the thoughts and aspirations of a wannabe

Musique française

In A few of my favorite things, I Laugh in Your General Direction, I want to go to there., Musique, Wish List on October 30, 2010 at 4:41 am

Another thing to add to the list of things I prefer to be French–among people, pastries, accents, and toast–is music.

Just recently, I downloaded a few new favorites that I’ve been jamming out to this week, and in the process, have realized just how much I adore French music. I think I’ve successfully analyzed the reasons why.

  1. Quite honestly, it makes me feel cultured and edgy, which I will admit.
  2. It puts me in a good mood when I can pick out a word or phrase that, after my five years of studying French, I can actually understand.
  3. I love the language; plain and simple.

So, here’s a collection of both French and barely-French songs I have either accumulated over the  years or recently discovered. Enjoy.

Sting, “Perfect Love… Gone Wrong”

This is not a true, French piece of music, but it features French rap, and it’s what started my obsession. I recently unearthed a copy of Sting’s old album, popped it into my old-school boombox, and rocked out to some sophisticated jazzy-Algerian beats for a good week.

This brought back a lot of memories. I first heard it at age five, when my mom bought the CD, and then heard it again repeatedly on a loop for about three years. More than once, she excitedly informed me that, “there is a female French rapper in this song, Hannah Grace. How cool is that?!” She also informed me that she would leave my father for Sting, if given the opportunity, but I suppose that’s beside the point.

The point is, after nine years, I can remember every word of English in “Perfect Love.” So, this week I have been unsuccessfully attempting to reproduce the slurs of French syllables, reminding myself to take baby steps, since I can barely keep up with Eminem in my native language.

I apologize because I can’t find a YouTube video for this song that doesn’t include a slideshow of Twilight pictures, so I will leave that decision up to you.

Madeleine Peyroux “La Vie en Rose,” “J’ai Deux Amours”


With such a French name, you would think she might sing more in French. Unfortunately, most of her songs are in English, but she does a great rendition of Edith Piaf’s “La Vie en Rose,” and a thoroughly enjoyable “J’ai Deux Amours,” that makes me feel like I should be roaming the streets of Paris at midnight. Peyroux has a Norah Jones-ish quality that Starbucks would approve of. I highly recommend these.

Lorie, “Je vais vite,”

In English it means, “I go fast,” but beyond that, I’m not sure. My friends would agree that this is a classic. Mostly because we were introduced to this song in our eighth grade French class (my favorite by far). We thought the video was quite risque, but were hooked on the song for about a month, fudging the lyrics with our French 1 vocabulary.

This would be your typical French pop song, but I still find it incredibly enjoyable. I don’t know what it is with French music videos–or music videos in general, really–but why they believe it’s okay to compile several unrelated images and flash quickly between each one, as if it creates some kind of overall meaning, is beyond me. All I know is that at various points, there is a line of men making robotic dance motions, and at other points one guy dancing by himself in a tiny room, wearing white gloves; neither of which having anything to do with the fact that she “goes fast.”

IAM, “Demain, c’est loin”

I’m really, really liking the French rap, lately. The reason I like it so much is because, not only is it often not about the number of women and vehicles that someone has in their possession, but also because it just sounds so cool. I think you’ll agree.

Diam’s, “Jeune Demoiselle”

Super French, super catchy. For some reason, it seems to exert some sort of lady-power message, even though she’s walking around a mall in a bellyshirt. It’s probably the haircut.

I’m curious, is it imperative, as a French female rapper, that you have as little hair as possible? I’m also a fan of the bling and track suits.

Carla Bruni, “Quelqu’un M’a Dit”

You probably know this song from the movie, 500 Days of Summer. It’s a song I prefer to fall asleep to, and not one that I would gush over, just because it seems to me that Carla Bruni is one of those people that can’t actually sing well in any volume above a whisper, so they simply turn up the microphone really high, add some acoustic guitar, and hand her a recording contract because she’s the first lady of France. Hence, why I feel like she’s breathing in my ear when I hear this song, which bothers me minimally. But still, it’s soothing, it’s cute, and it’s French.

I really like this video, mostly because there is a reasonably creepy man walking around with a candle in the background for most of the song.

Yelle, “Je veux te voir”

She is no misnomer. Yelle always gets me pumped up, although the techno beats and shrill French sometimes scare my dogs. This is one of those songs I like to blast in an empty house when I’m vacuuming, or something.

So, it turns out this song is really suggestive, which I actually did not know until right now. Even though the subtitles are in French, I think this will be quite obvious. This does not bode well for my French skill.

Camille , “Ta Douleur”

This is one of my new favorites. At one point it seems she may be spitting in an attempt to beat box and grunting a little, but don’t let that scare you off. It’s super catchy, and has those oh-so French, sensible, yet simple instrumentals–i.e. clapping, and spitting.

Jack Johnson, “Belle

Tay just reminded me recently of how much I love this song. Again, it’s not really French, because it’s Jack Johnson. This two-minute snippet is mostly alluring acoustic guitar plus accordion, and sneaky audio like tinkling store bells, as if he’s trying to trick you into thinking you’re really in France. Really, it’s the lyrics that give the song a certain je ne sais quoi. Have a listen.

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