Wednesday, 14 November 2018

David Hallyday: Ma dernière lettre

A new video by David Hallyday for Ma dernière lettre, a song that pays tribute to his father.

Johnny Hallyday died just under a year ago after a long illness. A final album by Johnny, recorded in the months before his death, was released just weeks ago and has already sold over a million copies in France.

David Hallyday unveiled the song at the NRJ Music awards in Cannes at the weekend, an event that was broadcast on TF1.

The video was directed by David Hallyday's sister, Laura Smet. The wolf with blue eyes might just be a metaphor for old Johnny himself.

According to the celebrity press, there's been a lot of bad blood between Hallyday's older children and his widow, mixed opinions among his family, friends ad colleagues over his new album and how best his legacy can be remembered.

How much of this is true or not is uncertain. Johnny was the subject of much overheated speculation from the francophone tabloids when he was alive, throughout his long career, and that hasn't stopped since his passing.

But I reckon the single and video is something that Johnny himself would probably approve of.

David Hallyday's new album, J 'ai quelque chose à vous dire is released on December 7.

Tuesday, 13 November 2018

Marking the Bataclan anniversary.

It's worth marking the anniversary of the atrocity at the Bataclan in Paris.

It may be only the third anniversary, not particularly a significant one by those who measure years in blocks of five, ten or 25. Nor is it particularly a recent event, not the year's anniversary or an event marking the re-opening of the venue.

And there have been other atrocities since. But this was an atrocity that targeted us.

Most of us were not there that night, but anyone who enjoys seeing a band was a target. Anyone who finds music the life-affirming thing that it is, anyone who dances, is passionate about music or who cares about it deeply were assessed by lunatics who found them unworthy of life.

Ninety people died at the Bataclan, 130 in total were killed across the city that night. An event has been held in Paris to commemorate them, but the real commemoration comes without fanfare or media coverage, without the need for occasion involving the great and the good. The commemoration comes every time someone enjoys a gig, a café, bar or restaurant in Paris. Because every single time this happens, it is a reminder that those who tried to destroy us ultimately failed.

Society did not fall to its knees. It rose to its feet against the intolerance that bred such hatred. France - and beyond - was united in the face of those who tried to divide us.

And they were defeated.

The Bataclan re-opened, and people go to gigs there. The cafés and restaurants of Paris are open and are still the lifeblood of the city. The stadium continues to host sporting celebrations.

History tells us that there will be atrocities to come, and while the atrocity at the Bataclan was one of the darkest moments in recent years in Paris, the city of lights remains as defiant and as bright as ever.

NRJ Music Awards 2018

This weekend saw France's pop stars taking their place on the award-winners podium alongside some of the biggest international names for the NRJ Music Awards.

It's an intentionally popular event, covering the commercial end of the music spectrum with French music represented alongside some of the biggest international acts.

It was the 20th edition of the ceremony, and it was broadcast on TF1 from the Palais des festivals in Cannes.

There's a satisfaction on seeing some of France's most popular artists rewarded for their work in the context of international acts. Ariana Grande, Beyoncé and Calvin Harris might be big across the world, but here theyir nominations are on an equal standing to those for Hyphen Hyphen, Feder and Zazi.

The show included live performances from amongst others Christine and the Queens, Jain, David Guetta, Jenifer, Orelsan, Maitre Gims as well as Muse and Dua Lipa.

(NB: ensure you've got adblocker off so that the videos will load!)

Christine and the Queens didn't pick up an award, neither did OrelSan, but that didn't stop two of France's biggest acts putting on memorable performances.

Possibly the most anticipated live appearance was the debut performance by David Hallyday of his song Ma derniere lettre, his tribute song to his father.

The French group/duo of the year award went to Bigflo and Oli, who were up against Maitre Gims and Vianney, Orelsan and Stromae, Vitaa and Claudio Capéo, and Naestro, Maitre Gims, Dadju, Vitaa and Slimane.

The breakthrough Francophone act award went to Dadju, who was nominated alongside Eddy de Pretto, Hoshi, Marwa Loud, Vegedream and Aya Nakamura.

DJ Snake won the DJ of the year trophy, against competition from Calvin Harris, David Guetta, Feder and Ofenbach.

The Francophone male artist of the year was Soprano, who was up against Maitre Gims, OrelSan, Slimane, Kendji Girac and Amir.

The Francophone female artist of the year was Jain, who beat Christine and the Queens, Zazi, Jenifer, Louane and Vitaa.

The French song of the year was one of the most prestigious awards, which was picked up by Kendji Girac for Pour Oublier. Others nominated were Dadju, Eddy de Pretto, Maitre Gims and Vianney, Vitaa and Claudio Capéo and Aya Nakamuro.

The video of the year award went to Bigflo and Oli for the song Demain, which they performed at the event. Others that made the shortlist were Ariane Grande, Drake, Maroon 5, Jain and Orelsan.

Elsewhere, international awards went to Camila Cabello (international breakthrough act), Ed Sheeran (International male artist) Ariana Grande (International female artist) and Imagine Dragons (International group/duo) and to Maroon 5 ft. Cardi B (International song of the year).

There were also honorary awards to Shawn Mendes and Muse, and a 'most streamed' award for Dua Lipa.

Tuesday, 6 November 2018

Nolwenn Leroy's Folk: Versions Originales

With the release last week of an album of covers by Nolwenn Leroy focusing on the work of French singer-songwriters of the 1970s, I thought it was worth taking a look and a listen to some of the original versions of the songs she's re-made for the 21st century audience.

Much as I like Nolwenn, and appreciate her new versions of the songs, the originals of these songs have their own charm.  Her album inspires a dive into some of the forgotten rivers of French music, where cheesy album covers and Greatest Hits compilations congregate, along with artists who haven't had much of a media profile for years or who are written off artistically as well past their peak. But there are some gems that are worth investigation.

If you want to explore further, it won't take much expense. You'll find vinyl or CDs by many of the acts she's covered in the cheap section of pretty much any record shop in France.

Je ne peux plus dire je t'aime originally appeared on Jacques Higelin's 1979 Caviar pour les autres... album. Higelin released two albums simultaneously, Champagne pour tout le monde now combined with its partner as a double album. A later version that saw Higelin duet with actor Isabelle Adjani was probably the definitive Higelin version of the song.

So far away from LA
was a hit for Nicolas Peyrac in 1975 and helped establish his career. It featured on his debut album D'où venez-vous ? Peyrac continues to perform and release new music, and is also a successful author.

Diabolo menthe was written by Yves Simon for the soundtrack of the film of the same name by director Diane Kurys. According to legend, the song was written in the space of two hours before a concert. The film, set in the early 60s, tells the story of two young girls growing up in Paris during that time. The song was also recently covered by La Grande Sophie.

is obviously a cover of the Leonard Cohen classic, but the French version was adapted by Graeme Allwright. Allwright, a singer songwriter with a long career, covered and adapted many of Cohen's songs. It initially appeared on his 1968 Le Jour De Clarté album, along with an adaptation of Cohen's Stranger Song.

Allwright's French version was covered by Francoise Hardy in 1968 on her Comment Te Dire Adieu album. The song was also covered Alain Bashung, appearing on his final album Bleu pétrole in 2008, the year before Bashung's death.

Virages was a hit for Yves Duteil in 1972. His first single, it would feature on his 1974 debut album L'Écritoire. Duteil would go on to write the song Prendre un Enfant, a song that has been widely covered in different languages by a number of artists.

Hollywood was originally by David McNeil and appeared on his 1974 album L'Assassinat. McNeil, the son of painter Marc Chagall, has had a long musical career from his 1972 self-titled debut to his 2014 album Un lézard en septembre and his songs have been performed by artists including Yves Montand, Jacques Dutronc and Renaud.

Petite fille de rêve was a 1974 single by Jean-michel Caradec. It featured on the album of the same name, following his Mords la vie debut the previous year.  One of his best known songs, Ma Bretagne quand elle pleut was covered by Nolwenn Leroy on her 2010 Bretonne album. Caradec  died aged 34 in a car accident in 1981.

Je t'aimais, je t'aime, je t'aimerai was a single in 1994, from Francis Cabrel's Samedi soir sur la Terre. It's one of his best known songs, with previous covers by France Gall amongs others. It's a spectacularly beautiful song. Cabrel recorded an album of Dylan covers in 2012. If Dylan covered this song in English, it would be regarded as a masterpiece.

On est comme on est is the title track of the 1981 debut album by Renaud Detressan. He went on to release three solo albums, before forming the band Soldat Louis in 1988. The band took traditional Breton and celtic music and combined it with rock, with considerable commercial success. From their 1988 Première Bordée album to their 2017 Quelques nouvelles du front, they have remained one of the most prominent names in contemporary Breton music.

la rua madureira came from Nino Ferrer's 1969 album Agata, his third album. Ferrer had been active since 1959 and already enjoyed considerable success in France and Italy. A version of this song by Cali appeared on a tribute album to Ferrer - On dirait Nino - that was released in 2005. Ferrer died in 1998, five years after the release of his final album.

Marions les roses features on the second album by the band Malicorne, and came out in 1975. Malicorne were a folk act who fitten in well with the more pastoral tendancies of then-contemporary progressive rock. Manstay of the band Gabriel Yacoub had previously played with Alan Stivell on his key Chemins de terre and À l'Olympia albums anb.d founded the band with his partner Marie Yacoub. The band enjoyed considerable success in the 70s, and Malicorne 2 sold over 100,000 copies.

Jolie Louise was originally by Daniel Lanois from his 1989 album Acadie. Lanois was by then well-known as a producer, having worked with U2 and Brian Eno, and having played a considerable role in re-inventing the music career of Bob Dylan through his work on his Oh Mercy album. Lanois' debut solo album saw him explore the cajun folk sounds of  French America and did much to revive an international interest in this style of music.

Sacré Géranium by Dick Annegarn is unique in the collection, in that Nolwenn duets with the original artist. The song is the title track from Annegarn's 1974 debut album, although the album technically is just titled 'Dick Annegarn'. Annegarn has continued to record and perform, his most recent release being 2018's 12 villes, 12 chansons.

Thursday, 1 November 2018

Editorial: November 2018

Another busy month for French music, with some of this year's big releases especially the new album by Johnny Hallyday setting records for album sales in France.

Whatever your opinion of Johnny and whatever your views on the album, it's the kind of event that puts French music on the front pages of the national news and encourages the kind of sales that the industry hasn't seen in a long time. But above all, it's a reminder of the importance of music, in encouraging participation and community, discussion and debate. While unquestionably a lucrative event for the music industry, it's been an emotional time for all those for whom Johnny was a part of their lives.

It was also a month where France said farewell to another legend, if anything a bigger figure than Johnny. The final curtain came down for Charles Aznavour, an artist who had for decades been a standard bearer for French music, an interntional ambassador for chanson the world over. His passing genuinely marks the end of an era.

November is traditionally a month where we remember those who have left us, whether commemorations of wars past, or ceremonies for All Saints or other souls, and this month sees a memorial for Alain Bashung, with a posthumous collection released this month. His version of Dominique A's Immortels suggests it will be more than just a collection of sub-par outtakes, hopefully an appropriate footnote to the Bashung's legacy.

Among artists who are very much with us, there are other significant releases this month, with a new album by Nolwenn Leroy at the beginning of the month, and a new album from Jean-Michel Jarre later in the month. Both worth looking forward to.

If things have seemed a little quiet on the blog over the last couiple of months, it's worth getting over to Facebook where you should Like or Follow the French Music Podcast UK page, where I'm posting links to French music videos - new and old - several times a day.

Previously I might have put a short post on the blog here if I had an interesting video, but recently I've taken to presenting them on the Facebook page instead. I'll maybe use the blog here for longer pieces instead, such as reviews and the like, and keep shorter pieces on the Facebook page. I'll see how it goes.

There will be a few reviews going up here in the next few days, so no shortage of material. It just gives us another platform to get across material we might otherwise miss.

I'm available by email at johnkilbrideAThotmailDOTcom, with a couple of obvious changes in the email address that I'm sure you can guess.

If you're a PR for a French act, label or event, just drop me an email. I look forward to hearing from you. I'm always pleased to get feedback, suggestions and inspiration.

The blog is also on Twitter as @viveleroq, so give us a follow or contact us via there. I'm also on Twitter as @karnag, and usually respond a bit quicker on that address especially when I'm out the office.

 Thanks as always to the team at Oui Love Music for all their work introducing French acts to the international audience. John K

Wednesday, 31 October 2018

Taratata100% Live au Zénith

Taratata is probvably France's leading TV musiuc show, but last week's edition was a little bit special.

The 528th (!) edition of the show was a live special, briadcast from the Zénith in Paris, with an absolutely immense line up of French musical talent on display.

Some of the names involved? Angele, Her, Shaka Ponk, Charlie Winston, LP, Pascal Obispo, Coeur de Pirate, Amandine Bourgeoise, Jenifer and Marc Lavoine. A wide range of styles and generations, with some well-chosen songs performed.

Musical tributes were paid to Jacques Brel and Charles Aznavour, and artists performed exclusive covers and duets.

Jenifer tackled Radiohead's Creep with Slimane.

Add to that Jane Birkin performing with Eddy De Pretto, with a song written by Serge Gainsbourg for Isabelle Adjani.

Jeanne Added performed with Zazie, playing the title track from Zazie's Rodeo along with a version of Nothing Compares to you, the Prince song made famous by Sinead O'Connor.

Cats on Trees performed Nicolas Peyrac's So Far Away from LA with Nolwenn Leroy, a song that appears on her forthcoming Folk album.

Loved this performance by Hyphen Hyphen with Catherine Ringer of a Les Rita Mitsouko number. Ringer was, of course, the singer with that legendary 80s duo. The song originally featured on their 1988 Marc and Robert album.

I reckon its about time the back catalogue of Les Rita was plundered by some present-day artists for one of those 'tribute' collections that have been filling the racks in Franch records shops over recent years, there's a wealth of great material there.

Tuesday, 30 October 2018

Alpha Blondy: TV5 Monde Acoustic session

Who doesn't love a bit of French reggae?

Great to see a session at the weekend on TV5Monde's Acoustic show by Alpha Blondy, one of the biggest names in the genre.

Blondy, originally from the Ivory Coast, has been one of the biggest reggae stars in France since the early 80s. His new album Human Race is classic reggae with a modern edge.

It's an interesting session, with the focus on his recently released Human Race album. Of particular note is his performance of Serge Gainsbourg's Je suis venu te dire que je m'en vais that appears on the album as well as in this session.

While Gainsbourg was a big fan of reggae, with two of his 70s albums landmarks of the genre, the original version of this song pre-dates his Jamaican period. Nice to hear it getting a sympathetic cover. If you're a fan of Gainsbourg, you'd be well advised to investigate it.

Other songs in he performance are Human Race, Life, Les Paiens as well as two brief interview segments.