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Friday, 17 February 2012

Friday's French music break - Shakira, "Je l'aime a mourir"

Friday's French music break this week is sung by a woman who surely needs no introduction as she's one of the biggest international stars around today.

Shakira.

Shakira (screenshot from NRJ Music Awards)

It's her rendition - sung in French - of a song originally written and performed by Francis Cabrel.

Unless you've not flipped on a French music radio station recently or seen a variety programme on television, you cannot help but have heard it.

Not surprisingly given the song's exposure and Shakira's 2010 and 2011 concerts dates in France as well as the release of the song as part of the "Live from Paris" DVD, her version of "Je l'aime a mourir" entered the French charts at number one in the middle of January.

While you've probably heard of Shakira, you might not be familiar with Cabrel and quite frankly, as a matter of general French popular music culture you should be.

The 58-year-old is arguably one of the best songwriters of his generation.

He first recorded and released "Je l'aime à mourir" in 1979 and then in 1998 he re-released it as "La quiero a morir" on his Spanish-language album "Algo más de amor".

Cabrel's appeal probably lies in the poetic nature of his lyrics and polished melodies.

Indeed "Je l'aime à mourir" is one example of several of his songs that cut across generations and the chances are (if you live in France) that you know a French person or two (or several) who could sing along without any trouble.

If you need more words, then try the excellent and not-too-long biography on Radio France Internationale which tracks the career of "one of the most prominent figures on the French music scene" from his humble beginnings in the département of Lot et Garonne, the influence of Bob Dylan on his writing style, his attachment to the village of Astaffort away from the glare of celebrity, his charity work throughout the years and some truly memorable songs along the way.

Meanwhile back to Shakira, and although there are plenty of live recordings of her singing "Je l'aime a mourir" available on YouTube if you want to search, here's one from a performance at the recently televised NRJ Music Awards in Cannes.

So sit back and enjoy.

It'll give you a taste of Cabrel's magical songwriting skills and maybe encourage you to listen to some of his other material.

Bon week-end.

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