Saturday, 29 June 2013

Variations on Get Lucky

One thing that's impressed about Daft Punk's Get Lucky is the apparent ease with which the song has been adapted into different styles and how its mutated in the hands of other musicians like an internet meme that re-appears in different forms.

Whether pastiche, homage, re-mix, or mash-up, musicians and others taking the song as their starting point and adapting the song into something else.

Firstly, the original, and arguably the best. Still not enough video for the track, but perhaps they spent all the promotional money on the guerilla marketing ahead of its release. Still, lack of a video has hardly been a hindrance to sales given figures like it being the first song of 2013 to sell one million copies this year, already the biggest seller in the UK this year.

Wilco are one of the many bands who have covered the song live

US TV host Jimmy Fallon presented a version of it in a Black Simon and Garfunkle style

A bogus Irish tenor version of the song sounds a bit like this:

However, a more 'authentic' Irish version might be this one in Irish Gaeilge, An tÁdh 'Nocht" le Daift Ponc. Cracking video as well.

Here's a version that takes it back to basics by Collective Cadenza. If you can ten hands on the one piano as basic, that is.

Still, if you find the disco groove too uptight, you can always chill out with a smoother version of the tune.

Of course, one version that certainly raised a smile was the one that featured Barack Obama.

he US president wasn't the only unexpected vocal take of the song, here's one that features Michael Jackson

For an acoustic version of the song in s folk/jazz/classical crossover style, you'd probably want something like this:

But Daft Punk through the Ages is one version that showcases the versatility of the song like no other.

Not enough? Try this looped version of the song if you've got ten hours to spare. Ideal if you're up all night.

Thursday, 27 June 2013

Yan Wagner: Some Velvet Morning

I love this version of the track Some velvet Morning by Yan Wagner.

The track emerged last month, and was originally a hit in 1967 for Lee Hazlewood and Nancy Sinatra. It's regarded by many as a classic of its era, and has been covered by many acts over the years, memorably by Primal Scream who recorded a version of the song with model Kate Moss.

Yan Wagner released his debut album Forty Eight hours in October last year, the title track being one of my favourite things I've heard in recent months, like a version of Scott Walker fronting Power Corruption and Lies era New Order, with the urgency and melancholy

Wagner has recently remixed the track Drive by Tomorrow's World, a track I've featured here previously on the blog.

Meanwhile, an EP of Yan Wagner tracks remixed by others - including Jupiter, the Hacker and Arnaud Rebotini came out earlier this year.

Yan Wagner has a number of live dates at festivals over the summer, including the Francofolies in La Rochelle on July 13, the Montreux Jazz Festival on July 15 and the Vieilles Charrues festival in Carhaix on July 20.

He played a some live dates in the UK last year, and hopefully it won't be too long until we see him here again.

Tuesday, 25 June 2013

Kiss at Hellfest 2013

Last weekend saw France's Hellfest event take place, a festival which has established itself as one of the continent's premier rock and metal weekends.

Over 110,000 were at Clisson in the Pays de la Loir for the show, featuring the likes of Def Leppard, ZZ Top and Kiss.

The weekend featured rock metal and punk acts from almost every genre, from vintage to underground, from the extreme to the melodic.

The festival has become so well regarded many now travel there from the UK instead of attending festivals there, on account of Hellfest having such a strong line up, and the price of the tickets comparing very well with the expensive tickets for UK events.

However, it must have been a treat to see Kiss in France again. As a rock band they put on a show like no other, and I'm sure even those in the audience who had either never heard Kiss before or who didn't rate them must have gone home as newly-en
listed member of the Kiss army.

The band previously played Hellfest in 2010.

Chateau Marmont: Wind Blows

A video for the track Wind blows by Chateau Marmont, a fine slice of sunny indie pop if ever there was one.

An American flavoured clip for the track that comes from their album entitled The Maze, released in France at the end of last month.

The song is the kind of effortlessly cool piece you'd want to hear on the radio during a long summer road trip. Whether on Highway 101 or on the autoroute du Soleil.

The Paris-based act, who take their name from the famous hotel on Sunset Boulevard Los Angeles, have been around since 2005 and established themselves through their use of vintage electronics.

They have previously been involved a wide variety of remix projects, including Royksopp, La Roux and Cascadeur and are also behind the Chambre404 label.

Monday, 24 June 2013

Barack Obama: Get Lucky

Another very funny take on Get Luck, this time featuring Barack Obama.

While clearly the work of someone with far too much time on their hands, it's pretty clever and funny.

It's great to see the song take on a life of its own, mutating and developing as it does. It won't be long until the song is an internet meme itself.

But what's particularly interesting is that the song's circulated so widely and has been recognised as the song of the summer in the USA.

At the end of the day, that's not a small achievement for a French act.

Once again, hats (and helmets!) off to Daft Punk.

Saturday, 22 June 2013

France Gall: Original versions of the songs performed by Jenifer

With Jenifer's album of France Gall covers Ma déclaration released earlier this month, and a row between the two artists over whether or not Jenifer asked Gall's permission to record the songs, I thought it worth presenting France Gall's versions of the songs on Jenifer's album.

While Jenifer might not exactly have needed Gall's permission to record the songs, it certainly would have been good manners to get her blessing for the project. However, I suspect it's more a case of missed communication than any deliberate ill will.

France Gall is perhaps best known outside France for her win at the Eurovision Song Contest in 1965 with the Serge Gainsbourg song Poupée de cire, poupée de son, but in France she's had a long and respected career.

While her work with Gainsbourg attracts much attention, it was probably more her work with her husband Michel Berger, until his death of a heart attack in 1992, that accounts for the longevity of her career.

While in recent years France Gall has mostly been absent from the public eye, the chance to take a look back over her career, which has seen her move from the epitome of the French teenage yéyé pop star to a sophisticated and mature artist, taking in some magnificent songs along the way.


Ella, Elle L'a

Diego libre dans sa tête,


Besoin d'amour

Si maman si

Ça balance pas mal à Paris

Comment lui dire

La déclaration d'amour

Poupée de cire, poupée de son

Laisse tomber les filles

Message personnel

Fête de la Musique in London at the Institut Français

Another belated Fête de la Musique event taking place in the UK today, this time in London at the Institut Français.

In keeping with the spirit of the event, there's a wide range of styles on offer, and the event is free.

The music has been overseen by the French music export office (Bureau Export), with sets by Benoit Carré, Modou Touré, Nogabe Randriaharimalala, Chantage and Odran Trümmel.

Carré is a former member of the band Lilicub who had a hit in France in '96 with the song Voyage en Italie. Since then he's written for the likes of Françoise Hardy and Johnny Hallyday, and pursues a solo career with the release of his first solo album Célibatorium.

Modou Touré from Senegal mixes Afro-blues with pop and folk, Nogabe Randriaharimalala from Madagascar is a former member of China's first rock band, and performs in a trio with two percussionists,

Chantage is a choir from London that has been active since 1999, and Odran Trümmel is a songwriter with a jazzy folk-informed psychedelic pop.

The event gets under way at 5pm at the Institut Français du Royaume-Uni, 17 Queensberry Place, London.

Friday, 21 June 2013

OohLaLA! festival

Appropriate to see the announcement today - being the day of the Fête de la Musique in France - of a festival later this year bringing some of france's finest music acts to the UK.

The OohLaLA! festival on October 12.22 and 24 sees three nights of acts at the Village Underground in east London, with some great acts already confirmed.

So far Dominique A, Lescop and ≠ FAUVE, along with Christine and The Queens and The Quietus DJs have been revealed, with more acts and special collaborations to be announced.

I've featured several of these acts in the blog over the years, and it certainly looks a great opportunity to catch some great acts we rarely get the chance to see in the UK.

Dominique A has been active since the 90s, his most recent album vers Les Lueurs released last year, and along the way he's acquired the reputation of being one of France's most visionary singer songwriters.

Lescop, meanwhile, should also be no stranger to regular visitors to this blog. He released his debut album in the UK this month, having already blown audiences away in France since it came out there late last year. He played in London to mark the album's UK release, it's great to see him return again.

As for ≠ FAUVE they're one of France's most innovative acts in recent years, presenting an assuredly modern soundtrack to these tense times.

Christine and the Queens have features here in the past couple of weeks with the release of her Nuit 17 à 52 EP, having appeared at the Great Escape event in Brighton in May.

An impressive and exciting line-up so far, with more still to come.

Although it's the first time it's been held in London, the OohLaLA! festival was founded in 2009 by Sylvain Taillet, the head of A&R for French label Barclay/Universal Music France. It began in LA, and expanded to San Franciso, New York and Montréal as s showcase for French artists and previous years have seen acts like Sebastien Tellier, Kavinsky, Brodinski and François and The Atlas Mountains.

Tickets for the event are available from July 1

La Session de LESCOP dans Le RDV de Laurent... by franceculture

Maître Gims: Bella

A new video by Sexion D'Assaut rapper
Maître Gims for the track Bella.

The track comes from his debut solo album Subliminal, which was released at the end of May.

The vive with its bullfighting theme certainly seems to be aiming to be a summer hit.

The album's already gone on to reach platinum status, the song J' me tire giving him a massive hit.

Meanwhile, he's still playing with Sexion D'Assaut as their tour continues until September. Their fourth album L'Apogée has been one of the most high-profile hip hop releases in the country for years.

The band are already planning its follow up, to be titled Le Retour des rois, although it's not expected to be released until 2015.

Thursday, 20 June 2013

Fête de la Musique

June 21 marks the annual Fête de la Musique in France, with a huge number of events around the country and elsewhere that puts music front and centre of the nation's cultural life.

The idea is that events should be both public and free. Events are intended to be popular and accessible, and although it's a national celebration, it's one that takes place in the community.

For many it's a chance to attend an event without the usual hurdle of ticket price in the way, and at a time when household budgets are tight, an inclusive event like this is something worth celebrating.

The Fête de la Musique has been running since 1982, and this year's theme for the event is the voice, although the day sees music in its every hue, from hip hop to classical, jazz to rock, performed around France. Stages are set in public squares, museums, parks and elsewhere

Although primarily a French celebration, there are event around the world with 100 taking place elsewhere in Europe. A number are taking place in the UK, with shows in Glasgow, Edinburgh, London, Manchester and Belfast.

In Edinburgh, it is being celebrated at the Institut français d’Ecosse in the city's Randolph Crescent. The show gets under way with singer Rosie Nimmo, with a set combining jazz, folk and blues.

Belgian act La Clinik du Dr Poemback are on next, a brass band with 20 musicians bringing a vibrant take on world music, jazz and techno.

Glasgow band the Beat Poets are next on the bill, the underground legendary act who have brought a surf guitar and primitive rock 'n' roll flavour to the Scottish music scene since 1986.

Headlining are the band
Jack and The’ , a classy indie quartet led by Edinburgh-based French musician Julien Lonchamp. Their sound is a refreshing modern take on classic 60s pop.

The show is free, and with a wide variety of music on offer, there's plenty to enjoy.

Elsewhere in Scotland, La Clinik du Dr Poemback play in Glasgow on Saturday June 22 as part of the Fête de la Musique, with free shows at 1pm in the Botanic Gardens, 3pm on the steps of Kelvingrove Museum, and at 6pm in Ashton Lane.

A secret tonight (video) from Jack and the on Vimeo.

Mother of Two: Breizh Cola advert

A new advertising campaign in France by Breizh Cola, the third biggest selling Cola in France (I wonder what the other two might be...?) sees Paris indie band Mother of Two providing the soundtrack.

The brand sells well in the Brittany area, and this year it's expanding its sales to Paris.

Breizh Cola is certainly quite an innovator in its marketing, it's red and white colour scheme and it's Breton versioning of American iconography (Film posters, GIs etc) gives it a cheeky and rebellious profile.

In many ways it reminds me of Scotland's Irn-Bru, an iconic brand in its local area, using clever marketing and advertising to establish itself beyond the area of its traditional support.

The brand's long been involved as a sponsor for musical events in Brittany, such as the Vielles Charrues festival and the Festival Interceltique de l'Orient.

Good luck to them, and hopefully we'll get see it more available before too long.

The music meanwhile is by Mother of Two, a Paris based trio who recently released their first EP I want to Meet You. It's certainly something that fans of bands like the Frantellis or Supergrass would love instantly.

Singer Julien Gaulier has been active in indie folk act Hey Hey My My since 2005, Mother of Two formed by the musicians' mutual love of 90s alternative rock.

Wednesday, 19 June 2013

C2C: Live in London

French electronic act C2C are playing a sold-out show at the Forum in London tomorrow night, returning after their sell-out show at KOKO earlier this year.

The band, features four turntablists, all originally from Nantes, 20Syl, Greem, Atom and Pfel.

They've been active since 1998 and have in recent years become recognised as one of France's most innovative dance acts.

Their album tetra was released last year, and was a number one album in France. The track Down the road also topped the singles charts.

The success led to them winning a total of four awards at the Victoires de la musique awards in 2013.

So far this year they've released remixed tracks by -M- and Vitalic.

But rather than just being a studio proposition, C2C are very much at home on stage, their live sets shows that not only are they technically innovative, but are capable of generating an electrifying performance.

They've got more live dates across Europe following the London show, including sets at festivals like Roskilde. However I suspect we'll be seeing more of them in the UK before too long.

they're also in the BBC Radio one studios tonight (Wednesday) on the Phil Taggart and Alice Levine show with an interview and two tracks live between 10 and 11PM.

Tuesday, 18 June 2013

Tal: Danse

A new song and clip marking the return of Israeli-born French singer Tal, who has in the last couple of years become one of France's most promising stars.

An American-styled video for a song that's as breezy slice of French R 'n' B pop as you could hope for.

Tal's debut album, 2011's Le Droit de Rever, reached number two in France, and featured the hit singles Le sens de la vie and Je prends le large.

A duet with M Pokora on the song Envole-moi which featured on the album Génération Goldman gave her another hit single last year. This was followed by the release of a special edition of her debut album, and work beginning on her follow up.

2013 saw her win an NRJ Music Award for Francopho
ne breakthrough artists of the year.

If it's any measure of her success, a post on this blog about Tal was the most read post on the blog so far, by quite a measure.

The new track features a contribution by US rapper Flo Rida, a performer who has become a huge star since the release of his 2008 debut album. He's previosuly collaborated with artists like Jennifer Lopez, Sia, Nelly Furtado and Akon. His 2010 track Club Can't Handle Me,a  number one in the UK,  featured David Guetta.

The track will feature on Tal's second album, the release date for which has not yet been confirmed.

Monday, 17 June 2013

Woodkid: I Love You ( Pharrell William remix)

A long-awaited remix of Woodkid's I Love you by Pharrell Williams has emerged, one of four tracks on a new EP by Woodkid that was prefaced by the emergence of a version of the track featuring Angel Haze.

The track originally surfaces on Woodkid's debut album The Golden Age, which came out in February this year.

Pharell's version of the track takes a low-key approach to the track, while it strips some of the grandeur of the original away, it replaces it with a sinewy and organic groove.

Pharrel Williams has probably never had a higher profile at the momen,m with his collaboration with Daft Punk being not only one of this year's most anticipated releases, but also one that surpassed expectations.

He's an eclectic and hugely influential producer and creator, and has won multiple awards for his musical work.

Meanwhile, the track Blurred Lines that he features on has been another of this summer's international hit songs.

The Woodkid EP features the original version of the track, the version with Angel Haze, another version by Brodinski and this version by Pharrel Williams.

Johnny Hallyday: 70th birthday concert in Paris

A Saturday night in Paris that saw Johnny Hallyday celebrate his 70th birthday with his closest friends. And a few thousand fans in the Palais onmisport de Paris-Berc arena, not forgetting a few more around the country who watched live on French TV or online.

Hallyday continued his birthday celebrations with a later concert at the Théâtre de Paris in front of a few hundred people, friends and family and those lucky enough to get the few tickets that were made available to the public.

The Saturday night show was the second of three Paris concerts at the Palais onmisport de Paris-Bercy Johnny played as part of his current Born Rocker Tour, essentially an extension of his international tour that saw him play in countries that had so far resisted France's Rocker national, with shows in Moscow, London, New York and LA as well as throughout France itself.

Johnny, at 70, remains vigorous, with a new CD - the double On Stage recorded over the course of the tour - and a new album of recordings in English already under way.

Johnny makes it clear that he aims to still be on stage at 80.

Saturday, 15 June 2013

Johnny Hallyday: Ten rock 'n' roll classics (in French)

With Johnny Hallyday celebrating his 70th birthday today, and marking 50 years into his career, I thought I'd feature him on the site this weekend, focusing on his interpretations of classic rock 'n' roll songs.

Johnny is - for better or worse - best known in the English speaing world for his interpretations of songs that were originally hits elsewhere.

But these recordings gave him a unique position, in that while he's reguarly referred to as 'The French Elvis', he's also the French Chuck Berry, Eddie Cochrane. Even the French Dylan and the French Stones.

It's worth remembering that for many in France, Johnny's versions of the classic rock 'n' roll songs were the first versions of theses songs that they heard, and they remain the definitive versions.

Probably the best known rocn 'n' roll song ever is Johnny B Goode, originally by Chuck Berry from 1958. The song, covered by hundreds of artists from the Beach Boys to Judas Priest, was an obvious one for Johnny to perform, his cover a high energy version of the song that not only captured the rebellious spirit of early rock 'n' roll, but also stamped his ownership on it.

The rock 'n' roll scene gave birth to many short-lived but energetic dance crazes, and the Twist was one that was for remembered by many, and Johnny was there on the dancefloor with his interpretationof Let's twist again under the title Viens danser le twist.

Johnny's version of Blue Suede Shoes came from the early to mid 70s, when he re-visited some of the rock 'n' roll stylings of his earlier years with albums like Rock'n'Slow, Rock à Memphis and La Terre promise.

Despite often described in the English-speaking media as 'The French Elvis', Hallyday was no Elvis clone, but when he did perform songs that the King had done, his vocal performance was so assured that his version of the song could easily be interpreted as the definitive version of the song. The song Trouble was performed by Johnny as La Bagarre.

Another, in this clip from much later in his career, was the song Heartbreak Hotel, under the title A l’hôtel des cœurs brisés. This version was recorded in the mid 1980s, seven years after the death of Elvis, and it's hard to image imagine Presley in the latter stage of his career capable of a performance anything like Hallyday's.

Meanwhile, La fille de l'été dernier was Johnny's take on Summertime Blues, a classic song by Eddie Cochran. For many American singer Eddie Cochran was the best of the early rock 'n' roll stars, his songs capturing the teenage attitude of the era more successfully than anyone else. His early death in 1960 ended a career that could have seen him as the biggest rock 'n' roll star of all. Hallyday also covered 20 flight rock under the title 37ème étage.

Another Eddie Cochran song that was adapted by Johnny was Something Else, under the title Elle est terrible. The song not only has French lyrics, but there's a bit of cultural relocation, with the Champs-Elysees and Citroen cars never featuring in the original.

One song that Johnny adopted as one of his key songs was Hey Joe, a track that became popular in the 60s from the folk revival scene that emerged in the late 50s and 60s. It was performed by bands like the Leaves, Love and The Byrds, but a version by folk singer Tim Rose inspired the most famous version of the song, the debut single by the Jimi Hendrix Experience in 1966.

Hendrix, of course, toured with Hallyday, the Experience making their first live appearance supporing Johnny in October 1966, before they even played in the UK.

Classic rock 'n' roll was very much on the menu throughout Johnny's career. Hey Joe even appearing on his 2013 release 'On Stage'.

But music was changing as the 60s went on, and one of the biggest names who came along after the initial wave of Rock 'n'Roll and electrified the music scene over that decade was Bob Dylan. Needless to say, Johnny was quick to catch on that the times were a changin', with his cover of If you gotta go, go now, under the title Maintenant ou Jamais from his Olympia 67

To round things off, here's Johnny's version of the Rolling Stones Honky Tonk Woman, entitled (C'est une) Honky Tonk Woman for the Francophone audience. The alarmning 70s staging of the song remains quite extraordinary.

Friday, 14 June 2013

Sébastien Patoche: Quand il pète il troue son slip

It's often a tough job justifying French music, but this year it's been easier than ever thanks to the success of acts like Daft Punk and Phoenix.

But now and again, it's not so easy, as the success of a song  shows.

The song went to number one in the French iTunes chart immediately on its release. It took the top place from Get Lucky by Daft Punk, just as the song was dominating the charts around the world.

The song comes from the French TV show Touche pas à mon poste, featuring the character Sébastien Patrick created by presenter and comedian Cartman, a parody of TV presenter and entertainer Patrick Sébastien.

The name was slightly changed to Sébastien Patoche for the clip, but the song remains the same.

But after all, the UK is the place that saw the likes of Bob the builder, the Tellytubbies and the Crazy Frog ringtone sell millions of copies, so maybe we should reserve judgement for now.

I'll get back to something a bit more artistically meritorious straight after this clip.

Thursday, 13 June 2013

Weld el 15: Boulicia Kleb

Tunisian rapper Weld el 15 has been sentenced to two years in jail after being found guilty of 'insulting the police' for his music video Boulicia Kleb (The police are dogs).

He was retried after he was found guilty in absentia earlier this year. Weld el 15, whose real name is Ala Yaacoubi, turned himself into police earlier this week after being on the run for several months.

The track denounces police brutality, in a country where freedom of expression is becoming increasingly restricted. Despite the fall of Zine al-Abedine Ben Ali in 2011, it seems that the country's situation in some regards has changed little.

Rap music gives a voice to those who have been marginalised by society, a voice to those who might otherwise be voiceless, saying things that those in authority might not want to hear.

The tragedy is that those in authority didn't enter into debate, and actually address the issue, but simply responded in the most brutal way they knew.

Of course, this kind of action only makes the state look worse, more brutal and frightened by the voice of a young man speaking his mind.

His facebook page said: "So that freedom of expression does not dissapear in Tunisia, so that a new form of censorship does not triumph in Tunisia, we support Weld Kinze, who risks two years in proson for his clip bouliseya kleb in which he denounces police brutality. We remain in solidarity."

A situation like this is a timely reminder that even the most basic freedoms we take for granted are denied to others.

Wednesday, 12 June 2013

Christine and the Queens: Nuit 17 à 52

A new video has emerged for the track Nuit 17 à 52 by Christine and the Queens.

The track comes from her new four-track EP that came out last week.

It's the singer's third EP, but her first for leading French independent label Because music.

Christine, known to her friends and family as Heloïse Letissier, has been active as an artist since 2010, combining her music with performance, video and design.

Christine and the Queens were one of the French bands to play the Great Escape event in Brighton last month, and at the Liverpool Sound City event. They were earlier tipped as one of the top French acts to watch by the NME.

They also features on the Les Inrocks magazine compilation Inrocks Lab (vol 1)

The track The Loving Cup from the EP is available as a free download via the Christine and the Queens Facebook page 

Evolution of Get Lucky: PV NOVA

With the endless online cover versions and remixes of Get Lucky emerging in the wake of the Daft punk release, some stand out more than others. Here's one

A cracking project by PV Nova, with apparent version of Get Lucky over the ages from 1920 to 2020 in chronological order.

There are some great takes of the song here, difficult to say which is a favourite, but I do like the 50s version.

I suppose the 70s version is not dissimilar to something that Chic might have done, given Nile Roger's involvement in the final project

Of course, the problem of a project like this is that we want to hear the full versions of each decade's version!

Still, PV NOVA is continuing the project, wanting appropriate video clips to illustrate the versions from the different decades, so there's certainly more to come.

PV NOVA's debut album Start Again is available to download. You can set your own price for the download album, either take it for free or donate through Paypal, which will help him with his future musical projects.

Tuesday, 11 June 2013

Etienne Daho: Les chansons de l'innocence

A new video from Etienne Daho - Les chansons de l'innocence - ahead of the release of his new album, expected in Autumn this year.

The album will be his first collection of new material since 2007's L'invitation album, so there's certainly considerable expectation for his new material.

Daho's been a huge figure on the French music scene since the release in 1981 of his Mythomane debut, and he's not only had an enduring career but has embraced a wide variety of music styles, from pop and dance to more guitar based rock.

He's collaborated with artists like Charlotte Gainsbourg, Vanessa Paradis, Air, William Orbit and Arthur Baker.

Daho is well known in the UK after the release of the 1995 Réserection EP with British band Saint Etienne.

In recent years he's been involved in the Monsieur Daho album of 2011, which celebrated the 30th anniversary of his career with unreleased material, remixes and duets, along with the delux re-issues of a number of his albums. He also produced Lou Doillon's Places album that came out last year.

His new album, to be called Les chansons de l'innocence retrouvé, is due out in October and Daho will be touring from March next year.

Monday, 10 June 2013

Woodkid featuring Angel Haze: I Love You

A new version of the track I Love You by Woodkid, this time featuring an additional rap and vocals by Angel Haze.

The track originally surfaces on Woodkid's debut album The Golden Age, released in February this year.

This new version that was put online by record company Island records UK features the 21-year-old American vocalist who also goes by the name of Raykeea Wilson.

She released her debut EP last year, her New York EP later that year that featured the title track and the song Werkin' Girls making the UK singles chart.

She released the track No Bueno earlier this month.

Her debut album Dirty Gold is expected later this year.

Woodkind, meanwhile, is releasing an EP of the track I Love You next week, featuring the original version, the version with Angel Haze, another version by Brodinski and another by Pharrel Williams.

Saturday, 8 June 2013

David Guetta's Nothing but the Beat videos

Producer and DJ David Guetta's Nothing but the Beat album was released in 2011. It was his fifth album, and it's spawned more hit singles and videos than many artists manage in their entire careers.

The first single was Where them Girls at, released in May 2011 which features Flo Rida and Nicki Minaj. It was a top 20 hit in the USA, and was top ten in 18 countries. It reached number three in the UK, and number 4 in France. It was a number one in Scotland

This was followed by Little Bad Girl in June 2011, which featured Taio Cruz and Ludacris. Again, a top ten hit in many countries including the UK, and a number three in France.

The third song was Without You, which featured Usher on vocals. It reached number 6 in France and the UK, and number one in the US Billboard pop sings.

Titanium, featuring vocals by Sia was the fourth single, released on December 2011. The song had originally featured vocals by Mary J Blige, and this early version later leaked online. Emeli Sandé also performed Titanium with Guetta at the NRJ Music Awards in January 2012. The song's memorable video probably helped with its success, but there's no denying the vocals really make the song remarkable.

Another song that was to feature a remarkable video was Turn be on, which featured Nicki Minaj. Single number five, released in December 2011, had a steampunk themed video that featured both Minaj and Guetta. It reached number ten in France, and number 8 in the UK, while it topped the Billboard US Hot Dance Club Songs chart

March 2012 saw the instrumental The Alphabeat released. The track reached number 44 in France, but its real purpose as a release was to bring some attention to the electronic instrumental tracks on the album. The song would be used in the advert for the car the Renault Twizy, which coincidentally featured in the video.

The song I Can Only Imagine came out in April 2012, featuring Chris Brown and Lil Wayne. It reached number 40 in France, number 18 in the UK singles chart, and number 10 in the US Billboard Hot Dance Club Songs chart. Guetta, Brown and Wayne performed the song live at the Grammy Awards on February 12, 2012.

The Nothing But The Beat album came out in a special edition in August 2012 (titles Nothing But The Beat 2.0) and featured the song She Wolf (Falling to pieces) which was released as single. It again featured Sia on vocals, and again neither she nor Guetta featured in the video which was shot in Iceland. It reached number 4 in France, topped the UK dance chart and the US Billboard Hot Dance Club Songs chart.

Another track that featured on this version of the album was Just One Last Time, featuring Taped Rai, that was to be the next single in November 2012. With another dramatic and cinematic video, the song reached number 14 in France, number 20 in the UK singles chart.

March 2013 saw the track Play Hard, featuring vocals from Ne-Yo and Akon, getting its moment as a single. Another remarkable video for the song from Nothing But The Beat 2.0 It reached number 7 in the French charts, number 6 in the UK singles chart and number two in the US Billboard Hot Dance Club Songs chart. I'm uncertain how it sold in Mexico.

Meanwhile, the track Every Chance we get we Run had a video released in June 2013, the result of a competition to create a video for the track. While not a single as such, it certainly make an interesting video, and continued to keep up the profile of Nothing but the Beat,  two years after the release of its first single

Friday, 7 June 2013

Stromae: Papaoutai

A new video for the song Papaoutai by Stromae.

The Belgian artist's video for the track Formidable proved to be a huge success, with the singer apparently drunk in the centre of Brussels being filmed on hidden cameras.

It was watched by over 5 million viewers on YouTube in its first week online.

Stromae's debut album Cheese included the track Alors on Danse, a hit across most of Europe.

The song Papaoutai emerged before Formidable, but the video has only just come out

It's a great video, darkly comic and a very catchy song as well. Stromae's got a great way of putting together a song that not only sounds like no one else, but sticks in your head from the first listen.

Stromae's second album is due out later this year.

Thursday, 6 June 2013

Lou Doillon: Live in London

French singer Lou Doillon takes to the stage in London tonight, giving a UK audience the chance to see on of France's most promising artists.

Doillon's been an actress and a model, and is the daughter of Jane Birkin, giving her perhaps a head start on other singers, but the quality of her work puts her beyond any accusation of favouritism.

Doillon may be the daughter of Jane Birkin, but her debut album Places sees her stand on her own merits.

It's an assured collection that deserved the critical acclaim it received, as well as the Female Artist of the year award at the Victoire de la musique awards in February.

Of course, the fact that the video for her song Angel or Devil was shot in Scotland, in Glasgow and Glencoe, certainly endeared her to this critic.

While the album was released in France in September last year, it recently got a release in the UK which no doubt helped bring her to the country.

She's playing live extensively in France, but the chance to see her in the UK is one well worth taking. Hopefully we'll see her back here for more live dates before too long.

Wednesday, 5 June 2013

Bob Dylan and the Legion d'Honneur

I'm pleased to see that a certain amount of common sense has prevailed with the nomination of Bob Dylan for the Legion d'Honneur.

In 1990 he was awarded the L’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres. He was nominated for the Legion d'Honneur by France's culture minister, but the recommenedation was initially turned down by the award's council.

There was no official reason given for the decision not to give him the award, but there was speculation it concerned his opposition to the Vietnam war and alleged drug use.

The decision has now been reversed

Chancellor of the award's 17-strong council Jean-Louis Georgelin said Dylan's nomination had been approved, noting Dylan was an "exceptional artist" and known internationally as a "tremendous singer and great poet."

Other foreign recipients from the world of music include Sir Paul McCartney, Ravi Shankar, Shirley Bassey, Barbra Streisand and Quincy Jones.

Clint Eastwood, Stephen Speilberg and David Lynch are other Americans who received the award. As did Bruce Willis.

In some instances you can see how  person merited the award, having accomplished so much in their field. In other instances you can only presume that someone in a high place was a fan of the Die Hard movies.

There's always going to be debate about how a non French person can merit one of the highest honours France has to give, but Dylan's status as an artist really is beyond match. In terms of his relevance to France, few others can say they've been so influenced by the poetry of Rimbaud and Verlain, and then themselves influenced so many French artists over the years.

As a performer Dylan still sparks debate. Few of his generation are still capable of that. He refuses to give in to expectations and chases his muse as only he knows how.

With a music industry that these days seems more cautious than ever and less willing to take risks than before, there will be even few artists from the generations since Dylan's career began who remain as capable of inspiring such passion.

David Guetta: Every Chance We Get We Run

A new video for the track Every Chance We Get We Run by David Guetta feat. Tegan & Sara, another track from the massive selling Nothing but the Beat collection.

The video was the winner of a competition that was set by Guetta to users of the site to come up with a video for the track.

The new video comes just after the surreal clip for Play Hard, which featured Ne-Yo et Akon, gave him another hit from the  album.

Guetta's team eventually chose this video that was directed by Michael Blank as the winning submission.

The album - in its various versions - has generated more hit singles than many artists have had in their entire careers, and propelled Guetta into the position of being one of the world's most successful DJs and producers.

Video projects like this gives him the chance to share some of that success.

Yelle: A + B = C

A new track by Yelle, a cover of French synth-pop track A + B = C.

The song was originally recorded by the duo Mathématiques Modernes on their 1981 album Les Visiteurs Du Soir.

The original track was produced by Jacno, the late punk and electro musician who was half of Elli & Jacno as well as a founder of punk pioneers Stinky Toys.

Yelle are currently at work on their third album, a follow-up to 2011's Safari Disco Club.

Safari Disco Club saw the trio attract a huge amount of international attention. They played live extensively, playing dates in the USA and supporting Katy Perry on her tour.

One new track, L'Amour Parfait emerged in February.

Meanwhile, the Mathématiques Modernes album, very much a classic of its time, was re-released on vinyl in Febuary on the US-based Medical Records label. 

Tuesday, 4 June 2013

Taratata on France 2

There's been another blow to music in France with TV station France 2 annoucing that the long-running music show Taratata is coming to an end.

The show's been running for 20 years, originally on France 4 then France 2, and it's been a showcase for some of the finest French acts, as well as international acts wanting to make an impression on the French public.

As an admirer of French music, but who is outside France, I found Taratata's website invaluable, for both introducing me to artists I may not have heard before, and for showing me artists that I was familiar with in a different context.

The show had the highest production values, and an appearance on the show would no doubt make a huge difference to the career of any band in France.

But TV programmes are not beyond the reach of the uncertainties of the economy , but when costs have to be cut, a programme like this seems the wrong victim.

I know that the costs of such a production will be high. Quality TV is never cheap, but the long-term benefits of a programme like Taratata must surely outweigh shuch short-term cost cutting thinking.

How many bands have benefitted from sales after an appearance on the show? Plenty I'm sure. A show like this benefits everyone.

Times are tough for everyone, the music industry more than many,  and the removal of a high-profile shows pushes music further into the margins of an already crowded cultural scene.

Record labels are already less willing to take risks on acts, and a once-flourishing scene continues a gradual and seemingly terminal decline.

Music is a cornerstone of culture, and keeping culture in the public eye must surely be central to France 2's philosophy.

I'd certainly hope someone with the power to reverse the decision sees things like that as well.

Radio station 6 Music in the UK was reprived after an campaign by both audience and artists. Fingers crossed something similar might happen here.

Meanwhile, music show Chabada is to end its run on France 3, and  CD Aujourd'hui is also finishing.

A petition to keep Taratata on France 2 has been launched, and it can be found at this page

Lescop: Debut album UK release

Great to see a UK realease for the  debut album by Lescop, a collection that I've been listening to extensively in the past few months since it came out in France last October.

The album saw him grab a nomination in the Victiores de la Musique awards earlier this year in the Best Original Song category.

In the last year I reckon Lescop must be one act I've featured here more frequently than any other new act.

Well deserved if you ask me.

In my initial review lasy year I wrote:

While hailing from La Rochelle, Lescop was as influenced by the sounds of Manchester as he was by the French music scene.

As a teenager he was fascinated by Joy Division as well as acts like the Buzzcocks, going on to sing with the band Asyl before embarking on his current solo career.

Asyl, formed in '95, released four albums. With their musical roots in the art-informed end of punk, new wave and post-punk as well as the likes of David Bowie, particularly in his Berlin phase.

Lescop's solo album develops the ideas that Asyl played with, and delivers a sophisticated modern pop, with depth and intelligence.

While many electro acts simply recycle the pop sensibilities of the 1980s, the grittier side of the genre, from Suicide to Soft Cell, is often overlooked. Few capture the potential of the genre, with its tension or urgency. Worth remembering too that the original Goth punk scene of the mid to late 80s was as much influenced by the likes of Joy Division as it was by acts like the Sister of Mercy or Bauhaus.

Lescop is however not just a subcultural archaeologist, mining a rich seam forgotten by much of the mainstream. While aware of the 80s underground and the music that influenced it, he's making something entirely new. Some of the ingredients might be familiar, but the recipe is something unexpected.

I think it still stands up, and if anything repeated listening has reinforced how good the album is.

A show in London last night marker the release of the album on this side of the channel, I can only hope there might be more dates in the future.

Lescop has a series of festival dates across France over the summer.

Saturday, 1 June 2013

Some of the best of 2013 (so far)

With the year half way though, I thought it an appropriate time to take a look at some of the best French releases so far this year, in an interim annual report style. A mini best of the year. A lookback that doesn't look back too far. That kind of thing.

In no particular order, the track I love you by Woodkid. Woodkid's album The Golden Age is an outstanding work that really pushes the boundaries.

No mention of the best French releases of 2013 so far could ignore the track Get Lucky by Daft Punk. While the marketing of the album built it up as THE release of the year, there's little doubt that it lived up to expectation and the song Get Lucky will probably be the biggest single of 2013. We could still do with a complete video clip though.

Meanwhile, Phoenix set the standard for what a modern rock band from anywhere should sound like with the long-awaited release of Bankrupt! The track Entertainment was immediately recognisable as a classic Phoenix track, and also at the same time something quite new and different. This is the kind of track that will be the highlight of many festivals this summer.

Tomorrow's World features Jean-Benoit Dunckel from Air and Lou Hayter from New Young Pny Club, but their self-titled album that was released in May really deserves to be regarded in its own right rather than just as a 'side project' by two artists. It's a great piece of atmospheric electro.

I've talked incessantly about Arne Vinzon and their 2013 album Les Belles Structures, a wonderful piece of work that gets better with every repeat listening.

Girls in Hawaii are a Belgian band, and the track Misses comes from their forthcoming third album. Melancholy rarely sounded so beautiful.

Indochine, the veterans of French outsider rock, returned in February with the album Black City Parade, their first release since 2009. The track college boy is an outstanding track, with or without its controversial video.

Aufgang are a trio that are as much influenced by classical music as they are by electronics, and their album Istiklaliya - their second - was released in May. The track Kyrie is a dramatic and atmpspheric piece of music.

We Were Evergreen's Leeway EP came out in January, with a wonderfully catchy and refreshing indie pop. The trio have just recorded their debut album, which hopefully we'll see before too long.

Finally one track that just emerged, the new track Formidable by Stromae. A remarkable video and a great track, one of those songs and videos that are utterly memorable from the first time its seen and heard.

I expect the idea in this video will be copied by others before too long.

Not forgetting releases by the likes of Vanessa Paradis, Saez, Carla Bruni, M83, La Grande Sophie, Yelle, Miss Kittin and many, many more, all making it a vintage year for French music so far.

Here's looking forward to the next six months.

Editorial: June 2013

An exceptional month for the website last month, with a record number of posts and the healthiest number of visitors we've seen for a long time.

Possibly the higher profile that French music has enjoyed is part of the reason, but this is can only be part of the picture, as the real underlying reason is no doubt the quality of releases that have been coming out in past few months.

Some great things ahead in June, from the 70th birthday of a certain French music legend to the Fête de la Musique at the end of the month, via the summer festival season kicking in

I've been having a think about some of the posts here and been extending what I do. There have been more posts, and I've been trying to consciously cover both the more commercial aspects of the French music scene as well as some of the more underground or indie areas too.

Some of the acts that played in the UK this past month have certainly showed a vigorous new music scene in France, and hopefully many of these acts will benefit from some of the increased media attention that France and its music scene have been getting.

I've also been putting together weekend articles with multiple videos that hopefully bear some repeated reading and viewing, as well as making the site worth a visit on a Saturday. So far I've had a few including  France at Eurovision and a look at some of Johnny Hallyday's french versions of English songs.

I'll certainly be continuing to do this kind of thing , with another selection of interesting videos on later today.

Again, thanks to those who have helped and encouraged the blog, especially the Institut francais in London and the French Music Office in London.

As always, I can be contacted by email at the address johnkilbride AT hotmail DOT com, with the spaces and the appropriate @ and . in the address, or on twitter where you can find us @viveleroq

Merci et à bientôt