donderdag 30 november 2006


February next year, Voilà will be released, the new album by former Go-Go's-singer Belinda Carlisle. In the eighties, she had massive solo-hits with Heaven is a Place on Earth (sampled by Orbital as well) and Leave a Light On. The redhead, who posed for Playboy in 2001, has had a knack for France and French music for a long time. Voilà therefore is a collection of covers, ranging from Serge & Brigitte's Bonnie & Clyde (that was featured here before) to Piaf's Sous le Ciel de Paris. Voilà was produced by John Reynolds (who worked with Indigo Girls and U2), Brian Eno was on keyboards and Natacha Atlas on backing vocals. Belinda's vocals are (and were) a bit of an acquired taste, and so is her accent. Still, her dedication and love for Gallic musique should be applauded, even if her semi-erotic version of Contact (no one can top Brigitte, so why try harder?), or the dance-version of La Vie en Rose are ill-advised.
But Hardy's Ma Jeunesse Fout Le Camp, with those say-goodbye-to-my-youth-lyrics, is a very wise choice. It also gives me the chance to (re-)post the original, Entrée d'Artistes. If anyone recognises her, please let me know. We've identified her, she's called Marie Louva.

Belinda Carlisle - Ma Jeunesse Fout le Camp
Françoise Hardy -Ma jeunesse Fout le Camp (Hardy on YouTube)
Lola Dutronic - Ma Jeunesse Fout le camp
Marie Louva - Ma Jeunesse Fout le Camp

woensdag 29 november 2006


Princess Stephanie of Monaco was the Paris Hilton of her time (the eighties) - a beautiful heir who witnessed the death of her mother (actress Grace Kelly), partied like there was no tomorrow, had lots and lots of well-publicized and very short-lived relations (ranging from actor Rob Lowe to an elephant trainer) and had an equally short-lived pop career. Her biggest hit was Ouragan - Irresistible in the English translation, probably because the literal translation 'tropical storm' didn't have enough appeal. She dabbled in fashion design, modelling and ofcourse had a perfume named after her. After Ouragan, Stephanie duetted with Michael Jackson - rock royalty meets the King of Pop. After that, the princess refrained from making music. Her mark was made. Ouragan, not a good song but certainly a defining eighties-track, has been covered a few times. Never better than the original (au contraire), but it keeps popping up. French popsuperstar Leslie and German indie-queen Elke Brauweiler are the most recent additions.

Stephanie - Ouragan
Stephanie - Irresistible
Dejaé - Ouragan
Kelly G - Ouragan
Leslie - Ouragan
Elke Brauweiler - Ouragan

Soldat Rose

Remember Le Soldat Rose? The musical, based on the children's book by Louis Chedid and Pierre-Dominique about a very lively toy store, has been performed in Paris last week. YouTube has a short feature. An illustrated album was released too, featuring songs by Vanessa Paradis (I already posted that one), Jeanne Cherhal, Albin de la Simone and M(athieu Chedid). I'm not a big fan of adult artists making music aimed at children (K3 springs to mind), and I think that most songs on the album make more sense on stage than at home on the couch. But with Cherhal, Paradis and the hugely talented M (see him and Vanessa perform a great song here, he produces her new album which will be released in 2007) you really can't go wrong.

Jeanne Cherhal - La Valse Des Etiquettes
Jeanne Cherhal, Vanessa Paradis, Sanseverino, Benabar, Louis Chedid - Un Papa, Une Maman


So take a good look at my face, you see my smile looks out of place. As you get closer it's easy to trace, the tracks of my tears. Smokey Robinson sang it waaaay back in the sixties, lovely chanteuse Belge Daya has her own take on this theme with Mes Yeux Rouges. She writes: "It is a song I wrote about 2 years ago. It's about a girl. She meets her ex-boyfriend and it is quite painful. There is still pain in her heart. But she's also very proud and makes all sorts of excuses for her red eyes: it's an allergy, it's her contact lenses, it's the rain etcetera. She wouldn't admit it's because she still loves him. No way!
I had just split up when I wrote the song. Although I was lucky not to meet him for a while...I imagined what it would be like to meet him and the excuses I would need to make for my red eyes! No way I'd admit I was suffering ;-) That guy was such a ladykiller! Somehow, it was a relief to write this song. It was the first step to my recovery." Have that box of Kleenex ready when you listen.

Daya - Mes Yeux Rouges

Ces bottes sont faites pour marcher

Public service announcement: More than 25 versions of Nancy Sinatra's classic These Boots are made for Walking, including a few French covers, can be downloaded @ Dans Mon Café.

dinsdag 28 november 2006


About time I posted some songs by 26-year old actress/singer Adrienne Pauly - her first album was released a month ago and it's one of the best cd's I've heard this year. Her style has been compared to Guesch Patti (should post a song by her too) and rightly so. Adrienne, who worked as an actress with bigshots like Claude Chabrol, rocks with plenty of attitude. Listen to Méchant Cafard. But Pauly can be tender too - when she takes you in her arms. Look at this video, doesn't she look like a younger, sexier version of Patti Smith?

Adrienne Pauly - Méchant Cafard
Adrienne Pauly - Dans mes bras


One of Françoise Hardy's biggest fantasies was to sing with...Julio Iglesias. She says so in the liner notes to Parentheses, her new album on which this fantasy comes true. In fact: more fantasies become reality, like duetting with Alain Delon (who, by the way, has his own brand of cigarettes in Cambodia) and pianiste Helene Grimaud. Parentheses is, you guessed it, a duet-album. Proposed by her record company, it features a few usual suspects (Jacques Dutronc, Benjamin Biolay, Alain Bashung, Arthur H) and some odd ones out, like Iglesias and Grimaud. There's one English duet, with singer-songwriter Ben Christophers. Not every combination works, and certainly not every male partner lives up to his reputation. But Françoise does, bless her. [Merci á Frans]

Françoise Hardy & Julio Iglesias - Partir Quand Même
Françoise Hardy & Benjamin Biolay - Des Lendemains Qui Chantent
Françoise Hardy & Rodolphe Burger - Cet Enfant Que Je T'avais Fait (best song on the album, methinks)

maandag 27 november 2006


As far as I know, La ballade de Saint Etienne is the only French song British trio Saint Etienne ever recorded. Which is both odd, and a shame. Odd, because Saint Etienne refer a great deal to French music (in the same way Stereolab does). A shame, because Sarah Cracknell's breathy, slight off-key vocals fit the language very well. The origins of Saint Etienne date back to the early '80s, when childhood friends Bob Stanley and Pete Wiggs began making party tapes together in their hometown of Croydon, Surrey, England. After completing school, the pair began worked various jobs — most notably, Stanley was a music journalist — before deciding to concentrate on a musical career in 1988. Adopting the name Saint Etienne from the French football team of the same name, the duo moved to Camden, where they began recording. From pretty generic house, they moved to more atmospherical electronica - a more suitable backdrop for Sarah Cracknell's voice. She also made an underrated solo-album. La ballade is taken from SE-compilation Interlude. (Merci Dennis)

Saint Etienne - La ballade de Saint Etienne

donderdag 23 november 2006

Le Tour 3

Thomas Bohnet is a German francophile who partly makes a living out of promoting French popmusique (he's also working for a German concertpromotor). He hosts two regular Franzosendisko-nights called Tour de France (in Munich and Berlin, but he also plays in cities like Frankfurt, Saarbrücken, Erlangen, Regensburg, Vienna, Zürich, Linz...), and compiles cd's featuring the salmon's nose (as we say in Pays-Bas) of French music. Le Tour 3 has just been released, featuring danceable tunes by genremixers like Babylon Circus, Rachid Taha and Sinsemilia, Filles Sourires-faves like Emilie Simon, Pauline Croze and Olivia Ruiz and and exclusive track by Phonoboy, Viertelfransozen from Munich. Thomas sure knows his way around the newest French tunes, check tracklists of earlier editions here and here.
Two examples from Le Tour 3: a duet between pretty boy Marc Lavoine and Gainsbourg-belle Bambou, plus a Je t'aime moi non plus-cover by Swiss band Core22.

Marc Lavoine & Bambou - Dis-moi que l'amour
Core22 - Je t'aime moi non plus

woensdag 22 november 2006


Time for some serious art on Filles Sourires: 21 Love Hotel's Ennui is based on a poem by Belgian symbolist poet Maurice Maeterlinck. He received the Nobel Literature Prize in 1911. 21 Love Hotel are Clemence Léauté & Frederic Oberland. They write: "A friend of ours directed a play based on Maeterlinck's poems and asked us to dream about the music. That's what we did with Ennui. It was a great opportunity to work on a French text (21 Love Hotel usually sings in English - Gzbrg), so musical and evocative. We did everything together, as always, and we're happy to offer a very different song, une chanson. We play every instruments, guitar, tubular bells, chinese bells, piano, old music box, acoustic bows, metronome, etc."
Ennui is short, but intriguing. If you heard it once, you want to hear it again. It reminds me a lot of the atmosphere on the first This Mortal Coil-album, or the work of Susanna and the Magical Orchestra. Read a very nice review of 21 Love Hotel's songs here.

21 Love Hotel - Ennui
Download a podcast on, and by 21 Love Hotel from here. Read an interview with the jolly duo here.


Guestpost! Jean-Luc on Véronique Jannot, who sang on an absolute gorgeous French eighties-classic. Get your shoulderpads out!

Véronique Jannot is a French actress whose star shone brightest (in France) at the beginning of the 80's. She starred in the popular tv-series Pause Café as a social worker in a highschool, much loved by both pupils and teachers. At the time, she was the right face at the right time and place. She also starred in a big-screen movie called Tir Groupé, with then-popular actor Gérard Lanvin. Like many of her female colleagues (Isabelle Adjani, Catherine Deneuve, to name but two), she decided to sing and recorded a bunch of so-so songs written by Pierre Bachelet. Let's just say not everybody had the opportunity to work with Serge Gainsbourg.
In the mid-seventies, she recorded a duet with my favourite French composer, Laurent Voulzy. The song was called Désir, Désir, and was an instant hit in France. In 1988, Voulzy composed another song for her, with lyrics by Alain Souchon, one of my favourite French songwriters (Souchon and Voulzy have been writing songs together since 1974). Voulzy, as a composer is musically influenced by Brian Wilson and Paul McCartney (no less). The song was called Aviateur, and tells the story of a young woman attracted by aviators, flying jackets, etcetara. Perhaps a metaphor for the French expression 's'envoyer en l'air', which means having delightful sex ;-). This song is absolutely lovely, the quintessence of the Souchon/Voulzy collaborative power to my ears. Of course, Alain Souchon has written better lyrics since, and Laurent Voulzy has composed better music since, but I DO LOVE that song!!! Waaaay better than Ouragan by Princess Stephanie de Monaco. [True, but Steph sure looked good - Gzbrg] See Aviateur-video here.

Veronique Jannot - Aviateur

dinsdag 21 november 2006


One of the tracks that I, according to LastFM, keep playing is Partir Ailleurs by Milo. This French duo (Pierre Rougean, Corinne Lougan) made one untitled album that was released last year. I have no clue how or where I got Partir Ailleurs, but I know why it keeps popping up: that melancholy-filled voice of Corinne, an avid Françoise Hardy-fan. [Speaking of which: Hardy will be releasing a new album!] The music reminds me a little of the first Air-album, as does Je n'ai plus 20 an. The album is a mixed bag of these looking-sad-through-the-rainy-window-song, and more upbeat, sixties-poptunes. Reviews were mixed (here, here and here), I think they have a very snug sound and hope they continue making music. Pierre Rougean is also working with young bands, like De Calm.

Milo - Partir Ailleurs
Milo - Je n'ai plus 20 ans

Gillian (4)

Anything you need to know about cheeky girl Gillian Hills you can read @ Cha Cha Charming. Read it, while listening to this oh-so-lovely song, that made me fall in love with Gillian just a little deeper. Thanks to J-L for the mp3.


Rockfort writes: "Our next Rockfort live night at The Social, near Oxford Circus in London, on Monday 27th November, will feature a performance from Filles Sourires-approved Mademoiselle, as well as Kaptiv, John and Jehn and The Mount Cherries... and also Gillian Hills herself reading some of her (French) poetry and Vanessa from Vanessa and the Os DJ-ing." A Woo! would in place here, I think.

Gillian Hills - Cou-Couche Panier


Regular guestposter Jean-Luc unveils a sex-oriented, grungy drummer/singer. Who can be very tender as well:

France Cartigny is not exactly a 'Fille Sourire' - but Camille isn't either, is she?. This France is a drummer, she sounds quite grungy, and her record sounds a bit like the first Breeders album, or any album by the Kelly Deal 6000 (yeah, I do love the Pixies ;-)). If you're still in a "French-girl-and-a-piano" mood, you should dig Jésus les Garçons. Eponyme was her comeback-album, released in 1999; Cartigny started her carreer in France at the tender age of 14. She released another album in 2004, called En Place (which I never got to listen). In addition to being very funny, almost all of her lyrics are VERY sex-oriented. I like her very much, and not ONLY because of that. I like her voice and her 'I don't give a f*ck' attitude. Nowadays, she's in a trio called Les France Cartigny. See?

France Cartigny - Jésus Les Garçons
France Cartigny - Daniel & Amelie
France Cartigny - Les Oiseaux Les Ours (from En Place)

Pleased to meet you, I'm Isabelle

I'm Isabelle Adjani, apparently. Naïve, but sexy. Fine with me. Do the test Which French New Wave Actrice Are You here, and spill the results in the comments.
And to celebrate my Isabelladjani-ness, here's a song from her Serge Gainsbourg-written album Pull Marine.

Isabelle Adjani - Je t'aime idiot

maandag 20 november 2006


In France, everybody knows her as Babet, but her real name is Elisabet Maistre. She plays guitar, violin, keys and sings in rockband Dionysos. To be honest: I'd never heard of this band, but according to this Wiki, it's one of the most interesting bands in the Hexagone. They hail from Valance, made six albums (one of them produced by noisemeister Steve Albini, another by PJ Harvey-collaborator John Parish) and mix French and English vocals. Their foreign counterparts are Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds, PJ Harvey and Beck. They're also highly influenced by filmmakers like Lynch and Burton.
Babet will be releasing a soloalbum next year, first single Le Marin is a folky, salty affair. Also check out Babet's MySpace-site for a soothing acoustic ballad. Posted here as well is Thank You Satan, a Leo Ferré-song that Dionysos brilliantly covered for a Ferré-tribute, that features Babet's singing and violinplaying.

Babet - Le Marin
Dionysos - Thank You Satan
More Dionysos, thanks to J-L:
Dionysos - Anorak
Dionysos - Longboard Train


Not only did the superlovely Marina Celeste pose in lingerie by Lorelen (see photo, and click here), she announces on her MySpace-site the release of her album Acidule in France in January 2007. Quote: "Featuring Marc Collin's delicate and original arrangements, the mood of this French pop album is both ethereal and sparkling, in the vein of the artists she admires... from Kate Bush to Cocteau Twins, Beth Hirsh/Air, Fraser/Massive Attack." Thát good, you ask? That good, I say. You might know Marina from her Japan-only released album Cinema Enchantée (featuring covers of songs from movies), and ofcourse from her role in Nouvelle Vague.

Marina Celeste - Le Temps Elastique

zondag 19 november 2006


On every edition of chill-out compilation series Hotel Costes, there are a few nice tracks. The recently released 9th edition sports Jazzanova, Rhythm & Sound and S-Tone Inc. Best track, however, is Belle by Marseille-based triphop-maker Alif Tree. Belle is taken from second album French Cuisine (Alif is an avid cook), which sports vocal samples from Nina Simone, Shirley Horn and Anna Karina. But which song did he use for Belle? Any ideas?

Alif Tree feat. Anna Karina - Belle

(btw: feeling the holiday spirit yet? maybe this blog can help)

Melanie & Ketchup

Melanie Bauer used to be the voice of Oui FM, for years she did the quite influential radioshow Ketchup & Marmelade. As I understand it, she's the French counterpart of Jo Whiley. Or, if you're my age and a listener of Studio Brussel, some kind of Chantal Pattyn. She introduced a lot of international, and French artists to the listeners. Nowadays, Melanie is on Radio Nova, but to relive her K&M-days, this year a compilation was released featuring her favourite French artists (most of them she introduced to the French public), and collaborations with young French artists like Vendetta, Christophe Crenel and the omnipresent Marc Collin. Melanie has a sultry, bit husky singing voice, I especially like her in the Stereolab-ish song with Crenel.

Melanie Bauer & Marc Collin - Brigade Mondaine
Melanie Bauer & Christophe Crenel - La Pieuvre

Camille & M

A Dutch magazine asked for my Records-of-the-Year-list. Wasn't easy to come up with - not because there weren't ten great albums released this year, but to choose and fit all my faves in just a Filles Sourirees-top ten. More on that later. While scanning my blog and iTunes for albums, I bumped into this great version of Jacques Brel's Au Suivant, a song about losing your virginity while in the army, by M(athieu Chedid) and Camille. It was recorded for the French tv-show Taratata. YouTube offers a lot of great live performances from that show. Like this duet by Charlotte Gainsbourg and Neil Hannon, or this one by the scantilly clad Emilie Simon. (Merci René, Alexandre)

M & Camille - Au Suivant
Jacques Brel - Au Suivant

donderdag 9 november 2006


Emma Daumas from Avignon was destined to be a popsinger: she wrote her first song when she was 12, and took part in variours concours de chant, and talent-searches like Star Academy. In 2003, her first single was released, which sold over 200000. Her music's pure pop, with a carefully studied rebellious undertone. Think Avril Lavigne. But Emma writes her own songs - on Effets Secondaires, her second album that was released this year, she got some help (from Maidi Roth, among others), but the best song was written by Emma alone. Ailleurs starts like a Radiohead-cover, but changes into a Gainsbourg-influenced, very sultry rockballad. Hard-rocking guitars are de rigueur on this album - because most songs are pretty bland, one could conclude Emma needs volume to cover up emptiness.
But still, Ailleurs is one of my favourite French rocksongs this year.

Emma Daumas - Ailleurs
Emma Daumas - Dommage

dinsdag 7 november 2006


If it wasn't for Mordi, I would've never known Jeanette's marvellous Porque te vas. The English-born, American-bred and Spain-residing singer with "the tiniest voice I ever heard (dixit songwriter Manuel Alejandro, who wrote her hit Soy Rebelde) was heavily influenced by American folkheroes like Bob Dylan and Donovan. However, Spanish label Hispavox turned the tomboyish frontwoman of folkrockband Pic-Nic into the unwilling, but highly succesfull 'Spanish voice of romance'. Her biggest hit is Porque te vas. ChaChaCharming writes in an excellent article on Jeanette:
No one would have guessed that an upbeat pop song layered in big beats, horns, and wah-wah guitars would mesh with Jeanette's delicate voice, but the result was stunning. Porque te vas faired poorly during the weeks after its release, but the song was revived two years later when director Carlos Saura chose it as the title track for the film Cria Cuervos. The film won the Grand Prix award at the Cannes Film festival, garnering quite a bit of attention for the soundtrack. Porque te vas was a hit in France, and soon caused a small ripple effect that reached as far as Japan.

The song has been covered many times, far more than I post here. Mostly by cheesy latin popbands and even trancehouse-producers, to disastrous effect. However, there are some good versions, also in French (for instance by German singer Elke Brauwelier, or Canadian crooner Dan Bigras), or by French artists - and this is where the link to this blog comes into play. Here are ten nice, odd and some very bad versions of Porque te vas.

The Original
Jeanette - Porque te vas
Jeanette - Porque te vas (Dreamtime remix)
See Jeanette on YouTube.

The Good
Jeanne Cherhal & Vincent Delerm - Porque te vas (merci Alexandre)
Elke Brauweiler - Pourquoi tu vis
Dan Bigras - Pourquoi tu veux (actually, nice song, but no coverversion. see comments)
NEW: Kahimi Karie - Porque te vas (merci Sky)
NEW: Javier Alvarez - Porque te vas (merci Evaristo)
Andrea Lindsay - Porque te vas
Brigitte Escobar - Porque te vas

The Odd
Los Telebolitos - Porque te vas
Refractory - Porque te vas

The Bad
The Springlove - Porque te vas
Masterboy - Porque te vas


Another Catherine (see below), but again from Quebec: Catherine Durand. Last year Diaporama was released, her third album. She was discovered by the guy who also broke Amanda Marshall. Catherine's music and voice are a little understated - folky acoustic guitars with a tender voice that's sometimes just a tad more than a whisper. She studied cinema and communications at the Montreal university, worked as camerawoman for a musicstation and counts Johnny Cash, Emmylou Harris, Alison Krauss and Union Station and Gillian Welch among her influences. Just like these artists, Catherine isn't ashamed of her religious beliefs - on Diaporama the English song I Still Pray is an ode to Jesus - and maybe the 'he' in many other songs refers to someone else than a former or present lover. Doesn't bother me.

Catherine Durand - Aujourd'hui
Catherine Durand - Je Me Rapelle

Voilà Jeanne

See the new video for Jeanne Cherhal's Voilà above. See the making-of that video here. And download the song from her lovely album L'Eau below.[Merci René]

Jeanne Cherhal - Voilà

maandag 6 november 2006


Natasha bumped into Catherine Major (see below), I just got acquinted to Fabienne Kervella, also known as Klervia. A bretonne who moved to Paris, and who's influenced by Raphael, Jeff Buckley, Fiona Apple and Damien Rice (if it's intense, very emotional male singers you like, I strongly recommend Damien's latest album 9).
She sings in both French and English, I immediatly fell for her song Ici Et Maintenant. Klervia explains: "I wrote it 3 years ago. In this intimate and tormented lovesong, I talk to my new boyfriend. I explain my unfortunate past experiences which have left me some scars. Even if I feel fine with him (I repeat it in the refrain: I feel fine here and now, hence the title Ici et Maintenant), I still have doubts and I am still on the defensive side."

Klervia - Ici Et Maintenant


Guestpost! Natasha-la-la went fishing for unknown filles online, and caught budding Quebecois singer and pianoplayer Catherine Major.

Besides her undeniable talent as a pianist and singer-songwriter, she has had a very straight and narrow ascent into the music world, dominated by winning tons of prestigious awards and warm media acclaim. And she’s just 26.
Once you’ve proved yourself in your own neck of the woods, it’s time to cross the Atlantic and see what French-speaking Europe thinks of you, the ultimate test for any French Canadian artist. In 2004, Catherine received a prestigious award in France for her first and only album so far Par-dessus bord, which won the Coup de cœur of the Académie Charles Cros. In 2006, she won an award for best singer-songwriter at the Swiss festival Pully à l’heure du Québec. I’d say she on the right track.
She has much passion, sensitivity and emotion. She is a brilliant piano player and a delightful lyricist. I liked her right away. I liked here because she seems and sounds very authentic and not a glossy music business product or just another pretty face. A bit of jazz here, some latin, some African, she plays it all. Her singing on Le ciel gris vaguely reminds me of French singer Belle du Berry of Paris Combo, although it is much more dramatic. Her other songs tell stories and make me wonder what it would be like to hear live.
She has often been the supporting act of another popular singer-songwriter and pianist Richard Desjardins, who made it in Europe a long time ago. Desjardins apparently once told her over a drink that her homework was to listen to all of Bob Dylan, all of Leonard Cohen and all of Léo Ferré. She told him that in order to open for him properly she had to listen to his music first since shopping for his music was what she had been doing that day. Smart girl.

Catherine Major - Le Ciel Gris
Catherine Major - Par-Dessus Bord

woensdag 1 november 2006


Not sure what went wrong between gorgeous, fizzy haired Mayane Delem and her recordlabel Delabel - either her debut didn't sell very well, or 'artistic differences' drove them apart. Fact is that Mayanes sophomore release was autoproduit, and released on a very small label (available via iTunes, though). Hard to understand - with a body, a face and a perfect Fillessourires-voice like hers, why is no major label interested? As you can read in this artist profile, Mayane is multitalented (she acts as well), was whipped by music from an early age and she, err, likes to sweat. Second album Petites Chansons Domestiques dans ma Chambre de Disques is a breezy affair, with "des chansons de fille douce-amère et fière de l'être!" She made a few nice videos to accompany her songs. See them at Mayane's MySpace-site.

Mayane - Dans Ma Chambre
Mayane - Tout va Bien