The French singer Chat (Charlene Juarez) is a classically trained pianist who pens charming little songs and delivers them with a childlike voice. If you were TOTALLY thinking of Coeur de Pirate as you read that last sentence, you're not alone. They have a similar biography, and also happen to sound a lot alike.
The media buzz is picking up about her, and I'm declaring her latest EP, Le Coeur an early favorite for one of the top 5 French releases this year. Check out the title track:
This singer from Nice rose to fame as the winner of the first season of the reality show, Star Academy. Since then, she's made 5 studio albums spawning upbeat hits like "J'attends L'Amour," "Ma Revolution" and "Tourner ma Page," with her third album Lunatique reaching to number 1 on the charts.
This hot album L'amour & moi, features the hits "L'Amour et Moi" and "Sur le Fil," which was the song of the summer in France.
Tal is a self-taught guitar and piano player who hails from a musical family. What you might not expect is that her musical influences run the gamut from Old School Blues and Soul singers like Ray Charles, Aretha Franklin, and Stevie Wonder, to modern Soul and R&B singers like Angie Stone and Alicia Keys. She was first discovered by the Pop singer Gary Fico.
She burst onto the scene in 2011 with a fresh voice, infectious energy, and a catchy debut single -- "On Avance." Her highly anticipated debut album, Droit de Rever debuted at number 7 on the charts, went double platinum, and spawned a string of hits including "Waya Waya" (with Sean Paul), "Le Sens de la Vie," "Je Prends le Large," and "Rien n'est parfait."
The singer teamed up with Matt Pokora (whom I consider the French Justin Timberlake) for a duet on the Generation Goldman tribute album. Together, they scored top 10 hit with her duet with the remake, "Evole-Moi." In 2013, she released her sophomore album A l'Infini.
Juliette Katz is being heralded as the French Adele. Her debut album, Tout Va de Travers, features the duet "Vague a l'ame" with Sia, along with the hit title track (below), and the soulful single, "Tout le Monde." She should be the French singer whose name everybody knows. I hope she gets the popularity she deserves, because she's truly amazing.
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. Though her discography boasts work with icons like Serge Gainsbourg and Lenny Kravitz, Paradis has still lacked a certain prestige in the music world, until now.
The award-winning actress, Chanel model, and all around "it" girl is probably best known outside France as Johnny Depp's partner and baby mama. (The Hollywood couple split in 2012 after 14 years.) But much like Quelqu'un m'a dit did for Carla Bruni, Paradis' latest album will make you forget all the other stuff she's famous for -- even that godawful taxi song -- and reconsider her as a serious singer. Read more about Vanessa Paradis >>
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, the self-taught guitarist was writing her own songs. Her musical influences include the late French R&B singer Teri Moise, Jason Mraz, and Tracy Chapman. Personally, she reminds me a lot of Colbie Caillat.
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 icky Euro Pop icing. She was too "packaged" and manufactured, which I instinctively interpret as a cover for a lack of talent. But the "Lolita" stuff was doing it for men of France, apparently, who couldn't get enough of her lip-synching and prancing around in rompers and pastel mini-dresses.
Thankfully, Mylene Farmer's control over her music waned, and by her third album, and the Corsica native began to show some promise. Her 2007 Electro-Pop album Psychédélices was the first half-listenable recording in Alizee's repertoire, and in my opinion, she's been heading in a more serious direction ever since. Continue reading: Alizee: The French Britney Spears Grows Up >>
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.
St-Pier endeared herself to Canadian audiences on the Quebec televised talent competition "Le pouvoir de la chanson" in 1993, making it to the finals at just 12 years old. She soon followed with her first album at 15.
She won over French audiences when she represented France and placed 4th in the long-running Eurovision Song Contest in 2001. (Another famous French-Canadian singer took a similar path to international stardom: Celine Dion.) France tightened its embrace of her when she was awarded the Victoire de la musique for Best New Artist in 2003. Continue reading: Natasha St-Pier: A French-Kissed Canadian Chanteuse >>
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 music.