You could say my connection with French music began from the moment I was born, being named after Parisian Singer-songwriter Françoise Hardy. Maybe you’ve heard of her most famous hit Tous Les Garçons Et Les Filles which reached number one in the French charts for fifteen weeks from 1962-1963 and landed a position at 36 in the UK Top 40 in 1964.
So from my namesake Françoise Hardy to Daft Punk and everything in between, it’s clear that French artists have always had a huge impact on the music industry. But what is it that makes French music so appealing or enchanting?
French melodies date all the way back to the 10th century, deriving from cities Chartres and Tours, where Organa and Polyphony were popular. An Organum is a type of liturgical song where one or more voices conduct the primary voice. Polyphony is similar in the way that it’s musical texture is made up of several voices, however it doesn’t include one dominant voice. We then move from the Medieval Period to the Renaissance Period, where conductors Jean Mouton and Pierre Certon entered the music scene. Both were late contributors to Chanson music, which is still significant in elements of modern music.
‘Nouvelle Chanson’ emerged in the 90s, becoming more well known in the early 2000s. The genre generates a soft-pop style, with it’s main benefactors being the likes of Émilie Simon and Olivia Ruiz. Èmilie Simon also partook in electronic music, another genre France paved the way for. Simon’s self-titled album was released during 2003, with EDM tune I Wanna Be Your Dog included on the debut project. This was around the same time French electronic duo Daft Punk were at their peak with album Discovery, which reached number two in the French charts. Even after announcing their break up through an oddly artistic video in 2021, Daft Punk continue to influence modern artists such as German DJ Zedd and Australian Psychedelic group Tame Impala.
Nowadays we can still see France shaping the music industry in England and even in the US, which is a very hard market to break. After six number ones in the UK Top 40, Parisian producer David Guetta is continuing to monopolise Electronica hits with Little Mix duet Heartbreak Anthem. Nantes-born performer Christine And The Queens headlined Glastonbury in 2016, managing a top five place in the album charts that same year. Angèle, a pop act from Brussels, has gained popularity through her music that she writes in the French language, collaborating with Dua Lipa in 2020 to produce a dance-disco melody entitled Fever.