Thursday, 31 May 2012

M83: Reunion

The video finally surfaces for M83's new single Reunion, the second track to be released as a single from last year's Hurry up, we're dreaming album.

I featured M83 just the other day, but given that they are very much at the forefront of what's happening in French music at the moment, I'm sure I can be forgiven.

The video will certainly get the song some more attention, and it will probably embed itself into the public's ear every bit as much as its predecessor Midnight City.

The album's certainly getting the kind of growing attention that is quite rare these days, when record companies just seem to aim for the biggest sales as quickly as possible. While it's already been a huge seller, I reckon even more people will be won over by the charms of M83 on the strength of this track.

I wonder what products it will be used to advertise and what TV events it will  promote? It's certainly got that epic feeling that TV producers of events like the Olympics or the Euro 2012 football will like. I'm sure Nokia mobile phones are already getting their campaign together given that one of their phones gets a bit of an appearance in the video.

The release of Reunion also sees a host of remixes of the track, by the likes of Mylo,

Chart: Sexion D'Assaut: Ma Direction

Another appearance in the top area of the French singles chart by rap collective Sexion D'Assaut, with the song Ma Direction.

It's another track from their album l'Apogée, released earlier this year and already a double platinum seller and number one album in France.

The previous track Avant qu'elle parte made the top five in France and number one in Belgium, a song dedicated to their mothers perhaps appealing as it did to an audience that would normally be outwith the regular hip hop scene.

The band with their huge number of personnel, sub groups and collaborations are a major force in French rap,  and while the releases under the Sexion D'Assaut name attract huge attention and sales, the members off the band maintain an active presence across France's hip hop scene.

 Probably the closest equivalent would be an act like the Wu Tang Clan, a band whose influence spread across the entire hip hop scene on account of not only the number of members but also their continuous work outwith the 'mother ship'

This week's top five singles in France, according to SNEP's disque en France website at

1) Gotye: Somebody that I used to know
2) Gusttavo Lima: Balada
3) Carly Rae Jespen: Call me maybe
4) Tacabro: Tacata
5) Sexion D'Assaut: Ma Direction

Tuesday, 29 May 2012

Mylene Farmer tour dates: False hopes

An announcement on Twitter this morning from the @farmermylene account that there are to be a series of  concerts by Mylene Farmer next year sparked a huge amount of speculation among fans, but it seems that the much-awaited announcement was a misleading one.  News sites that ran it as a news report have since issued denials.

The tweets claimed the shows were to get under way on June the first 2013 in Nice, followed by two shows  in Montpellier on June 6 and 7. June 8 would sees the tour in Marseilles, the 11th and 12th in Bordeaux.

June 13 and 14 were said to be in Nantes, the 15th in Lyon. The 17th and 18th in Rouen, the 20th and 21st in Strasbourg.

There was a show apparently in Geneva on June 22, and back in France for two shows in Clerment Ferrand on June 26 and 27. This was to be followed by Lille on June 29, Amneville on July 3 and 4, and a show in Brussels on July the sixth. The final dates were apparently on September 13 and 14 at the Stade de France, in Paris.

Needless to say, there were no details of when tickets would be available.

But the dates were little more than an internet hoax. The fact that it made legit news sites before it was checked suggests that there was a real demand for the information to be released as quickly as possible, even if that meant cutting corners like checking whether or not it was actually true.

A Mylene Farmer tour is a huge deal in France, she's one of the biggest selling artists in the country ever, and holds the record for number one hits, having racked up 12 over her career so far. Her shows are big budget spectacles, and this tour sees both indoors arena shows as well as stadium gigs.

She last toured in 2009, before the release of 2010's Bleu Noir album that saw her collaborating with Moby in what was to these ears at least her best work. Her 2009 tour was recorded and released in the No5 on Tour live collection in 2009, as a double CD and DVD/Blu ray of her Stade de France shows.

There's a huge impatience for the return of Mylene Farmer to the live stage, and with a new album apparently due later this year, live dates next year would not be outwith the realms of possibility. Although there's no official confirmation of a 2012 album, she's rumoured to be working with long-term collaborator Laurent Boutonnat.

There are rumours of shows in 2013, and even if true, any planning would still be at an early stage, although given the size of her live shows, they would certainly take enough organising that work would probably take over a year to put everything together.

So no shows at the moment, but who knows if there's something more accurate announced before too long.

Monday, 28 May 2012

M83: Outro

A video worth watching by the magnificent M83, for the track Outro from last year's Hurry Up We're Dreaming album.

M83 are probably the French band that have made the biggest commercial and artistic breakthrough in the non-French world since Justice.

The track Midnight City, the first single from the album, established itself as a radio favourite, appearing in the soundtrack for TV shows and a number of advertising campaigns as varied as American lingerie brand Victoria's Secret to the BBC's coverage of the 2012 London Olympic games.

A second single has been released from the album lawst week, the track Reunion appearing as an EP of remixes from the likes of Mylo, Sei A, The Naked And Famous, Polly Scattergood, We Have Band and White Sea.

For a modern band, they've built a reputation the old fashioned way, through live shows and quality music rather that internet hype and social media gossip. They've played at key festivals in the UK and the USA and are this summer playing in the UK, with two dates in London, as well as shows in Belfast and Edinburgh. An American tour is scheduled for the autumn.

Friday, 25 May 2012

Eurovision: Anggun

It's the weekend when UK viewers get reminded that there's music made outside the English language world. Eurovision is mocked as much as it is enjoyed in the UK, and while the staging of many of the acts certainly merits mockery, there's usually a sneering tone about how the foreigners really can't really do proper music.

It will take more than a televised music contest to rid the English speaking world of its xenophobia, but at least its a step in the right direction.

This year there's a controversy over the host country and its human rights record. I'm sure there are similar problems in many of the countries in eastern Europe. Again, it will take more than an international TV event to sort these out, but hopefully the attention given to these issues by the international media will at least raise awareness of the problems.

Meanwhile, with the show itself  attention will no doubt focus on the alleged political skullduggery in the voting, with claims of favouritism and partiality. But it was always like this, and much of it is down to acts being established performers in culturally similar countries.

Meanwhile, Spain are asking their entrant not to win because they can't afford to stage it, and the Euro crisis hangs over the event, and a number of countries have withdrawn this year.

Other rows focus on the performers: Are Jedward good enough to represent Ireland? Is Englebert too old to represent the UK?

But we should put our pre-concieved ideas to one side and enjoy the entertainment, because that's what it is.

At its best Eurovision is television entertainment at its finest, as ridiculous as it is spectacular. It's a throwback to a time of more utopian ideas, that a continent could settle its political and cultutral differences in a sing-off, and that a song could unite different peoples regardless of linguistic differences.

Of course, it never quite achieves its lofty ideas, adrift on a sea of kitsch, ropey acts and bad songs, but that distance between its ideals and the reality is where the enjoyment exists.

There will certainly be memorable moments. Many for the wrong reasons. Will Anggun's Echo (You and I) take the prize? We'll see. In the meantime, there will be some quality - in some form or other - TV to watch on Saturday night.

Rétro: France Gall - Poupée de cire, poupée de son

With this week's attention on the Eurovision song contest, I thought I'd take a look back to one of France's most memorable moments on Eurovision, with the 1965 win by France Gall.

The song  Poupée de cire, poupée de son was written by Serge Gainsbourg. Needless to say, one of France's greatest singers of the time and greatest songwriters ever. Needless to say, it was for Luxembourg.

It was the first time a song that was not a ballad won Eurovision. It was both a great song in the then-contemporary pop style, which also mocked  the genre at the same time. While a perfect example of yéyé pop, its clever wordplay in the lyrics puts it in  a different league from most of the other releases of that era.

Gall and Gainsbourg had worked before, with songs like N'écoute pas les idoles and Laisse tomber les filles proving to be hits before Poupée de cire, poupée de son won the Eurovision contest in Naples in 1965.

Gall and Gainsbourg would work together on other songs, although they would eventually dissolve their artistic partnership at the end of the 60s.

The song was re-recorded by Gall in a number of languages, as the exposure of Eurovision opened up a market for her outwith France.

Monday, 21 May 2012

Iggy Pop: Apres

A new release by Iggy Pop, with his French influences front and centre of this collection of cover versions.

No surprise that it's gone to number three in the French charts on its week of release.

Last year also saw Iggy collaborate with Lulu Gainsbourg on the From Lulu to Gainsbourg album, performing the Serge Gainsbourg track Initials BB.

Speaking about the new release, Iggy commented: "All popular music forms of today get their strength from the beat. Rap, hip-hop, metal, pop, and rock producers will tell you that the beats they use imitate the human heartbeat and that is where the power lies.

The feeling of listening to any of these forms is always some variation on excitement, but before the birth of the blues there was another form of popular song, in which the timing comes from the human breath and the feelings are much more about emotion.

"These older ways of expression were known variously as bel canto, chanson, plainsong or just folk music. I've always loved this other feeling, one thmentioned before,at is intimate, sometimes a little sad, and does not try to beat me on the head.

"So I wanted to sing some of these songs myself, hoping to bring the feeling I felt as a listener to my listeners through my voice. Many of these songs are in French, probably because it is French culture which has most stubbornly resisted the mortal attacks of the Anglo-American music machine."

As I've mentioned before, Iggy's no stranger to French cuture. Despite his  iconic status as one of rock 'n' roll's wildest performers, there's always been a depth to his work that can often be overlooked given the power of his performances.

His previous solo album, Préliminaires, is unlikely to be viewed by many as one of his seminal releases, but those who dismiss it do so at the expense  of a very fine work.

That collection is influenced by the work of Michel Houellebecq, whose text provides the spoken word narrative for one track. The album is bookended by versions of Les Feuilles Mortes, sung in French. It sets the tone for a mature and poetic work, which rather than just an 'easy listening' Iggy has work that would stand up against much of his more familiar rock work.

The new album features songs by Brassens,  Serge Gainsbourg and Piaf as well as other more mellow numbers It's an album that he wanted to make without the restrictions of a record company, and I'm certain it's one that will add to his reputation as one of the most significant artists working in the music scene.

Order a copy of Iggy's new album here >

Copyright and wrongs

Close followers of the blog may have noticed a couple of posts have been removed. This was due to a complaint that I had infringed on copyright.

To clarify, I don't own the copyright to the videos I link to on this site and I have never claimed that I do. Equally I don't actually put the videos online.

I link to videos that are widely available elsewhere on video websites to draw attention to music that I feel merits attention.

If there's an objection to me doing this, fair enough. I'll take the page and the link down. At the end of the day, it's their ball, and if they don't want me playing with it, that's their call. I'm happy to comply.

I'll leave it others to argue whether or not this is the best strategy for entertainment companies to engage with new media.

I don't make money out of this blog, I do it because I think the music deserves attention. I share videos that are already available elsewhere that visitors to this site may not have seen.

Also to clarify, I don't offer illegal downloads on this site, and I don't link to sites that do. I personally do not illegally download music and I don't think you should either.

If you like any of the music I've featured on the site, show your support by buying the music.

I believe that artists and those involved in the companies that support them deserve to make a living. I suppose that even includes lawyers for music companies.

Friday, 18 May 2012

Rétro: Charlotte Gainsbourg - Charlotte For Ever

A look back to an early release by Charlotte Gainsbourg, the track Charlotte For Ever from her debut album of the same name,

Interesting to look back to see just how she has progressed as an artist. Her early work was very much in the considerable shadow of her father, although I don't think it was necessarily his best work.

This track features him duetting with her. All the songs on the album were either written by Gainsbourg or co-written by him.

It's not an album I listen to frequently, I disliked it when I first heard it, although it has since grown on me.

I found much of the production and arrangement a bit dated. The album felt similar to other Gainsbourg project's in the late 80s / early 90s with female singers, whether Isabelle Adjani or Bambou,  quite good but ultimately quite disappointing.

However, tracks like this one make the album a worthy inclusion in a Gainsbourg collection, whether Serge or Charlotte.

There was a long period between her initial Charlotte For Ever album (1986) and 5.55 (2006), during which time she established herself as an actor.

Perhaps putting that time and distance between her debut album and her later career gave her the opportunity to be taken seriously as an artist without reference to her father's work, perhaps during that time she

Thursday, 17 May 2012

Live: Mesparrow at the BD and Comics Passion festival

A quick heads up for those in the London area that singer Mesparrow playing live at the BD and Comics Passion festival courtesy of the good folks at Bureau Export French-Music United-Kingdom

She's playing at the Ciné Lumiére at the Institut Francais on Saturday May 26 as part of the event.

Mesparrow, born Marion Gaume ,sings soul and jazz, but more in line with the likes of Portishead or Bjork than any traditional artist.

The show will be different from the usual show as it will not only feature music but live art, with comic book artists including Luke Pearson, Tom Gauld, Richard Short and others collaborating live, their improvised work being projected onto the cinema's big screen as accompaniment to the Mesparrow's performance.

The international BD and Comics passion festival runs from May 24 to 27, and features some of the biggest names in the world of comics and BD.

There will be talks, workshops and book signings, and on the bill features Christophe Arleston, David B and Jean-Louis Mourier from France, Pat Mills and Kevin O’Neill from the UK as well as Tom Gauld, Guy Delisle, Karrie Fransman, Luke Pearson, Grzegorz Rosinski.

Celebrity comic fan and Cinémoi regular Jonathan Ross will be discussing his loves for comics and BD.

The Mesparrow gig is followed by a fancy dress club night on the theme of Victorians vs Decadents, in homage to The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, with music by DJ Sacha Dieu.

More details of the BD and Comics passion event here

Wednesday, 16 May 2012

Anaïs: Le Tango Stupéfiant

A great piece of electro-cabaret from Anaïs in a new video for the song Le Tango Stupéfiant.

The song is a cover of the song made popular by Marie Dubas, French music hall singer of the 1930s and 40s, who was one of the artists who inspired Edith Piaf.

The track comes from the Anaïs album A l'eau de Javel, which was released earlier this year. The album, the second solo studio album by Anaïs Croze, is a collection of standards from the 30s to the 60s re-interpreted in her own unique style.

Anaïs is a hugely talented artist, who has the ability to move effortlessly through musical genres but manages to maintain a distinctive voice in whatever context.

I've always liked Anaïs since her The Love Album came out in 2008, for the simple reason that I was sent a review copy and loved it, but struggled to convince my day job website to run a review. So I thought it might be a good idea to start a blog or something at some point...

Anaïs has been nominated for a couple of awards, had a platinum album (her debut album, the live recording The Cheap Show) and a gold album (The Love Album), and I suspect we may yet see even better things in the future.

Friday, 11 May 2012

Rétro: Jacqueline Taieb - 7 heure du matin

I featured Jacqueline Taieb recently after one of her songs was used in an advertising campaign for Lynx, but while la Plus Belle Chanson is a good tune, it's maybe not her best.

For me at least it has to be 7 Heures du Matin, a perfect time capsule from the yé-yé era, which was also her biggest hit, released in 1967.

While simply recounting the start of the day through the eyes of a teenage girl, with her references to The Who and Paul McCartney, it's also a great piece of garage rock.

You could easily imagine it appearing on one of those Nuggets/Pebbles type compilations.

In later years she recorded a version of the song 7 Heures du Soir, and an English language version called 7pm, telling of the tributations of an older woman remembering her time in the 60s.

But even if this was the only song she did, it remains a great piece from one of music's most colourful eras.

Festival: Rock en Seine

Another 24 acts have been added to the bill for this year's Rock en Seine festival.

Among those newly confirmed are dEUS, Childish Gambino, Passion Pit, The Black Seeds, Yeti Lane and Speech Debelle. They'll now be on a bill that also includes Beach House, Grimes and Bombay Bicycle Club.

Placebo are headline act for the Friday night, with the Black Keys for Saturday, and Green Day for the Sunday.

Also on the bill over the weekend are dozens of acts, including Sigur Ros, Bloc Party, The Shins, Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds, Maximo Park, Eagles of Death Metal and Grandaddy.

The festival, which celebrates its tenth anniversary this year, is held from August 24- 26 at the Domaine National de Saint-Cloud west of Paris.

Thursday, 10 May 2012

Festival: Vieilles Charrues

Details of the acts playing at this year's Vieilles Charrues festival in Brittany have been released, with acts ranging frm Bob Dylan to Martin Solveig playing at what has become one of France's most significant music events.

The Cure, Sting, Portishead and Justice are also set to play.

The event features three main stages each day, each named after major Breton figures, Glenmor, Jack Kerouac and Xavier Grall.

It's the 21st time the festival's been held, and it features some big names in French and international music, as well as many more interesting acts.

The first day, Thursday July 19, sees Portishead, Keziah Jones, Don Rimini and Django Django on the Glenmor stage, and on the Kerouac stage LMFAO, Zebda, Stuck in the Sound and Rover. The Grall stage features Beat Assaillant, Breakbot, La Rumeur, Baadman and Im Takt.

Friday night sees The Cure, Martin Solveig, Thomas Dutronc and Brigitte taking to the Glenmor stage. Metronomy, Bloc Party, Youssoupha and Other Lives appear on the Kerouac stage, and M83 tops the bill on the Grall stage.

Meanwhile, Saturday features Sting, Justice, Hubert-Félix Thiéfaine and Kiril Djaikowski on the Glenmor stage, Selah Sue, Rodrigo & Gabriela and  C.U.B.A., The Rapture and Irma on the Kerouac stage

The final day sees Bob Dylan, Gossip and Garbage on the Glenmor stage, with  Kasabian, Amadou and Mariam and Santigold on the Kerouac stage. The Grall stage sees Orlesan and 1995 and others on the bill.

The event takes place between July 19-22 at Carhaix in Brittany.

Tuesday, 8 May 2012

Johnny Hallyday: Live in Los Angeles

Johnny Hallyday kicked off his live performances for 2012 with a date at the Orpheum Theatre in Los Angeles last month.

It will be a big year for Hallyday on the live front, with a major tour of France sheduled to begin shortly, and dates outwith France in New York and London in October, as well as other shows in Moscow and Tel Aviv.

Much as it would have been great to be there, the budget of the Vive Le Roq blog doesn't exactly stretch quite that far. But some video has emerged online, and it gives a hint of what the show was like and how the future dates in his tour might shape up to be like.

A Johnny Hallyday tour is a big deal in France, and it seems strange that an artist who has sold quite so many records over such a long career could play a comparatively low-key gig in LA.

Hallyday spends much of his time in LA, enjoying the relative anonymity he gets there, so a show there gave him the chance to play in his own backyard, away from much of the pressure and expectations of the French audience and media, and to the delight of expats and francophiles in California.

During the show he noted that the concert marked a point where his life started again, and given that it was in LA in 2009 that he seemed close to death, it's probably no overstatement.

He also made clear that the tour's not a 'farewell' or 'retiremement' tour, telling the press that the tour marks a fresh start, and that the LA show was more a showcase of Rock 'n' Roll that a preview of the French dates.

Hallyday still remains an unknown to much of the anglo media, the American reviews confirming this again. The Los Angeles Times saying that while he survived changing musical fashion over the decades,  "the concert itself argued that he's simply absorbed those trends; many of his songs sounded like French-language facsimiles of tunes by Led Zeppelin and the Rolling Stones, while others folded in traces of soul and disco."

Johnny influenced by American music? Who would have thought it ;-)

Remember that Hallyday worked with a pre-Zeppelin Jimmy Page? Don't think that the LA Times' critic does. Still, at least they noticed that he covered a few songs by American artists including Hey Joe by Jimi Hendrix. Although I reckon Hallyday made the song as much his own as Hendrix did - it wasn't Hendrix's song in the first place - just that his version is probably the best known. And let's remember which singer gave Mr Hendrix a break in '66...hmmm.

Still, a (mostly) positive review for Johnny despite the shortcomings of the journalist in putting Mr Hallyday into his rightful place in rock. They concluded that Johnny was performing like an actor in Les Miserables (again revealing their lack of knowledge of French culture) but was "portraying a part and portraying it with skill."

So a forward-looking step for one of France's most significant musical artists, and a continued challenge to expectations.

Thomas Dutronc: Turlututu

A new video by Thomas Dutronc, for the track Turlututu, the third single from his Silence on tourne, on tourne en rond album.

Dutronc dislays a sense of humour similar to that of his father, in that he is simulaneously a syle icon and a mocker of the idea of syle. The image of Dutronc in the headset is a nod to a portrait photo of Dutronc pere from 1970.

However, not only is the headset a bit more modern, but it seems that fish have also changed a bit in the intervening decades.

The song shows again that Dutronc, although continuing in the family business, is very much his own man. His gypsy guitar sound gives his work a signature sound that brings a traditional style into a modern context.

The video reminds me of some of the videos by Calvin Harris, although musically it probably could't be more different.

Dutronc's album came out in October 2011, and he's playing dates across France over the summer including festival dates in May, June, July and August.

Monday, 7 May 2012

2012 Presidential election

An absolutely massive weekend for France, and while the election result may have come as little surprise, its magnitude cannot be diminished.

It marks a turning point, and it will have implications on the French music scene as much as it will have an impact on every area of life in the Republic.

Things will settle, and it remains to be seen if change will be as radical as some expect or as fundamental as some fear. It should be remembered that the  result was actually quite close, it was no landslide, and Hollande will face a huge amount of social and political inertia.

Although the same could be said for Sarkozy and his right-wing predecessors. Each came to office with a promise of shaking the country up in a similar way to Margaret Thatcher in the UK. All failed in this ambition, and although each did manage to pass many an unpopular piece of legislation, the core Republican values were not transformed into an Anglo-Saxon free-market free for all.

A couple of other thoughts about the campaign. It was possible for an outsider - non native French speaker located outside France as I am - to folllow it like never before. Twitter and Facebook brought comment and developments in a minute-by-minute basis, opinion came from blogs and news sites - special credit to France 24 - and video could be quickly caught up with on YouTube.

A real success in new media coverage of the election.

But this certainly wasn't the picture on the traditional broadcast media. Again, the UK media followed the usual line of ignoring it completely until the first round of the election, then focusing on the National Front's vote. Their scripts were already written, and the narrative would be about another chapter in the rise of the European right, missing the significance of a Socialist president

We are always better informed about the US elections than we ever are about the French elections.

 I would guess that just about anyone in the UK asked to 'name the president' would answer 'Obama' before thinking to ask 'Which president?...'

And on the National Front vote, although disappointed to see them getting any popular support, it was heartening to see them completely collapse under any political pressure. Had Le Pen reciprocated to Sarkozy's disgusting overtures the political map of the country could be very different, with potentially a UMP president indebted to the FN. But the fascists fell apart under pressure due no doubt to a fatal combination of arrogance and stupidity.

But it's time for optimism and looking ahead at hopefully better times.

Apologies if this blog reads like one of the many political blogs that haunt the internet today. It's a music blog, but music doesn't exist in a vacuum and political circumstances shape music and the music of France is no different in that it is part of a wider political and cultural environment.

If nothing else, Carla Bruni will have more time to focus on her musical career.

Thursday, 3 May 2012

Charts: Tal - Le Sens de la Vie

A quick look at the top of the charts, and not a whole lot of change this week, but I thought it worth a mention of the track Le Sens de la Vie by Tal, a Francophone track that's getting a lot of play at the momentin France

The track comes from her debut album Le Droit de Rever, which was released earlier this year.

She's a Franco-Israelienne singer and was nominated for the NRJ Music Awards 2012 in the French breakthrough act of the year category.

It's very much a French take on American style, as the New York shot video attests. It stands up well against many of the modern rock/pop crossover acts that are huge in the USA at the moment. Not exactly challenging listening but with just enough grit and urban styling to appear edgy.

This week's top five:

1) Gotye: Somebody that I used to know
2) Michel Telo: Ai Se Eu Te Pego
3) Sexion D'Assaut: Avant Qu'elle part
4) Tal: Le sens de la vie
5) Lykke Li: I follow Rivers the magician

Chart information from disqueenfrance

Tuesday, 1 May 2012

Editorial: May 2012

Another record month for the blog in April, the number of visitors conmfortably beating our previous record.

Also, it's high time to give the sight a quick lick of paint. That should be apparent in the next couple of days.

Again, some strong new releases on the schedule for the month ahead, and the with the summer festival season getting into gear there will also be some great performances to get excited about.

Meanwhile, there's the small matter of a president to sort out.

Thanks again to PR people and bands who have been in touch, it's always very encouraging to get feedback about the site.

As always, I can be contacted at johnkilbrideAThotmailDOTcom, with the AT and DOT substituted with the appropriate punctuation.

Merci et à bientôt