09 September 2013

My Favourite French Music Videos

[Note: depending on your hardware/software configuration you might have to refresh the page after playing a couple of the videos, and I have saved the best for last so bear with me!]

The one thing I have always wondered since I transplanted myself into the Francophone world is would I have come to appreciate so many of its wonders if I still counted English as my only European language? I probably would not and that is to me a real horror, as real as the horror as all the music, literature and beautiful things in languages that I don't speak and I am missing right now. Well anyway, from the goodness of my heart, and just because I have lots of time on my hands I want to give you my top five French music videos. Art is supposedly universal, so let's test that theory. Are you touched as a non-French speaker by any of these gifts of the la langue française to the world?

5. Zaho - Kif 'n' Dir

Zaho is Algerian and lives in Canada and sings in French and Arabic. She is by far my favourite Algerian singer/composer and this clip is a risky one for a foreign audience because most of what it relays visually is tied rather abstractly to the lyrics. Kif 'n' Dir is Arabic for What Should I Do and in this song Zaho is singing as a foreigner in a new land, looking around the emotionally desolate place that she now calls home and remembering the pain of her first love, her homeland Algeria. It's a powerful song that touched me many years ago as I found myself in her homeland, longing for mine.

Favourite lyric: "I wear this mask to look like the others. A failed boy, I'm a girl unlike the others...I'm tired of pretending I am strong so I'll play dead so I don't die"

4. Céline Dion - Pour Que Tu M'aimes Encore

Céline is either loved or hated but never unknown. Some people don't know her mother tongue is French though, and some don't realise that her music in French is more heartfelt and to my mind, more meaningful, than some (not all) her English tracks. This song in English is entitled, So That You Love Me Still and sold 955 000 copies in 12 weeks and is considered by French speakers to be one of her signature songs.

Favourite lyric: I'll look for your heart if you take it somewhere else...I'll look for you in the cold, in the flame, I'll cast a spell on you so that you love me still

3. Zaho - C'est Chelou 

Another one from Zaho, just for the fun of it. This clip is funny and silly and just so Zaho. It's title means, It's Fishy and is taken from the cry of a jealous girlfriend who finds her boyfriends actions not above board. The video is more than self explanatory!

Favourite Lyric: It's fishy the way she looks at you, and what's this thing of calling you baby? Tell that b*** that I'll smack her!

2. Sexion D'Assaut - Desolé

Sexion D'Assaut are big in France. It's a group of 8 French rappers from Paris and are known and loved in France for staying away from mainstream Hip Hop and remaining close to the underground scene. Their music is hard hitting, their lyrics raw and their videos cool. This clip is entitled Sorry.

No favourite lyric for this one because any translations lose any sense of rhythm they have in French!

1. Stromae - Papaoutai

Many non-French speakers might know the Rwandan origin but Brussel's born Stromae from his 2010 hit Alors On Danse, well he is back this time with a new album and this song that just kills me everytime. Entitled Papaoutai which means 'Dad Where Are You?' It's a raw, beautiful, deeply personal song for Stromae whose father was not in his life and the video rises to the beauty of the lyrics and the fast slinging beat that mixes Congolose Rumba guitar, Electro-House and Stromae's urgent plea. The video itself is just pure art!

Favourite Lyrics:
"Dad, please tell me where you are hiding, it's been almost a thousand times I've been counting my fingers" (From hide and seek where the seeker counts their fingers waiting for the hider to say 'come look for me')

"Everyone knows how to make a baby but no one knows how to make a father."