A compendium of the French music that has been introduced to me over the course of my twenty years (on and off) of studying the language:
My first year of French, in eighth grade, the teacher would start each class with a few songs from one of her French albums. She played them on an actual record player, which is how I know it really was a long time ago. Indochine is the only music I still remember from that year. I loved it because it took me on a nostalgic trip back to the new wave of my 80’s childhood, but at the same time it was completely new and catchy to me. Call me crazy / 47 years old, but I do really think Indochine makes good music.
Here’s the album my teacher would play for us. My favorite song was and still is “Tes Yeux Noir (scroll forward to 35:47):
Diam and Koxie
In grad school I took a French class after ten years without formal – or really, any – study. For one looong and humbling semester I endured the snarky looks of barely-adult undergrads who had no patience for my halting mangled French. I made friends instead with the one other grad student (who also spoke much better French than I did – I was the worst in the class by a long shot). The one favor those haughty undergrads did for me was to introduce me to Diam and Koxie, both woman rappers of immigrant ancestry. At a recent Meetup I learned from the Togolese guy that Diam wears the hijab now and has stopped making music. Perhaps the two things are related, perhaps not – I leave that to you to Google if the spirit moves you.
At another recent Meetup, Kery James was another French rapper recommended to me:
And at yet another one, I was told to listen to MC Solaar:
And just for fun, since this has become a list dominated by French rappers, here’s a song from the (highly derivative) Busta Flex album I bought pretty much at random the year I studied abroad in Ireland and spent a day in Paris on spring break:
For good measure, a beautiful / spunky / easy-to-follow-even-if-you-speak-terrible-French song that Emmanuel sent to me, by Françoiz Breut:
What do you think?
(Photo of Indochine doing the we-can-still-rock-in-middle-age thing: Laurent Breillat)