Mythbuster: French music cannot survive outside France

This is false! Quite a few musicians make their name internationally

1 May 2019
By Connexion journalist

Serge Gainsbourg, Edith Piaf, Jean-Michel Jarre and the Gipsy Kings are often seen as French exceptions for their popularity outside France.

There was little more than international disdain for France’s “rockeur national” Johnny Hallyday.

Fast forward and France is now home to some big names on the international scene. 

Parisian duo Daft Punk evolved from producing house music in the 1990s to launch the hit single Get Lucky in collaboration with Pharrell Williams and Nile Rodgers.

With dancefloor classics One more time and Lose yourself to Dance, Daft Punk have made it into the top 250 of most-listened-to artists on Spotify.

Manu Chao may sing in a mixture of languages but he is a Paris-born musician whose eclectic songs fuse salsa, reggae, ska and Algerian folk music, to the delight of Latin America. The song Bongo Bong earned him the title “King of global funk punk”.

Sampling jazz, soul and funk, jazz group Electro Deluxe have earned themselves a place in the world of jazz with their smooth sounds.

As well as appearing at Europe’s major jazz festivals, they have performed alongside jazz giants Snarky Puppy. Manu Katché’s jazz-rock drumming and songwriting shot him to fame in the 1980s, when he performed on albums by Peter Gabriel and Sting.

Katché, who drummed on Tracy Chapman’s 1992 Matters of the Heart, has played with Dire Straits and Eurythmics, and released his own albums. 

David Guetta’s EDM sounds sold more than nine million records worldwide. He collaborates with superstars Nicki Minaj, rapper Lil’ Wayne, Sia and Jess Glynne.

Christine and the Queens was started by Héloïse Letissier, a singer from Nantes who began performing with drag queens in Britain.

Her songs garnered attention in the UK and US, resulting in a contract with an independent British record label in 2012. The gypsy jazz sounds of Zaz, or Isabelle Geffroy, came to the world’s attention with Je veux in 2010. She signed to Sony and has toured internationally.

Originally starting out as a busker in Tours, she has always sung in French until Qué vendrá, a Spanish song on her album Effet Miroir.

The recent renaissance of disco music has led to a rediscovery of Marc Cerrone, who released The Best of Cerrone Productions in 2015. His Love in C Minor led to an Atlantic Records contract in the 70s.

Cerrone’s Studio 54 sounds inspired nu-disco producers such as LCD Soundsystem and Goldfrapp – who even named their album Supernature after Cerrone’s most famous track.

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