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Friday, 15 July 2011

Friday's French music break - Arielle Dombasle, "Porque te vas"

Friday's French music break this week isn't French at all, but Spanish.

It's sung by Arielle Dombasle, born in the United States to French parents, brought up (partly) in Mexico (both of which she never seems to tire stressing during interviews) and married to French philosopher Bernard-Henri Lévy.

Arielle Dombasle (screenshot from video clip for "Porque te vas")

Dombasle describes herself in her biography on her official website as an "actress, singer, muse and model".

All four might be to a greater or lesser extent true, but quite frankly her rendition of "Porque te vas", the first track to be released from her latest album "Diva Latina", is awful.

Dombasle's version adds nothing to the original, sung by Jeanette in 1974 and used so effectively two years later in Spanish director Carlos Saura's award-winning film Cría Cuervos (Raise Ravens).

Such considerations seem to matter little though to Dombasle as she warbles her way through the song, successfully destroying any of the original's pure magic and flouncing her way in supposedly glamourous and elegant sensuality throughout the accompanying video.

Arielle Dombasle (screenshot from video clip for "Porque te vas")

The 53-year-old might well enchant some of those who've left comments on the YouTube clip, but quite honestly it's appalling how she has taken a song that was exquisite in its simplicity and added...well, nothing really.

What was the point?

Mind you, there are other tracks on "Diva Latina" - an all-Spanish album - which receive similar treatment including (among others) "Hijo de la Luna", "Mambo 5" and "Pata Pata".

They were all international hits when recorded first time around and well worth listening to - by the original artists.

While Dombasle might have many talents - and foremost among them is undoubtedly her gift for self-publicity - singing just isn't one of them.

There again, when did that ever stop anyone?

So why choose what is, to all intents and purposes, a Spanish song and not a very good version of it either, as Friday's French music break this week?

Well first of all it's to show that there's no chauvinism whatsoever involved in the weekly choice.

Sometimes the song is fabulous, is on a par with anything the English-speaking world has to offer and deserves more exposure.

Other times it clearly doesn't.

Second of all (sic), as some Americans might say, there's no getting away from the fact that Dombasle exudes a certain charm and is pretty popular in France.

So no matter what you might think of her singing, she has to be given a chance.

And thirdly if course it allows you to compare Dombasle's version with the original and to decide for yourself which you prefer.

So without further ado, here goes.

Arielle Dombasle


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