Saturday, 2 August 2008

From the continent

I'm back.

Many thanks to Hazard for keeping things in perfect working order during my absence, and also to Kev for the additional unsung.

If you've been wondering (or, not reading the personal blog which explains everything) where I've been for the past month, then the simple answer is France.

So, what better way to return back to usual blogging ways than looking at the music that's appearing popular on the other side of La Manche at the minute.

Some music I've mentioned myself in recent times. Duffy (Mercy - TOTW4); Estelle (American Boy - TOTW14); Rhinanna (Take a Bow - shortlist on TOTW20); Sara Bareilles (Love Song - TOTW18 - and surprisingly they still don't pronounce it like Marseilles over here) - they're all all on several playlists. As in Coldplay with Viva La Vida (TOTW26 shortlist). I presume they like the cover of the album, it being Bastille Day recently and all.

Unfortunately, they also have a very unhealthy obsession with whiny diminutive former army officers. Not a day has gone by without hearing some improbable hit. I must have lost a pint of blood from my ears constantly bleeding. Talking about bleeding, they also like Leona Lewis. Bleeding Love? Bleedin' annoying more like.

One that I've not heard yet in Blighty is a cover of Frankie Valli's Beggin'. It's not the Pilooski edit I featured 2 years ago on TOTW, as there's rap in the middle of it. Madcon actually released this version back in October 2007, and since then it's been the, erm, Norwegian "VG-lista" number 1 twice.

Another "English" song that's big over there is After the Rain - a dance track by Fedo Mora and Camurri. I very very rarely feature anything that could pass as 'dance' in MB - but it's really catchy, and is the summer dance smash over in France at the minute.

Of course, the French have had a law since 1994. French radio stations must play 40% French language songs. One way round this that I quite like is to take an English song, and turn it into a bilungual duet. My favourite version of this back from 2003 is also quite possibly the best example of making a cheesy song even cheesier. Even the video is covered with a healthy topping of Camembert.

Being involved in such projects is probably the only thing that Bonnie Tyler and Enrique Iglesias have in common, with this version of Tired of being sorry. Subtitled Laisse le destin l'emporter due to the extra contribution from Nâdiya, it's not actually that bad. I don't like the original, but I do love the way the French can make such songs different enough.

Before I left England, I read a review in The Times that described Carla Bruni's (Sarkozy) latest album as "the best album by the wife of a serving head of state". However, the competition in that cateogry is very little, and after hearing some of the songs I must agree that it's not exactly bad. Somehow, Comme si de rien n'était become the best selling album in France, which is probably a bit too much. Have a listen to L'amoureuse anyway, you could do a lot worse.

Similarly different the usual style of music on MB - here's Zouglou Dance Joie De Vivre. At time of writing, it's the French number 3, and the band "Magic System" are probably best described as "RnB meets dance meets hiphop". But I don't think it's an accurate description - so just listen to it

I could go on with a number of pretty good tracks. However, I've already been prattling on for a while; and one difficulty with many French radio stations is that they never introduce the track. So, there's a good tune with a Noah and the Whale-esque trumpet bit; and an enjoyable duet about a silhouette. However, I can't tell you what they are. So, I'll finish with a tune that when I first heard, thought could have been the Mavericks. It's on more playlists than any other track, and is distinctly different to anything else I heard whilst over there. So, it's a justifiable French number 1. Meet William Baldé - with Un rayon de soleil

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