Wednesday, 29 February 2012

NME Awards: Justice

Another award ceremony on the immediate horizon, with the NME magazine holding its annual ceremony

Justice are shortlisted for two awards, Best International Band and Dancefloor anthems, two well deserved honours.

The band have been just been touring the UK and building on their reputation as one of the best live acts around.

Perhaps its the rock music influence that flavours their music, but Justice are a great live act their shows more than just an opportunity to play their music to an arena sized audience.

There's lots of rather ropey live footage from the recent Justice live dates available on youtube, but the quality doesn't really do them (ahem) justice, so I thought I'd link to a bit from the A Cross The Universe documentary made by Romain Gravas about the band's 2008 US tour deserved an outing.

We can only hope that the 2012 Justice live experience has been captured with a similar eye.

Tuesday, 28 February 2012

Sarkozy's Deezer playlist II

More on Nicolas Sarkozy on Deezer, with the publication of the playlist of sings suggested to him by his supporters on his Facebook.

It's a polite selection, unlikely to upset the voters too much, as conservative as you'd expect.

cat Stevens, Leonard Cohen, Dire Straits and Adele are there to show a bit of anglophone sophistication.

Some Sibelius to show he's the kind of guy that gets classical music, but not too much.

meanwhile there are plenty of the big names in French music, Mylene Farmer, Boris Vian, Francis Cabrel and Michel Sardou, who has come a long way from being banned by Charles de Gaulle.

La Marsaillese also makes an appearance, perhaps surprising that it wasn't there in his original playlist.

Kavinsky's Nightcall, from the Drive soundtrack, is probably the most contemporary track in the selection.

You could spend hours analysing the selection. I'm sure Team Sarko's experts already have.

Take Everybody Knows by Leonard Cohen, with the lyric: "Everybody knows the boat is leaking/everybody knows that the captain lied."

Or Michel Sardou's Le France, written from the point of view of the the ocean liner that no longer wants to be known by that name because France has let it down.

I suspect TV executives are already editing montage sequences with pictures of Sarko's campaign with some of these songs.

Monday, 27 February 2012

The Artist: Academy Awards and César Awards

A huge win for French cinema in the Academy Awards on Sunday night, with The Artist winning five Oscars. The five awards were for Best Film, Best Actor and Best Director, as well as for Costume Design and Original Score.

Hugo also won five Oscars awards, but Best Sound Editing and Best Sound Mixing, Best Art Direction, Best Cinematography and Best Visual Effects awards really sound like runner-up prizes in comparison.

I was also very pleased to see an Oscar for Midnight in Paris, Best Original Screenplay. A really enjoyable film.

Of course, the media being as it is the coverage of the Oscars overshadows in countries outside France at least the César awards.

These again provided a big win for The Artist, getting a total of six awards after ten nominations. The awards it won indluded Best Film, Best Director, Best Actress, Best Original Music, Best Photography, an Best Decor.

However, for our purposes in a music blog, the award of Best Original Score for Ludovic Bource's work on the Artist is a real pleasure to report.

Ludovic Bource is originally from Brittany, and grew up in the Loudéac area. He learned the accordeon, then piano at the Concervatoire de Saint-Brieuc, before beginning his career, initially working in soundtracks for advertising.

Bourse began working with Michel Hazanavicius on the short film Mes Amis in 1999 and the two have collaborated since.

He also worked previously with Michel Hazanavicius on the French spy spoof films OSS 117, Le Caire, nid d’espions and OSS 117, Rio ne répond plus,

He already won a Golden Globe for the soundtrack to The Artist last month.

The win was not without controversy, with accusations from actress Kim Novak that his use of some of the soundtrack to the film Vertigo that she starred in was "a rape", although he himself viewed it as "The purest tribute" to the original, noting that composers frequently make use of work created by others beforehand.

However, Bource was up against John Williams who was nominated for both War Horse and The Adventures of Tintin, both by Steven Spielberg, and Trent Reznor and Atticus Finch for The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, Reznor winning last year for The Social Network.

John Williams is the second most Oscar nominated artist ever, with a total of 47 nominatione in his career along with five wins, for Schindler's List, ET, Star Wars, Jaws, and Fiddler on the Roof.

Bource joins previous French winners including Michel Legrand and Maurice Jarre, who each won three Oscars, and Francis Lai and Georges Delerue who each won one.

Maybe this year the Academy felt that in a silent movie the soundtrack played a more significant part than it normally would, and that The Artist, an affectionate tribute to an apparently simpler golden age of Hollywood was exactly the kind of thing that was needed in these difficult times.

Sunday, 26 February 2012

Senegal presidential election

Senegal goes to the polls for a controversial presidential election that should have seen world music star Youssou N'Dour as a serious contender for the position.

Abdoulaye Wade is seeking a third term in office, and there were violent scenes in the country, one of Africa's most peaceful nations, when the country's top legal body allowed his candidacy to go forward but turned down the candidacy of Youssou N'Dour, saying that N'Dour lacked the necessary 10,000 signatures of support.

Wade wants a third term despite the constitution limiting the terms a president can serve to two. However, his argument was that the law that set this limit came into effect after he first came to power in 2000.

Opposition parties have vowed to make the country ungovernable, raising the spectre of further unrest.

I've heard Senegal described as the most musical country of the most musical continent on earth.

Whatever the outcome of the vote, hopefully Senegal will continue to be a source of inspiration and one of the high water marks of African culture.

Thursday, 23 February 2012

Sarkozy's Deezer playlist

With elections coming up fast, Sarko has sueednly woken up to the power of new media.

He's now on twitter, and on his facebook page announced a playlist of his "classics" was on Deezer.

He says that these are songs that he appreciates and which go with him wherever he goes.

It's - needless to say - a fairly conservative list. Some Johnny, some Elvis, some Brassens, which I'm sure will have the old anarchist spinning in his grave.

Some Carla Bruni there too.

Sarkoland by Trust is noticeably absent from the collection. So far. He's asked on facebook for recommendations from 'friends', and already attracted around a thousand comments.

Helpful suggestions inclde Gainsbourg's Requiem Pour Un Con. Be interesting to see what actually gets added to the playlist as the election campaign progresses.

Festival: David Guetta and Emeli Sandé at T in the Park

With Emeli Sandé wining the Critics' Choice Brit Award earlier this week even before her debut album has been released, and confirmation that she is to play this year's T in the Park festival in Scotland, I thought it worth showing a clip of her with David Guetta, as they performed together at the NRJ Music awards.

Guetta has also been confirmed as playing at Scotland's biggest music event.

While headline acts include Snow Patrol, Kasabian and The Stone Roses, I reckon more people will be buying tickets on account of Guetta being on the bill.

This performance would have introduced Emeli Sandé to a huge French audience, Guetta having been nominated for two awards this year and being given the NRJ Award of Honour at the 2011 ceremony.

I spoke last month about how I love this track, probbaly my favourite on the Nothing But The Beat album, and certainly Sia's vocals add to this. The song had been earlier linked to Katy Perry and Mary J Blige, and it's great to hear this alternative take of it with one of Scotland's most

With Guetta and Sandé both playing T in the Park on the Saturday, I suppose a reprise of this performance may not be out of the question.

Tuesday, 21 February 2012

Grammy Awards: Tinariwen

There are 78 categories of awards in the Grammies, and while the likes of Record of the Year, Song of the Year and Best New Artist attract a huge amount of attention, others attract less attention.

With categories like best Choral Performance, Best Small Ensemble Performance, and Best Improvised Jazz Solo, never mind the Best Gospel Song and the Best Contemporary Christian Music Song, the awards cover a lot of ground in some pretty select genres.

This year the 54th Grammy Awards was dominated by Adele's wins, and Whitney Houston's death. I'll leave it to others to discuss the shameful inclusion of Chris Brown on the bill.

David Guetta was nominated in the Best Dance/Electronica Album catgory, losing out to Skrillex and in the Best Dance Recording category for the track Sunshine, again losing out to Skrillex.

Daft Punk were shortlisted for the Tron Legacy soundtrack in the Best Score Soundtrack For Visual Media category, losing out to the soundtrack to The King's Speech.

Daniel Yvinec and the Orchestre National de Jazz were shorlisted in the Best Instrumental Composition category, losing out to Bela Fleck.

There was a win for Alexandre Desplat, for his soundtrack for The King's Speech. He was also nominated for the soundtrack to Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows Part 2.

Meanwhile, there was a welcome win from a Francophone act, with Mali band Tinariwen getting the award for Best World Music Album for their album Tassili.

It is their fifth album, recorded by the Tuareg-Berber band in Algeria, their first to be recorded outside Paris or Bamako in Mali.

While the Best World Music Album award will never get the attention of some of the celebrity acts get, it's no small achievement considering it's probably the widest possible category in the awards, and can encompass more or less anything outwith the regular commercial categories.

Monday, 20 February 2012

Alan Stivell: A l'Olympia 40th anniversary

Breton musician Alan Stivell has marked the 40th anniversary of his A l'Olympia album and concert with a special show in Paris.

On February 16 he played a special show at the Olympia venue in Paris, with guests Nolwenn Leroy and guitarist Dan Ar Braz among others.

Stivell's 1972 album marked a turning point in the mainstream popularity of Breton music, taking it from a specialised folk audience to a more widespread audience.

The album showed that Breton music not only had a heritage, but also had a future.

The release also came at the prefect time, coming as it did at a time when an increased interest in celtic culture was developing and when a rock audience, by this point well versed in more progressive musical developments, was able to embrace more sophisticated ideas.

The Breton language, which must have been unfamiliar to many who bought the album, was unlikely to have been much of an obstacle to the sophisticated early 70s rock fan. Remember that this was an era when Magma - France's biggest prog band - was performing in Kobain, their own language.

The fact that it was also a live album would also have been in its favour, as during that era the live album was a marker of musical authenticity, allowing the artist to present their work in its natural environment and untainted by the commercial pressures and compromises of the studio.

An anniversary of a recording that marked a revival of Breton culture gives an opportunity to reflect on how things have changed in the years since.

While in matters of politics there has been no dramatic changes - Brittany is no closer to Independence than it was in 1972, unlike in Scotland where a referendum on the issue is imminent - there's no denying that Breton culture is now not only accepted in France but it is also a source of pride in Brittany itself.

Alan Stivell has released a 2CD collection that combines a remastered version of the A l'Olympia with a disc that features a selection of his best known songs from his long career.

Tuesday, 14 February 2012

Francis Cabrel: Je t'aimais, je t'aime, je t'aimerai

While this blog covers French music both new and old, I enjoy the occasional link to a song that perhaps ties in to a particular day or occasion, so given St Valentine's day I thought this song appropriate.

Cabrel is a hugely talented singer-songwriter who has been releasing material since the late 70s. This song originally came out as a single in 1994 and on his Samedi soir sur la terre album, the album winning the Best Album award at the Victoires de la Musique that year, and the single winning the Trophée RFI/ Conseil de la Francophonie award.

Throughout his career he has been a socially aware performer, dealing with political issues such as immigration, exclusion, religion and has performed concerts for charity supporting children with HIV and Les Restaurants du cœur.

Cabrel's most recent release was the 2008 album Des roses et des orties.

Je t'aimais, je t'aime, je t'aimerai is a wonderful track, that is not only a very fine love song, but also a great lesson in the conjugation of the verb 'aimer' at no extra charge.

Monday, 13 February 2012

1995: La Suite

A track by hotly tipped French rappers 1995 ahead of their new release next month.

The band - a six piece featuring five MCs and a DJ - Alpha Wann, Areno Jaz, Fonky Flav’, Lo’, Nek le Fennek and Sneazzy - quickly became the name to watch in French hip hop since their debut release last year.

Their first release La Source came out in June 2011.

The band takes their name from the year that saw the Wu Tang Clan break into the mainstream and change the face of rap, while the file La Haine took the issues of the banlieues to the big screen.

Their music is and imaginative and innovative funky flow, and that band looks set to be the next big name to emerge from the French hip hop underground to mainstream attention.

The album, also called La Suite, is released on March 5.

Whitney Houston and Serge Gainsbourg

With the death of Whitney Houston at the weekend, I thought I'd give an airing to the wonderful clip of her appearance with Serge Gainsbourg.

A young Whitney Houston was appearing on the show Champs élysées in 1986 to promote her album, and met with Serge Gainsbourg after she performed Saving All My Love for You.

Michel Drucker finds himself in the middle of an interesting international diplomatic situation, with Gainsbourg at his most erratic and Whitney Houston finding herself the subject of his attentions.

I don't know how well she knew Gainsbourg or his reputation, I suspect little given by her reaction.

While Gainsbourg was very much in the last stages of his career, Houston's star was rising, and while not yet the megastar and icon she was to become, her talent was there for all to see.

For all I love Gainsbourg, he really comes across as an oaf in this incident. It's a pity Whitney wasn't able to give him the French equivalent of "in your dreams, old guy!"

It's wonderful to see Whitney Houston as the young singer with the huge talent, rather than dwell on her later problems.

Serge Gainsbourg vs. Whitney Houston by glst81

Thursday, 9 February 2012

Commercial break: Brigitte

French female electro due Brigitte have re-recorded one of their tracks in English and it's now featuring in an advertising campaign for cosmetics brand Lancôme

The song is a re-recorded English version of the track Oh La La, taken from their debut album Et vous, tu m'aimes? which was released in France in April last year.

The new version, now titled Love your Lips, is being used for a lipstick campaign.

Brigitte, a duo of Sylvie Hoarau and Aurélie Maggiori, released an EP Battez-vous ahead of their debut, and have performed covers of tracks like Ma Benz by French rappers NTM. Despite being the kind of act that might only exist in the studio or for photo shoots and videos, they've also played live extensively.

They have attracted comparisons as a cross between Nancy Sinatra and M.I.A. and as much flower power as Black Dahlia.

Brigitte are among the acts nominated for the 2012 Victoires de la Musique awards.

They have live dates in France in Switzerland and the Ile de la Réunion in February, and a festival date Belgium in March and another in Switzerland in May.

The new commercial version of the song:

The original version of the song:

Rétro: Téléphone - New York Avec Toi

With a mention of Louis Bertignac earlier this week in light of his winning a Globes de Cristal award for his album Grizzly, I realised that I've never featured the band Téléphone, one of the greatest French bands in recent decades.

They were unquestionably one of France's finest, and although coming from the punk scene they proved both longer lasting and achieved a genuine popularity that eluded most of France's punk bands.

Their commercial success could be compared to acts like Blondie or The Pretenders, but although they did have a female member in bass player and singer Corine Marienneau she was never just a figurehead and Téléphone were always a band rather than a girl with backing musicians that the other acts became.

They released five album from '1977 until their eventual demise.

This track - New York Avec Toi - came from their final album, Un Autre Monde, released in 1984.

Both guitarist Louis Bertignac and Jean-Louis Aubert have had successful solo careers in the years after Téléphone, Corine Marienneau remaining active having released a solo album in 2002 and an acting career. Drummer Richard Kolinka has worked with man of the biggest names in French music in subsequent years - including Aubert again - and appeared with Alice Cooper on his 1983 DaDa album.

While Téléphone had plenty of great songs, many of them big hits, I've always liked this one for its simplicity and for being just a great rock 'n' roll song. Were it not in French you could imagine a band like the Stones - who they supported in Paris and in North America - covering it.

Wednesday, 8 February 2012

Live: Justice - On 'n' On

With Justice touring the UK this week, and European dates following, I thought it a reasonable excuse to show their most recent video On and On 'n' On.

I've made no secret of their last album being my favourite of the last year, and it certainly bears repeated listening.

This track is, for me at least, as close to Led Zeppelin as it is to any contemporary dance genre. There's even a flute solo, reminiscent of the way Zep would counterbalance their heavy rock swaggerstomp with a touch of pastoral wistfulness

I could easily imagine Robert Plant's vocals on this track.

Justice have pushed the boundaries with the Audio Video Disco album, essentially positioning themselves as a rock band that just happens to use the palette of the electro dance genre.

Remixes on On 'n' On have been released including versions by Rick Rubin, Tiga, Erol Alkan, Brodinski and Video Village.

Justice play Bristol on February 9, London on February 10, Birmingham on February 11, Glasgow on Sunday February 12 and Manchester on February 13.

They have also been confirmed as the headliners for the Rock Ness festival in Scotland in June, as well as the Vielles Charrues festival in France July and the Bestival event in the UK September.

Tuesday, 7 February 2012

Madonna and Martin Solveig - Give Me all Your Luvin'

Madonna has announced a world tour, and has confirmed a show at the Stade de France in Paris on July 14, as well as a date in Nice on August 21

The announcement of tour follows a week that saw her perform at the half time of the Superbowl, a highlight of the USA's sporting calendar which was screened in over 200 countries.

Among the tracks she performed was her new single Give Me All Your Luvin', co-written and produced by French DJ and producer Martin Solveig, one of several of the producers working with her on her new album MDNA.

It is her first major tour since her Sticky and Sweet tour which ran in 2008 and 2009, and will coincides with the release of MDNA, out on March 26.

Arthur Fogel, CEO Live Nation Entertainment Global Touring and Madonna tour promoter said: "Madonna's track record as a world class entertainer and touring artist speaks for itself. Her artistry, talent and creative productions get bigger and better with each tour and Madonna 2012 will be no exception.

"We are thrilled to have her back on the road and know her fans feel the same."

Her previous shows in France were marred by tragedy, after a stage that was being built for a show at the Stade Velodrome in Marseilles collapsed the day before the concert, resulting in two deaths and several workers being injured. The concert was cancelled.

Madonna's last CD Hard Candy, debuted at Number 1 in 37 countries including France as well as the US, UK, Canada and Australia.

Tickets for the Paris show go on sale on February 14, as do tickets for the show at the Stade Charles-Erhmann in Nice.

Globes de Cristal Art et Culture: Louis Bertignac & Izia

Another award ceremony in Paris last night, this time it was the Globes de Cristal Art et Culture awards.

While the film awards get the most attention - this year the film Intouchables won Best Film and Best actor award for Omar Sy, the awards recognise achievement cross the artistic spectrum, with thearre, literature, music, TV and exhibitions recognise.

There were two music awards, one for male and one for female performance, this year being won by Téléphone and Shakin' Street veteran guitarist Louis Bertignac for his 2011 album Grizzly and the female award for rock singer Izia - daughter of Jacques Higelin - for So Much Trouble.

Both also feature in the long list of artists who released great material in 2011 but I didn't get round to featuring on the blog. Hopefully this year fewer releases will slip through my critical net.

The female shortlist also featured Brigitte, Camille, Nolwenn Leroy and Catherin Ringer, the male shortlist featured Thomas Dutronc, Cascadeur, Julien Doré and Joey Starr.

The ceremony was broadcast on France 3, a shortlist of five being drawn up in the 12 categories by a group of journalists presided over by a president, which this year was broadcaster and Libération director Nicolas Demorand.

The awards have been running since 2006. Previous music category winners include Thomas Dutronc, Anaïs and Julien Doré. Last year's winners were Yael Naïm and Ben l'Oncle Soul.

The French awards season continues with the César cinema awards later this month and the Victoires de la Musique ceremony on March 3.

Monday, 6 February 2012

Urban snowboarding in Poitiers

With much of France hit by extreme weather, the snow closing roads and rail routes, I came across this great clip of some folk making the best of it.

While snow sports are hugely popular in France, Poititer city centre is certainly not in the same league as Chamonix or Val d'Isère, but given the reputation France's ski resorts have for being expensive, it's

Yes, I know, not a strictly music related post, but given that the crazy weather has disrupted much of what normally goes on in France, I'm sure we can allow it.

URBAN SNOWBOARD A POITIERS from compaktproduction on Vimeo.

Charts: David Guetta - Turn Me On

With David Guetta hitting the number one place in the UK Official Singles Chart with Titanium I thought I'd give a mention to his most recent single, Turn Me On.

This new track is also in the UK Top 40, at number 33, another track Without You just outside the Top 40 at number 42.

Turn Me On is the fifth track to be taken from last year's Nothing But The Beat album as a single, and features Nicki Minaj on vocals.

With Minaj best known for her eccentric styled rapping, it's quite a different vocal performance on this track.

The video, which emerged at the end of January 2012, is a big budget steampunk fantasy which, like the best music videos, both compliments the song and adds another dimension to it.

Minaj's appearance with Madonna at the US Superbowl with Madonna will probably give the song's sales another boost, although a link to the biggest sporting event on US TV is probably just another small step in Guetta's seemingly indefatigable world domination campaign.

Saturday, 4 February 2012

The Sensational Alex Harvey Band: Next

February 4 marks the 30th anniversary of the death of Alex Harvey, a Scottish singer who at the peak of his powers in the 1970s was one of rock music's greatest frontmen.

He also was a key interpreter of Jacques Brel, his version of Next introducing the Belgian's music to a whole new audience.

For those like myself who first heard Harvey's version of the song, it remains the definitive version of the track.

Brel's earthy but dramatic style suited Harvey down to the ground. Before hitting the big time with the Sensational Alex Harvey band in the 1970s, Harvey had been an solo artist whose career had been met with only limited success, and he had put in a lengthy period working in musical theatre in London, specifically with the hippie musical Hair, where he worked for five years.

But his fortunes changed when he hooked up with Scottish progressive band Teargas, becoming the Sensational Alex Harvey Band in 1972.

The band enjoyed a successful run in the 70s, including a hit single with Delilah in the UK. They combined a style that was both appealing to serious rock fans, lyrically literate and musically adventurous, and with Harvey the band had a commanding front man.

His work was shot through with humour, dark and soaked through with the blues, and sung with a proud Scottish accent.

Harvey left the SAHB in 1976, the band issued an album without him, although he got back together with them for a final album Rock Drill in 1978.

Harvey went on to work with other musicians, but never re-discovered the popularity or the critical acclaim that the Sensational Alex Harvey enjoyed, with health problems and drink-related issues plaguing his later years.

Harvey died of a heart attack on February 4 1982 in Zeebrugge, Belgium.

However, while he might never have attained the commercial success of some of the acts of the 1970s, he is remembered to this day as one of Scotland's greatest ever rock stars.

Friday, 3 February 2012

Festival: Hellfest 2012

The full line up for this year's Hellfest metal festival has been unveiled, with Black Sabbath, Guns 'n' Roses and Megadeth headlining the event, one of Europe's biggest metal events.

This year sees six stages running over three days.

Friday sees Megadeth at the top of the bill, with Lynyrd Skynrd on the main stade, the second stage headlined by former Mercyful Fate vocalist King Diamond as well as Irish American rockers Dropkick Murphys. The Altar stage features a Death Metal line up, headlined by Cannibal Corpse, and viking metal act Amon Amarth at the top of The Temple stage

On Saturday Guns 'n' Roses are at the top of the main stage, Within temptation also on the bill there. The second stage features Machine Head and Exodus, the Altar offers Entombed and Napalm death with Behemot on the top of the Temple stage.

Day three is headlines by the newly reformed original line up of Black Sabbath, although with questions over the health of guitarist Tony Iommi and uncertainty over whether drummer Bill Ward will sign up for the tour. Motley Crue and Blue Oyster Cult are also on the stage. The second stage features Lamb of God and Trivium, while Children of Bodom headline the Altar stage, and Dimmu Borgir the Temple.

As always, there are dozens of other acts announced, many of which reflect the varied nature of rock music, from classic rock veterans like Uriah Heep and Molly Hatchet, old school thrash like Exodus and new school like Gama Bomb and a spectacular round-up of underground bands of pretty much every flavour. Into death metal, grindcore, hardcore, punk, stoner, post-hardcore or black metal? There's something here for you.

There are still a few bands to be added to the bill, but Clisson 2012 already looks like an essential event for metal fans.

Hellfest takes place on June 15, 16 and 17 in Clisson, Loir Atlantique. Full information available here:

ITV 2012 - Benjamin Barbaud from Rodj on Vimeo.

Wednesday, 1 February 2012

Editorial: February 2012

I'm very pleased to say it has been another record month for the Vive le roq French music blog, with more visitors than ever coming here in January.

I've upped the number of posts I've been making simply on account of the amount of great stuff I've been hearing and the rising profile of French music.

This month has seen Charlotte Gainsbourg on a UK current affairs TV programme and M83 being used as the music for a TV promo for the Olympic Games on the BBC, so I reckon that 2012 looks like it will be a vintage year for French music.

Some French releases ahve already been getting mainstream attention, whether Ms Gainsbourg or Frànçois & The Atlas Mountains whose album has just been released. Next month's Justice live dates will certainly continue the attention on French music.

I can be contacted by email at the address johnkilbride AT hotmail DOT com, with the spaces and the appropriate @ and . in the address.

Merci et à bientôt