. She argued that all the contestants (well, except the French of course) were singing in English so that all the viewers could understand. But even if you learn English at school, it doesn't mean you understand a song. How many times did I sing along to "Roxanne" and didn't realise it was about a prostitute! We are usually attracted to the melody first, and then the lyrics.  And I don't think French people are too bothered about not understanding the lyrics of a song in English, as long as the music is catchy.

This is somehow ironic because good French songs are all about the lyrics, more than songs in the English language. British and American pop music are getting on my nerves and every time I hear Rihanna, Katy Perry, or Bruno Mars and just want to break my radio. I'm craving for texts, beautiful words, meaningful lyrics. Don't get met wrong, there are a few talented singer songwriters around, but they don't get as much radio airplay as the insipid pop stars.

Anyway, all this rant to say that I need my fix of French music to stay sane. A good Jean-Jacques Goldman or  Daniel Balavoine usually make my day. If I'm feeling rebellious, I listen to Renaud and if I want to listen to feast of puns, it's Zazie all the way. If I'm nostalgic about Brittany and need a bit of Celtic music, I put on Soldat Louis (the louder, the better!).

Unfortunately, none of them are known outside France. But there's one artist I recently discovered thanks to a friend that could change all that. It's Stromae. One of his hit was even released in Ireland a couple of years ago, and it seems he's breaking through the English speaking world, even if he sings in French. I was actually amazed to see a review of his new album in an Irish newspaper a few months ago. This guy is a talented musician with powerful lyrics and I can only hope he will come to Ireland for a gig at some stage!

The song below is one of my favourite. He's talking about a relationship from both the woman and the man's perspective (that's why he's playing both in the video clip), but  it's a dead end "conversation" because there is no understanding between them. They both think that women and men are "All the same" (title of the song) and unfortunately the relationship cannot work.