Monday, Sep 22 2003 | 18:56

“Do you play French music too?” Strange question. It’s an hour into our DJ-Set at Berlins Fete de la Musique and we haven’t done anything but play French music. Despite this little episode more and more people are beginning to realise, that French Pop no longer sounds the way cliche would dictate.

When we released “Le Pop” last year in order to introduce Germany to the Nouvelle Scene Francaise, we didn’t expect anything like the broad interest we were met with. A year later French Pop receives plenty of attention in Germany – thanks to numerous record releases, press, radio, and television features.

The enormous number of fantastic new records released in France over the last 12 months proves, that all this is much more then a short lived hype. Already established artists and promising newcomers alike have proven that the Nouvelle Chanson is more then ever alive and kicking. Apart from the success of “Le Pop” this was the main reason for us to continue the project. However “Le Pop 2” is anything but a rehash. After telling the story of how the Nouvelle Scene was born and introducing its protagonists with “Le Pop”, “Le Pop 2” is completely dedicated to the present. All tracks on “Le Pop 2” come from the latest albums of the respective artists, which in some cases means the first. The overriding majority of these albums have been released over the last two years.

Meanwhile, the Nouvelle Chanson has become an integrated part of France’s music scene, conquering even the south, so far dominated by Reggae, World Music and Hip-Hop (Toma for instance is based in Toulouse, home of the great Claude Nougaro). And the scene is getting more diverse all the time, including surrealistic Chansons a lá Boris Vian (Pascal Parisot, Lazzi), the revival of the Chanson Rive Gauche (Vincent Delerm) or Benjamin Biolays phenomenal exercises in style (check out his song for Coralie Clement). The combination of modern influences and the great tradition of the French chanson has bred a unique genre and is producing increasingly innovative and exciting results.

Outside France and the French speaking world French songs are first of all a matter of sound and melody. The language barrier has hindered the acceptance of French Pop for a long time. However, we hope that “Le Pop 2” will prove yet again, what a stunning musical world lies beyond that barrier and how worthwhile it can be to either master or ignore it.

“What’s French about the Nouvelle Chanson”, we are asked quite frequently. Apart from the enormously rich tradition French Pop artists can draw on there is something more evasive and much harder to define: Poetry, charm, elegance? A fine antenna for melodies and arrangements? Or shall we just call it a true instinct for Pop?

We’ll let our audience judge for themselves …

Words by Oliver Fröschke and Rolf Witteler.

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The compilation Various “Le Pop 2” (Le Pop Musik) has been released on October 6th, 2003.

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