I’m a little behind on this game, granted (and I don’t know why I took quite so long to write this article) – but why does no one I know seem to listen to or talk about French pop music?
They aren’t afraid to be crazy, a tactic which clearly pays off
I remember my sister (who is 10 years older than me) playing me Alizée, (who emerged on the music scene in 1999 after winning the French talent show Graines de Star), in the car. The song was ‘Moi … Lolita’, (Me … Lolita – as you may have guessed), and was released in 2000. With respect to the noughties, it pushed the lyrical boundaries of mainstream pop music at the time, through painting the singer as the promiscuous Lolita figure of Vladimir Nabokov’s famous novel. With iconic and provocative lyrics such as ‘silent and a mouth that doesn’t tell’, and ‘I see the others all ready to throw themselves upon me’, it was a hit. Even in the non-target anglophone market, it reached number 9 in the UK charts, something extremely rare for a foreign song to do in the 2000s. More songs followed such as ‘L’Alizé’, but none could quite live up to the success of her first song, especially outside of France.
Fastforward slightly later, and we have Yelle, a band formed in 2005, composed of lead singer and namesake Yelle (Julie Budet), and two other friends, one of whom joined just before the recording of their debut album. They have an entirely different vibe to Alizée – young, very modern (and a bit crazy), and totally loveable. I can’t remember exactly how I came across them, but I think my first experience of them was through the song ‘Complètement fou’ (or: Competely crazy). Their third album, especially, (of the same name) brings a non-stop party, and if you watch videos of them performing live, the fans certainly seem to get it. Despite the songs being sung in French, and featuring, as my first year French flatmate said, ‘total nonsense’, gems from ‘Ba$$in’ (‘Pelvi$’) such as ‘I would love to kiss this boy … show me how, show me how’ stick in your head, even if only through learned sounds as opposed to an actual understanding of language. They aren’t afraid to be crazy, a tactic which clearly pays off, shown through no less that three Coachella performances and their tour with Katy Perry, as well as their own.
why does no one I know seem to listen to or talk about French pop music?
Every time I go on YouTube I seem to find a more ridiculous and crazy (French) music video or song, and I love it. Take a look at Yelle’s video for Ba$$in below, and you’ll see what I mean.