vrijdag 30 september 2005


Earlier this month, I posted a track from breezy-voiced Clarika's La Fille Tu Sais-album. Today Mr. Postman brought me her brandspankingnew disque, Joker. I haven't heard it properly to give an expert opinion, although I can say it's pretty versatile, at some point she really rocks out, dude. Listen to Ne Me Demande Pas, for example (1). As if she's giving in to the fact that she a deadringer for Polly Jean Harvey. But she can be very tender as well, listen to La Bimbo (2)(it's the first track I listened to. I mean, c'mon, a title like that?).
Clarika (from Haute-Savoie) has a history of marching bands and majorettes, and made four albums under the wings of Jean-Jacques Nyssen, who writes and arranges the music. It's certainly a tradition, this Guy On The Background with filles sourires, from Gainsbourg to Lou Depryck to Philippe Katerine to Benjamin Biolay.

Hear Here 1.

Hear Here 2.

donderdag 29 september 2005


Thanks to J., here's a wonderful cover of the Sex Pistols' punk-anthem Anarchy in the UK, translated in French and arranged as a swinging jazz-song. It's sung by Pastel Vespa who, according to her site, is the lovechild of a Brazilian street singer and an Italian heir to the Vespa motorscooter firm. Quote: "You know it's quite sad, I've never seen my father - he left my mother when he found out that she was pregnant with me. It is my wish that one day my father will take me back into his arms, into his life and into his will because I hear he's got quite a lot of money so that would be great. But one thing that reassures me is that whenever things are really bad, we always seem to have one or two empty platitudes that seem to make us feel a whole lot better." But ofcourse. And now it makes perfect sense that you record jazzy versions of hardrocking songs by Metallica, Kiss, Bon Jovi, the aforementioned Sex Pistols and Thin Lizzy.

Hear Here.

woensdag 28 september 2005


Currently on tour in France and Belgium (no concerts in Holland, typical): Jennifer Charles and Oren Bloedlow, a.k.a. Elysian Fields. Imagine Francoise Hardy singing a Joy Division-song, and you have an idea how Elysian Fields sound. Sexy, smokey, with dark undertones. They've just released a new album called Bum Raps and Love Taps, but the reason I'm posting two tracks here is that Jennifer sounds even sexiër when she sings in French, and lucky for me/you, she recorded a few francophone tracks. The mournful Les Amour Perdues (1), a Serge Gainsbourg-cover for John Zorn's Great Jewish Music-series, and the seductive Monsieur crandait les demoiselles (2), a track from the duet-album with Jean-Louis Murat. But this track Jennifer sings by herself. Close the curtains, light just one candle, keep an Edgar Allen Poe-book at hand, and listen to this gorgeous fille gothique.

Hear here 1.

Hear here 2.

Françoise (2)

In addition to the Leslie Feist-coverversion beneath (and thanks to Stonehead's mention of this blog here), and because it's always nice to look at her or hear her sing, here's Françoise Hardy's original version of L'amour ne dure pas toujours. It's taken from the double-cd The Vogue Years, which was recommended in this comment-thread, and it surely is a treat! 50 songs from 1962-1967, a real treasure.

Hear here.

dinsdag 27 september 2005


Leslie Feist (best known by her last name) sounds a little like Isabelle Antena, especially when she covers Francoise Hardy's L'amour ne dure pas toujours (1963), posted here (1). Canadian born Feist started out as a punkrocker (her first band opened for the Ramones), then worked with shock-electro-rocker Peaches, with pianorapper Gonzales and semi-serious rapper Mocky. Her second solo-album Let It Die was very well received (certified gold in France), thanks to clever songwriting and a variety of styles, from ye olde folk to campfire-singalongs to a really fantastic cover of The Beegees' Inside and Out. If you're into electronic music, check out the brilliant remixes of this song by Ewan Pearson. Also very good is het duet with French singer Albin de la Simone, Elle Aime, posted here (2) as well.

Hear here 1.

Hear here 2.


I first heard Antena by the lovely Isabelle Antena on this compilation by Thievery Corporation. Immediately I fell for the sunny smile in her voice, rainclouds disappear when the Belgian singer parts her lips. I started digging for old records, found a few (we're talking late nineties), but none with Antena on it. I mentioned the song and the singer to bossahouse-meister Dirk of Buscemi, which triggered (at least, I think it did) his search for Isabelle. He found her in the south of France, they recorded some songs - two of them appeared on his Camino Real album. Earlier on, the very nice Antena-compilation L'Alphabet du Plaisir came out - that had the song Antena on it. Isabelle Powaga (her real name) was part of the post-punk outfit Antena in the late eighties (see Pitchfork review of the reissue), but moved more towards jazz and bossa. Last year, Easy Does It was released, accompanied by great remixes. Isabelle has a blog too.

Hear here.

Isabelle's La Pecheresse a la Ligne, remixed by Buscemi:

Hear here.

zondag 25 september 2005


Confession: I have never seen a film with the lovely Charlotte Gainsbourg. Not even Cement Garden. 21 Grams? Nope. No special reason, but I sure have to catch up - currently Lemming is playing in Dutch arthouses. In 1996 she appeared in Love Etc, a film about a girl (played by Charlotte) who puts an ad in the paper, finds a man, marries, and then falls in love with his best friend. Online-reviews are mixed (here, and here), but one reason to rent it, is that the title-song of the soundtrack is sung by Charlotte (and posted here). As you all know (or should know), Charlotte debuted on vinyl aged 13, when she duetted with her dad on Lemon Incest. She made a few records (a duet with Etienne Daho, for instance), but her acting career is way more succesful.
Which movie with Charlotte is a must-see?

Hear here.


Time for a bit of fun. Helena Lemkovitch was one of many popstars from the stable of Lou Depryck, the Belgian Svengali who wrote Plastic Bertrand's Ca Plane Pour Moi, who scored massive world hits as part of Lou & The Hollywood Bananas (Kingston Kingston) and Two Man Sound (Disco Samba), who launched the career of Viktor Lazlo and who, so to speak, fathered girls like Helena Lemkovitch. These days Lou lives in Thailand, where he has sex with very young girls and is very proud to tell so on tv, and in various Belgian mags. Anyway, as the cover on the left shows, Helena recorded a cover of Cyndi Lauper's Girls Just Wanna Have Fun, in French. Is it good? Umm, no. Is it funny? Hell yeah!

Hear here.


According to this article, Melissa Mars doesn't like to be called a Lolita. On La Reine des Abeilles, her second album that's been just released, she certainly plays with this role - she's sexually provocative, but sings with a very girly voice. For the cd-inlay she posed half-naked, but also very dominant, like a witch from a Tim Burton-movie. If I understand the biographie on her site correctly, she likes to play different roles as a singer, and this new album is about a girl who's a bad girl, a fairy and a femme fatale all roled in one. Musically, it differs from rock to electropop to Jeux Sucrés (posted), a very seductive, slow song about chocolate, syrup and barbed wire.

Hear here.

zaterdag 24 september 2005


The very bright Camille released her second album Le Fil this year, very different from her sunny debut Le Sac des Filles. This time she explored music made by the human voice, and upright bass. If you're thinking of Björk's Medulla right now - Camille is way more listenable. First there's her girly voice; powerful, exciting, happy. But sometimes filled with tristesse. Then there is the music: the album starts with a bourdon, one note, that keeps on going through all songs. It refers to Steve Reich, and Laurie Anderson. Sometimes Camille uses her voice to beatbox, sometimes a little kid who likes to make funny noises. Furthermore, she gets help from hiphopproducer MaJiKer and elastic guitarplayer Sebastien Martel - not use to pigeonhole this fille. Ta douleur (see her site for the great video, also check the fan-site for live-performances) is upbeat, Pour que l'amour me quitte (posted here) is an example of that tristesse. Brilliant album.

Hear here.

More Camille? She's also part of the fantastic coverband Nouvelle Vague, who reinterpret new wave- and punk-classics in a bossanova-style. For instance Guns of Brixton by The Clash.

Hear here.

Even more Camille? This is Les Ex, from her debut-album Le Sac des Filles.

Hear here.

donderdag 22 september 2005


Today Atomic Café - French Cuts 3 arrived, and yes, it's a very good selection of Ye-Ye, French samba and (psycho-)rocksongs. Sung by artists from the sixties and contemporary bands, who try (and manage) to sound like their sixties-counterparts. Most songs are by men, but there are a few ladies present. Like Brigitte Bardot (posted here), who covers a song by the late, great Wilson Simonal, Tu Veux Ou Tu Veux Pas (original title: Ne Ven Que Vao Ten, also used on the soundtrack for Cidade de Deus). Great song, always lovely to hear La Bardot in a sunny sambapopsong. Also on French Cuts 3; the mysterious Dani (can't find a good picture of this French counterpart of Nico, who as a model posed for Richard Avedon and Helmut Newton), Jacqueline Taïeb and Virginie Rodin. One of the best songs, though, is the French version of Spinning Wheel (Vieille Fille) by Eddy Mitchell.

Hear here.

woensdag 21 september 2005


Walking temptation, that's the best way to describe the young, innocent France Gall (born October 7, sorry, forgot about your anniversaire!). When I think of France, I think of the smirking Serge Gainsbourg, who sang the scandalous Les Sucettes with her in a French tv-show. The then (1968) underage Gall had no idea what the song was about, or so she claimed. The lyrics were about a girl sucking on lollipops, with the anis dripping down her throat. Risqué! La Gall grew up to be a beautiful woman, scored a lot of hits in France, but retreated in 2001.
Last year, a spectaculair 13cd/dvd box was released (check), Evidemment, with songs (live and studio) from the seventies, eighties and nineties, written by Michel Berger. I'm not a big fan of her later work, so posted here is Les Yeux Bleux, from the sixties.

Hear here.


If you're a credits spotter, you might have noticed Sandrine Collard on the 1999 Profools-album by Flemish singer Daan, playing 'kitchen utensils'. In 2002 the pouting Belgian blonde (like Karin Clercq, an actress) made her first album, with help from Dan Lacksman of Telex (the Belgian Pet Shop Boys, so to speak). Je Communique is a very charming electropop-album, enlightened by the low, very breathy and very sexy voice of Sandrine. Francoiz Breut pops up in the last song, but mostly it's just Sandrine, a beat and a catchy melody, in songs about men, gossip and playing hide and seek in the dark. That last song (Chache-cache dans le noir) is posted here. Google told me dat Sandrine made a charity single for Amnesty recently, and if the Sandrine Collard on imdb is the same as pictured on the left, she also appeared in a movie in 2004. No news on a follow-up album, though.

Hear here.

maandag 19 september 2005

Myrtille (2)

So I ordered the debut-album by Myrtille, after hearing a few snippets and looking long(ing) at her picture. On the cover of Murmures, she looks like a medieval maiden, with her flowing hair and dress.
The songwriting's traditional too, done mostly by Myrtille herself, who also plays Wurlitzer and guitar. British soulster Lewis Taylor lends a hand on slide guitar, bass and piano. There are some nice songs on Murmures, like the title-track (posted) and the closing L'echo, but honestly Myrtille's voice can't keep my attention for the whole album, and the songs are so-so. That'll teach me not to order albums just on image. (Suuuure. Who am I kidding?)

Hear here.


If Le Matin En Patins (Midday on ski's skates) sounds like a kids song, you're on track. The song's written by Gilles Vigneault, a much loved Quebecois folk artist, and sung by the breezy voiced Canadien Canadienne Ariane Moffatt. In 2002, she debuted on cd with Aquanaute. A delicate, triphoppy album (listen to samples on her site), that was a major succes in Canada - over 100,000 sold. Last year, she played with Francis Cabrel on the Francofolies festival in La Rochelle (France), this year a follow-up to Aquanote should be released. Looking forward to that.
Le Matin En Patins is taken from a tribute-album to Vigneault, but I heard it on the Putumayo-compilation French Playground. Putumayo also released the recommendable French Café-compilation.

Hear here.

zondag 18 september 2005

The Week That Was

Overwhelming response to Filles Sourires after only a week, over a 1000 visits, over 3000 pageviews, lovely comments, great new music (thanks again, Jaime!) - truly inspirational. Thanks to everyone (Mordi especially) who linked my blog, and to everyone who enjoyed les filles sourires. More is on the way! To celebrate the first week, here's the very beautiful Isabelle Adjani with Pull Marine, written by Serge.

Hear here.

vrijdag 16 september 2005


Imagine walking down the street in New York, and a girl looking like the blonde pictured on the left tries to kiss and embrace you. Would you push her away? If you are from the Big Apple, some fellow Nuyoricans did just that, as the video to the new Karin Clercq-single La Sincère proves. (Click to see). La Sincère is from the new album by the Brussels-born Clercq, who debuted in 2002 with Femme X. She's an theatre actor, but also appeared in a short film in which she was to sing. That kickstarted a new succesful career.
She's said to be influenced by Portishead, Nick Cave, Velvet Underground and Fernando Pessoa - big names, who she doesn't quite live up to on FemmeX. I haven't heard the new album Après L'Amour, though. I hope it's less guitars, more voice. Because a girl who sounds (and looks) like Karin (for example on the title track of her first album), I certainly would nót push her away.

Hear hear.

donderdag 15 september 2005


When I praised the guys @ Le Pop, I forgot to mention the wonderful Munich-based messieurs of Panatomic. They've released two Atomic Café-compilations stacked with Ye-Ye and other French pop, and number three is on it's way! If you live in de GAS-countries (Germany, Austria, Switzerland) you can order the album (cd or vinyl) from their site, otherwise I can recommend Amazon.de. Look at the tracklist of number 3! Mouthwatering.
The first two editions had great coverversions (like Je Ne Fais Pas D'Histoires by Sophie, a translation of Tom Jones' It's Not Unusual), oddities (by synthi-wizard J-J Perrey) en big hits like France Gall's Teenie Weenie Boppie. The Atomic Café-club in Munich certainly looks good.
Not too sure about the car on the cover though, for number two they chose a picture of a Citroën SM, now thát's a car I'd really like to own one day. Johan Cruyff drove one too, in the seventies.

From French Cuts 2: a pouting Sylvie Vartan with Ne T'En Vas Pas. Also a coverversion. Do you know the original?

Hear here.


As I said earlier, this blog was and is heavily influenced by Blowupdoll. If you love Mordi and his choice of music (and who doesn't?), you're in for a treat. Thanks to Jaime of Souvenr, I can post Corynne Charby's Boule de Flipper (1). It's gorgeous French eighties-disco, six divine minutes long, written by Christophe Renaud, who also worked with Desireless. Corynne (real name Corinne Charbit) was a model at the end of the seventies, who also acted. She played along Gerard Depardieu in La Chèvre, and Philippe Claire in Plus Beau Que Moi, Tu Meurs. After that, she started a singing career, that took off really well thanks to Boule de Flipper. After her marriage (but before a nude photosession for Lui magazine) she left showbiz, she now writes for sit-coms.
Corynne has a perfect breathy voice, which sounds a bit like Alizée. Boule de Flipper sounds very eighties because of the exploding drums en etheral synths, but if you take those away you still have a very nice song.
As Souvenir proves with their cool coverversion of the song (2). Enjoy!
ps: if you have more music by Corinne, do not hesitate to send me mp3's!

Hear here 1.

Hear here 2.

woensdag 14 september 2005


Patricia de la Fuente is the singer of the Spanish band Souvenir, who are heavily influenced by the music you'll find on this blog. She sounds as lovely as she looks, singing with an fragile, Francoise Hardy-like voice, almost a whisper. Souvenir writes very elegant songs, mostly about love and heartbreak. I got an email from Jaime, who's in Souvenir, and apart from some very nice compliments about this blog, he also send me some songs. Souvenir has, as I understand it, quite a following in their homeland. They made quite some records, and played at the huge Benicassim-festival. I like the fact that they try to update the typical French sixties-sound with computers and beats, without steering too far away from the source. You'll hear what I mean in Presage de l'hiver (1).
Another Spanish band influenced by French pop is Les Très Bien Ensemble from Barcelona. Beatles-fan recognise the bandname from the lyrics to Michelle. The bandname's good, so is the name of the singer (Suzette), but most songs on their album Doux-Amer tend to be on the bland side. Best song is the duet Á Hélène (2).

Hear here 1.

Hear here 2.


Still active (look at this picture!), but her star shone brightest in the sixties, when Annie Philippe had a massive hit with Ticket de Quai. The song posted is Tout Finit à St.Tropez, a slow, sad song. You can almost see the tears in her eyes. Annie used to be a dj (at 17 years old!) when she was discovered as a singer, and made records that were aimed at fans of France Gall and Sylvie Vartan. Here you can find a complete sixties-discography. Her cover version of The Supremes' Baby Love (in French, ofcourse) is also very nice.

Hear here.

dinsdag 13 september 2005


Just a quick question: any trouble downloading the musicfiles?

I've changed the settings, so anyone can post a comment now. You don't have to be registered to Blogger.


Your guess is as good as mine about who Christie Laume is, or was. She made two EP's in the sixties, on a lot of French YeYe-compilations the song Agatha ou Christie pops up. She has the same smile in her voice as like France Gall, and is as blonde as France was, at the time. Two plusses. The song L'Adorable Femme des Neiges is taken from the compilation Femmes de Paris Volume 1. Highly recommended if you like YeYe.

Hear here.


A few mysteries (well, to me anyway) surround les filles sourires. For instance; whatever happened to Tuca, the Brazilian guitarplayer on Francoise Hardy's masterpiece La Question? (Apt title). And; who or what stopped Natacha Tertone from making a follow-up to Le Grand Déballage, her proper debut-album after a self-produced EP? Déballage came out in 2000. Tertone was compared to Francoiz Breut - if you hear the song La Lettre, one could say she's the more reluctant niece of Breut - and there's no reason why she could not be as succesful. At least, as far as I know.

Hear here.


This might be stretching it a little, because Kahimi Karie isn't French. Belgian or related to any other French speaking country. In fact it's a pretty certain bet that her French is even worse than mine. Still, she's a Japanese superstar and adored around the world (she sang a duet with Patrick Bruel, on his Entre-deux album). To quote a review from Amazon: "OK, so Kahimi's vocals are breathy, underpowered, lacking in range and stylization, and so ethereal they are oftimes buried in the mix; her attempts at enunciating English words are feeble and scatter-shot, to say nothing of her French (in which she sings a couple songs)... but none of that really matters, because, all totaled, the way she-of-the-funky-green-hair sings is utterly sexy, disarming and relentlessly charming, possibly because of all its shortcomings."
'Utterly sexy, disarming and relentlessly charming'. Could be the motto for all the music on this blog. Hear Kahimi sing Serge's En Melody. Sidenote: later on, I'll post a quite similar "I have no idea what I'm singing"-coverversion of Je t'aime moi non plus by Cibo Matto.

Hear here.

maandag 12 september 2005


Have you seen March of the Penguins (French title: La Marche de l'empereur) yet? It was a big hit in France, was a sleeper hit this summer in the U.S.A, and it's coming out in Holland soon. It's a documentary about, ehm, the mating of emperor penguins. With both beautiful and very harsh images.

The reason why I'm posting a song from the soundtrack is that it was made by Emilie Simon. She debuted in 2003 with a very atmospherique album (no title), that because of the electronic, trip-hoppy music made her the French Björk. She writes and produces all her music, on the soundtrack she played f.i. piano, celesta, glockenspiel and claviers. I saw a very good live-session of her on TV5 once. She's one of the few filles sourires ever to come to Holland, and even though I had tickets, I DID NOT GO! To punish myself even harder, I let my good friend Luba do an interview with her for the magazine I write for. He said it was heaven just to listen to her. Emilie has a really cute, almost babyish voice. God, how I regret that I wasn't on the other end. (The only fille sourire I ever spoke with, was Keren Ann. More about her later on.)

The songs on the Penguins/Empereur-soundtrack are in English, but most songs on Emilie's debut-album are in French (a cover of The Stooges' I Wanna Be Your Dog being one exception, and there's also a mini-cd with English translations available). I've posted The Frozen World from the soundtrack, and the spine-tingling Secret from her first album.

1.Hear here.

2.Hear Here.


In 2003 Les Choses de la Vie came out, the debutalbum by Dorval. The singer of this band is Pascale Baehrel, a former ballet-dancer. The album was produced by Benjamin Biolay. To quote a review from Amazon: "She's soft and breathy, but enunciates clearly, and has a fuller, richer voice than Biolay sister Coralie Clement. On the title track, she supplies a beautiful vocal performance, sounding completely relaxed, unhurried and unforced." Couldn't agree more. The record is very delicately arranged, a well-made, very soft bed for that tiptoeing voice of Pascale. It's still one of my favourite filles sourires-albums - it refers strongly to the softfocus seventies, especially the Gainsbourgian song Les Petits Mots (linked).
I wonder what happened to Dorval (one reviewer asked himself if they named the band after Alain Dorval, who voices Sylvester Stallone in dubbed movies) - after Les Choses they haven't released anything. The website hasn't been updated for over a year. Any news, anyone?

Hear here.


"When Daphné sings, the child in all of us appears, or re-appears. Her voice caresses and squeezes the emotions." A lot of other big words and expressions are used in the biography of Daphné. But, well, they're true. The 30-year old from Clermont-Ferrand is heavily inspired by myths, legends and fairy tales. The interviewer from Le Monde (pdf file) looked into her hazel eyes and felt obliged to write: "Her eyes say: 'I'm not a singer, I'm trying to tell stories'." In Le Figaro, she stated that she created a different, magical world, to cope with reality, and with time. She sounds very fragile, as if she's trying to hold down waves of emotion. Right after the first song on her album, you want to rush over and comfort her.
Daphné was discovered by Benjamin Biolay (producer of, and song writer for many filles sourires), who produced five songs on the recently released L'emeraud. How someone sounds who's that imaginative, plus is said to be inspired by Ravel, Purcell, Stevie Wonder and Sting, check Ton Coeur. (Also check the wonderful videos on her site.)

Hear here.

zondag 11 september 2005


For some odd reason I left the 3-cd/1-dvd-box Oscillons From the Anti-Sun by Stereolab unplayed for several weeks - other albums, books, mags, work, girls, whatever, got in the way. It's a very cool package, including stickers, and the compilation of songs show what Stereolab is capable of: weird grooves, space-age pop, fuzzy guitar songs and, yes, French pop. Singer Laetitia Sadier (she's the same age as Axelle Red, by the way) has an ice-cool voice, a bit off-key, and looks exactly how I thought she would look: like the older, wiser sister of Audrey Hepburn. Laetitia was born in the vicinity of Paris, and cites Francoise Hardy and Barbara as her influences. She, along with partner Tim Gane, has written most of the Stereolab-catalogue. Laetitia has a side-project too, called Monade. With that band she made one kinda nice, and one very, very boring album.

Not all songs by Stereolab are in French, but Cybele's Reverie is, from the album Emperor Tomato Ketchup and also on the Oscillons-box. Still, the best album by the British band is Dots & Loops, an album that became more infamous when Pharrell Williams of the Neptunes declared it one of his favourite sex-albums. And of course, that's when I had to have it too. Haven't tried it, though.

Hear here.

Le Pop

History taught us that Germany and France were sworn enemies, but someone forgot to tell the Cologne-based guys at Le Pop. They've compiled three cd's with 'Les Chansons De Nouvelle Scène Francaise', and number 4 is on the way. I can't quite make out what is on this new edition, but no doubt there will be some filles sourires included. Le Pop 1 featured Francoiz Breut, Keren Ann and Clarika (her new album is out as well!), Le Pop 2 had Coralie Clement, Holden and April March. There's a wonderful duets album als wel (Le Pop En Duo, ofcourse). I've ordered Le Pop 3 right away.

In the booklet by Le Pop 1, compiler Oliver Fröschke (a.k.a. Djorka F.) explained how he got bitten, so to speak, by French music mosquitos (via a French girlfriend, naturellement), and gave some background on the nouvelle scène. It started all in Nantes, 1992, when Dominique A (Francoiz Breut's lover) and Katerine where making their debutalbums on 4-track recorders. At the same time, indie-label Lithium kicked off.
What the new names had in common, was that they were using their own names, and that they wrote, produced and played their own material. They were obviously exploring the legacy of Gainsbourg (who died in 1991), but were adapting new styles and production methods as well. In the booklet by Le Pop 2 Fröschke writes: "What's French about the nouvelle chanson, we are asked frequently. Apart from the enourmously rich tradition French Pop artists can draw on, there is something more evasive and much harder to define: poetry, charme, elegance? A fine antenna for melodies and arrangements? Or shall we just call it a true instinct for Pop?"

Maybe I'll try to interview Frösckhe for this site, see if he has the answer yet.

There are more German compilers of French pop, f.i. Le Tour and Parfait! But Le Pop are the true originators.

From Le Pop 1, Clarika's Beau comme garcon. (can't find the cedille!)

Hear here.


Belgium's provided a few filles sourires, like Lio and her sister Helena (they will pop up on this blog later on, no doubt), but Axelle Red (1968, born in the Dutch/Flemish speaking town of Hasselt) is the most gorgeous, and succesful. So far she sold more than three million albums. She's worked with Mick Ronson, Isaac Hayes, Youssou N'Dour and more cutting edge artists like Matthew Herbert and Daan. She writes and produces most of her songs herself, and that makes her kind of an oddity in the wonderful world of filles sourires.

She has the looks, but also the voice. Very sensual, very soulful - listen to the song Vole. And those lips, don't they make you wanna sigh?

Hear here.


Isabelle Aubret (real name: Therese Coquerelle) is one of the many singers who sang Gainsbourgs bittersweet Chanson de Prévert. She's mostly known for her near-fatal car accident in 1963, and her interpretations of songs by Jacques Brel. But her breathy, bit nasal voice is also perfect for this Serge song - she sounds a bit sad, though accepting. I have a few covers of Chanson de Prévert, by April March, by Claire d'Asta (I might post them later), but there have to be more. Do you know one that's better than the one by Aubret?

Hear here.


In addition to this, it's also good to point out that there are a lot of French female singers that I do not like. Anything that steers into Celine Dion-territory is a big nono. Lara Fabian? Non merci. Ophélie Winter? Not for me. Jenifer? Way too bland. Veronique Sanson? Does she really have to be that LOUD?

But there are some inbetweenies, like early albums by Lynda Lemay. Or Alexandra Roos. Can't put my finger on it what makes a singer a fille sourire or not, it has to do with looks, with breathiness, with atmosphere in songs (later albums by Lemay hit no buttons).
I'm having doubts (buy or not) about the latest album by Myrtille (pictured). Snippets sound good, she certainly looks the part. Any one heard it? Is it good?


Certainly, a French all-girl band called Les Petites Souris is a must on this blog. Sure, 'souris' means mice, but hey, wait until you hear them sing. The brooding looking singer Pussy Cat featured once in the line-up, she went on to have a solo-career. Les Petites Souris made sixties-pop, or Ye-Ye, the French take on clean cut rock 'n roll and named after the French pronounciation of yeah-yeah. Very charming, innocent-sounding but with a fat sounding beat. You can just picture the blond girls dancing to it in their mini-jupes. Big Ye-Ye stars were France Gall, Sheila and Sylvie Vartan - you can read all about them on this site. Side note: I don't think the Ye-Ye site has been updated for quite some time now - most sites they link to (like She Said Ye-Ye) are dead. Even the Magic Records site, that used to re-release a lot of really nice, kind of obscure French sixties-pop, does not exist any more. Check here and here also.
I couldn't find more info on Les Petites Souris, about their line-up or if they made more than just one EP. Still, I love the somewhat obscured, little choir in this song, On Te Le Dit, Il T'Aime.

Hear here.

zaterdag 10 september 2005


The Isis Project is a very beautiful album made by Guy Chambers (he wrote for and with Madonna, Robbie Williams, Kylie) and British actress Sophie Hunter - that's her, on the left. The lyrics were written by the talented Keren Ann (more 'bout her later on). The album was made for Isis, the daughter of Chambers, as a gift for her 18th birthday (she's 5 now). In this interview in The Guardian, Chambers explains: "We went," Chambers puts it, "down the Jane Birkin road." Chambers himself does not speak French. "I like the fact it's in French, and the fact that the words are very poetic, sort of metaphors and sort of archaic. And I like the fact that I don't know specifically what the songs are about. The music's very personal, but the message and the words are just part of the sound of it for me. And I love being able to switch that part of my brain off - the critical part."

Couldn't have said it better myself. And he certainly went down La Birkins road, as the song Belle Journée Pour Rien Ne Faire shows.

Hear here.


I called Jane B. the über-fille sourire, but Francoise Hardy is a very close second of course. She also worked with Gainsbourg, was (or still is?) involved with Jacques Dutronc, was a sixties icon and is still highly respected. Last year a very fine album came out, Tant de Belle Choses, on which she worked with Benjamin Biolay, Ben Christophers and Thomas Dutronc (her son, I presume). On cd-r compilations I make with filles sourires, Jeanne, the song she did with J-B and Nicolas from Air almost always pops up. It's dreamy, bit sad and refers to great Gainsbourgian times.

Hear here.


Finding albums by filles sourires in the Netherlands is a needle-haystack situation. Although a lot of girls are signed by major record companies, most of the time the Dutch offices decide not to release albums, or make it a 'silent release', i.e. they're releasing it, but won't promote it. That's a bit frustrating for me, if I read about a new album I'd like to hear (and buy) it right away instead of going online, trying to find a decent slsk-hook up or waiting for the postman after I bought it online.
A way to keep informed about new releases is to wander around Amazon.fr, or browse the French iTunes-Music Store. Alas, not all releases are available in the Dutch iTunes-store, but most are. That way I encountered the third album by Canadian-born Marie-Jo Therio. If I'm reading this biography right, she's an actress (mostly tv), who also sang in a musical (Les Mis, ofcourse). I'm not sure if she's a big name outside Quebec, or in France - her most recent album was signed by Naïve, the same label as Carla Bruni.
On her album, for instance the song Bodily Deltas, she's adapting an odd-sounding Frenglish persona, along with a hoarse sounding, very sexy counterpart. Or is this song a duet? I've no idea what the song's about (David Koresh is namechecked), but I really dig it. The rest of the album is pretty too, most of the time she's backed by just strings, piano and a little accordeon.

Hear here.


A lot of great albums by filles sourires were released this year (Camille, Coralie Clement, Daphné), but still my favourite is the third disque by Cherbourgs Francoiz Breut. She combines the melancholic, heavy wind & weather-atmosphere of the French Atlantic coast, and the wide open spaces, Cormac McCarthy-moods of the American Heartland. Une Saison Volée is the album Calexico could've made, if they we're two darkhaired French girls. No surprise, Joey Burns sings a duet with Francoiz on this album. The song KM83 never fails to make me sigh. A lot. God, I'd love to see her perform live.

Hear here

Jane B

First post must be of the mother of all filles sourires, Jane Birkin. She's made a lot of albums, mostly with songs written by Serge Gainsbourg. After seeing her in a very short white dress with white pull-up stockings in the tv-special accompanying the release of Serge's Melody Nelson-album (available on the recently released double-dvd D'Autres Nouvelles Des Etoiles), I finally had an image of how the perfect fille sourire should look like.

Fuir le bonheur de peur qu'il se sauve is one of the most beautiful songs she's ever sang.
Hear here.

Qu'est-ce qui ce passe? FAQ about FS

A musicblog about girls singing in French? Pourquoi?!
Did you listen to any of the mp3s? Did you hear the girls sing with their high, breathy voices, songs about love, lust, broken hearts, nasty men, the weather, fairytales? And you weren't enchanted, you did not feel butterflies in your belly, you did not feel the urge to write poetry by candlelight, or stare out of the window and sigh, just sigh from time to time? Strange. I do.

Why French?
It's the language of love, what can I say? Carla Bruni told me (face to face, yes) that it's impossible to write simple songs in French. Lyrics have to be smart, otherwise they get plain stupid. You cannot write a song like, say, Love Me Do in French, and still sound good. Lio's Bananasplit being the only exception.

So you understand everything they're singing about?
Er, no. If I concentrate real hard, I get the picture. But to quote famous Dutch bluessinger André Hazes: "You do not have to understand it to feel what it's about." He was referring to fado-queen Amalia Rodrigues, but it's the same thing for me with Françoise, Coralie, Camille, Emilie and all my other girlfriends.

Is your name really Guuzbourg?
No, it's wordplay. And ofcourse a reference to the man who inspired (or wrote songs for) lots of artists on my site. Gainsbourg is the godfather.

You post mp3s. Is this legal?
No. But mp3s are available for a short period of time, and used to promote wonderful artists who need to be heard more, all over the world. Filles Sourires is not the only musicblog out there, go see on Hype Machine to get a little taste. From the response I get, most visitors eventually buy the cd, provided they like an artist. Look at it this way: the promotional value of FS is w-a-a-a-a-y bigger than the few lousy cents artists 'lose' on me posting their music. The fact that I get mp3s offered by pr-companies and recordlabels, and lots of artists that I contact via MySpace make NO fuss about my posting at all, shows you how it can work these days.

But I am an artist and I think your so-called justification sucks! I want my mp3s taken down NOW!
Okay, hold your horses. Just send me an email: Guuzbourg(a)gmail.com. Sheez.

Where does the term Filles Sourires come from?
It is my translation of the Dutch 'Zuchtmeisjes', a moniker invented by Dutch romancier Ronald Giphart in his second novel Giph. [A literal translation would be Filles Soupir, which to me sounds like girls in a bowl of soup. That's why I chose sourire, which means 'smile', but to me sounds more delicate.] 'Zuchtmeisjes' is used for very pretty girls who, if you see them, make you want to sigh (or smile, in this case) involutarily, as a sign of affection. Is it sexual? You bet.

How did you get all ga-ga over les filles?
After hearing Coralie Clements first album. From then on, I collected as much filles sourires as I could find. When I was a teenager (back in the eighties), me & my parents went on holiday in France a lot and during our trips we listened to French radio. That also helped.

Did you release an album?
I compiled a cd called Filles Fragiles. Pop gems from French demoiselles. Almost all songs were posted on this blog before. More info here.

Who visits this blog
Lovers from all over the world. See that little green thing at the bottom of the page, that says 'sitemeter'? Click on that.

I heard French rockmagazine Les Inrocks voted you one of the 50 Best Blogs in the world. Could this be true?

You heard right. See under 'Press-links' in the Links-list on the right for more praise.

You mention Blowupdoll a lot. How come?
Filles Sourires is very much inspired by Mori Mordi and his Blowupdoll-blog. That's why.