If you’ve already been to Paris, or heard stories from friends who’ve visited, you’ll probably know about this old cliché…
The accordion! Yes, you’ll come across your fair share of accordion music while visiting the more touristy areas of Paris, especially in the metro (beware of line 1 in particular) but it would be a crime to say that the accordion is a good representative of French music, there’s so much more! We’ve picked out some of our favorite French artists/groups (no, not Edith Piaf, she’s a cliché too!) who represent a variety of genres, to prove that les français have much more to offer your ears than the accordion…
We’ve left out Edith, but can’t ignore two of France’s most cherished singers: Claude François and Johnny Hallyday. The former, otherwise known as Clo-Clo, was a pop singer who died in 1978, leaving his huge fan base devastated. Johnny Hallyday, whose real name is Jean-Philippe Smet, is the biggest rock star you’ve probably never heard of, being virtually unknown outside French-speaking countries.
Serge Gainsbourg was one of the most important figures in popular music (1928-1991), and not just for France. He had such a varied musical style that it is impossible to categorize him. Gainsbourg was perhaps most famous for his provocative and satirical lyrics. La chanson de Prevert is my personal favorite. You’ll recognize Je t’aime, moi non plus, Gainsbourg’s duet with Jane Birkin, immediately.
As far as contemporary music goes, France has a wide variety of successful artists. Did you know, for example, that Daft Punk are French? They’re also apparently the same guys from Justice, although they have never confirmed this. France’s most famous hip-hop group is arguably Sexion d’Assaut, made up of several rappers from Paris and its suburbs. For a softer genre, Suarez are an upcoming folk band, mixing different musical influences, and Fauve (meaning wild beasts) are a popular music and video collective who produce beautiful spoken word pieces alongside musical accompaniment.
This is just a tiny sample of all that France has to offer music-wise. If you’re coming to Paris over the summer, you should check out the artists who are playing at different music festivals in the area (Rock en Seine, Pitchfork and Solidays are the main ones). Sunshine, picnics and live music, what more could you want?
Maybe a Fat Tire Tour! Imagine singing Daft Punk’s Get Lucky as you pedal along the river Seine in the sun…
As dear Clo-Clo sang
Welcome to my world of music
A symphony of sound all around
(From My World of Music)