jinny say pa
September 27, 2005 11:49 AM   Subscribe

Good music, by the French

I am looking for good music done by French artists (the categories could be in pop, rock, tech, dance, etc). Can anyone help me out? Is there a "french top 20?"
posted by Hands of Manos to Media & Arts (43 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Phoenix are bloody amazing. And of course, there's always Daft Punk. I think Frou Frou are french as well.
posted by Tlogmer at 11:53 AM on September 27, 2005

Hmm. Amazon.fr best-sellers?
posted by vacapinta at 11:55 AM on September 27, 2005

I'm quite into French music, but these are just my opinions..

Rock: Noir Désir are considered to be one of France's top rock bands. Sure, the main band member was recently thrown into jail, but.. :) Oui Oui are a personal fave, but they're a little known band that Michel Gondry was in in the '80s.

Electronica/Dance: Daft Punk, Air, and Cassius make my top list here.

Pop: Phoenix are, IMHO, the best French pop rock band. Really intelligent stuff. All their lyrics are in English though. They have a west coast kinda sound. Alizée is pretty good too, young female singer, sings in French, but way beyond tacky Britney Spears-type stuff.. try Moi Lolita if you want a specific song. Lorie is as close to a French Britney Spears as you can get if you're into that kinda thing. Stereolab have a very French sound and most of their lyrics are in French, but they're not a French band.. still worth checking out though, bit of a cult favorite.

Rap: IAM are reasonably clean and span a few genres in French hiphop, they even get pretty poppy (Je Danse La Mia - whose music video pioneered the zoom-in technique). Fonky Family are pretty good.. nice beats. NTM are really harsh, kinda gangsta.
posted by wackybrit at 11:59 AM on September 27, 2005

Serge Gainsbourg
Sebastien Tellier
Thomas Bangalter and Daft Punk
Etienne De Crecy
Plastic Bertrand
posted by dydecker at 12:04 PM on September 27, 2005

hey thanks guys!
posted by Hands of Manos at 12:06 PM on September 27, 2005

Francoiz Breut
Autour de Lucie
Coralie Clement
Benjamin Biolay
Keren Ann
Paris Combo
see earlier threads for more...
posted by matildaben at 12:32 PM on September 27, 2005

Serge Gainsbourg is the god of French rock. He's their version of Elvis, if Elvis were Jewish and ugly- he's the quintessential "dirty sexy guy".

His music is awesome, and all over the map (his career spans four, I think, decades). There was a 10-disc "De Gainsbourg a Gainsbarre" retrospective put out about 15 years ago, right after his death, along with a 3-disc distillation which I have- see if you can seek it out. The 1-disc version of it doesn't do him justice, IMO.
posted by mkultra at 12:34 PM on September 27, 2005

France French only, or anything in the French language? Because Les Breastfeeders make some great pop songs in French, but they make 'em in Montreal. Mini-jupe et watusi (warning, embedded audio) is a kick-ass toe-tapper.
posted by boomchicka at 12:41 PM on September 27, 2005

Les Rita Mitsouko: awesome 80's pop
MC Solaar: who can touch him?
posted by al_fresco at 12:42 PM on September 27, 2005

Serge Gainsbourg
Francoise Hardy
Stereolab [to an extent]
DJ Cam
Daft Punk
posted by cloeburner at 12:46 PM on September 27, 2005

It's Québecois, not French, but you might check out the Bandeapart podcast (baladodiffusion) run by Radio-Canada. They've had some good stuff in the past.
posted by Johnny Assay at 12:49 PM on September 27, 2005

France Gall! I'm pretty pleased with her Lounge Legends compilation, but then, I know nothing else.
posted by clockwork at 12:51 PM on September 27, 2005

I think Frou Frou are french as well.

They're British, actually.
posted by kindall at 1:00 PM on September 27, 2005

Anything on the incredible Tricatel label.
posted by eschatfische at 1:01 PM on September 27, 2005

Oops, forgot to link to Bandeapart.
posted by Johnny Assay at 1:04 PM on September 27, 2005

Whoa, how did I forget Sebastien Tellier..! Totally amazing.
posted by wackybrit at 1:08 PM on September 27, 2005

Carla Bruni. She's Italian, but she sings in French, and I was recently addicted to her album Quelqu'un m'a dit. Beautiful haunting contemporary chanson-style music.
posted by occhiblu at 1:17 PM on September 27, 2005

I haven't read the earlier threads, but nobody here has mentioned Renaud so far. His career spans many years, so there should be plenty to find. I'm also a fan of Zazie, as well as Axelle Red (though she's Belgian). For funk, FFF sing in both French and English.

You can also hear French and francophone music on the web radio station Frequence 3. Most of the time they alternate between anglophone top 40 and french hits, but the French Kiss program Tuesdays from 2300-0100 French time is a block of completely French music.
posted by komilnefopa at 1:25 PM on September 27, 2005

The best on my list:

Telephone... the quintessential pop band now and forever from 1976-ish onward - best songs: La Bombe Humaine, Un Autre Monde, Le Jour S'est Leve. You'd be hard pressed to not find anyone between 13 and 40 in France who doesn't know one of their songs. I've never located an official homepage, but I've never looked too hard. If you're looking to sample something of their music, pick up the greatest hits and start from there (oh, the humanity!)

Etienne Daho a bit of a pop god in France, it's a late 80s-early 90s sound... he's great though.

... and perhaps I'm a bit of a dork, but I also adore Maxime Piolot - particularly Molene - Gael - Ouessant. He's a kind of french folk singer... he's uh... very, very french in his sentimentalities.

Also, the Gypsy Kings are actually french... and if you look, you can find some of their early stuff in french.
posted by eatdonuts at 1:26 PM on September 27, 2005

Charles Aznavour - "the man who reinvented the French chanson"
posted by exogenous at 1:27 PM on September 27, 2005

St. Germain
Laurent Garnier
posted by I Love Tacos at 1:27 PM on September 27, 2005

Actually my bad... KMFDM was originally made in France, but they're Germans.
posted by I Love Tacos at 1:29 PM on September 27, 2005

Stereo Total is based in Berlin, but singer Francoise Cactus is French. Their lyrics are sometimes German, sometimes French, sometimes, English, sometimes all three.
posted by Robot Johnny at 1:35 PM on September 27, 2005

Haven't seen anyone mention M yet. He's pretty self-consciously pop-y. Kinda hit or miss, but with some real gems. Discography.

Sounds like you're mostly interested in more contemporary stuff, but classics like Edith Piaf and, especially, Yves Montand deserve a look.

Someone already pointed you to MC Solaar. Enthusiastically seconded.

Also, Manu Chao has a number of tracks in French (same as with his former band, Mano Negra). I'm not sure where he's from -- I want to say some combination of France, Spain, and North Africa.
posted by donpedro at 2:08 PM on September 27, 2005

Nobody seems to have mentioned Dominique A or Yann Tiersen yet. Also, I believe Rachid Taha is French (though he's of Algerian extraction).
posted by klausness at 2:12 PM on September 27, 2005

Oh, and Mickey 3D are also good (good French rock music -- I didn't know there was such a thing).
posted by klausness at 2:16 PM on September 27, 2005

How about Nouvelle Vague? Their cover of Depeche Mode's Just Can't Get Enough is exemplary.
posted by forallmankind at 3:09 PM on September 27, 2005

The new album by Jackson and His Computer Band is the best album I've heard in months.
posted by influx at 3:25 PM on September 27, 2005

Serge is the man. His reggae version of La Marseillaise is one of the best songs ever.
posted by ClanvidHorse at 3:26 PM on September 27, 2005

I'd like to recommand :

Rock : Dolly, Noir Désir, Eiffel, Mickey 3D, Dionysos, Lofofora, Têtes Raides
Pop : M, Alain Souchon, Etienne Daho, Gerald De Palmas, Calogero, Alain Bashung
Chanson : Jeanne Cherhal, Cali, Camille, Keren Ann, Thomas Fersen, Yann Tiersen, well the whole Tôt ou Tard staple :) Arthur H, Charles Aznavour, Philippe Katerine, La Grande Sophie, Hubert-Felix Thiefaine, les Wriggles, Léo Ferré, Dominique A..........................

so much to hear, so little time...

As for a top 20, well, ours is called "Top 50" and only works with singles, not albums. You'll be disapointed, I'm afraid...
posted by XiBe at 3:33 PM on September 27, 2005

there's a good double-CD compilation of early (late 70s-early 80s) french electronic pop called "So Young, But So Cold" that's worth a listen. I can't remember who put it out off the top of my head, but if you can find it, check it out.
posted by cathodeheart at 4:26 PM on September 27, 2005

Seconding Benjamin Biolay and even more so Coralie Clément, whose work is written and produced by Biolay (who is her brother, IIRC). Also Keren Ann, at least her Biolay-produced records.

Yann Tiersen is mostly instrumental, but even so his music sounds french to me (maybe it's just because he did the Amélie soundtrack?)

I just got a CD by Gypsophile that was great from the first listen.
posted by Utilitaritron at 4:38 PM on September 27, 2005

dydecker, Plastic Bertrand was Belgian.

Famous missing names:
Metal Urbaine (electro-punk)
Jacques Dutronc (60's rock/pop/ye ye)
Joe Dassin (ye ye, easy listening)
Richard Pinhas (and Heldon) (experimental/electronic rock).
Eliane Radique (avantgarde)
ErikM (experimental, avantgarde)
Luc Ferrari (avantgarde)
Jean-Jacques Perrey (electronic/space age pop)
Pierre Schaeffer (avantgarde)
Pierre Henry (avantgarde)
Stephane Grappelli (jazz)
Johnny Hallyday (pop)

I'll think of some more in a minute.
posted by nylon at 4:39 PM on September 27, 2005

Another vote for France Gall (mp3 snippets here) plus Johnny Hallyday and Charles Trenet.

Best French song ever - how about Ça Plane Pour Moi by (Belgian) Plastic Bertrand?
posted by ceri richard at 4:49 PM on September 27, 2005

Anorexia Nervosa (black metal)
La Funk Mob (club/beats/breaks)
Motorbass (house/breaks)
Laurent Garnier (house)
Treponem Pal (heavy metal)
Noel Akchoté (avant-jazz)
Tahiti 80 (modern pop)
Bob Sinclar (house)
Erik Truffaz (jazz)
Edgard Varèse (avantgarde)

and I spelled Metal Urbain incorrectly. Sorry.

Let's not forget that France has also produced some pretty bad music:
Jean Michel Jarre
Richard Clayderman
Paul Mauriat (very popular in Hong Kong, for some reason)
posted by nylon at 4:55 PM on September 27, 2005

Lhasa De Sela. I prefer La Llorona to The Living Road. She sings in French and Spanish.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 5:14 PM on September 27, 2005

If you're looking to learn more about French music and try out different things (not so much modern music, but "the classics") I'd recommend the Plus Grandes Chansons du Siècle series. (I have Volume 2; here's #1.)
posted by srah at 5:44 PM on September 27, 2005

I like the Yo La La! podcast which features French rap and hip-hop (with commentary in English). Artists for each show are listed on the website.
posted by olecranon at 7:14 PM on September 27, 2005

i second MC Solaar & Telephone. You could also try listening to French Swiss radio station Couleur 3. They play a fair bit of English language music but there's equally a lot of French stuff on there too.
posted by jontyjago at 11:21 PM on September 27, 2005

Les Negresses Vertes used to be a lot of fun, particularly their breakthrough album Mlah. I have no idea how they are these days.
posted by Decani at 4:44 AM on September 28, 2005

Magma, one of my favorites, also French.
posted by jacobjacobs at 5:50 AM on September 28, 2005

Do not miss (Stephane) Sanseverino. Witty, inventive, tuneful, playful, happy, nouvelle chanson - Swing du nul has become an all-time favorite.
posted by phhht at 8:04 AM on September 28, 2005

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