Monday 22 April 2024

Kendji Girac: UK headlines for the wrong reason

 It's still an unusual phenomenon for a French artist to make the news in the UK, and the circumstances surrounding the appearance of Kendji Girac are even more unusual.

The BBC report that The Voice France star was seriously injured in a shooting incident, apparently an accidental shooting caused by the singer himself while he was handling a pistol he had earlier bought in a junk shop.

His injuries were serious, with a gunshot wound to the chest, but while remaining in a serious condition he's no longer thought to be in danger. He was, reportedly, able to tell emergency services what happened when they arrived on the scene.

Girac has had four number-one albums in France, from 2014's Kendji to 2012's L'école de ma vie and he also performs as one of the members of Les Enfoirés, the charity group that raises money for the Restos do Coeur charity. Along the way, he's picked up a handful of awards. He's also become something of a representative of the French Gypsy community from the southwest of France, while his songs have made a significant impact in Spain, his Catalan-speaking upbringing winning him a receptive audience over the border.

While it's easy to assume a shooting incident involving a singer is somehow linked to serious or organised crime, Girac's always had a clean-cut reputation, and there doesn't seem to be anything sinister behind what happened. Police are obviously still investigating the circumstances of the incident.

Hopefully. he'll be back to health before too long. It's interesting that the UK media took an interest in this story, even if they did hang it on his The Voice France success rather than the fact he's been a massively popular artist for a decade. Still, a UK audience would know what The Voice was and are less likely to be familar with a singer who's not all that well known here. As usual, we're a very insular country when it comes to music, with anglophone artists always taking prominence with only one or two exceptions. Nice to see the BBC taking a broader view of things, even though it's in the most unfortunate circumstances.

Friday 12 April 2024

Justice for Coachella

A high-profile appearance in the American press for Justice, unquestionably one of the finest French

acts in recent years. 

They're playing Coachella tonight and ahead of that they appear on the cover of Billboard magazine.

Their album Hyperdrama comes out at the end of the month, and I'll be surprised if it's not on a few record-of-the-year lists come December. It's hard to think that it's actually only their fourth proper album

One Night/All Night and Generator have both emerged as clips, both showing Justice still able to startle with images as well as sound, while Incognito and Saturnine reveal an act that hasn't lost any of their sense of urgency.

They've got more dates in the USA ahead of them, and they've got dates lined up in Europe including a set at the We Love Green festival in Paris at the end of May, Glastonbury in June, Field Day in London in August and two nights at the Accor Arena in Paris in December

Justice will be served.

The Z - Z of French female artists

What exactly is it with French female artists with the letter Z at the start of either their surname or in their single name?

I've disqualified Alizée as although she's close, she'd need a touch of Verlan to begin with a Z

Zeuhl is a genre, and Stell Vander's a major figure, but still not quite there.

Also close is Zizou, with a Mogwai soundtrack, but let's be honest, he's a footballeur.


Hindi Zahra 

La Zarra




But who was first? My money is on French actor and dancer Zizi Jeanmarie...

Tuesday 9 April 2024

Grand Corps Malade's new clip: C'est aujourd'hui que ça se passe

I love this new clip for C'est aujourd'hui que ça se passe from Grand Corps Malade, I could listen to it on repeat for hours. 

As always he plays with words and rhythms, repetition and vocabulary. If I was just learning French or teaching it to those who were, GCM would be one of the finest teaching assistants that could be deployed. Language becomes a joyous thing in his hands without being overly complicated or obscure.

As for the track itself, it's a joyous thing, uplifting and positive without being trite or oversimplified. If you want the future - either a collective future or simply your own future - to be better, make it start now. Today.

It's all too easy to get in a rut and not get on with the things done that you say you will, to regret not having done it the following day, to plan to make things happen but procrastinate to the point that they don't emerge. I'm as guilty as most, and the weight of unaccomplished things can be a burden we can all do without. GCM makes it clear that life is an interactive game, not a spectator sport, and that rather than putting things off to the next day if we get on with them now we can have a better future. It's extraordinarily uplifting and liberating, simple and effective. 

The actual visuals are simple, GCM looking through a window at the world in its various ways in motion, whether city skyline or Paris streetscape, sea or sky and stars. With his image in the glass, it's a nice metaphor for being both reflective and looking outwards.

The song is the third release from his REFLETS album that came out in October last year, and the follows Retiens les rêves and Le jour d'après. He's been on tour for the last three months, with two dates in Paris, and he plays the summer festivals across France and beyond before returning to tour the arenas towards the end of the year.

I'll have this song on repeat to banish the uncertainty, the doubts and the inertia. The more I listen the more it impresses me. If we make things happen we can, as he puts it, turn our DeLorean Back To The Present. There might not be as much time as we think, but there's still space to take care of two or three important things.

Make it happen today, it's now or never.

Monday 8 January 2024

Christine and the Queens - Stayin' Alive!

An electronic version of the disco classic Stayin’ Alive sees Christine and the Queens start 2024 in style. Safe to say the Bee Gees song is totally owned by Héloïse Letissier and friends.

The drama plays out on the streets and canals of Venice, a place no stranger to masked theatricality, in a video that Chris directed.

It perhaps marks the turning of a page. 2023 saw the release of his Paranoïa, Angels, True Love album, an ambitious collection of work that might not have had the commercial success of earlier releases, but certainly made up for it in artistry. The year also saw performances including Coachella and Rock en Seine festivals as part of a world tour, but also the cancellation of the end of that tour.

It’s not the first time Christine and the Queens have dropped a jaw-dropping cover version, think of their version of Paradis perdus on Chaleur Humaine or Freedom ’90 on the Joseph EP.

I wouldn't be surprised if some found Paranoïa, Angels, True Love a bit too challenging, but it's a rewarding and rich album and one that will be looked back on favourably. But for those who didn't quite get the album when it came out, this new release will remind tem exactly why Christine remains an essential artist.

Wednesday 3 January 2024

Slimane: Mon Amour live at the Arc de Triomphe

 A landmark performance from Slimane on New Year's Eve in Paris, with a version of the song Mon Amour live from the Champs-Elysées in the heart of Paris for La Grande Soirée du 31 de Paris on France 2.

The song will be France's entry into this year's Eurovision, with Slimane performing the track in Malmo in May. It's always a bold move when a country puts forward an established artist to represent them in the competition, as a poor showing might reflect badly on their career. 

But equally an artist who already has an international following is also more likely to gather votes from other countries familiar with his output. However he does, the song's a strong enough one to win over new fans and Slimane's a big enough star to be undiminished if he's not the winner. 2024 looks like it will be a big year for the former winner of The Voice in 2016 and this is just another event in what looks like a key year for his career.

It will be better than the UK's entry that's for sure.

As for Slimane, he's off on tour across France and beyond for most of 2024 supporting his Chroniques d'un Cupidon album from 2022 - a number-one album in France that produced the singles Des Milliers de je t'aime, La Recette and Chez Toi. He's at the Accor Arena in Paris on March 1 although it's already sold out like many of the dates have. Another show's been added there on January 8 2025 regardless of Eurovision success or failure.


Tuesday 2 January 2024

Beauregard Festival 2024

 Over the holidays we had details released of the lineup for the 2024 Beauregard festival in Normany in July, with some very interesting names on the bill.

While anglophone acts like Massive Attack, LCD Soundsystem and Bring Me The Horizon are big names that grab the headlines, there's much more than just that going on, with a strong representation of French home-grown acts.

Rappers Bigflo and Oli are probably the biggest commercial concerns, but the likes of Etienne Daho, Yodelice and Veronique Sanson broaden the range of acts and styles on offer. Etienne De Crecy teams up with Boombass, formerly of electronic legends Cassius, and L'Imperatrice is one act we've featured here in the past that's gone on to well-deserved success.

We're particularly excited to see Justice make an appearance and can't wait for their new studio album that's expected this spring, their first in seven years.  A snippet was previewed by the band in their New Year message.

As always, France is home to some of the best music festivals in Europe. Events like Beauregard fill the summer months across the country, with some of the biggest names internationally as well as French acts playing to massive audiences. 

We'll have more details throughout the year.