Tuesday, November 23, 2010

North African's influences in French music

As you know, France had colonies in North Africa: Tunisia and Morocco (until 1956), and Algeria (a French département until 1962) so migrations had been intense between France and those countries. Thus, Arabs, Kabyles, Sefarade Jews have enriched French music.

During the first half of the XXth century, there were already great musicians of North African descent living in France; especially Kabyles from Algeria. The great Cheikh El Hasnaoui was singing in the Algerian chaâbi style, but met success only in the Kabyle community. On the other hand, some second generation immigrants became huge stars of typical chanson, like Mouloudji, Alain Bashung and... Edith Piaf!

Nowadays, there are typical north African music styles popular in France, especially among north African community but some are mainstream (like raï). There are also many singers from North African descent playing classic French music. In this post, I will only introduce you the north African influence on French styles, especially during the last 20 years, in rock, rap or chanson. I won't distinguish between all different north African musics which are very various, only because I don't knoow enough about them.

One of the first to mix French popular music with Arab music in France may have been Rachid Taha and his band Carte de séjour in the early 80's. As you see in the name of the band which means "Green card", political issues are not far when it comes to cultural mixing and the issues of the identity and recognition of second generation immigrants. To understand the context of the following songs, you have to keep in mind that the 1980's were also the time of the rise of xenophobic and racist party Front National...

Carte de Séjour - Zoubida (1982)

One of their success was the cover of Charles Trenet's classic track "Douce France" whose lyrics are a nostalgic portray of France written during German Occupation of France during World War II.

Carte de Séjour - Douce France (1943/1986)

One of the greatest hit of the world famous Mano Negra (Manu Chao's band) was a cover of an Arab song, sung by Philippe Teboul.

Mano Negra - Sidi'h'bidi (1989)

Influences of North African musics can also be found with Zebda, the band led by Magyd Cherfi, such as this hit with the chorus sung in Arab.

Zebda - Oualalaradime (1998)

Now, songs less rock and more chanson.

A beautiful love song with also a chorus sung in Arab:

Les Têtes Raides - Manuela (1996)

Magyd Cherfi - En enfer (2004)

Brigitte Fontaine is one of the greatest French singer. Many of her songs were composed by Areski Belkacem who was influenced by north African music, especially chaâbi.

Brigitte Fontaine - Le Nougat (1988)

Brigitte Fontaine - Guadalquivir (2001)

In French rap, influences of North African musics can also sometimes be found, such as in this two classics of French rap.

A song that deal with the relation between second generation immigrants and the native home of their parents, called in French "bled".
113 - Tonton du bled (produced by DJ Medhi, 1999)

Lunatic - Pas Le Temps Pour Les Regrets (2000) (with the sample of Lebanon star Fairuz's Zahrat El Madaen)

The song that was featured in Ocean's 12 laser scene.
La Caution - Thé à la menthe (2005) (Mint tea).

And to conclude, listen to Helwa ya baladi sung by the French pop star, Dalida, who grew up in Egypt before moving to France. The song composed by Gilbert Sinoué and Jeff Barnel for her, is an hymn to her native country.
Dalida -
Helwa ya baladi (1979)

Saturday, November 20, 2010

A year of love

One of the first song composed and recorded by Nino Ferrer was C'est Irréparable. The song didn't gain much success. He was only a few years later that Nino Ferrer became a huge star. The lyrics are about a guy left alone, and who remembers with bitterness the sweetness of this "year of love".

Nino Ferrer - C'est Irréparable (Un an d'amour) (1964)

The following year, this song was covered by the great Italian star Mina, both in Italian and in Spanish. What a voice! The song became a huge hit, in Spain, Italy and in whole Latin America.

Mina - Un anno d'amore (1965)

Then, in 1991, the Spanish singer Luz Casal covered it again, but changed the lyrics. The singing character is still the one left alone, but this time she's warning her lover, that if he left her, he will not be able to forget "the taste of her lips" and that "he'll understand in one moment, what means a year of love". The song was featured in the great Almodovar's movie High Heels. This Spanish movie was a great success in France, and most of the French people discovered this French song only at that time!

Luz Casal - Un año de amor (1991).

Monday, November 15, 2010


I've just re-uploaded the volume 6 and 7 of my "discovering French music" compilations which were not available anymore, and added a few new tracks in both. Please tell me when links are dead, I'll upload them again.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

2010's Autumn's leaves

A few more French kisses while trees are undressing their leaves. Only new young artists with beautiful voices.

Hindi Zahra, a new Moroccan singer singing in English, but living in France for 20 years (Handmade, 2010)

ZAZ - Je Veux (ZAZ, 2010)

Ben L'Oncle Soul - Soulman (Ben l'Oncle Soul, 2010)

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Yann Tiersen's Dust lane

From Dust Lane, the great new album of Yann Tiersen.

Yann Tiersen - Palestine (2010)

Yann Tiersen - Dust Lane (2010)

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

French music and West Africa

If this blog mainly focuses on music from France, I do love musics from other countries. To stay in the topic of French Kisses, here's a selection of great tracks from West Africa with lyrics sung in French among my all time favorites. Great classics and more recent hits.

Unforgettable classics:
Orchestra Baobab - On verra ça ce soir (Senegal,1979)

Bembeya jazz National - Téléphone (Guinea, 1977)

Orchestre Poly-Rythmo de Cotonou - Ne te Faches Pas (Benin, 1970's)

Grand Kalle & OK Jazz - Table Ronde (Congo, 1960)

Tabu Ley Rochereau - Gagner Gagner (Congo, 1984)

Tchico Tchikaya- Jeannot (Congo, soukous, 1979)

More recent sounds:

Magic system - Un Gaou à Paris (Ivory Coast, zouglou, 2003)

Amadou et Mariam - Je pense à toi (Mali, 1998)

And some African rap:
Positive black soul - Je ne sais pas (Senegal, 1995)

Abass Abass - Urgence (Senegal)