Melody Gardot

Edith Piaf did (co-)write La Vie en Rose, she wasn’t the first one to record the song. Wikipedia tells us originally, the song was registered as being written by Louis ‘Louiguy’ Guglielmi, since at the time Piaf did not have necessary qualifications to be able to copyright her work with SACEM. In 1945, Piaf’s friend Marianne Michel gave it a first try, for Piaf wasn’t sure it would fit in her repertoire. But from the first time she did sang the chanson, it became her signature song. La Vie en Rose was covered many, many times. Louis Armstrong (love his version), Dean Martin, Madeleine Peyroux, Aretha Franklin, Grace Jones, the list goes on.
And now American jazz singer Melody Gardot covered it, on her most recent album The Absence (a music magazine joked that the title refers to the lack of clothing on the album cover). Melody spices it up, sings it like it’s a booty call. Hard to ignore, judging from that album cover.

Melody Gardot – La vie en rose

Freedom Fry

The equation is simple – One French girl + one American guy = the band Freedom Fry. To be more exact, the duo is that of Parisian born Marie Seyrat and New York City’s Bruce Driscoll. So far, they made two EPs and a single with folksy tracks, sometimes with electronics added. Marie’s voice reminds me of Inara George’s. Most FF-songs are in English but Marie occassionally sings in French too. Like on the duo’s charming cover of Serge & Brigitte’s Bonnie & Clyde – listen to what they did with those wa-hoo-ha-hoo-hoo’s from the original. Find more Freedom Fry tracks on Bandcamp or Soundcloud.

Freedom Fry – Bonnie & Clyde

La Mer electronique

Charles Trenet’s immortal La Mer (aka Beyond the Sea) was covered by electronic duo Andromakers. Lucille & Nadege from Aix-en-Provence, whose other work (not only in French) you can hear here.

Laura Cahen

So many new songs to share, so little time…

Romy Mon Amour

30 years ago, on May 29, 1982, French-German actress Romy Schneider died. I take the freedom to re-post an older entry by Guuz, with a few slight changes.

“Sissi just sticks to me just like oatmeal”, is a famous quote by Romy Schneider. Born Rosemarie Magdelena Albach-Retty in Vienna, she made her acting debut on stage by the side of her mother (like her father an actor too). In 1955 the world fell in love with her, when she played empress-to-be Sissi in the first of three films about the Austrian royal. From that point on, she tried to break away from her saccharine image by taking parts in sombre films like Christine (where she met fiancé Alain Delon), Orson Welles’ The Process, and Visconti’s Ludwig.
Her life was filled with tragedy: she was dumped by Delon, first husband Henry Meyen hanged himself naked in front of his house only a few years after the divorce, and her son David died in a fatal accident. Officially, she died because of cardiac arrest, but rumour has it she commited suicide. Knowing this, I can only see oceans of schmerz in her eyes.
Pursued and abused by the German press for nearly her whole life, Romy Schneider’s relationship to her homeland maybe is mirrored most perfectly in Robert Enrico’s relentless Le Vieux Fusil.
On a lighter note, she sang as well. In what I think is her best movie, Les Choses de la Vie, her melancholic, Hardy-like voice is perfect for La Chanson d’Hélène, a duet with Michel Piccoli. And for Max et les Ferrailleurs, she sang a short a-capella song in German.

Romy Schneider – La Chanson d’Hélène
Romy Schneider – La Lettre de Rosalie
Romy Schneider – Lily et Max

Sinner DC’s hommage to Romy S. features overwhelming sadness as well as an irresistible loop, and Jérôme Boloc’s Romy et Dewaere pairs her with French actor Patrick Dewaere whose life story was similarly tragic.

Sinner DC – Romy Schneider
Jérôme Boloc – Romy et Dewaere


History of French Pop in 10 Songs

Interesting feature in The Guardian, a list of 10 songs that catch the diversity and Frenchness of French pop throughout the decades. Some excellent choices, the challenge is of course to better this list. I would’ve traded Sylvie Vartan for Jacques Dutronc, changed Mylène Farmer for Keren Ann or Coralie Clément and I would leave out Nicoletta, and add Le 22 Bar by Dominique A. and Francoiz Breut, as the official start of la nouvelle scene Française. Or maybe add Les Négresses Vertes. Or Camille. Or Benjamin Biolay. Not as easy as you think.
Post your lists (with explanation!) in the comments.

New Françoiz Breut album

In September, the new Françoiz Breut album ‘La Chirurgie des sentiment’ will see the light of day, via our German friends of LePop (+ other partners). You can listen to one of the songs via FB’s Soundcloud (here). You can read more here.

Charlotte Gainsbourg @ Paradiso

Charlotte wasn’t to blame, I think. That’s if you want to blame anyone for the show yesterday in Paradiso. The sound engineer is a perfect scapegoat, but getting the sound right in the Amsterdam venue is a challenge, I know. Yesterday, the first half of the concert had waaaaay too much bass. After about four of five songs, it got better. But it didn’t save the show.
It’s not easy to put the finger on the reasons why it didn’t appeal to me. Heck, I wanted it to be great. The Bruxelles show was excellent. Fierce. Yesterday, it was plushy. Lovey-dovey. Someone on twitter said it was like a pajama-party, due to the white clothes every one wore on stage. Connan Mockasin, dressed like a cult leader on stage, should’ve been the perfect musical companion – see this video. But yesterday, the music was too timid, too tame. To me, it sounded and looked like the band and Charlotte were uneasy with each other. Like they weren’t familiair enough with the material, with the new arrangements. Reviewer Peter Bruyn said to me: Connan’s no Beck, no Jarvis, no Conor J. O’Brien from Villagers, or one of the other men that helped push Charlotte to great heights. He’s sub-top at best. Charlotte needs top guys.

At times, it fared pretty well. The glam-funkin’ way Connan re-arranged songs from Charlotte For Ever, her first album from the 80s that Serge penned, did work. But songs like Heaven Can Wait or The Songs That We Sing, needed more oomph, chutpaz, drive, body – something like that. And that note-perfect cover of Ashes to Ashes…nice. For once.
Were my expectations too high? Charlotte wasn’t to blame. Yesterday, she looked stunning, sang charmingly, smiled a lot, it seemed like she had a great time. Part of the audience did so too (I guess about 400 people showed up, in a room that holds about 1500). But to me, to mrs Guuzbourg, to several people I spoke afterwards like FS-collaborators Maks and FransS, it didn’t even touch the standard we raised for Charlotte.

See an impression on Youtube.
More pictures HERE

Bic Runga

Singers from New Zealand are rare on this French-oriented blog. Earlier this week we had Connan Mockasin, a few years back I featured Ladyhawke (who recorded one track in French). And now there’s Bic Runga. A gorgeous singer-songwriter with Maori, Chinese and Malaysian roots, who made four solo-albums. Belle was released last year, the title refers to the French tv-series Belle et Sebastien. She covered the theme-tune, also known as L’Oiseau, in French. Earlier, she covered Autumn Leaves, as you probably know a track of French origin too.

Bic Runga – Belle