French Music Video Roundup 2 See what's new in French Music videos. These are my picks of what's new and notable, from new artists and returning favorites. Watch new videos from Alizee, Amandine Bourgeois, the band Kyo, and more.
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Stromae: Dance Floor Provocateur If there's an artist of the moment, it's definitely Stromae. (Pronounced STROH-MAI, it's "maestro" with the syllables inverted.) The enigmatic performer is often compared to another Franco-Belgian singer-songwriter, Jacques Brel, for his realist subject matter -- even if it is delivered over a killer dance beat.
A study in contradictions, both visual and musical, this artist is currently the toast of Europe. He's struck a nerve with recession anthems and disillusioned Pop songs that make you want to both shake your booty and slit your wrists.
Corneille Enchants Across Boundaries A French singer / songwriter, Canadian transplant, and Rwandan genocide survivor, Corneille has always stood between worlds. Corneille (pronounced Kor-NAY) launched his career in his adopted home of Montreal, but it was France that first embraced him as one of their own. This platinum-selling artist triumphed over personal tragedy to become one of today's most popular singers in France and French-speaking countries around the world.
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Vanessa Paradis: Finally, A Serious Songstress Emerges Vanessa Paradis has certainly defied the odds. When an unlikely hit song catapulted her into the international spotlight at age 14, she seemed destined for one-hit wonderdom. But with luck and and some reinvention, she has parlayed her 15 minutes of fame into a successful career spanning over 25 years.
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Julien Dore: Quirky French Heartthrob Quirky French heartthrob Julien Dore is known for his playful approach to music, and his penchant for making downright wacky music videos. He gained notoriety during season 5 of Nouvelle Star (French "American Idol"), when his riveting performances quickly became the main draw.
But there's more to him than a pretty face, perfectly tousled locks, and a reality show title.
Born and raised near Nimes in the south of France, Julian Doré is the great-great-great-nephew of the artist Gustave Doré, illustrator for the literary works…
M: French Rock Superstar The innovative French singer M is known for his playful Rock compositions and wildly theatrical live shows. His cooing falsetto is perfectly suited for his Rock-meets-Disco Funk sound.
Born Matthieu Chedid, he chose the pseudonym "-M-" and fashioned a whimsical superhero alter ego (with his wild suits and "M"-shaped hairdo à la Grandpa Munster -- a look he's since traded for "M"-shaped sunglasses) to help him overcome his shyness on stage.
Over the course of 5 studio albums, live recordings, and numerous soundtracks (including an…
Joyce Jonathan: Bubbly Pop, a la française If you like cheerful Folk Pop you'll enjoy singer/songwriter Joyce Jonathan. Her sweet voice and acoustic guitar strumming are an irresistible combination. At just 20 years old, she conquered the French music world with her award-winning debut album of feel-good acoustic Pop.
Jonathan grew up in the northwest suburbs of Paris, and began playing piano at the tender age of 5. By age 11, she was writing her own songs. Her musical influences include the late French R&B singer Teri Moise, Jason Mraz, and Tracy…
Christophe Mae: French Acoustic Pop Singer Singer-songwriter Christophe Mae performs acoustic Pop infused with Folk, Reggae, Blues and Soul. His music has an upbeat acoustic vibe, similar to Jack Johnson, Jason Mraz, or John Mayer. He's one of the biggest Pop stars in France today.
The singer, born Christophe Martichon, hails from Carpentras, a town in the Provence region of southeast France. A self-taught musician, Mae is heavily influenced by Stevie Wonder, Bob Marley, Tracy Chapman, Otis Redding, Ben Harper and Jack Johnson, and one can hear threads of them woven throughout his…
Alizee: The French Britney Spears Grows Up It's hard out here for a former Lolita. Alizée, the one-time teenage protege of Euro Pop queen Mylene Farmer, continues to search for a grown-up fan base with her fifth album, 5.
I'll tell you up front that I was NOT a fan of Alizée's early music. She came off as a French Britney Spears, with a layer of yucky Euro Pop icing. She was too "packaged" and manufactured, which I instinctively interpret as a cover for a lack of talent. But "Lolita" stuff was doing…
Natasha St-Pier: French-Canadian Chanteuse Success in Canada is no guarantee of stardom in France. Only a few have made the leap across the Atlantic in any significant way. Veteran singer Natasha St-Pier is one of the precious few. She's won over both Canadian and French audiences in her decade-long career. With six albums to her name and over 2 million records sold, she's an international music success story.
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Zaz Wins With Her Bohemian Throwback Style The French singer Zaz (Isabelle Geffroy) is perhaps the best ambassador for her country's music these days. She's topped the charts in France, Belgium, Switzerland, and Germany, and even won over some globally minded music fans in the U.S.
Something about her raspy voice, bohemian appeal, and throwback style of Gypsy Jazz-meets-Chanson Francaise struck a chord and made the world take notice of what the Frenchies were up to. It turns out that what they were up to was exposing a whole new generation to classic styles of French…
Amandine Bourgeois: The French Amy Winehouse Amandine Bourgeois has always stood at the intersection of Rock and Soul music. Before winning the 6th season of Nouvelle Star (French American Idol), she sang in both Rock and R&B/Funk bands.
Her bluesy sound hints at her wide range of influences, among which she counts Led Zeppelin, Rachelle Ferrell (an underrated American R&B singer) and Joss Stone.
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La Femme: Trippy French Surf Rock Band The band La Femme brings us New Wave Surf Rock, French style. Their hazy vocals, pulsating synths, Yé-yé vibes, and lo-fi aesthetic combine for an eclectic signature sound.
The haze also extends to the band members themselves, who are deliberately shrouded in mystery through costumes and camouflage.
Even the band's name is an enigma. We know it translates as "the woman," but what woman? Not to mention, we only seem to get passing glances at their faces in their head-scratching videos.
French Music Video Roundup I've been wanting to do a post like this for a while. Avid French music fans in the United States often miss out on great songs and artists because the music isn't digitally (or physically) available. It frustrates me to no end when I hear a cool French song or artist, but I can't blog about them because their music is not in the U.S. iTunes store.
Sometimes the albums do EVENTUALLY show up -- a year or more after their release in France, but a lot of music…
Benjamin Biolay: Sensual French Singer Biolay has a hushed, sensual, "talk-singing" style similar to Serge Gainsbourg and Etienne Daho. Even before he became a popular French singer, Benjamin Biolay had gained a reputation as a sought-after songwriter and producer, having launched the career of Keren Ann and written 4 songs on the successful 2000 comeback of singer Henri Salvador.
In addition to co-writing, producing, and playing instruments (including piano, guitar, and trumpet) on Keren Ann's first two albums, Biolay has worked with Raphael, Carla Bruni, Francoise Hardy, Jane Birkin, and Vanessa Paradis, to…
Rose: French Folk-Pop Singer Rose performs a unique brand of acoustic Folk-Pop. Her songs are very honest and personal, which is part of her charm. Who can resist a cute, sweet French girl, strumming a guitar, playing her own songs?
This singer has a girl-next-door demeanor that's endearing to fans. Her voice is just a wee bit raspy and husky, which adds a sense of emotion and vulnerability to everything she sings.
If you like Folk and acoustic music, check out her top songs and albums.
Claire Diterzi Crafts Offbeat French Folk Claire Diterzi is one of my favorite female French alternative artists. Her music reminds me of Tori Amos, Joanna Newsom, CocoRosie, Björk and fellow offbeat French singer Camille. There's something downright otherworldly about her sound.
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Thomas Pradeau Modernizes Paris Street Music Fresh-faced French singer Thomas Pradeau makes music that is downright fun to listen to.He infuses his Pop songs with trademark elements of Parisian street music (accordions, valse, a.k.a. French waltz, etc.).
Bridging the distant past with the, um, more recent past, he cites both Mozart and the rock band Queen as musical influences. You can hear a certain deliberate musicality in his work -- which is definitely a Queen thing.
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Caroline Costa: French Teen Sensation Like her American counterpart Jackie Evancho, teenage singer Caroline Costa has a voice that sounds incredibly mature. Her favorite singers are those with big voices: Christina Aguilera, Celine Dion, and Whitney Houston, to name a few.
Costa hails from the Midi-Pyrénées region in southern France. She attended music school in Castelsarrasin, and first performed on stage at the age of six. In 2007, she competed on a children's talent show called Iapiap!, where she was mentored by M Pokora. Upon winning on the show, she was placed…
BB Brunes Rocks Out in French BB Brunes is at the forefront of the new French Rock scene.They're one among a gaggle of Punk-loving bands barely out of their teens that emerged in the mid-to-late 2000's. They're also one of the few contemporary French bands to achieve commercial success singing in their native tongue.
English-speakers will find much to like in their music, as they're primarily influenced by the seminal punk bands of the 70's (The Clash, The Ramones, etc.) and the American and British Post-Punk revival bands of the early 2000's (The Strokes,…