I have far too much to do these days, so I don’t know why I should feel so guilty about leaving this blog to stagnate for so long… however I do, and so …
I first stumbled across the World Music section in Tower Records in my late teens. This, I thought, is where all the hippies must come to buy their whale and pan-pipe music. Considering it was supposed to represent the musical capacity of the majority of planet earth – it was pathetically small. I surmised this must have been because Jonny Foreigner was just no good at making music or, at least, making music worth buying. It was divided into helpful sections such as Africa, South America, Europe and Other – as if to suggest all music from certain parts of the globe all sounded the same and you just had to decide whether you preferred to listen to drums, pan pipes or yodelling …
According to wikipedia World music is a musical category encompassing many different styles of music from around the world, including traditional music, neotraditional music, and music where more than one cultural tradition intermingle.
In other words: all music, or rather … ALL MUSIC THAT IS NOT IN ANY WAY ENGLISH.
It is bizarre to think now that the music I’m listening to (Stromae, Maitre Gims, Indila) would be classified in such a way across the channel, simply because they sing in a language other than English. Not only does this mean that they get chucked into a tiny nondescript World Music section at the back of record stores – it also means that they never get any airtime on the radio. Which, it seems to me, highly unfair.
There seems to be no easy solution however. It would be a brave marketeer at HMV, or wherever that still sells disks nowadays, to put these artists into the Pop or Rap or R&B sections without a large sticker on the case saying something such as “Warning : lyrics may not be in English!”.
Apparently, this lack of penetration into the Anglophone market by foreign cultures, is known as cultural imperialism … and is the net result when a culture is more ‘powerful’ than another. Which makes you wonder what you could be missing. Personally I can’t help thinking that there must be some great German bands out there just waiting to be discovered…
Most Europeans don’t seem to mind singing along to English lyrics they don’t understand – why shouldn’t the opposite be true as well? So long as the music’s good right? Do you really care what’s being said? Chances are it’s about love anyhow, most songs are.
Anyway, getting to the point, here are three cracking French R&B tracks I think you should listen to:
- Stromae : Tous les Memes – a track by a skinny Belgian bloke about PMT (his first album was entitled ‘Cheese’)
- Maitre Gims : Zombie – former “rapper” originally from West Africa decries life with Candy Crush Saga
- Indila: Derniere Danse – Parisian chick complains about the weather in the nation’s capital (with the help of an all male choir)