Best of 2014 (part 9)

index_20090222_06Looking at the very diverse entries in this “best of 2014” series during the last weeks, we may very well conclude it was an exceptional year when it comes to French music.
But if you are truly honest there is only one Album of the Year. Or at least one Comeback Album of the Year. Or Filles Fragiles/Sourires Favourite Album of the Year.
And that is of course the magnificent album by the great Coralie Clément. Filles favourite for many years she seems to be lost and forgotten but what a comeback she did make!
To check what Guuzbourg wrote about it, see here.
Only one year ago, we were afraid she would be vanished from the music scene with a nice “Joyeux Anniversiare” and we would never hear from here in terms of full albums. But today, on the last day of 2014, we can rejoice ansd say “hurray, the guardian angel of this blog is back!”.

Françoise 70 (15): Francoise au Pays-Bas

6951-332-500The television broadcast in which Françoise Hardy made her first appearance (well as far as we know) on Dutch television, has gained a mythical status.
Unfortunately not because of Françoise….

It was on October 12, 1963 when she received an Edison in Scheveningen. The television registration of this “Grand Gala du Disque” as it was called is still known in the minds of viewers (and those who only heard about it). That was mainly because of the presenter, writer and comedian Godfried Bomans. Not only did he look drunk (or at least tipsy), it was especially what he said to the award winners that made it legendary.
Especially the remark he made before the star of the evening Marlene Dietrich came on stage: “ Oh how I wish my wife had only one leg like that”.
In the following days this became the talk of the town. People were talking about it, newspapers writing articles about what happened and even serious editorials comments appeared in the papers.

But what about Françoise?
I couldn’t find any references to whether she actually performed that night. Couldn’t find the complete show, and the papers don’t mention it, so I guess she only showed up to accept her award. I did find this picture in which she sings with the same dress, she wears in the show, but that was dated October 1964…
In his speech Bomans starts by staring at here saying: “my dad used to say that it is OK to stare”. Françoise seems to be at ease, and surprised but during the talk she seems pretty much a relaxed 19 year old girl.

After some chit chat about her name and the non pronunciation of the “H” in “Ardy, he gives her the Edison in the category youth, by saying: “And why, mademoiselle? Because you are an idol for the youth in France, but it is mainly because you had the courage not to imitate the Americans in your genre. You kept your original style; you write your own texts, compose your own melodies and you are a creative artist. That’s rare. It is for all that that I have the honour to present to you our sincere tribute”.

Here you can see the whole show (FH entering at 9:50)

Yearlists (8)

bands_liminanasWhen starting to think about 2013, my first thought was that it wasn’t a good year at all. No highlights, disappointments, a meager year in the FS history.
I listened to everything again and started making a shortlist, with about 20 names.  And then the other year lists appeared. 42 different names (!) of which only 10 made my shortlist….
Maybe 2013 wasn’t that bad overall, and can we hail 2013 in the future as one of the most diverse years in FS history.

So apologies to Vanessa Paradis, Pendentif, and Laurence Hélie who were bubbling under, but here’s a yearlist with a lot of new names…

10. Carla Bruni – Little French Songs
Comeback album of the former French First Lady. All political fuzz set aside, it’s still Carla Bruni, people!
09. Marilou – Au Milieu De Mon Écart
08. Ottilie – La Histoires d’O2 – XIIII
Belgian singer with a  special album, that stayed a bit under the radar. See more here
07. Sarah Olivier – Pink Galina
06. Ariane Brunet – Fusée
05. Sophie Maurin – Sophie Maurin
04.Sally Folk  – Confection
03. Angèle David-Guillou – Kourouma
02. Riff Cohen – A Paris Surprising album. the title song (here) makes me happy everytime I hear it.
01. The Limiñanas   – Costa Blanca
Gainsbourg with guitars.. Wonderful album! (and in january they will come to Holland. Wonder how the will perform life!)
[couldn’t find a clip of their neiw album, so here is an older one!]

Year lists (3)

I’m still in doubt about 2012…If you’d asked me one week ago  what kind of year it was in French music, I would have said “hmm”…
Big names fell short, no album really stood out, no song kept ringing around in my head…
But that was last week. When making this list and going through all the music, it turned out 2012 wasn’t that bad. A lot of talent stood out. So no Françoise Hardy, no Berry, No Pauline Croze, no Daphné, no Barbara Carlotti….but instead:

10 Dawn Landes – Mal Habillée
When one of our French girls releases an album with English songs, we regret it most of the time. But when an American girl has the nerve to release an album with only French songs, I go “Yay!”, and give her a special reward by including her in my year list.
Look here.

9 Buridane – Pas Fragile
A few years ago we heard a few songs from this chanteuse. And then silence…. Nothing more from Buridane, until this year, out of the blue there was here album.
Although we don’t agree on the title, obviously…
Check her video for “Badaboum

8 Céline Ollivier  – La Femme À L’éventail
Sweet surprise on #8. Her name was humming around on the internet for some time and there it was, her debut album “La Femme À L’éventail’, by this classical educated chanteuse. Excellent songs, very pure, and very personal. Listen to one of her songs “Au Flore” here.

7 Amélie Veille – Mon Coeur Pour Te Garder
Never heard about her before this album, but it turned out to be her third. Although it was six year since her last one. Yet another Quebecoise in a year list..Video officiel: ici

6 Céline Mastrorelli – Elle Était Une Fois
Guuzbourg wrote: “A favourite past time is to follow the progress of supersweet singer Celine Mastrorelli. She first popped up on our rader in 2008”, and now she fulfilled our expectations with  “Elle Était Une Fois”. Look and listen here

5 Sophie Vaillancourt – Histoires De Filles Et De Garçons
When I first heard about this album, I had no expectations at all. It looked “poppy”, she was a former of Star Académie participant, so not really things that would appeal to me.
But then I listened to it and was pleasantly surprised. Poppy, yes, but in a folky way and it all sounds very fresh. Top 5 material!
(couldn’t find a video, but here she is singing at her own release party!

4 Mademoiselle Nineteen – Mademoiselle Nineteen
Almost missed this one in my year list, because it was very early in the year when this one came out. Sparkling sixties sound from a girl from Liege. Year lists are good for replays! Here’s the lovely retro clip of “Quelle importance“.

3 Fanny Bloom – Apprentie guerrière
What a surprise this one! And again an example of the wonderful talented pool of singers from Quebec. Won the prestigious Félix de l’Album alternatif de l’année for his album.

2 Lou Doillon – Places
his should be actually my number one..But since the whole album is in English, it makes it difficult to top the list. Since this album gets better by everytime you listen to it, it must be in in the list. (I.C.U. clip here)

1 Melanie Pain – Bye Bye Manchester
When I gave this album a first listening, I was happy and relieved… Yes, this is the kind of music, the kind of voice and the kind of atmosphere that made me a Fille fan. See her perform the title song live ici!

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The idea looks so simple: ask a bunch of songwriters to compose a song about every Parisian arrondissement, then have famous actresses, singers and filles sourires favourites sing those songs. A female ode to the eternal city… I wish I came up with the idea, but alas, it was Nicolas Boualami Gaubiac who deserves all credit.

The result is a project called “ElleSonParis”. And the result is as exciting as it sounds

The songwriters are big names like Alex Beaupain, Thomas Roussel, Philippe Bresson, La Grande Sophie and Alain Chamfort. And what about the line-up! We have Juliette Gréco (!), Jane Birkin (!) Charlotte Rampling and Hanna Schygulla on one side and Zaza Fournier, Adrienne Pauly, Agnès Jaoui, Elisa Tovati, Irène Jacob and more on the other.

“ElleSonParis” is a musical tour through the arrondissements of Paris. They pay tribute to the Paris’ neighborhoods, all with their different character and own history.
Some of the songs are a bit so-so (one is not better than the high school musical level, but I won’t tell your which one…), but in general it is very nice trip into the City of Light.

Jane Birkin sings a song for the 16th arrondissement. A sober song with some with piano (or is it a  harpsichord?) called “5, Avenue Marceau”. Just in case you wonder: that was the home address of.. Yves Saint Laurent. And Chez Régine? We’ve all been there, no?

Jane Birkin – 5, Avenue Marceau
Adrienne Pauly – Chez Régine


We’re sorry. There is a lot happening. And we tend to miss things. That is the only reason I can find for writing so late about our sweetheart Berry. We only mentioned her here. Nothing more. And of course Berry deserves more (and not only because she is the French singer I saw perform more than once here in the Netherlands).
But what to think about the new album “Les Passagers” that we have to wait about for more than two years? It is a lovely album. If you like Berry that is. Don’t we all? That said, it doesn’t really surprise. There are no songs that really stand out, like we had on her first album, “Mademoiselle“. That album, #2 on the 2008 yearlist, had songs like the title song “Mademoiselle” and “Le bonheur” keep humming in your head. But even, after a few rounds of listening I can’t name a song so intense on the new album.
But still, more of the same isn’t always a bad thing. That proofs this song “Ce matin”.
Be honest, isn’t that the Berry we like to sing for us for ages?

Berry – Ce Matin
See the video for Si C’est La Vie


Some filles take long times between albums. Not our Fredda. She is very dedicated when it comes to new albums. Almost every year she serves us with a new one. In 2007 she released “Toutes mes aventures” and in 2009 “Marshmallow Paradise“.
There were also two sixties cocktail albums as Radiomatic together with Pascale Parisot, in 2006 and 2010).
and now there is “L’Ancolie” (Columbine in English). I haven’t heard or read much about it and that is a pity, to be honest. Because it is a wonderful, melancholic  album. On this new album she works closely together with Pascale Parisot, Bastien Lallemant and Filles Sourires’ own Marianne Dissard.
Here is the video of the title track “l’Ancolie“. This is the video for “Il ne me reste”.
On the albumm there are two songs co-written by Marianne: “Journal Intime” and the first track of the album “Morin Heights”. Since that is an ode to the place where the album is conceived I’ll bring it to you here:

Fredda – Morin Heights

SoKo Live

I already wrote about my crush on Soko.

Last Tuesday, I went to a show in my hometown Rotterdam. To be honest, I didn’t know what to expect. The show she gave a few days earlier in Brussels got both enthusiastic and negative reviews and last week she cancelled a few shows in  France because of illness and depressions so it could be good or bad.

Soko came on stage and told us we would start with a surprise act. Her brother Maxime sang two songs, while Soko herself was singing backing vocals and playing drums.

After that Luke Rathborne came on stage. He is a singer-songwriter from New York and also member of Soko’s band, and he wasn’t bad but not very impressive and struggled with the problem of this venue: people chatting to each other instead of listening.

And then Soko came on stage… What followed was a two hour long show, and a rollercoaster of emotions. Soko and her band members (Luke, Gillian McGuire on bass guitar, violin and backing vocals), ran around the stage, changed instruments and gave the impression they were all making it up on the spot.

We saw Soko singing very sad songs (“can I do another very a sad song or do you already want to kill yourself?”), was chitchatting with public (“I love you Danish people! Oh, not Danish, no. Dutch. But I’m dyslectic. Do you mind calling you Hollandish?”).
She played mostly new songs and almost her entire album. No songs from her earlier period when she had a minor hit with “I kill her”.
Surprisingly the songs with other her band members were the best with “People Always Look Better in the Sun” as one of the highlights of the evening.
There also was a therapeutic number “Destruction Of The Disgusting Ugly Hate” sang by Soko from behind the drum kit, which sounded like an early French punk song.

The last half hour of the show was for singalong with the audience, inviting people on stage (“You are so hot, may I touch your boobs”?)  and asking about the legal status of touching boobs of a 19 year old girl “Is that underage here?”).

After the last song she said that she was available for free hugs “like now”, stepped off the stage and walked through the public to the back of the venue, where the merch was.

It still is hard to describe. But after seeing her live, I can’t think about the fact that it is just real. Soko is a young woman who likes to be on the podium, sharing her emotions with her audience and loves to perform. And maybe it is not that “good’ but at least it was enjoyable fun and entertaining. And maybe that is what music is about…

Here’s a rare clip of Soko singing in French.

Mademoiselle Nineteen

I can almost hear you frown: this FransS guy falls in love too easily. Two weeks ago I declared my love to Soko, and now to yet another darling. My love for Mademoiselle Nineteen’s album. We already spotted Juliette Wathieu (as her real name is) some time ago, and recently saw her sweet video of  “Quelle Importance“, and her first album “Mademoiselle Nineteen” (highly original) is just out.
The album has the atmosphere we like: great voice, to-the-point-songs, lot of sixties references but it certainly doesn’t sound like a retro copycat. Maybe it is better to state that this is how France Gall would’ve sounded if she wasn’t born in ’47 but in ’91, as Mademoiselle Nineteen is.
Some songs have a 70s vibe, like “Je danse dans le noir” (although it includes a wonderful sixties organ).
And of course if you sang backing vocals for Lio, you always get extra points from the FS headquarters!

Mademoiselle Nineteen – Je danse dans le noir