Blog Jammin’


I have a confession to make, Rhubba fans…I have a weakness for a French radio station.

I first discovered Nostalgie when on honeymoon in France last October and it is a station dedicated to the hits 1950-1990; a bit like Radio 2 only more so. Yes, you get “Hear Comes the Sun” (played by Le Beatles), “Your Song” and “California Girls” (played by Les Garcons de la Plage) but the real gems are the French pop songs, more on that later.

Curiously, even though it’s a French station, the DJ’s speak in French and the adverts are in French, the jingles for the station are all in English and performed in the style of famous pop songs. “My baby Nostalgie….Music…sweet, sweet musiiiiiic….Nos…tal…gieeeeee” or “Nostalgie is all we neeeeeed, it’s all we really neeeeeed” to the tune of “Whiter Shade of Pale” and there are Sgt. Pepper and Beach Boys, sorry, that’s Les Garcons De La Plage, parodies as well.

But the gems are the French pop songs. If you’ve never heard them…and forget any ideas of Serge Gainsbourg, Vanessa Paradis and Plastic Bertrand…they are an experience. Real French pop follows a strict forumla:

All of them have lots of strings and hammond organ. This is to create a sense of melancholy and if there’s one thing a French pop song is, it’s melancholic. Bloody tragic in fact.

The singer always sounds wistful and remorseful. He’s lost his love, he’s remembering a childhood home by the beach during a thunderstorm or he’s lost his car keys. Whatever, the French pop singer is constantly pining for this lost state of affairs.

There are always flowers, girls and puppets in these songs in any combination. Oh, and plenty of rain. They cover the tears, you see?

At some point, all French popular singers have either been members of the Communist party or card carrying anarchists…which is ironic, when you think of it.

About 2/3rds of the way through a song, the singer will suddenly become hysterical. Those lost years, loves and a futile search for the keys behind the sofa have proved fruitless. Also, the collapse of world wide communism can’t have helped.

Strangely though, it’s compelling listening. They are many things but the songs are good tunes! The French can certainly write music and the lyrics sound great in French anyways. So that’s my little vice. I’m currently listening to “Angie” by Les Pierres de Roulement; classique!

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