dinsdag 31 oktober 2006


Take a porcelain voice, a Vanessa Paradis-like body, a broad musical range (like Petula Clark's), an accent like Birkin et voilà Andrea Lindsay. The description is taken from this review, which also gives some background on the Ontario born songstress, who listened to Janis Joplin and Nirvana as a teen, was part of the duo Tuesday 5 and fell in love with the French language when on holiday in Paris. She then moved to Montréal, and made two albums. This spring, La Belle Étoile was released, again with 'musique francophone avec parfum anglo'. Andrea smuggles some English words and sentences in her songs. But she easily does a Brazilian bossa-classic, or the famous Porque te Vas by Jeannette. Andrea reminds me (and L'hotelier particulier Maks, who told me about Andrea first) a lot of Vanessa Paradis in the early nineties. Andrea even has that space between her teeth. Speaking of which, I just remembered that Dutch rockband Benjamin B. wrote a song about Vanessa Paradis, called Gap: "Your tiny gap keeps me awake, and makes me wonder/It's not your lips I do believe, it's that little space between your teeth."

Andrea Lindsay - Bonne Année
Andrea Lindsay - Porque te vas
Andrea Lindsay - Les Yeux de Marie

Andrea Lindsay on YouTube
Benjamin B - Gap

Sous le soleil (2x)

Dutch national weather service warned for heavy storms in the coming night, up to windforce 10. Summer's definitely over now, time to (finally) reminisce. Thanks to Alexandre, here's two melancholic, hello-darkness-my-old-friend-kind of songs, both live recordings. First up is a duet between Arthur H(igelin) and Pauline Croze (she's pictured), taken from a Les Inrocks-compilation. The contrast between Pauline's shaky, husky voice and Arthur's worn out rasp works great, and ofcourse brings back Gainsbourgian memories - with a songtitle like Sous le Soleil de Miami and all.
Speak of the devil: the talented Jeanne Cherhal recently did a nice live-rendition of Sous le Soleil Exactement for French Radio.
Does anybody now if Dusty Springfield's Summer is Over was ever recorded in French?

Arthur H & Pauline Croze - Sous le Soleil de Miami
Jeanne Cherhal - Sous le Soleil Exactement

vrijdag 27 oktober 2006

Sound of musique

Since a few days the blogosphere is enriched by yet another French girls-loving blog: Sound of Musique. First posts look promising, with unreleased and rare song.

And welcome Wall Street Journal-readers! Filles Sourires was featured in the Oct. 23 BlogWatch-column by Beckey Bright ('Wine, Women and Song'). She wrote:

It seems there are a lot of bloggers with a thing for French girls who can sing. For those looking for a daily fix, this is the place. At Filles Sourires, a blogger who calls himself Guuzbourg waxes poetic about chanteuses "singing their wonderful sad and/or sunny songs with their high, breathy voices." Posts range from the recent and unknown to retro cult favorites like Jane Birkin.
Mr. Guuzbourg is all about how music sets a tone, and his writing reflects the sometimes dreamy quality of the music. His posts also provide historical context and biographical notes.

Also, SpikedCandy and Bunch of Betty's were featured, plus various wine-sites and -blogs. The BlogWatch-link above expires in 30 days.

woensdag 25 oktober 2006

Projet Piano (12): France

Guestpost, this time by Jean-Luc, who contributes a lot of songs to this blog (thanks again, J-L)

The album Dancing Disco, released in 1977, was France (real name Isabelle) Gall's second collaboration with great composer Michel Berger. Believe it or not, it was also only her second album, since in the sixties and early seventies, she only released 45 rpms!!. The album is a concept album that tells the story of Maggie, who has got a boring job in a night club/disco (the Dancing Disco). One of the best songs on that album is the short, but sweet Quand on est enfant, with Berger on piano. See an English translation of the song here.

France Gall - Quand on est enfant


Anyone experiencing any problems while downloading the songs on this blog? I got some remarks that the server seems to suffer from 'hiccups'. Everything seems to work fine from here, though.

Projet Piano (11): Amélie-les-Crayons

Guestposttime again. René on Amélie-les-Crayons:

After I heard this song on a compilation CD I knew why I love the combination of the piano and the voice. That's why it is impossible to omit Amélie-les-Crayons from Projet Piano. The piano plays a major role in almost all songs by this band from Lyon, in the south of France. I thought of choosing another song to mention here, but this one strikes me as the most beautiful again and again. It's a tender way to say goodbye. To whom or what is your own interpretation…

Amélie-les-Crayons - La valse du danseur du lune

dinsdag 24 oktober 2006

Serge & a sitar

One of the strangest records Brigitte Bardot ever recorded was La Bise Aux Hippies in 1967. It's a song with a danceable groove, featuring a prominent sitar. She duets with Sacha Distel, host of the show where the song was performed. In the video below you can see Serge playing (or pretending to play) a guitar. The song is highly sought after, for only available on an American promotional single. I ripped it from this compilation, as far as I know the only comp it was ever featured on.

Brigitte Bardot, Sacha Distel & Serge Gainsbourg - La Bise Aux Hippies

Projet Piano (10): Messages

What's the most beautiful French lovesong ever written? La Chanson des Vieux Amants by Brel, you say? Excellent one. Lemon Incest? Awkward one. Jamais Je Ne T'ai Dis Que Je T'aimerais Toujours by Jeanne Moreau (or Anna Karina)? Beautiful one. But my favourite (well, for the moment at least) is Message Personnel. Titletrack of the album by Françoise Hardy, written by her and Michel Berger. It hangs between denial and devotion, and sung in an understated, yet emotional way. For the movie 8 Femmes, Isabelle Huppert did a wonderful version, but thanks to Alexandre, I also present you an inédit by the gorgeous Olivia Ruiz (pictured on the right), that starts quietly, but builds to a guitaristic climax.

Françoise Hardy - Message Personnel
Isabelle Huppert - Message Personnel
Olivia Ruiz - Message Personnel

Projet Piano (9): Rose

"Rose sings about love and her two pendants: hope and disillusion", the biography on her site states, "avec un simplicité attachante." This simplicity is treacherous - it seems Rose (or Keren Rose, as she calls herself on her first album) is just another nice, understated jazzy singer/songwriter, but the more you listen to her, the more enchanted you get. Take these two examples, chosen because the piano (not played by Rose, she's on guitar) is very noticable so it fits nicely in the projet. Je M'Ennui is about drinking your troubles away ("J'ai vomi ma haine sur vos regards/Parait même qu'étais pas belle à voir"), but sounds like a song about waking up with your amant on Sunday morning. And what beautiful noise at the end. Rose might be about herself, and plays with both the name and the colour ("J'vois désormais ma vie en Rose"). She likes Janis Joplin (hence her name) and Bob Dylan, but I'd put her next to the Joneses: Ricky Lee and Norah. More on MySpace.

Rose - Je M'Ennui
Rose - Rose

Charlotte sometimes

The video for Charlotte Gainsbourg's The Songs That We Sing is on YouTube.

maandag 23 oktober 2006

Projet Piano (8): Sapho

Another guestpost, by longtime lost pal Gerwinou. He revives our old flame Sapho:

Sapho was born and raised in Morocco, she moved to France with her parents at the age of 16. On her first albums she makes rock music, but she soon finds her own particular style with the albums Barbarie and Passions, passions, in which she combines contemporary music with classical and oriental influences. In 94 she sings Umm Kulthums masterpiece al-Atlal ("the Ruins") in Jerusalem, and at least during the concert Palestinians and Israelis dance together peacefully. She wrote several novels, played in several plays (like the French version of the Vagina monologues) and takes a fierce stand against racism and the suppression of women. Her most recent album is dedicated to the songs of Leo Ferré, one of the great chansonniers of the 20th century.
The song Piscine is from the 1985 album Passions, passions, the music is based on a piano piece by the French composer Erik Satie, Les Gnossienes, the text is of her own hand. She sings about losing her love, by the side of the pool, the sun is shining and she is wishing it would snow, feeling like a millstone around his neck, while he is laughing and making faces to cheer her up.
You may or may not like her music but Sapho is one of those artists that do not shy away from the experiment, building bridges between East and West both on an artistic as well as a political level, and who keeps reinventing herself again and again.

Sapho - Piscine
(Pascal Rogé - Gnossiennes No.1)

Projet Piano (7): Mademoiselle

Guestpost-time: Wouter bumped into Mademoiselle on MySpace. He was struck by here voice and presence. And rightly so.

Mademoiselle is a little mystery to me. I stumbled on her Myspace-site accidentally and was immediately struck by her beautiful, naive and childlike voice. This twenty-three year old girl sure knows how to keep your attention. Unfortunately the information she chose to share with us is really scarce: she writes, she sings, she plays the piano and her name isn’t Alice.

Alice may not be her name, it ís the name of my favourite Mademoiselle song. Waterfalls of piano chords and words tumble into your ears as Mademoiselle keeps you under her spell. Her site contains two new songs since I discovered her a few weeks ago and her new work is just as good as the old. Let’s hope she’ll write more of those beautiful piano driven songs and perhaps release an album someday. And maybe by that time we’ll know a bit more about this girl as well. But until then: Thank God for little mysteries like these...

Mademoiselle – Alice

Mademoiselle – Dans Ta Voix

donderdag 19 oktober 2006

Projet Piano (6): Emilie

So, not every song in Projet Piano is strictly 88-keys-only. Sue me. In my opinion, this version of Désert by Emilie Simon belongs in this project, because of the beautiful melody (no doubt played by Emilie herself) that suddenly comes up after 2,30 minutes. Before that, it's bass and guitar only.
Emilie recorded Désert a couple of times, and it was remixed by Avril. The tracklisting of Flower Book (see cover on the left), released on November 7, features the 'UK version'. No idea which one that is (in English, I presume), so you American readers have to check that out for yourselves. Yes, Flower Book is a US-only release, a compilation of Emilie's best songs, including a song from Marche de l'Empereur. Call it sweet revenge, because her original movie-soundtrack was replaced in the US. More news on Emilie: "In November, this enchanting songstress will travel to New York for a show at Joe’s Pub on Monday, November 13 and Los Angeles for shows on Wednesday, November 15 at Temple Bar and Thursday, November 16 at The Troubadour to perform material from The Flower Book for the first time for a U.S. audience."

Emilie Simon - Désert (acoustic version, live) (merci à Alexandre)

woensdag 18 oktober 2006

Projet Piano (5): Daphné

One of the best Filles Sourires-approved albums from last year was L'Emeraud by Clermont-Ferrand-born Daphné. Highly imaginative, with references to fairytales and sung with a distinctive voice - some might say Daphné's pipes are an acquired taste. The album opens with arguably the best song, Un Homme Sous Influence. On D's Wikipedia-site you can find an English translation (click) - it underlines her imagination, as well as her kind of bloated sense of poetry. The piano on this song is played by Chilly Gonzales, the Canadian genius whose solo-albums are worth checking out (if you like to hear a humorous crooner who can't rap but does that anyway), and who lend a hand to Jamie Lidell, Jane Birkin, Peaches and Feist.
After the release of L'Emeraud, things went kinda quiet around Daphné. Producer Benjamin Biolay found another muse, but once he finished his next solo-album, hopefully he might turn back to her.

Daphné - Un Homme Sous Influence

PS: I welcome guestposts on the Projet Piano-theme. If you have a song and a story to share, please contact me (see profile)

dinsdag 17 oktober 2006

Projet Piano (4): Ariane

When it comes to Ariane Moffatt's most beautiful piano-ballad, I'm indecisive: ode-to-imagination Combustion Lente (taken from second album Le Coeur Dans la Tête), or love-in-a-dreamstate Bien Dans Rien, from her debut-album? Both well-crafted, both very atmospherique. I discovered Ariane on a Putumayo-compilation, on which she sang a happyhappyjoyjoy kids song. Her own songs are more mature, and benifit from the triphoppy, dreamy music. Ari plays the piano herself, by the way. She's currently on tour, and will be in France in November. On her MySpace-site, you can hear her MySpace-tribute song. But why, chère Ariane, is it en Anglais?

Ariane Moffatt - Combustion Lente
Ariane Moffatt - Bien Dans Rien

maandag 16 oktober 2006

Projet Piano (3): Fawzilla

"One sunny day in the Parisian suburbs my dad took me to a neighbour who was teaching piano. I remember sitting at her old brown Yamaha and discovering my first love. My mother took me to the local Conservatoire where I learned amazing romantic composers pieces such as Chopin's Nocturnes, Rachmaninov's preludes and Beethoven's Sonatas." So writes the gorgeous Fawzilla on her MySpace-site. She's a Parisienne, but living in London right now, a city she was obsessed with as a child. Her career has yet to take off, but with a brilliant song like Comment y Croire in her sleeve, what could go wrong? She has a husky voice, skills behing the 88 keys and looks at those lips, people. Don't you want her to sing all night to you, preferably in French?

Fawzilla - Comment y Croire

Projet Piano (2): Dorval

Second entry for this short series featuring beautiful piano-ballades is Ne Me Demande Rien by Dorval. It's from their first album Les Choses de la Vie, produced by Benjamin Biolay and still one of my all-time favourite Filles Sourires-albums. I love the Chopin-ical piano-melody (played by Laurent Manganas, the man-in-the-shadows behind Dorval), the moment the wood-instrumentation comes into play and ofcourse that broke-my-heart-so-many-times-melancholy in Pascale Baehrel's voice. The song, to me, is about two lovers who have settled for each other, who aren't sure any more if they're still in love, but are afraid to ask: On est heureux, c'est presque rien/Il suffisait de le vouloir/On est heureux mais ne dis rien/On pourrait's'en apercevoir.

Dorval - Ne Me Demande Rien

zondag 15 oktober 2006

Projet Piano (1): Natasha

Guestposter Roger Grund steers away for a moment from his usual Girls Singing Wiz A French Accent-series, and kicks off a new one: Projet Piano. For the coming weeks nothing but tender, beautiful, piano-driven songs. Suggestions, and other guestposts, are welcomed.

The map of Le Monde Francophone displays a few pockets of French resistence against the Anglo-American cultural dominance. Artists from these ‘islands’, whose relative size is always grossly exaggerated, tend to receive a warm welcome in France, maybe because their very existence contradicts the sad fact that French is no longer a world language. This preferential treatment is however unfair to the exceptionally talented Natasha St-Pier, hailing from the French-speaking part of Canada, who would be very succesful even without her Quèbeqois background. Equally unfair towards Natasha are the frequent comparisons with Celine Dion…

[Short intermission: the comparison of Natasha St-Pier with Celine Dion is a topic on which Mr. Guuzbourg and myself disagree. I think these two ladies have nothing in common other than originating from Canada. Natasha is an original talent with a voice of her own. With regards to La Dion, well, I was taught that if you’ve got nothing nice to say, it’s better to say nothing at all.)] [Well, at least we agree on the latter - G'bourg]

Natasha achieved fame and success in France with her 3rd album De l'amour le mieux, in particular the 2002 hit single Tu trouveras. It's is a classic Fille Sourire-piano ballad. The required doses of charme, tendresse and vulnerability are well in place: Just the way Nasasha pronouces the words ‘mes faiblesses’ is enough to send shivers down your spine. If only she could have veto-ed the vocal contribition of Mr. Pascal Obispo, who somewhat shatters the Fille Sourire dream near the end of the song.

Today Natasha St-Pier continues to go from strenght to strength. This year her new album Longueur d’ondes is a fixture in the charts, and a tour covering tout le monde francophone is on the road as we speak (in French of course).

Natasha St Pier - Tu Trouveras (link works fine now)

dinsdag 10 oktober 2006


The aptly titled live-album Au Zenith (2001) seemed to conclude the recording career of Vanessa Paradis. But, oh joy, she either got tired of being Mrs. Johnny Depp, being a mum or both (or maybe she now has the time), Vanessa's back on track! A new album is due next year, featuring songs co-written by Alain Chamfort and M. But thanks to FS-reader Alexandre, here's a brandspankingnew song she recorded for the musical Le Soldat Rose, written for kids of all ages by Louis Chedid (father of M) and Pierre-Dominique. The concept-album is about a toy store, several artists (like M, Jeanne Cherhal, Albin de la Simone, Sanseverino) assume roles of toys. Vanessa 'plays' a doll from Asia. The album will be released in November, two concerts are announced in the Rex Theatre in Paris (on November 12). Looking forward to that album, keep you posted.
From the Vanessa Paradis-forum, I got a great Paradis-Birkin duet.

Vanessa Paradis - Made in Asia
bonus: Vanessa Paradis & Jane Birkin - La Ballade de Johnny-Jane (live)

Requiem pour un c

Are there songs by Serge that can't be sung by a girl? Requiem pour un con springs to mind, but there are at least two female versions of this bitter, angry revenge-song Serge wrote for (and sang in) the 1968-movie Pacha, with Jean Gabin. See that great scene here. To me, the song is a speech on a funeral of a major asshole, read by someone who finally sees his chance to get even. Ofcourse, girls can feel that emotion just as well, both Zazie and Vanessa Paradis did credible live-renditions. [There's another female version by Japanese hipsters EPO, but that one's a little on the weird side] Still, the song suits men better. It's probably the pounding beat, and the way you have to sing it, with clenched jaw and fists. Here are versions by Mick Harvey (in English), Franz Treichler, Martin Solveig, Brian Molko+Françoise Hardy+Faultline and Doudou Masta, plus a remixed version by The Orb, the 1991-remix (issued right after Serge's death), a Spanish cover by Bunbury, and the instrumental hommages by the Bill Wells Octet and Folk Implosion.
UPDATE: FFF and L'Affaire Louis Trio added. And who are these guys?
By the way, Florent Pagny's very dramatic version is also added.
Another UPDATE: Thanks to Patrick (and Natashka), another real good female version is added, by the Quebecoise Marie Chantal Toupin.

Serge Gainsbourg - Requiem Pour Un Con
Serge Gainsbourg - Requiem Pour Un Con (1991 remix)
Zazie - Requiem Pour Un Con (merci jean-luc)
Vanessa Paradis - Requiem Pour Un Con (see video on YouTube)
Marie Chantal Toupin - Requiem Pour Un Con (yousendit-link)
French covers:
Florent Pagny - Requiem Pour Un Con (merci Dennis)
EPO - Requiem Pour Un Con
Franz Treichler - Requiem Pour Un Con
Martin Solveig - Requiem Pour Un Con
Doudou Masta - Requiem Pour Un Con
L'Affaire Louis Trio - Requiem Pour Un Con (merci Dennis)
FFF - Requiem Pour Un Con (merci J-L)
English covers:
Mick Harvey - Requiem For A C
Brian Molko, Françoise Hardy & Faultline - Requiem For A Jerk
Bunbury - Requiem Por Un Cabron
The Orb - Requiem Pour Un Con
Bill Wells Octet - Requiem Pour Un Con
Folk Implosion - Serge


Remember the Bonnie & Clyde-post from a couple o'weeks ago? The guys @ Stereogum located another cover-version, by none other than Belinda Carlisle. Check!

zaterdag 7 oktober 2006


I got a few emails from people who had trouble downloading songs via Megaupload. Oddly, Megaupload doesn't have a how-to-instruction. Check the comments to this post to find out how to use Megaupload.

Blahblahblah. We're back to normal procedures.

vrijdag 6 oktober 2006


Third contribution to his series on Girls Singing Wiz a French Accent, by Roger Grund

There are many ways to say goodbye in French. So it comes as no surprise that many ‘leaving songs’ feature in the French songbook, each taking a particular angle. In Gainsbourg’s Je suis venue te dire que je m’en vais the singer casually informs his lover of his decision to leave, ‘and your tears are not going to change a thing’. Jacques Brel on the other hand in Ne me quitte pas, begs his lover to stay, and, in a delirous case of amour fou, makes impossible promises to support his plea. Yet again, Pars, written by Jacques Higelin and released in 1978, takes an opposite stance, with the singer urging his (or her) lover to leave immediately and not come back: ‘Alors pars, et surtout ne te retourne pas’. In a David Lynch-ian way, the deceptively simple lyric of Pars hints towards a complex story that the listener only starts to uncover.
Grace Jones, the Jamaican-born model-turned-singer gave exposure to Higelin’s Pars to the wider world on her 1980 album Warm Leatherette (in the same way that Jo Lemaire opened a new audience to Serge Gainsbourg with her iconic version of Je suis venue...). Musically, we hear the Island Records studio band in its prime, with a central role for the fluid yet polygonal rhythms of Sly and Robbie. On Pars the fusion of chanson and slow reggae, previously attempted by the ubiquitous Gainsbourg, is a near-to-perfect. Grace Jones, who at the time of her disco version of Piaf’s La vie en rose was regarded as an opportunistic disco queen, approached Serious Artist status on the strengh of her outstanding version of Pars. And her French is good as it gets for a non-native French speaker…

Grace Jones - Pars
Jacques Higelin - Pars (merci Wouter)

dinsdag 3 oktober 2006

Axelle (5)

Shocking news: Axelle Red thinks of putting her career on hold. For good. Reasons aren't very clear (is has something to do with the music industry today, and the way music is consumed, so to speak). Which means that Jardin Secret (songs were previewed here before) is her last album. If so, she's out with a bang. Because my-oh-my, what a brilliant album this is. Her French Soul really blossomed while recording in Memphis (she sang in the booth were Al Green used to stand), her lyrics are upclose and personal and musicwise there's nothing to complain. This really is uncut Soul, people. It's hard to pick one song, but the very tender, almost childish Papillon caresses places I never thought could be reached by a song.

Axelle Red - Papillon


Yes, it's Marine Bercot, not Martine - makes me think of Rupert Pupkin. She doesn't whistle while showering, regards Jesus as her hero and her favourite movie is Breaking the Waves. Marine has always written, be it letters, stories or songs. She's a trained pianist, had her own folktrio and wrote the songs Emmanuelle Seigner sang in the movie Backstage. Les Amants (2005) is her first soloalbum - that is to say, her name's on the cover, but Charly Mercier's guitar is very prominent, and he wrote almost all songs on the album together with Marine. Les Amants is recommendable if you're into Joni Mitchell, Ricky Lee Jones and their peers. Mostly acoustic, with added strings, and very introspective lyrics. Two songs are more upbeat, which is good for the albums tends to get a little boring. Still, her Barbara-like voice is certainly no pain on the eardrums.

Marine Bercot - Les Noces de Menthe
Marine Bercot - Les Amants

zondag 1 oktober 2006


It's sunday. You've just woken up, see the grey skies and the drops of rain on your window. You're thinking of fixing a breakfast brunch for you and your s.o., whilst quick checking your favourite blog. You download a song, and while making coffee that song plays. It's a gentle bossanova, sung by clear voice. Suddenly, the sun peeks through the window, there's a rumble from the bedroom and just before the bread jumps from the toaster, you re-play the song. Somebody whispers something sweet from between the sheets. You're smiling.

Sophie Cappere - Un Touche de Bonheur (megaupload)

(More Sophie via Jamendo. Merci á René)