American popular culture has become the global gold standard. But repetitive lyrics and radio overkill make favorite karaoke picks become quick playlist skips. For those moments, I suggest looking overseas to our French neighbors for something new and perhaps foreign to your daily routine.
With the city of Paris as their backyard, French speaking artists add a unique sound to the world’s music. When it comes to fine arts, my stick figures are deformed and I’m tone-deaf even in the shower, but I do have a great appreciation for those who aren’t.
Allow me to introduce you to five artists with French origin whose music will add a chic, red beret to your current playlists. Following the rules of baseball, I’m going to provide three potential swings or strikes for each artist so you don’t immediately write them off and go back to playing “Bad and Boujee.”
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Think Justin Timberlake, minus his NSYNC phase. Kendji won season three of “The Voice: La plus belle voix” (France’s equivalent). After his win, Kendji released an EP in Jan. 2014, followed by his debut album “Kendji” in August. The full-length, self-titled album features a few of my favorites that range from a club scene to a Parisian love story. Girac reminds me of J.T. because of the fusion of various genres and styles into his music which makes no two songs identical.
Photo Courtesy of ThingLink
Adila Sedraïa is a Parisian pop star who became commercial in 2013 with her debut single “Dernière Danse.” Since then, Indila songs have reached the top of the charts and her first album titled “Mini World” released in Feb. 2014, and within a year went diamond and platinum. Indila’s music and overall appearance reminds me of Katy Perry, where masses of people can relate to her music and belt their hearts out to it.
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This Israeli-born, French-emigrated pop star was discovered by songwriter/producer L’Aura Marciano. Together they worked on her debut album titled “Le Droit de Rêver” in 2011, which went to the top of the charts. Some refer to TAL as France’s Rihanna but I see her more as a Jo-Jo or Miley Cyrus in their prime era with classics “Too Little, Too Late” and “Party in the USA.”
Photo Courtesy of Zaz Official
Debuting in 2010, and greeted by diamond and platinum level record sales, Zaz’s voice warms you up and puts a smile on your face. Her work gives off major Alanis Morissette meets Amy Winehouse vibes with great jazz and gypsy-inspired music with meaningful lyrics concerning love and relationships.
Photo Courtesy of Cultural Services of the French Embassy
I scrolled through countless playlists to find his American counterpart but I came to realize that he doesn’t have one. Paul Van Haver came into fame in 2009 as Stromae and created his own lane ever since. He uses his music as a platform for addressing difficult topics such as AIDS and absent fathers. He has been featured in career-defining venues such as Coachella and SXSW. Stromae is a trailblazer too as the first exclusively French-singing performer to sell out Madison Square Garden. He’s simply the first of his kind.
Allow me to give you a brief moment to find your headphones. Now sit back, relax and enjoy a slice of French culture.