Sometimes during a conversation on French culture, people ask me whether I like French music. A popular consensus among the French people I’ve spoken with is that contemporary French music is lacking. They like their classic Jacques Brel, Alain Souchon, and Georges Brassens (do they love Brassens), but a number of them listen to more music in English than in their native language. That’s not to say there aren’t contemporary French hits on the radio in France; I heard musicians like Christine and the Queens, Black M, BB Brunes, and Julien Doré played multiple times a day. Still, you’d more easily find fans of Rihanna, Pink, Beyonce, Mika, Coldplay, and Jay Z on the streets of Paris.
I like French music, though! Usually my first answer to the music question is Alex Beaupain. Most of the time this is met with no recognition. Alex Beaupain has his own albums, but I discovered him through the songs he wrote for Christophe Honoré’s musical film “Chansons d’amour.” I once attended a concert put on by him in collaboration with actress Fanny Ardant and singer Camélia Jordana. It was a day that I was feeling down and on the spur of the moment purchased a ticket to their show for that night in Paris. It certainly did the trick.
Without further ado, here is a short selection of my favorite French songs. These lean towards the softer side, pop and piano music.
Why does current French music get a bad rap among its own people? Or is this different from what you’ve observed?