For a tried and true ‘Merican like myself (and a Texan no less), the thought of a two week trip to France can seem a bit daunting.  A new language, new food, new culture, not to mention that the French aren’t known for being the most American-friendly people in the world.  But alas, the tickets have been purchased, rooms have been booked, and the wheels are in motion.  This is the reality that I currently face as I ready myself for a two week trip to the south of France for work, and what better way to prepare for this journey than by familiarizing myself with some of the best music from the area.   I know, I know – it’s the same logic used by crappy sitcoms and predictable romantic comedies, but just bear with me.

Phoenix – ‘1901’ – As far as I know, Phoenix is the greatest rock band to ever come out of France.  If that’s not completely true, then they are at least the most successful band to make the jump from the French market to that of the States. Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix was a phenomenal album from top to bottom and ‘1901’ was its crown jewel, rocketing the band into international super-stardom.  This is really the best that France has to offer, as far as I can tell, and I can only hope that the people of Marseille are as charming as ‘1901.’

Celeste – Any Damn Song You Want – Oh, you think France is full of nancies (possibly from Nancy?) that wear berets and ride around on bicycles with baguettes in their baskets?  Enter Celeste, one of the most crushing metal acts you will ever hear.  Celeste really goes against all the French stereotypes and absolutely slays.  Don’t believe me?  Just listen to their album Morte(s) Nee(s).  If the French could have blasted Celeste through huge speakers during the Second World War, the whole thing would have played out like the face-melting scene in Raiders of the Lost Ark.

Coeur de Pirate – ‘Comme de Enfants’ – Ok, so this one is a little bit of a stretch – Coeur de Pirate is actually from Canada.   But she sings in French! That is my rationale and I’m sticking to it.  It is also worth mentioning that she is a superstar in France, so it’s not too odd a choice, really. If you aren’t completely enveloped by Beatrice Martin’s voice, then you undoubtedly have no soul.  Though she hails from the Great White North, Coeur de Pirate is what you would imagine French pop sounds like, and it is utterly enthralling.  Dammit France, you have done it again.  Maybe this trip won’t be half bad.

NOFX –  ‘Les Champs Elysees’ –  Yes, I am very much aware that NOFX is clearly not French, but this is one of the more famous French tunes played by your favorite punks, so I had to include here.  Deep down inside, you’re thanking me. Besides, the pickings for this list are kind of slim due to the fact that most of France’s music never makes it across the Atlantic. Of course, that might actually be a good thing.  What’s that you say? I have spent a good deal of time praising them throughout this list?  Let me remind you that I have listed what amounts to one of the most popular bands in the world, a faux-French (see what I did there? Good stuff.) pop singer from Canada, and a French song played by an American band.  You don’t want to hear what France REALLY has to offer, I assure you.  Oh you do, do you? Ok, you asked for it.

Yelle – ‘Ce Jeu’ 

I’m sure Pitchfork loved it.

I just hope my trip turns out to be a little more Celeste and a little less Yelle.  If not, there is always the beautiful beaches and sweet architecture.


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