The CLUAS Archive: 1998 - 2011


Groan. The new single by French singer Amel Bent is called 'Nouveau Francais' and it deals with contemporary social issues - and it borrows a few bars of 'La Marseillaise' to make its point.

We're disappointed because Amel's first album, in 2005, was full of sassy, smart, self-assured Rn'B-flavoured pop - the best of which was the brilliant 'Ma Philosophie', one of our picks of the best French tunes of 2005.

All that summer, groups of girls sang it in streets, on the metro and (if my upstairs neighbour is typical) in their bedrooms. In short, it did more to project and cultivate a positive image of ethnic French women than any political speech or well-meaning social initiative. If that's not political, then I don't know what is.

Now, for her second album ('A 20 Ans', which means 'At Age 20'), Amel is presenting a more mature image - with cliched 'socially-aware' songs written by middle-aged men (and even one by the elderly Charles Aznavour) which are completely out of touch with the young French girls who idolise her.

And as French people are currently recovering from having voted four times in the last six weeks, a climate of political fatigue is probably the worst context for releasing an overtly political record.

What a pity. Anyway, here's that derriere-kicking 'Ma Philosophie', one of the best French singles of the last decade. But be careful -  you can't dance and think at the same time: 

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Nuggets from our archive

2003 - Witnness 2003, a comprehensive review by Brian Kelly of the 2 days of what transpired to be the last ever Witnness festival (in 2004 it was rebranded as Oxegen when Heineken stepped into the sponsor shoes).