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A decade of French music

Dec 31

Written by:
Thursday, December 31, 2009  RssIcon

Before we look back on the last decade in French music, let's jump back a further ten years and look at Ireland. 
 
At the outset of the 1990s, Irish music seemed to rule the world. U2 and My Bloody Valentine's respective 1991 albums, 'Achtung Baby' and 'Loveless', loomed over mainstream and alternative rock. A few years later The Cranberries found huge success in America and mainland Europe while a wave of northern bands - Ash, The Divine Comedy, Therapy? - cracked the UK charts. By 2000, though, our main music exports were boybands to Britain and since then only Damien Rice has made any significant international impact.
 
French music in the 2000s follows a similar trajectory - starting high but petering out. Daft Punk and Air went into the new decade as figureheads of something called 'Le French Touch' - a mix in varying proportions of indie attitude and dancefloor sensibility. Their first albums of the '00s consolidated their position. In particular, Daft Punk's 2001 record, 'Discovery', has been hugely influential since its release - if only for putting vocoders and distortion onto daytime radio hits.
 
Since then, Air have descended into self-parody and Daft Punk have yet to follow up their underwhelming 2005 album 'Human After All'. But Phoenix have built a steady fanbase in north America without (yet) breaking into the mainstream consciousness, while Justice have also found relative success in the States. And the likes of Birdy Nam Nam and General Elektriks have the potential to find a substantial worldwide audience. It beats Irish boybands and insipid balladeers, that's for sure.
 
Here's our choice of the best French music of the last decade. (We know that Rachid Taha was born in Algeria - he moved to France when he was ten so growing up in the country surely counts for something.) Some of these albums and songs are known internationally, others aren't. Would a similar list for Irish music in 2000-09 be just as strong as this?
 
Albums (click on a title to listen to the album on Deezer where possible)
 
1. Daft Punk 'Discovery'
2. Air 'The Virgin Suicides'
3. Phoenix 'Alphabetical'
4. Sebastien Tellier 'Politics'
5. Saint Germain 'Tourist'
6. Emily Loizeau 'L'Autre Bout Du Monde'
7. Rachid Taha 'Tékitoi'
8. Herman Dune 'Giant'
9. Justice ''
10. Cocoon 'My Friends All Died In A Plane Crash'
 
Songs 
(click on a title to watch the video)
 
1. Vanessa And The O's 'Bagatelle'
2. Sebastien Tellier 'La Ritournelle'

3. Amel Bent 'Ma Philosophie'
4. M83 'Kim & Jessie'
5. Alizée 'Moi Lolita'
6. Justice 'D.A.N.C.E.'
7. Daft Punk 'One More Time'
8. Air 'Playground Love'
9. Camille 'Ta Douleur'
10. Cassius 'Toop Toop'

Not for the first or last time on this blog, here's the gloriously catchy 'Bagatelle' by Vanessa And The O's, featuring the jangly guitar of former Smashing Pumpkin James Iha:

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Author

Aidan Curran, based in Paris, has been writing for CLUAS since 2004. More info about Aidan...

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