French Pop Music: A Way to Embrace the Culture

French Pop Music

My wife and I have spent countless hours enjoying the music of our adopted country. It really helps to understand the language and the culture. To emphasise that here is a little quip: I once asked a French family with whom I was friendly why a certain artist was popular. “You have to be French to understand why” was the reply.

Photo credits: Sally-Rose & Georges Biard

French pop music is thriving and is of course, subjective to one’s taste. Over time I will add more posts with my own favourites and I’ll give the reasons for choosing them. If you think I’ve left someone or something important out why not leave me a comment.

The links I’ve included to Amazon are all affiliate links although I’m only including those I’ve bought and enjoyed myself.

So let’s get down to it.

Francis Cabrel

[easyazon_image add_to_cart=”default” align=”right” asin=”B000025SG7″ cloaking=”default” height=”160″ localization=”default” locale=”UK” nofollow=”default” new_window=”default” src=”http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51kRlAcQqUL._SL160_.jpg” tag=”weliinfr-21″ width=”160″]Cabrel Public[/easyazon_image]First heard him back in 1988 on moving to Paris. Liked his live album”Cabrel Public“. It included one studio recording, a translation of James Taylor’s “Millworker” that Cabrel entitled “La Fabrique”. Shortly after he brought out “Sarbacane“, which was a major success for him. Even though he has a southern accent which is evident at times, he is clear and easily understandable. Only don’t expect school book French!

[easyazon_image add_to_cart=”default” align=”right” asin=”B000025SDE” cloaking=”default” height=”160″ localization=”default” locale=”UK” nofollow=”default” new_window=”default” src=”http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51QZngxjFcL._SL160_.jpg” tag=”weliinfr-21″ width=”160″]Sarbacane[/easyazon_image]I spent hours listening to the 2 albums mentioned above in those early days and he really helped my French develop. Very much a poet, influenced by Dylan amongst others. Uses metaphor really well in his lyrics. Good on stage. Has brought out lots of albums & DVDs so it’s worth checking him out.

Veronique Sanson

[easyazon_image add_to_cart=”default” align=”right” asin=”B00000IIJV” cloaking=”default” height=”157″ localization=”default” locale=”UK” nofollow=”default” new_window=”default” src=”http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/41FXH45SSFL._SL160_.jpg” tag=”weliinfr-21″ width=”160″]Amoureuse[/easyazon_image]Remember Kiki Dee singing “Amoureuse“? (Showing your age heh?) Veronique Sanson is the original artist.

I had a couple of her albums on vinyl or cassette tape but the only CD I acquired was a live performance at Zenith Paris 93. I had the good fortune to see her at Olympia(Paris) in ’89 I think it was. An outstanding show!

Patricia Kaas

[easyazon_image add_to_cart=”default” align=”right” asin=”B000026DKS” cloaking=”default” height=”160″ localization=”default” locale=”UK” nofollow=”default” new_window=”default” src=”http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/41th6c08RZL._SL160_.jpg” tag=”weliinfr-21″ width=”160″]Mon mec à moi[/easyazon_image]Came to the fore in France mid 80s early 90s – extremely popular still. Incredible voice. I really like her big hit “Mon mec à moi“. The album I’ve listed is “Scene De Vie” – I believe her second album.

Again very clear pronunciation with much colloquialism as you would expect in all pop songs.

Garou

[easyazon_image add_to_cart=”default” align=”right” asin=”B0000501CN” cloaking=”default” height=”156″ localization=”default” locale=”UK” nofollow=”default” new_window=”default” src=”http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/41pGtkUPSaL._SL160_.jpg” tag=”weliinfr-21″ width=”160″]Seul[/easyazon_image]Actually Canadian but a big favourite in France. First hit album, ‘Seul‘ was released in  2000. Has a powerful voice and is a judge/coach in France’s version of ‘Ze Voice’. We belatedly bought his first album just a few months ago and is well worth a listen. Some time ago he appeared on a French Chat Show with Lionel Ritchie as the main guest. Garou clearly surprised Ritchie during their duet with the latter announcing “This guy can really sing!” 

Johnny Halliday

Johnny Hallyday Cannes: Photo Credit - Georges Biard

Photo Credit – Georges Biard

I guess no list would be anywhere near complete without “Johnny”! The original French Rocker! I can’t say I’m a big fan and I haven’t purchased any of his albums (hence no links) but he’s so popular in France. Now in his seventies but he is still going strong in spite of suffering so quite major health problems in recent years. Definitely a real entertainer!

I think it’s a real shame many of these artists are not known outside the French speaking world.

I’d love to hear your thoughts about these and anyone else you would like to mention in a future post. So please leave a comment.

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