Dizzee Rascal's new music video "I Don't Need A Reason" is probably the most giffable video ever made.
For non-anglophones, the English names of worldwide brands, music bands and other cultural items are both ubiquitous and slightly mysterious. Here what the English (plus some German, Spanish and Japanese) names of 52 brands/logotypes and 30 musicians/records look like when very loosely and somewhat lazily translated in French. Some extras can be found in the comments (note: annoying pop-up at the start).
To say that Messiaen's Vingt Regards sur L'Enfant-Jesus (Twenty Contemplations on the Infant Jesus) is a masterpiece is a gross understatement. Over sixty years after its composition, it has rightfully earned the recognition of being one of the most important piano works of the 20th century. ... [It] is one of the most personal and intimate pieces Messiaen ever wrote, and it gives the listener a close look at Messiaen the person. Messiaen was a deeply religious person, and although his faith influenced every single piece he wrote, the Vingt Regards is almost like his own personal spiritual diary. - Keith Kerchoff [more inside]
While Quebec’s status as the only primarily French-speaking province in Canada has resulted in a distinct cultural industry—particularly with regard to film and music—the province still enjoys many cultural products from English Canada. While movies and TV shows are often subtitled or dubbed into French, it is rare that the same is true of music. A notable exception is the music of Toronto-based Big Sugar. [more inside]
The irony in a way is that Messiaen used this great romantic organ for his most modern experiments. For Messiaen, this was a great sort of sonic paintbox, if you like, and he would come here and experiment with the extraordinary sounds that he could conjure out of this amazing instrument. [more inside]
Le Blues De Memphis — behind the scenes at STAX & FAME Recording Studios (1969) and Hollywood Blues, a 1969 Hollywood Recording Session. Just a sample of the vintage 50s, 60s & 70s music, movies, microcode and high-speed pizza delivery at Bedazzled.tv. [sacré bleu]
Birdy Nam Nam is four f*cking guys, named for a reference from the 1968 movie The Party. They are a quartet of French turntablists, consisting of Crazy B, DJ Pone, DJ Need, and Little Mike. They've spun solo and together at the 2002 DMC competitions, where they took the team championship title. In 2005, they released an album made from turntable-manipulated samples, but they weren't studio-only tracks. They were also performed live, though some tracks featured additional live musicians. A 2007 live album followed, keeping the same over-all turntablism sound as their first album. Their second album was largely produced by French produceder/DJ Yunksek, and the sound changed accordingly into an album of delightful French dance music, but they kept (generally) to the turntables to create their songs. The band has released their third album, now working with Para One, another French producer/DJ. Their sound has gone on a slightly new path, with another bizzare music video to accompany their sound. [more inside]
It's the late 1970s, you're in France, and you're not quite sure what this whole Star Wars hype is about. Let René Joly tell you about it. If your French isn't so good, someone was kind enough to overlay a translation in English, of course in the Star Wars Crawl style. If you can't find the original record from 1977, you can also hear the b-side: Enfant de l'univers (French lyrics). More French Star Wars? Behold: a dance spectacular on French TV (previously). If you like your cheese 100% American, check out the Donny and Marie Star Wars musical number, with very some special guests. For a little less cheese, and a bit more swing: Darth Vader and his jazz combo. [more inside]
After Kad & Olivier sign off and the Satisfaction production logo fades, viewing audiences are oftentimes treated to a cold open of an empty talk show set... one that quickly becomes the impromptu dance floor for a shameless Frenchman making an absolute giddy fool of himself while lip-syncing pop songs alongside a menagerie of... wait, *what*?! That's right. The Late Late Show's Craig Ferguson appears to have a not-so-secret French admirer -- one who's not above ripping off both his opening titles and his signature dance sequences (including the iconic animal puppets): "ABC" by The Jackson 5, "Flashdance" by Irene Cara, "On the Floor" by Jennifer Lopez and Pitbull, "Waka Waka" by Shakira, "Men in Black" by Will Smith, "Let's All Chant" by the Michael Zager Band, "Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go" by Wham!, "It's Raining Men" by The Weather Girls, and "Vive Le Vent (Jingle Bells)" by Tino Rossi. Luckily, Ferguson's sense of showmanship is more prodigious than litigious -- he responded to Arthur's "homáge" by booking a pair of translatlantic crossover shows, with Arthur visiting LA that week and Ferguson flying out to Paris just last month. Video of both shows (plus lots more) inside! [more inside]
Safari Disco Club / Que veux-tu double-feature music video for two tracks from Yelle's second album
In the two decades starting in the 1980s, Laurent Boutonnat produced a series of atmospheric pop videos for Mylène Farmer, the chart-topping "French Madonna" who is little known outside the Europop circuit. [more inside]
Unlike many cinematic exports, the Disney canon of films distinguishes itself with an impressive dedication to dubbing. Through an in-house service called Disney Character Voices International, not just dialogue but songs, too, are skillfully re-recorded, echoing the voice acting, rhythm, and rhyme scheme of the original work to an uncanny degree (while still leaving plenty of room for lyrical reinvention). The breadth of the effort is surprising, as well -- everything from Arabic to Icelandic to Zulu gets its own dub, and their latest project, The Princess and the Frog, debuted in more than forty tongues. Luckily for polyglots everywhere, the exhaustiveness of Disney's translations is thoroughly documented online in multilanguage mixes and one-line comparisons, linguistic kaleidoscopes that cast new light on old standards. Highlights: "One Jump Ahead," "Prince Ali," and "A Whole New World" (Aladdin) - "Circle of Life," "Hakuna Matata," and "Luau!" (The Lion King) - "Under the Sea" and "Poor Unfortunate Souls" (The Little Mermaid) - "Belle" and "Be Our Guest" (Beauty and the Beast) - "Just Around the Riverbend" (Pocahontas) - "One Song" and "Heigh-Ho" (Snow White) - "Bibbidi-Bobbidi-Boo" (Cinderella) - Medley (Pinocchio) - "When She Loved Me" (Toy Story 2) - Intro (Monsters, Inc.)
Joe Dassin was the son of a Russian jewish American film director a Hungarian virtuoso violinist. [more inside]
The original version of "My Way" ("Comme d'Habitude", Frank Sinatra's version was a cover) was written by Claude Francois, AKA "CloClo". Somewhere between a French Wayne Newton and Elvis, he died when he was taking a bath, saw a lightbulb had gone out, and tried to replace it while standing in water, completing the circuit. Some of his hit songs include: Belinda, Belles Belles Belles (cover of "Girls Girls Girls"), Si J'avais un Marteau (if I had a Hammer), Sale Bonhomme (French country, cover of Johnny Cash's "Dirty Dan"), Le Disco est Francais His scantily clad female backup dancers, called the "Claudettes" or Clodettes, were the inspiration for the Solid Gold dancers and had their own short-lived solo spinoff career where they tried to cash in on the kung-fu + disco craze.
Happy Bastille Day y'all! (previously) Why not celebrate with a few stirring renditions of France's first national anthem? You can get your La Marseillaise traditional, By Edith Piaf, by Django Reinheart and Stephane Grappelli, in a classic movie, in 1907, by a F1 Renault, all punked out, or as a Reggae (a performance of which lead to bomb threats, causing Serge to take the stage and sing it alone.)
"Imagine, amid the grey serge of wartime France, a tribe of youngsters with all the colourful decadence of punks or teddy boys. Wearing zoot suits cut off at the knee (the better to show off their brightly coloured socks), with hair sculpted into grand quiffs, and shoes with triple-height soles - looking like glam-rock footwear 30 years early - these were the kids who would lay the foundations of nightclubbing. Ladies and gentlemen, les Zazous." [more inside]
Nouvelle Vague covers New Wave and Punk (MLYT) Nouvelle Vague (no, not this one) does Bossa Nova covers of New Wave and Punk songs, including: Dance with me (Lords of the New Church), Master and Servant (Depeche Mode), Love will tear us apart (Joy Division), Making plans for Nigel (XTC), Blue Monday (New Order), This is not a love song (PiL), The guns of Brixton (The Clash), and one NSFW title [more inside]
Fancy a whirlwind tour of Popular Chanson? A broad term referring to contemporary French popular music, "chanson" applies to a startling array of stuff. Just how broad do I mean? Let's start with Grand Corps Malade, sublime slam poet/lyricist. Les voyages en train. Quatre saisons. [more inside]
The hippest of today's French youth can't get enough of Tecktonik--a dance (YT), cultural movement and apparent marketing ploy (in French), Tecktonic is a style of dance characterized by its lack of footwork and embrace of various ridiculous arm gestures. Coupled with a strong fashion sense (in French) involving copious amounts of neon, pseudo (or full-on) mullet haircuts and jeans that could be painted on, Tecktonik is a dance craze that, since its birth in 2000 at a Parisian nightclub, has only increased in popularity. [more inside]
Israeli-French singer Yael Naim, recently featured in this Macbook Air commercial, might just be the Next Big Thing. A little bit of soul and a little bit of folk have snagged her Album of the Year in World Music at the annual Les Victoires de la Musique French music awards this year. She currently only has two English songs released - one of them an absolutely lovely song entitled New Soul with an equally charming music video, and the other a slow and jazzy rendition of Britney Spears' Toxic, finally somewhat redeeming that song. Official Site.
YouTube user lightning49 has 160 of videos of French singers which she has subtitled with her translations. Her biggest collection is of Jacques Brel videos but there are also songs performed by George Brassens, Charles Aznavour, Edith Piaf as well as a smattering of other stuff. To start you off with a few songs here are three of my favorite songs by Brel, Je suis un soir d'éte, Le moribond and La valse à mille temp along with Charles Aznavour's La boheme, Edith Piaf's Milord and Georges Brassens' Les passantes.
Claude François was one of France's most successful popstars, a complete song-and-dance act who remained at the top of the charts for almost ten years before his career was tragically cut short when he tried to change a lightbulb while in the bath (youtube ahead). [more inside]
This post isn't about the great Belgian guitarist Philip Catherine - too many guitar posts recently - it isn't about the Belgian singer Katerine (nothing to say). It is about the French singer Philippe Katerine, who has been changing the way lyrics are written, as well as giving a whole range of new topics to French song. With Je vous emmerde (F*** you) he explains what's on a loser's mind. Excuse-moi is about the things a man focuses on during sexual intercourse in order to avoid early ejaculation. The individual struggling with an meaningless society is always present : Borderline (warcraft version with English subtitles). His lists and his humor clearly link his work with the texts of Poets like Raymond Queneau, Boris Vian (and Serge Gainsbourg), or the prose of Georges Perec. He can be Elegiac, Paradoxical, Funky, prosaic, he's always twofold.
To me, he embodies The classical guitarist with all the clichés attached. But he can also make any material his own, or use forms with humor. He's got good compositions too.
First she was a dancer but after an injury she had to sing to make a living. She still dances a little during her songs (a rare feat among flamenco cantaoras). I first heard about her when she made a whole record (cd) of Edith Piaf's songs in spanish. You can get a taste here. She talks about it here (spanish + french, excerpts). She sang les feuilles mortes too. But nothing equals seeing her, I think : so here she is with two covers from a recent documentary : a song by Edith Piaf, a song by Lola Flores. Btw, If you get into french songs in the flamenco idiom, try this.
Some more great french guitar players. Nelson Veras first came to France to meet Pat Metheny (he was 14 then, it has been documented on video by Frank Cassenti) but upon meeting some other jazzmen , he decided to stay in France and to experiment in various settings. Robert Crumb isn't exactly a "great french guitar player", but his decision to move to France (his or his wife's decision) and later his responsability in the creation of Les Primitifs du Futur has played a part in the rebirth of ancient french styles ("musette") and the renewed interest in old jazz and blues forms. [more inside]
Flamenco clearly belongs to spain. But so many immigrants came to France to find work or escape from the civil war that there is a small community of guitarists in southern France who are playing it with original voices. Bernardo Sandoval was the subject of a post in mefi music some time ago. Antonio "kiko" ruiz is about to come to the United States with Renaud-Garcia-Fons : their work can be seen here. Serge Lopez is another great guitarist who puts some guitar parts on his website. Salvador Paterna adds to the traditional sound of flamenco both the 'oud and the violin. They are all from or nearby Toulouse.
Beatboxing in France? Who knew? (warning: lots of YouTube coming up.) The Art of Noise had their Beat Box (and live) . It's all good and well but maybe this beatbox is just a bit more interesting. There's even a very well documented history behind it. The Fat Boys did it, Slick Rick and Doug E. Fresh did it and we've already seen Super Mario Beatboxed with a flute. Roxorloops takes another turn. And even more French beatboxing.
I don't read French, so I can't tell you too much Musicovery, except that it is very pretty, very good and I am in love. (flash and obviously, music)
SoNHoRS - Panorama, histoire des musiques electroniques.
Great French language site on the history of electronic music.
Great French language site on the history of electronic music.
This (windows media) movie taken from a French variety show is pretty cool/kooky/amazing. It's a guy wearing a suit covered in small horns, all honking different keys, and he can play the classics by jumping around and hiting the right notes.
Very Interesting French Music Video The movie is somewhat hard to explain without giving away the ending, but the movie addresses very interesting implications for the future of mankind.