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Friday, 15 January 2016

Friday's French music break - Kids United, "On écrit sur les murs"

Friday's French music break enters 2016 with a song full of joyous good intent and suitably uplifting but with lyrics that are - to put it mildly - repetitive and borderline tedious.

Kids (doesn't that just grate, especially when the performers in question are French) United are the group who sing the Romano Musumarra and Jean-Marie Moreau penned title "On écrit sur les murs" originally recorded in 1989 by the late Demis Roussos.

Kids United (screenshot from official video)

But while Roussos simply featured "kids" his (heartwarming) clip, those behind Kids United pull all the syrupy punches available by having the six band members warble their talented way through the complete three minutes.

French telly viewers might recognise a few of the faces (and voices) as 12-year-old Carla was the winner of the first season of "The Voice Kids" (clearly there's no getting away from the term) and eight-year-old Gloria also featured in the show.

Both 15-year-old Esteban and 10-year old Erza have competed in "La France a un incroyable talent".

Completing the line-up are 15-year-old Nilusi and 13-year-old Gabriel - whose talent show appearances are surely just a matter of some time in the not too distant future.

Sponsored by Hélène Segara (she of - among other things - the musical "Notre Dame de Paris" which was described by The Independent newspaper when the London production opened as "A load of old bells" fame) and Corneille (no, not the 17-century French tragedian, Pierre, but the German-born, Rwandan, French and English soul and funk singing Cornelius Nyungura), Kids United deliver a message of hope and inspiration by (and this is from the official site) "interpreting the most beautiful songs celebrating peace and hope."

If you managed to make it to the end of that sentence, here's another one - shorter.

All six are "veritable artists (don't cough of splutter - those marketing the "project"...had to make it sound credible) passionate about singing."

Anyway it's all in a good cause - or at least some of it is - as part of the proceeds from record sales of the album "Un monde meilleur" (a "message of optimism and an ode to living together") from which the track has been taken, will go to UNICEF.

And that, regardless of hard-nosed commercial cynicism, has to be a good thing.

Plus, it beats pre-teens and adolescents tackling broken-hearted "Baby" lyrics at the ripe (old) age of 15

Doesn't it?

So, here's what you've been waiting for. Kids United with "On écrit sur les murs".

Happy listening et Bonne année!

Monday, 14 September 2015

Claire Chazal's classy farewell

Another page has turned in broadcast journalism in France.

Sunday evening witnessed a classy farewell from, Claire Chazal, the woman who has anchored the lunchtime and evening weekend news on TF1 for the past 24 years.

Claire Chazal (screenshot, TF1 - her last news programme)

Chazal was unceremoniously "given the boot" after returning from her summer hols.

In much the same fashion as Patrick Poivre d'Arvor (PPDA) back in July 2008, Chazal was "thanked for her services" and given just a few weeks notice.

Indeed, PPDA (among many others) even Tweeted his support and admiration after Chazal's last broadcast, saying pointedly how she had shown "an elegance most definitely missing in her boss" Nonce Paolini.

PPDA Tweet

Her departure probably didn't come as much of a surprise. In fact, it has been on the cards for some time, especially after PPDA was shown the door.

They both came from a different era in terms of news broadcasting.

Falling audiences (ah yes - the news isn't really just about "news" now, is it? Ratings...and advertising revenue also count) and a desire from the Powers That Be to "rejuvenate" the channel's news team are probably the main factors leading to Chazal's rather fast dismissal.

She'll be replaced by her summer stand-in (and 20-year younger) Anne-Claire Coudray.

Chazal's "style",  deferential and somewhat staid, has come in for a fair amount of criticism over the years and the 58-year-old, no matter how popular she might be among the French, has often been perceived as "soft" on her studio guests.

The most recent example came four years ago when  the former International Monetary Fund boss, Dominique Strauss Kahn chose Chazal's evening news programme to declare his innocence and admit to only having made a "moral error" after alleged  rape charges against him in New York had been dropped.

Chazal, a close friend of DSK's then-wife, Anne Sinclair, didn't pursue any real line of journalistic questioning, allowing her "guest" to have his say.

And that was very much her "technique" over the years: one which quite possibly endeared her to the public but didn't sit particularly well with "real news" gatherers.

Chazal's final "goodbye" and a montage of some of her moments, used to pay tribute to her by her colleagues, were fittingly graceful.

She thanked viewers and those with whom she had worked, saluting the "professionalism of the TF1 editorial team"  saying that she left her post with "immense sadness" but wished her successor, Coudray, "as much enjoyment as she had had."

Claire Chazal's classy farewell - would you really have expected anything less?

Friday, 11 September 2015

Friday's French music break - Mylène Farmer and Sting, "Stolen car"

It's seldom that Friday's French music break features an artist who needs little or no introduction - let alone two!

But that's the case of this week's choice which combines the talents of a Canadian-born French singer, with sales of more than 30 million records in France alone during her 30 + year career, and a British "legend' (the word is not used lightly) who (according to the kind folk over at Wikipedia) ranks among the "world's best-selling music artists" as both a solo performer and with his former group.

The singers (songwriters) in question are of course Mylène Farmer and Sting.

There's so much material available on the Net about both artists, that it's unnecessary to go into any potted biography.

But just in case you need some more info, here are the links to their official sites: Mylene Farmer,

The pair have teamed up for a remake of "Stolen car", a track taken from Sting's 2003 album "Sacred love" and given a new lease of life.

Where the original is mellow and mellifluous enough (almost to the point of dull - where did Sting leave his "rock" roots you might wonder), the remake is faster, has that typical Farmer ethereal and slightly over-produced studio touch that has very much become her trademark and benefits from the English-French lyric combination.

It entered the French charts this week, toppling the duo of Nicky Jam & Enrique Iglesias from the number one slot, even before the release of the official video.

But, once again, thanks to the power of the Net, you can see snippets of the "making of" in which the two "lock lips" (trust the Daily Mail)

And if you cannot wait, there are some rather "tinny" and distant recordings of the song taken from the radio.

For the moment, here's Sting's 2003 version. As soon as the duo's remake becomes available (the first week of October), it'll be posted here

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