When I arrived in France as an assistant in 2006, I knew almost nothing about French music, and the French, alternatively, knew nothing about the music I listened to. It was hard to find the kind of French singers I would like when no one knew what I was talking about when I said “The Shins” or “Tegan and Sarah” or “Ryan Adams” when they asked who my favorite artists were.
Since those days, I’ve made some progress. Back in 2006 one of my teachers recommended Bénabar to me, and though musically he isn’t the most interesting of French artists to me, he is a great performer and his lyrics are worth listening to.
(Instead of waiting for the videos to load, you can just listen to the songs on the Spotify playlist up above, though some of the songs don’t show up.)
My second year I got really into Renan Luce as his album had just come out and he was doing a tour (though I never got to see him).
This one is a favorite of mine, though my very favorite song from him is “I was here,” since at that time in my life I had moved three times in three years. (It doesn’t have an official video.)
I also got into Pauline Croze that year. One of her most interesting songs is her cover of “You’re the One that I Want” from Grease, but it doesn’t seem to have a video either. I actually got to see Pauline Croze live when she came to Reims that year.
Since meeting Ju, I’ve been made to listen to (I mean that in the best of ways) a lot of other French music. One of Ju’s favorites is Camille. This is her song about Paris (called incidentally “Paris”).
Ju is also a big fan of Axelle Red and has been known to sing her “Laisse-moi rester femme” energetically in the car. One of my favorites is this one.
Then of course there is Francis Cabrel, who has lots of beautiful songs, but one of my favorites is “L’encre de tes yeux.”
I’m still sometimes late onto the bandwagon, though. This last week I ordered Josh Ritter’s newest album, and it was 8 cents short of free shipping, so I tacked on Raphaël’s break-out album from 2006, Caravane. I’d been wanting it for a while and now it’s in my car CD player and I can’t get enough of it. The whole album is obviously wonderful, but I’ll just put one up here.
That’s it for now… maybe I’ll write a part two of his post seven years from now!