Tuesday, September 05, 2006

I wanna break it down

My knowledge about French music is pretty limited, but it does seem to rarely be fun, if I can ridiculously overgeneralize--much of French music appears to be based on being serious and credible (though I suppose you could say the same for many countries). Two of today's songs break that overbroad rule and, though one possibly follows it, it is nevertheless still very good.

Nadiya is a French singer who mixes pop and R&B. You might have seen her widely posted around blogs earlier this year when her self-titled third album came out, so there's a good chance you've already heard today's song.

Tous ces mots--this title apparently translates into "All These Words." I love Wikipedia's description of it: "Nadiya invites us to measure the impact of the language on our close relations, for better preserving them." Doesn't that sound like a thesis statement or topic for a self-help group? Luckily, the song is much more fun than that makes it seem. It's very electro-based, but also rocky in a way. Squeeling car tires and crashes make the song sound as if (as many have said) it should be soundtracking a movie like Fast And The Furious, and with energy like this, it's easy to imagine "Tous ces mots" accompanying a montage of cars racing around a track at high speed, complete with fast cutaways to closeups of intensely focused drivers engaged in constant maneuvering to pass each other without losing control and crashing into the ever-present walls surrounding them; I'm talking exciting movie-style car races, not NASCAR. There is a rapping in the middle, which slows the song down a little bit, but the rest of the song is so fabulous that even that can be forgiven. Most of the song is in French, although some parts of the introduction and random lines in the song are, for no apparent reason, in English.

Willy Denzey is a French R&B artist about to release his third album which, according to Google's translation of his French Wikipedia page, he claims will be more "dancefloor" than R&B, which is surely a good thing--when I hear R&B and dancefloor together, I think of songs like Usher's "Yeah" and, although today's song might not be quite as dancey as "Yeah," it definitely has a similar glitzy, club-friendly sound.

Mon Royaume--in a way, this song and Nadiya's "Tout ces mots" are sonic cousins, though the constantly revving engines and electro hook in Nadiya's song make hers seem faster. They both have that glitzy aura about them and both have sound effects ("Mon Royaume," which apparently translates to "My Kingdom," opens with a thunderstorm and clopping horse hooves). Both are primarily in French, with random bits of English thrown in, and feature a guest rapper in the middle (who started this "we don't need a middle 8, we'll have rapping instead!" trend? It was not a good idea--there's only one song I think has actually been improved by the addition of rapping). Willy's delivery during the verses is probably more R&B than Nadiya's, though, and the beat here is really pounding. I've included the video because I think it really adds something to the song; it's very stylized, with parts reminiscent of "Thriller," and has some nice choreography. "Mon Royaume" is definitely R&B, though, not pop, so you might not like it; however, even I--not exactly known for my extensive R&B collection--think it's fun.

Ready for something a little more relaxing? Try Raphael Haroche, more commonly known as Raphael. His third and breakout album, Caravane, was released in 2005 and did very well in France (although since Wikipedia only lists his singles' performances on the Swiss charts, I can't tell you exactly how well they actually did--suffice to say it was probably, from what I understand, one of the albums of 2005).

Caravane--I have no idea what this song is about, although the title means "Caravan." Whatever its subject is, though, it's incredibly soothing-sounding. Raphael's delivery is hushed and a little warm, with instrumental accompaniment that starts out minimal but manages to build up a feeling of being huge and encompassing, despite being relatively simple. Though there's no "ooo"-ing, there is a lot of "duh-duh-duh-duh"-ing (I have no idea how to translate the syllable Raphael uses into actual text, so just take my word that it sounds a lot better than it looks typed out).

To buy Nadiya's third album, Nadiya, go here (physical); to preorder Willy Denzey's third album, Mon Royaume, go here (physical); to buy Raphael's third album, Caravane, go here (physical) or here (digital).

Next up: one more day in France, this time with a whole post centered around just one singer--a reality TV show graduate.


Paul said...

parlez vous anglaise?

Poster Girl said...

English is pretty much the only language I can speak (although I have my doubts about even that sometimes)! Theoretically I'm supposed to know some Spanish, but I don't think I know more than three words of French (which conveniently you used right there! You probably could've even added "bonjour" and I still would've been fine). We need to start learning languages younger--forget about communicating in business and politics, how am I ever going to fully appreciate brilliant pop music if I can't understand it? ;)

(I'm getting better about listening to non-English music, but actually understanding a song makes it sooo much more accessible.)