French pop music? I thought we had enough with one Britney Spears, and I doubt many of us would take an interest in a French-speaking one we can’t understand. This was my impression, and I’m sure the impression of most Americans, when it comes to pop music.
It’s the kind of music of which Britney Spears and Justin Timberlake are the Queen and King of, and it’s avidly worshipped by much of our teen generation. It’s a common generalization nowadays, but actually, French pop isn’t what clich would dictate. I was pleasantly surprised, to say the least, when I popped in Le Pop 2 and was met with a sugary, whimsical little song in which an older man – not Britney or Justin – sang in French in a sort of absurd, matter-of-fact tone. It led me to believe Pascal Parisot was singing about some mishap or other he’d encountered in his day-to-day living. The song is composed of pre-programmed beats that sometimes reminded me of the kind of melodies I’d hear as I played Super Mario Bros back in the 80’s. It’s that kind of bouncy tune, but with a mellow twist.
Le Pop 2 is a CD compilation of modern popular French music – 16 examples of it, each song by a different artist. One of the songs featured a young woman singing in a sweet and sensual silky voice with a samba beat. The song’s called “Samba De Mon Couer Qui Bat” and features an exotic ensemble of instruments such as trumpets, piano, guitar, guiro (of Cuban descent), and maracas. The result is a sound that is totally unique and completely charming in the way it soothes with its mystic mellowness. There’s a longing in Coralie Clement’s fragile voice that makes one think she’s singing nostalgically about some long-lost samba-dancing Latin lover from her past. Her purr-like singing style and the purr-ish nature of the French language itself make the song absolutely enchanting; a delicious, velvety piece the whole way through. Think “The Girl from Ipanema,” but with a more earthy tone.
The songs in Le Pop 2 are extensively varied, and none show the slightest resemblance to the kind of pop music Americans are used to; it’s a refreshing wave of music for that very reason. All contain an inherent whimsy and mellow feeling to them, making the CD especially optimal for relaxing to (something us Americans don’t partake in too often, and should). French pop has already caught on heavily in Germany; they absolutely love it over there. Shall we give it a shot? If you’re hankering for some relaxing, whimsical tunes, this CD is definitely the way to go. If you’re looking to introduce yourself to French pop, then this CD is the perfect introduction.
Don’t shy away from this genre just because you don’t understand French; the fact that you get to imagine what they’re singing about is part of the charm of the songs themselves.
Deborah Acosta can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org