Wednesday, July 14, 2010

My Top 5 French Artists

Happy Bastille day! In honor of today's glorious moment in French history – well, glorious depending on which side you were on – I present you with my top 5 favorite French artists.

#5 Serge Gainsbourg

Serge Gainsbourg – Je t’aime…moi non plus

A monumental person both artistically and in his private life, he sang, acted, directed, and fornicated to great success. As an artist, his long career, saw him experiment with many different musical styles, even releasing several concept albums. His unbelievably sexy “Je t’aime…moi non plus,” (featured above) was deemed too racy even for France and was even publically declared offensive by the Vatican. The song featured his then long time girlfriend, Jane Birkin, but was actually written for French sex symbol Brigitte Bardout, his previous girlfriend.

#4 MC Solaar

MC Solaar and Guru – Le Bien et Le Mal

The god-father of French hip-hop, or at least the internationally best known, certainly deserves the title. Early on his career he backed the likes of De La Soul when they came through Paris, and has appeared on Guru’s famed Jazzmatazz series. With Guru, being one of my favorite emcees of all time, MC Solaar automatically gets the green light in my book.

#3 France Gall

France Gall – Laisse Tomber Les Filles

The adorable France Gall makes equally adorable 60’s French pop. They sure as hell don’t make pop music that is as sincere and innocent anymore.

#2 Daft Punk

Daft Punk - Aerodynamic

While they are not unmistakably French per se, the prolific robotic duo has become synonymous with electronic music. Starting with their release of Homework in 1993, it’s hard to find a single person who hasn’t danced compulsively to it. Their reputation stands for itself, and they certainly live up to all the hype. Moreover, their insistence on maintaining their enigmatic identities as robots only adds to their awesomeness. I just can’t wait for the release of Tron: Legacy, which has Daft Punk penning the score.

#1 Phoenix

Phoenix - Too Young

When the occasion calls for feel good, universally appreciated music, Phoenix is the obvious go to. Their music is so infectiously danceable, that it changed Bill Murray’s life in Lost in Translation. Although, I suppose that could just be a coincidence seeing as the lead singer is married to director Sofia Coppola. Surprisingly only Thomas Mars is French, but it’s not like the rest of the band doesn’t look quite French as well (Although, I’m still trying to confirm this fact as I read that on trivia sheet from a bar’s jukebox – needless to say, not the most credible of sources).

Bonus – Charlotte Gainsbourg

Charlotte Gainsbourg and Beck – Heaven Can Wait

Okay I lied, here are six French artists. The unbelievably talented daughter of Serge Gainsbourg and Jane Birkin certainly lives up to her namesake. As a famed actress and musician she has won numerous awards for both. You might recall her as the charming counterpart to Gael Garcia Bernal’s unstable character in Michel Gondry’s Science of Sleep. Most recently, she just won a Best Actress award at the 2009 Cannes Film festival for her role in Antichrist. More impressive, is that between acting she’s dropping fantastic albums like “IRM” with Beck. Did I also mention that it’s one of my favorite albums of the year.

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