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Wednesday, 4 May 2011

Mélanie Laurent - France's latest singing actress

Mélanie Laurent has released her debut album, En t'attendant.

So what? You might be thinking. Well the fact of the matter is that she's not really a singer - well at least not until now.

And some are not sure that Laurent really is, even after the release of her debut album on May 2.

Mélanie Laurent (screenshot from clip En t'attendant)

The 28-year-old is an accomplished actress and already has one César (the French equivalent of an Oscar) under her belt as most promising actress in the excellent 2006 film Je vais bien, ne t'en fais pas.

Since then Hollywood has sat up and taken notice and she secured the role of Shosanna Dreyfus in Quentin Tarantino's 2009 film Inglourious Basterds.

Laurent has also written and directed films; one of them, De moins en moins, was nominated for Best short film at the 2008 Cannes film festival, which brings us full circle as she'll be maîtresse de cérémonie at both the opening and closing of this year's cinematographic extravaganza on the French Riviera.

Somehow, somewhere along the way, Laurent has also managed to pack in recording her debut album En t'attendant.

The two-year project with the Irish musician Damien Rice resulted in what Laurent calls, "The fulfilment of a childhood dream."

"I didn't wake up one morning and think 'Hey I think I could be a singer'," she says.

And that's probably just as well because the impression you could have of some French actresses throughout the years is that they have had exactly that thought.

The list of those who've had a stab at treating the rest of us to their vocal cords includes (among many, many others) Catherine Deneuve, Brigitte Bardot, Isabelle Adjani, Jeanne Moreau, Sandrine Kiberlain, Charlotte Gainsbourg and Vanessa Paradis.

Some, such as Gainsbourg and Paradis, have made the transition back and forth without any problem.

Others - well perhaps it would have been better had they stuck to their day job.

So which camp does Laurent belong to?

Well reviews for her album have been mixed.

There has been praise for Rice's arrangements and the strength of his voice (on two duets) but doubts cast on the quality of Laurent's and her ability to deliver.

"The album is beautifully made...and often seductive," says Radio France Internationale.

"But Laurent needs to impose her personality more in her voice."

And that's a point of view picked up by Frederic Le Rouzo writing for the French website Le Post.

He applauds Laurent's approach describing it as "simple and modest" but at the same time the impression the listener has, "is of a flat voice, banal...one which does not transmit emotion or make us dream."

"One can only wish her a continued acting career in which she will easily find success," he concludes.

Ouch!

Laurent hasn't taken such criticism well and reacted angrily in an interview with the regional daily Le Berry républicain during Le Printemps de Bourges.

She was appearing at the music festival shortly before the release of her album..

Laurent lashed out at journalists saying that they seemed only too willing to criticise and that it didn't seem to matter someone in the public eye said or did, there were those only too willing to find something disparaging to say.



You can judge for yourselves by listening to the title track of the album.

And cast an eye over the comments from those who really count - potential fans.

Some are enthusiastic but other are far from being gentle with the suggestion that the last thing France needs is "another Carla Bruni-Sarkozy" soundalike.

Ooh. That's a little below the belt.

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

I love French actresses and love their singing too. Here in India, in Bollywood, all actors and actresses sing, and nobody winces. It's funny that it should be so controversial.

Pratab, Bangalore, India

Anonymous said...

Oh no. Not another Carla. One is bad enough. Why is it that so many female French "singers" can't actually sing and only "talk" their way through songs?

U-E-A said...

Yes. I have to agree with the poster above me. Mélanie Laurent can't sing. She only talked through songs. I was actually kinda excited (and surprised) when I found out that she released an album. And I thought the album must be pretty good because this is Mélanie Laurent, we're talking about. And she got Damien Rice's help for the album! But turned out I was disappointed with it. I'm sorry, but I think she should stick to acting. I better keep listening to French singers like Anggun or Sarah Riani.

Astrian said...

Yes. I have to agree with the poster above me. Mélanie Laurent can't sing. She only talked through songs. I was actually kinda excited (and surprised) when I found out that she released an album. And I thought the album must be pretty good because this is Mélanie Laurent we're talking about. And she got Damien Rice's help for the album! But turned out I was disappointed with it. I'm sorry, but I think she should stick to acting. I better keep listening to French singers like Anggun or Sarah Riani instead.

Anonymous said...

Assez,nom d'une pipe! So many bad French "singers". Silly breathless female copy cats...(listen, there was only one Jane Birkin so STOP copying her!). And the men, like Benjamin Biolay...heavens. He can't sing his way out of a wet paper bag. Bring the likes of these totally forgettable "singers" to a real music contest and they wouldn't make it to first base. The French music industry has become a laughing stock. QUEL DOMMAGE! Ça me casse le cœur quand l'histoire musicale en France est si riche!

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