10. Guillaume Grand - Toi et moi
I just love the video to this song. This song was released in 2010 from Guillaume Grand's debut album and it went to #4 in France. I really don't know much about him and he doesn't seem to have done much since his first album. But this is a really lovely song and I like his voice.
9. Vanessa Paradis - Divine Idylle
Yes, confession time. I have loved Vanessa Paradis ever since the days of Joe le Taxi. I think that it is the gap in her teeth and come to bed eyes. But this is one of her later songs from 2007 and it is an absolute belter. Even if you don't like Vanessa Paradis, you will soon be humming along to this song. She released the song just midway through her relationship with Johnny Depp.
The song and the album won her the Best French female artist award in 2008.
8. Joyce Jonathan - Je ne sais pas
Another very attractive French singer. Pattern emerging!!! This is the second Joyce Johnathan song on the playlist. Yep, guilty as charged. This was the song that made her really big in France. It catapulted her from a relative unknown singer-songwriter to the premier league, almost overnight.
7. Cali - Elle m'a dit
Cali is very big in France. He does have an interesting background. He actually played professional rugby for Perpignan, but he quit that after seeing U2 in concert. His first band were a punk group called Pénétration anale - which really doesn't need any translation at all. But he comes from the small spa town of Vernet-les-Bains (where the local population has an average age of 106). So can you imagine the band playing at the local bar? " . . . everybody put your hands together for the local boys, Anal Penetration!!!"
This isn't one of his more famous songs, but I really like it. It came out in 2003 when he released his first solo album (whatever happened to Pénétration anale ?). He is a very good live performer - lots of stagediving, getting the audience singing along, slagging off French politicians, etc.
6. Kyo - Le Graal
Kyo are another popular band in France. They have had a couple of #1 albums in France and they have won plenty of French music awards for Best French Band and Best Album of the year. They were also instrumental in setting up a popular AIDS/HIV charity which has really endeared them to the French public.
To me they remind me a bit of The 1975. This song is from their comeback album in 2014.
5. Zaz - Demain c’est toi
The French singer, Zaz, is absolutely huge in France. This is not one of her most famous songs, but I think it is a beautiful song. It doesn't matter what language it is sung in. You still get the sense that it is a poem to a young unborn child. Zaz, is a French singer-songwriter who mixes jazzy styles, French variety, soul and acoustic. She has an amazing jazz voice, perhaps demonstrated best on her first hit 'Je veux' which is another great song.
For a few years she sang with a variety of Blues and Jazz bands, as well as touring with a musical theatre group. She released her first album in 2010 (which went double platinum) and since then she has had a string of Top 10 albums and toured extensively throughout Europe.
4. Christophe Maé - On S'Attache
Whenever my wife catches me watching videos of Joyce Jonathan or Vanessa Paradis, she makes it perfectly clear that she will be leaving me for Christophe Maé. There is no 'might' about it, this is a definite 'will' be leaving you for Christophe. This particular song brings back such fond memories of a great French friend of ours. Cynthia has a great singing voice and her version of this song is just as good as the original.
The song also reminds us so much of our second summer in France. The song was played wherever you went, especially at the beach bar in Cap d'Agde we used to go to. He has a lovely voice and he is a local boy (to us). He grew up in Carpentras, near Avignon.
3. Manu Chao - Me gustas tu
Manu Chao is THE Alternative French artist in France. He was the lead singer of the hugely successful French band, Mano Negra. His family is originally from Northern Spain, and they left Spain during Franco's dictatorship. Manu Chao sings in a variety of languages including French, Spanish, English, Italian, Catalan, Portuguese and Greek.
Manu Chao was brought up in Paris and started his musical career busking on the streets and subway. He formed Mano Negra with his brother and for 5 years they toured extensively throughout Europe and the States and were a mainstay of the festivals and University touring circuit.
His later music is heavily influenced by Afro-Cuban music and his travels throughout South America.
2. Totorro - Chevalier Bulltoe
This is a bit of a strange choice. Totorro are a French band from Rennes, in Brittany. The band purely play instrumentals - which makes it great not having to translate the lyrics.
They remind me a bit of Two Door Cinema Club or Bombay Cycle Club. There is no doubting that they are great musicians and the video to this song is really clever.
1. BB Brunes - Dis Moi
BB Brunes are my absolutely favourite French rock band. I first heard this song when I arrived in France in 2006 and I never tire of listening to it. Just from the opening chord sequence you know that it is going to be a classic song. I just love the heavy bass and the infectious chorus, it is just a great rock song. It could be sung in any language and it would be a hit. The simple guitar work reminds me a bit of the Violent Femmes or the Stray Cats.
Amazingly, Dis-moi didn't even reach the charts in France (although the album it was taken from did reach #8 in the charts). Our French friends are amazed that we even know the song or have even come across BB Brunes. The song needs to be played loud and with a few drinks inside you.