While the French may be well known for their exceptional cuisine and haute couture, there have been some great contributions to the music industry by French artists. The great thing about French music is the pronunciation. The French have the option of pronouncing an otherwise silent "e" at the end of words like "pomme" or "fille" (as an "euh" sound) if it fits the rhythm of the song, as some dialects in the south of France pronounce it. In addition, emphasis on syllables can be shifted to fit the rhythm. We don't have this kind of flexibility in English. There are so many artists, but these ones I have chosen are the ones I listened to in high school to improve my vocabulary and pronunciation. Let me know who else you think I should add!
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Star Academy - Star Academy is the French version of American Idol. Each season, new hopefuls compete to get a record deal. Each episode, the group or portions of the group perform songs with celebrities. After the season is over, the group makes a CD, with different combinations of the members singing each song. There is an anthem for each season, which the whole group sings. The other songs they sing are often covers of popular French songs, sometimes songs are sung in English as well though. Hot CD: Chante les années 80
Amine - Amine is introducing a new genre to the French music front: Rai'N'B. Rai is a genre of Arabic music, which Amine, being natively blilingual, incorporates into his CD, adding his own R&B/pop twist to it. Songs on his debut CD are in both languages. He has seen much success in just a short time and he will certainly be considered a pioneer for bringing Arabic music into the French pop market, much like Khaled has done for French adult contemporary. Hot CD: Au delà des rêves
Priscilla - Priscilla is only 17 years old, but she has an amazing voice. She has been recording music for 6 years now, releasing a string of hits from her three discs, "Cette vie nouvelle," "Priscilla," and her newest release, "Une fille comme moi." You may recognize the tune to "Cette vie nouvelle;" it is the French version of "Flashdance"! All of Priscilla's songs are upbeat and catchy, dealing with topics such as popularity, love, life, and school. Hot CD: Bric à Brac
ZEBDA - This proud group of toulousains represent the best of malgrébain rock, French rock rooted in Northern Africa. ZEBDA's songs deal with real life issues, and their beats are infectiously catchy. One of their most popular songs is "Tombez la chemise," about relaxing and having fun on the job and enjoying life. The lyrics to their songs are full of interesting hard-to-say tongue twisters and made-up words, all said in one breath most of the time. It's a fun challenge to try to learn the words to a ZEBDA song, and an excellent way to learn new vocabulary. Hot CD: Utopie d'Occase
Lorie - Lorie is a successful pop artist in France, with a demographic slightly older than Priscilla's. Her music is a little less synthesized, and some of her songs are a little slower (but a little less enjoyable). She is fun to listen to, but I would recommend Priscilla first. As Lorie gets older, her music doesn't get older with her, as Priscilla's does. Lorie is fun to listen to live, because the energy the crowd gives her is amazing. Hot CD: Rester la même
Charles Trenet - Trenet is an oldie but goodie in the world of French song. His chansons are whimsical, funny, and upbeat. Odd lyrics and noises make him a light choice to brighten your mood. His most famous song, "Verlaine (chanson d'automne)" was featured in the 1995 film French Kiss, and Kevin Kline, one of the stars, even covered his song "La mer" for the film's soundtrack. Charles Trenet is an acquired taste. The first time through you may not be hooked, but after a few listens, he's there to stay. Hot CD: Verlaine
Édith Piaf - Edith is truly a classic French chanteuse. Almost everyone has heard the song "La vie en rose," but she was the first to sing it. The movie Ma vie en rose took its name from the title. She was known as the little sparrow, because she had such a big voice but she was physically very small. Besides "la vie en rose," she has many other classic songs, such as "Je ne regrette rien" and "L'accordéoniste." Unfortunately, she died very young, but her songs are still celebrated today as some of the best in francophone music. Hot CD: The Best of Edith Piaf
Céline Dion - Everyone knows Céline; she needs no introduction. Not everyone, however, is familiar with her French music. It's really worth a listen. Her songs in French are even better than her songs in English. She has tons of really great dance tunes, and the lyrics are inspirational. Her tunes are also musch more danceable in French. Even if you don't like her English music, try her out in French. Hot CD: The French Album
Alizée - Alizée is young but she's not clueless! The protégée of French chanteuse Mylène Farmer, Alizée's infectious beats will keep you listening for more, and wondering, she's only how old? This genre of French trance pop that both she and Farmer encompass has not yet been replicated in the US. Although her topics are typical for singers her age - boys, boys, boys, and girl power, her lyrics are anything but. Maybe it's something in the Mediterranean water, but lyrics over in France, are much more creative and interesting to listen to, especially those of Alizée. Hot CD: Alizée en concert
Mylène Farmer - Mylène is the French equivalent of Madonna: Her songs are provocative and controversial, and her image is scandalous. Always pushing the envelope, Mylène has enjoyed immense success in France and elsewhere for a number of decades. Like Madonna, her melodies are timeless and impressionable, and she's always got something new for her audience. She is not, however, a Madonna clone. Her personality and sound is still uniquely all her own. Hot CD: Les Mots
Laurent Voulzy - Laurent's music certainly cannot be classified into one genre. He's got a little of everything in his music, but one thing that's prevalent is his folk influence. His beats are danceable and sentimental and his lyrics are clever and meaningful. If you like Laurent on the first listen, you'll love him by the second. His music gets stuck in your head until you must listen to it again and again...and you start loving it more and more. Hot CD: La septième vague