Where to download free French music?
December 7, 2007 7:09 PM   Subscribe

Francofilter (part 1): I would like to start listening to French music. Can you recommend places online to find good, (legally) free music with French singing?

I'm about to be nominated to a Peace Corps program in Francophone sub-Saharan Africa. I'll probably have questions about language training (I have no French background) and other things about the region before my departure (hopefully in early May), hence the "part 1." In the meantime, though, I'm going through the recordings and books offered here from the U.S. State Department's Foreign Service Institute, and I'm starting to study the region...so part 1 is music!

I have a pretty long commute, so I thought it might be cool to listen to French singing that I might somewhat passively absorb - for instance, I can tolerably well sing along with Rufus Wainwright's "La Complainte de la Butte" from Moulin Rouge...er, well at least I think I can. Never mind that. The point is that it won't hurt my brain like audio lessons will, which is bad when one is driving, but it's still helping me get used to the sounds of the language.

My main constraints are that it be free, and that the singer would be easily understood by a French speaker, without it being a kid's song. Bonus points for music that would actually be heard in sub-Saharan Africa, but that's not really the focus. My musical tastes are fairly broad and I don't want to limit answers too much in that dimension.

To reiterate an important point, I don't want to download illegal stuff. I'm looking for recordings that are public domain, or that the artist has intentionally made available for free.
posted by solotoro to Media & Arts (16 answers total) 20 users marked this as a favorite
I think you'd really like this podcast: http://www.oh-la-la.nl/
posted by buriedpaul at 7:17 PM on December 7, 2007

You might find soukous to be worth looking into. Some of it is performed in French. However, it's been so long since I last listened to it, I'm afraid I can't offer any particular recommendations, sorry.
posted by SuperSquirrel at 7:18 PM on December 7, 2007

La Chango Family is a fantastic band from Quebec that sings mostly in French. I've seen them live several times, and they are always good. You can hear two CDs on their website in real format.
posted by Pants! at 7:26 PM on December 7, 2007

Benn loxo du taccu.

It's not just a music blog it is an education.
posted by LarryC at 7:26 PM on December 7, 2007

Here are my 2 favorite french music blogs. They post a lot of music in english, but also a lot of french music. Also, some of the best French house music is in english anyway.

posted by empath at 7:27 PM on December 7, 2007

I love bandeapart.fm. I initially ran into their podcast via iTunes where you can also download it. They are from Quebec and play really cool Canadian French-language music. A fairly indie-rock focus with some hip-hop and some unclassifiable. My favorite part is when they talk between songs. I learned French from a Parisian teacher and have been to France a few times, but I was pretty unfamiliar with the Quebecois accent. It is awesome. It's full on Candian, but yet speaking French. Actually much easier to understand for me than your average Parisian. But also on this blog, great music! I found out about the band Malajube, for instance, from their podcast.
posted by apostrophe at 7:58 PM on December 7, 2007

Sign up for Last.fm, download their music player, run it, and do a search for some french/quebecois bands in the "Similar Artists" section. Start off with people like "Les Cowboys Fringants" or "Mes Aieux", and you will get an unlimited list of free french music, then enjoy!
posted by blue_beetle at 8:26 PM on December 7, 2007

Oh, and other good options for "Similar Artist" searchs in the last.fm player include "Edith Piaf", and "Carla Bruni".
posted by blue_beetle at 8:28 PM on December 7, 2007

The subtitle of the music blog Filles Sourires is "Fragile Girls. Singing in French. Making Me Sigh. Any questions?"
posted by extrabox at 8:55 PM on December 7, 2007

Stereo Total has several free songs in French here and two here. They're fun.
posted by dmo at 9:07 PM on December 7, 2007

May I also recommend the French Pod Class, which includes in each podcast a song, and a description of the lyrics. You might especially benefit from this one because the podcaster speaks both English and French intermittantly, which you might find useful for training your ear for understanding French. Bonne chance!
posted by boeing82 at 9:07 PM on December 7, 2007 [1 favorite]

Check out the french tag over at MuFi. I'm especially partial to the works of ORthey, but that's a preƫxisting condition so, you know, YMMV.
posted by wemayfreeze at 2:41 AM on December 8, 2007

www.jamendo.com has lots and lots of new French bands.
posted by tesseract420 at 11:17 AM on December 8, 2007

Do an iTunes search for "Radio Canada," and browse through the podcasts. It's the French-language national radio station. A lot of it is spoken, but there's a few "here's the hits!" podcasts. (it you see 'chanson' or 'palmares,' it's a mostly-song-based show.)

Of course, the French doesn't sound too too much like the French you'd find in Africa, but it's still French.
posted by flibbertigibbet at 1:51 PM on December 8, 2007

Scratch my last answer. Go into iTunes, look to the right, click 'Power Search' --> Language = French. Have fun.
posted by flibbertigibbet at 7:29 AM on December 9, 2007

Err, the podcasts being the free ones, so you may want to constrain it by the 'Podcast' category.
posted by flibbertigibbet at 7:36 AM on December 9, 2007

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