La Japonaise

You can hear a quite classy accordion player above, as well as a grande dame de la chanson, plus … Leslie Feist simultaneously impersonating Jane Birkin and German 80s airhead Nena: a cutting-edge mixture indeed, with Serge’s lyrics heading straight to Fukushima.

Ho Ho Canada

21 Christmas songs and/or seasonal tracks by Canadian artists, including a few who sing in French. Go to THIS SITE to download the zip. Alas, Malajube and Les Breastfeeders turned in an earlier released track, but fine ones nonetheless. Also check the hoarse Ivy Mairi.

Les Breastfeeders – Manteau de froid

For more seasonal songs (in various languages and genres) check out my Christmasblog

Year lists (4)

Sylvester Hoogmoed, longtime FOFS and host of the excellent Het Chanson on Dutch Concertzender and writer of a book on singer Ramses Shaffy, provided his yearlist:

It was not a very lively year for French chanson. Death anniversaries of Brassens (1981), Gainsbourg (1991), Montand (1991) and Bécaud (2001) were commemorated with the usual tributes. At 87, Charles Aznavour was still going strong, with a series of concerts and his 57th album (not counting the ones in English and other languages). Brigitte Fontaine (72), Johnny Hallyday (67), Alain Souchon (66), Julien Clerc (64) launched not too boring cd’s with one or two nice nouveautés. Likewise did Thomas Dutronc – the son of Jacques (68) and La Hardy (67). Têtes Raides on their excellent new album invited Jeanne Moreau (83) to resume her singing-career after some 30 years. In August Allain Leprest (57) died after decades of obscure brilliance. Only two months earlier he had recorded ‘Leprest symphonique’, which hopefully will bring some fame at last – posthumously.
Luckily there were Juliette, Thomas Fersen and Les Ogres de Barback to shake things up in 2011, as did some filles sourires, In particular I liked the albums of L (Raphaële Lannadère), Brigitte Boisjoli, Luce, Liz Cherhal and Stéphanie Crayencour – second cousin of Marguerite Yourcenar (1903-1987).

01 Les Ogres de Barback – Comment je suis devenu voyageur
Jolly, multi-instrumental, multi-cultural. Favourite track: Graine de brigand

02 Têtes Raides – L’an demain
The spirit of Brel, combined with Mano Negra. Favourite track: Emma (featuring Jeanne Moreau)

03 L – Initiale
Dreamy beauty. Favourite tracks: Mes lèvres, Chapeau rouge, Mescaline

04 Juliette – No parano
Qualité engagé and humorous. Favourite tracks: Dans ma rue, Les dessous chics, Rue Roger Salengro

05 Allain Leprest – Leprest symphonique
Classical poète maudit, dished up with a classical orchestra. Favourite tracks: Il pleut sur la mer, Nu

06 Thomas Fersen – Je suis au paradis
Nice voice, singing original ironic lyrics. Favourite track: Félix, J’suis mort, La balafré

07 Luce – Première phalange
Cheerful pop-chanson, excellent to start the day with. Favourite tracks: La symphonie d’Alzheimer, J’me fume, J’aime la pluie

08 Liz Cherhal – Il est arrivé quelque chose
Every song she writes is good, like the accordion she plays (and the fluit and the piano). Favourite tracks: Un matin, Quand je regarde la mer, Mes bretelles et mes hublots, Le poids des fantômes. (Listen on Spotify, here)

09 Brigitte Boisjoli – Fruits défendus
Pop music rather than chanson, but too good to ignore, even for me. Favourite tracks: Le temps de partir, Fruits défendus

10 Stéphanie Crayencour – La garçonnière
Unpretentiously charming. Favourite tracks: Charleston d’insomnie, Petite chanson pour te laguer, Les miettes

La Grande Sophie, Olivia Ruiz

Two filles that have been featured here before, Sophie and Olivia. The latter is a regular on FS, yet it’s been several months that we talked about the blackhaired beauty (here). As said before,  a LOT of tributes were released this year, for Jacno, Brassens, Serge Gainsbourg, Boby Lapointe and Alain Bashung. Now, there’s one for Gilbert Bécaud. Not many girls aboard, alas, but our Olivia delivers a very strong track. Original version here.

Ne m’oublie pas, sings (La Grande) Sophie, a welcome reminder. Sophie once sang like a police siren, but she toned down, added more air and this first single of a new album sounds maybe a tad too youthful, but it works. And the message is clear.

La Grande Sophie – Ne m’oublie pas
Olivia Ruiz – Les tantes Jeanne

We Are Enfant Terrible

We Are Enfant Terrible is a French electronica-driven pop band that, as they say on their site, ‘sing songs in English. But with our new EP, La vie est belle, mes enfants!, recorded last summer in the french deep country, we claim our love in french to artists that inspire us by covering and/or translating New Young Pony Club, Gainsbourg, Dutronc, Beck.’ The NYPC-song is downloadable for free via Soundcloud. But this blog is of course very interested in their take on Ces Petits Riens, originally a duet between Serge and Catherine. And, well, it’s quite good! Not sure if singer Clo Floret exaggerates the ennui in her voice, but it works.

We are enfant terrible – Ces petits riens


Not that many interesting, leftfield French Christmas songs this year. Alas. But new French band Cracbooms made a good cover of the old La Compagnie Créole song Bons baisers de Fort de France. Yep, it’s a Christmas song allright, yet tropical. Cracbooms gave it a Vampire Weekend-styled make over. Downloadable for free via their Bandcamp site.

Year lists (3)

Mordi, he of the wonderful and inspirational Blowupdoll blog, lines up his French faves:

Here’s my French year list! It’s in no particular order and features albums and individual songs , male and female singers. It’s worth noting that Charlotte Gainsbourgs new album probably should be on this list, but I haven’t heard all of it and it’s not released here for another few days so that will probably be on next years list!

Yelle – Safari Disco Club (album)
I wasn’t that enamoured with their first album ‘pop!’ but with this new album felt more poppy, clubby, electronic and fun. I was obsessed with the album for the entire months of April/May. Favourite song ‘S’eteint Le Soleil’.

Lou Lesage – Forgotten Child (song, pictured)
Her voice on this song is near perfect – soft, with a French accent. The tune is gorgeous (so is she) – shame the album didn’t quite live up to this.

Alex Beaupain – Pourquoi Battait Mon Coeur (album)
He really deserves more success than he gets- he should be up there with the likes of Biolay. A great songwriter, great tunes. I don’t know if it’s because I emotionally associate him too much with the heartache of ‘les Chansons D’amour’ but his voice often sounds like its on the verge of sadness. Favourite song ‘Au Depart’.

Christophe Willem – Prismphonic (album)
Are you surprised he is on my list? I am! And although not every song on this album is amazing – but with help from top pop people like Richard x, Karen Poole and Isabel Guzman some of it is not bad at all. My favourite has to be ‘Jamais Du’ – I love the piano – to me that’s a quintessential French pop sound. Infact, if I had my way, all French pop songs would sound like Desireless had given birth to them.

Catherine Deneuve – C’est beau la vie (song)
Not her duet with Benjamin Biolay but the solo version she sang at the end of ‘Potiche’ really moved me – I cried! I’m still not sure why!?

Melanie Laurent – En T’attendant (album)
After reading an interview with her a few years ago where she said she was going to record an album I could not wait. After a long wait I wasn’t disappointed at all. Whether in English or French – her voice always sounded good. ‘Il Fait Gris’ is such a standout song – amazing.

L – Initiale (album)
This may be the French album of the year for me. It captivated me so much, it was hypnotic, her lyrics were interesting and her voice just gorgeous. Can’t wait to hear what’s next from her. Favourite song ‘Jalouse’.

Les Bien Aimes Soundtrack
I haven’t seen the film yet and I know it will never come close to Les Chansons D’amour but Alex Beaupain once again put his song writing talents to this soundtrack- and so it sounds like it could also be great film. Featuring Deneuve, Mastroianni and Sagnier. I love ‘ Ici Londres’ featuring Chiara Mastroianni

Covers Deluxe: Stax, No Motown

Few people remember him, but from the early 70s to the mid-80s, Michel Stax was, well, maybe not a household name, but a regular guest at Québécois clubs and venues, including bell-bottoms and that certain haircut my elder sister found so irresistible then. He almost exclusively did cover versions of other huge hits, among them Moustaki’s Milord and the French version of Hurricane Smith’s Oh Babe, What Would You Say, before he turned David Lee Roth’s men’s room take on Just a Gigolo into an outlandishly phony fairground number in 1985; his last hit, and one for the catalogue of camp, revised edition. 12 years earlier, he had covered Al Kooper’s miniature opera I Can’t Quit Her in a quite futuristic adaptation – my elder sister still claims that the karaoke machine wasn’t invented then.

Michel Stax – Car je t’aime

French Teachers Only

Intriguing idea, splendid concept: Every year the French embassy in Berlin, the Bureau Export and schoolbook publishers Cornelsen cooperate when issuing another volume of their FrancoMusiques compilations. The artwork of the meanwhile fourth installment in the series may be a bit run-of-the-mill, but the content offers a fine panorama of most recent French pop, featuring tracks by everybody’s darlings like Zaz and Yelle, but also smashing stuff by lesser known artists, e.g. the gorgeous melancholia of L (see mp3 below), the hypnotic electro pop of Slove, or the fulminant flow of Parisian rappers Sexion d’Assaut. Plus, the compilation is for free and can be ordered here, though – sorry, letdown of the week – only by teachers of French living in Germany. You’ll surely find a trick to snatch a copy.

L – Mes lèvres