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Saturday, 11 February 2017

Friday’s French music break…on a Saturday - Victoires de la musique 2017 (with Calypso Rose)

Phew. That was a close one. It’s surely a sorry state of affairs for French popular music when a potential winner of its most prestigious annual music awards is an also-ran from the previous year’s Eurovision Song Contest.

Thankfully though sense prevailed and on Friday, Amir (a product of the TV talent show “The Voice” in which he finished third) failed to secure best original song at Les Victoires de la Musique, the French equivalent of the Grammys.

Instead it was the 25- year-old Vianney, winner of Best Male Artist in 2016, who scooped the prize with “Je m’en vais”.


Je m’en vais

Relief all round then as it proves there is some hope for the future of French popular music beyond talent show also rans who fail at Eurovision (hardly the arbiter of good musical taste), a belief further reinforced by the cleverly marketed (and undoubtedly talented) 25-year-old Jain picking up Best Female Artist.


Perhaps that was something of an orchestrated shoe-in as oddly enough someone had forgotten to include Canada’s global screamer Céline Dion in any category in spite of the commercial and critical success of her latest album “Encore un soir”. Love her or loathe her, the decision not to include her among the shortlist was…er…strange.

While Vianney and Jain (oh all right then AND Amir) were securing the future of French popular music for years to come (along with the excellent 20-year-old DJ Kungs - Valentin Brunel - Best electronic and dance album) some of the country’s Golden Oldies were marking their territory.

Unsurprisingly Renaud - who last year made a long-awaited comeback with the album (his first since 2009) “Toujours debout” - added to his career collection of gongs with Best Male Artist, although he missed out in the Best Album category to Benjamin Biolay’s “Palermo Hollywood” and after a decade apart, Louise Attaque marked their get together with Best rock album.

Calypso Rose (screenshot “Calypso Queen” official version)

As far as the most magical moment of the night…well apart from Imany calling for justice and equal treatment of different races during her gospel-inspired (and inspiring) performance of the superb “Silver lining (all clap your hands)" it had to be Trinidad and Tobago’s Calypso Rose (Linda McArtha Monica Sandy-Lewis) singing “Calypso Queen”.

An encore - the “stuffed suits” of the audience doing their thing and a declaration from the 76-year-old that she was now the ^Queen of France” after winning the Best World Music award was quite simply the highlight of the evening.

So here you are… this week’s Friday’s French music break - Calypso Rose with “Calypso Queen”.

Monday, 21 November 2016

Nicolas Sarkozy quits politics…again

So the former French president, Nicolas Sarkozy, has promised to leave politics.

His announcement came on the eve of his defeat in the first round of the primary to choose the candidate from the centre-right in next year’s presidential elections.

Nicolas Sarkozy (screenshot BBC News)

Sarkozy finished a distant third to his former prime minister during his five-year spell in office from 2002-2007, François Fillon, and blast-from-the-past hopeful (and another former prime minister) Alain Juppé.

Yes, how ironic that Fillon,  the man Sarkozy had described (apparently off-the-record) as his “assistant while the boss, that’s me” back in August 2007 “romped” to victory with just over 44 per cent of the four million who turned out to vote with Juppé (28.6) second and Sarkozy third (20.6).

The top two will now go head to head in a second round of voting on Sunday 27 November.

An unusually subdued and dignified Sarkozy thanked just about everyone possible during his speech in which he conceded defeat and gave his support in next Sunday’s round to his former “assistant” - moving many of his fans (because the cult of personality is and was at the core of Sarkozy’s approach to politics) to tears.

Sniff, sniff.

Just a shame the 62-year-old hadn’t been a little more noble and distinguished earlier in the day when he went to vote.

While Fillon, Juppé and the other four candidates had been happy to stand patiently in line while waiting to vote in their respective constituencies, Sarkozy, presumably not wanting to rub shoulders for too long with the (well-heeled) hoi polloi of the swanky XVI arrondissement in Paris, jumped the queue.

Jumped the queue.

Surely the way he will be lovingly remembered and treasured by his devotees.

And as for stepping out of the limelight to "have a life with more passion privately and less publicly”…cue that interview in March 2012 with Jean-Jacques Bourdin perhaps.

Tuesday, 15 November 2016

Rachida Dati’s “fascist, thug” 2013 text message to Brice Hortefeux

Well, it’s quite a while since either of these two French politicians has made the headlines.

But hey, here they are. Rachida Dati and Brice Hortefeux.

And what a handbags at dawn session they must have had when they were both frontline government ministers.

That’s if the text message sent by Dati to Hortefeux a couple of years ago (but revealed last week) is anything to go by.

It shows just how loving, friendly and understanding members of the same party and government can be towards each other.

Rachida Dati's text message to Brice Hortefeux (screenshot Mediapart's tweet)

Set the scene.

It’s September 2013.

And the former justice minister and current member of the European parliament and mayor of the seventh arrondissement of Paris (yes, wearing two political hats simultaneously - a very French tradition), Rachida Dati, whips of a text message to (take a deep breath…at least there’s some punctuation to allow you to respire while you’re reading) Brice Hortefeux, former interior minister and employment minister and also a current member of the European parliament and a councillor (and second vice president no less) for the recently-created region of Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes .

The two protagonists - both close to former (there’s evidently a lot this “pastness” going around) president (and wanna-do-it-all-over-again hopeful) Nicolas Sarkozy - clearly had what could be termed (politely) a “strained” relationship.

That’s going on the evidence of Dati’s SMS.

Rachida Dati (screenshot BFM TV September 2016)

The tone is set from the very opening words by Dati greeting Hortefeux with,“Salut le facho”!

And then continuing with a barrage of menaces such as revealing “the cash he had been given for a number of meetings involving Sarkozy without specifying what the money had been used for” and his “illegal employment of his wife at the European parliament”.

“Tu me fous la paix” (you can translate that for yourselves on one of the many online services, but it basically means “stop messing around with me” - but in a far more vulgar manner), Dati ends with a flourish, calling Hortefeux a “thug” and threatening once again that she won’t be fooled with.


Thanks Mediapart - a French online investigative and opinion journal - for sharing that apparently “private” email with us. Good work.

And the reason for Dati’s vitriol? Apart from the fact that the former ministers clearly didn’t get along.

Well, once again, according to Mediapart, it was because she had got wind of Hortefeux’s  suggestion that her “air and border police privileges be stopped”.

Behind the scene advisers apparently managed to calm the two (mainly Dati) and the incident is now no longer either wants to remember…with Hortefeux admitting on BFM TV that “relations with his former government colleagues had been difficult at times, but the page had now be turned.”

For the moment?

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