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Tuesday, 21 June 2011

Gloria - Les Prêtres are back in the French charts

Just when you perhaps thought it was safe to turn on your radio - they're back.

France's singing priests, Les Prêtres, once again have a top-selling album with their second offering "Gloria".

Les Prêtres (screenshot from Glorificamus Te video clip)

It's the follow up to their 2010 chart topper "Spiritus Dei", which has sold 800,000 copies so far, spent 10 - very long - weeks at number one, and is ominously climbing the charts once again.

"Gloria" entered at number one when it was released at the end of April, stayed there for four weeks before slipping a notch and then topped the pile again a fortnight later.

With the tried and tested formula used on their first album, Les Prêtres once again treat record-buyers to a mix of popular French standards and classical music with holy-ish lyrics.

The groups consists of two real life priests Jean-Michel Bardet and Charles Troesch and a former seminarist, Joseph Dinh Nguyen Nguyen, who has since decided not to follow his calling or studies, but pursue his faith by starting a family.

The voices of the warbling men of the cloth might not have improved much since their first album, but studio production has once again made up for any vocal failings they might have.

And the public seems to love it.

There are 14 tracks on the latest album including the annoying "Glorificamus Te" from Tchaikovsky's Swan Lake.

Perhaps we should be more thankful that they didn't don tutus and tights and pirouette their way through the accompanying video.



Other classical pieces given the religious "treatment" include Beethoven's "Ode to joy" or " Le Vent de l'Espoir" in French; a rendition which makes the version from Greek singer Nana Mouskouri sound almost sublime by comparison.

Oh all right let's not exaggerate. That was pretty awful too.

Ravel's "Bolero" becomes a whiny and thin "Au commencement" and poor old Beethoven (what did he do to deserve it?) has his piano sonata no. 8 in C minor, Op. 13 - more commonly known as Sonata Pathétique - magnificently cheesy-fied into "Mon enfant est parti".

If the classical tracks are awful, you might hope that the popular French standards would get off a little more lightly.

No such luck.

Jean-Jaques Goldman is a prolific singer-song writer and has scored hits for himself and others over the year (including a whole album for Céline Dion).

While his 1988 hit "Puisque tu pars" was hardly one to go down in the annals of music history, Les Prêtres manage a cover version that is truly hideous.

And when they turn their vocal cords to French singer Michel Sardou's emblematic "Les lacs du Connemara" it just sounds as though someone has been messing around with the turntable speeds.



And the rest of the album - all 14 tracks - are in the same vein; French standards crucified as only Les Prêtres (and their producers) know how and classical music served up as powerful religious mush with a beat.

Oh well, there's no accounting for taste and the French - well certain album-buying segments anyway - seem to love Les Prêtres.

Should you not yet have succumbed to this ecclesiastical makeover of hits ancient and modern and want to hear snippets of each track, just click here.

Or you can catch the trio in concert in towns and cities around France later this year, including one date at le Palais des Congrès in Paris in November.



Thankfully the number one slot is currently filled by the British singer Adele.

Amen.

But how long before Les Prêtres knock her off the top?

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

Their interpretation of classical French pop songs may be critized, but I think they have wonderful warm voices.

A fan from Dordogne

France Today said...

Thanks for your comment "Fan from Dordogne". Warm voices? Really? Don't they sound a bit thin and lacking in timbre to you? Perhaps you should listen to some of the original recordings of the French standards they're happily ruin for a proper comparison.

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