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Friday, 31 January 2014

Friday's French music break - Les Victoires de la musique 2014

Yes, this week's Friday's French music break is a bit different as it's dedicated to this year's Victoires de la musique, France's equivalent of the Grammy Awards

And here's a thing to kick off. The very (French) group which cleaned up at the recent edition of the Grammys in Los Angeles, won't just be absent, they haven't even been nominated.

The motorbike helmeted duo (no, not François Hollande and his bodyguard) of Thomas Bangalter of Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo. aka Daft Punk, apparently declined the offer preferring to take their chances Stateside, where they picked up five awards including album ("Random access memories") and record ("Get lucky") of the year.

Organisers sent out a second invitation to the duo to perform but, as yet, there has been no reply.

So without arguably France's most successful international act at the moment, who has been persuaded to appear and who's up for a possible gong?

Well, you can see all the details here, but the most notable inclusion is not a French artist at all, but...ta da...Belgian Paul van Haver, better known by his stage name Stromae.

Stromae (screenshot from interview with Marie Drucker on France 2 television, August 2013)

The 28-year-old has picked up six nominations in four different categories (huh?) including (deep breath) Male artist of the year, Album of the year (the excellent "Racine carrée") and twice for Original song of the year and Video of the year (both times for "Papaoutai" and "Formidable").

Should he not pick up at least a couple of awards, those voting (which, in some categories include the general public) will need their heads examined.

And especially when you take a look at who he's up against for Original song of the year: ageing rocker Johnny Hallyday for "20 ans" and Maître Gims with "J'me tire de".

Nominated against Stromae in both Male artist of the year and Album of the year (for "Les chansons de l'innocence retrouvée" is Étienne Daho, whose low, almost whispered voice (in other words, he's not much of a singer) has been boring some of us with variations of the same song since the early 1980s.

Zaz, Vanessa Paradis (yet again) and peculiarly enough the male-female duo of Lilly Wood and the Prick (Nili Hadida and guitarist Benjamin Cotto) (winners of the 2011 Best newcomer award) are the three acts nominated in the category Best female artist of the year. Perhaps nobody realised that Cotto is a man and Lily Wood and the Prick are actually a group.

Lilly Wood and the Prick (screenshot from  Where I Want To Be (California) official video)

And there are strange things over in the Album revelation of the year category which includes HollySiz (Cécile Cassel) with "My name is", La Femme and their album "Psycho Tropical Berlin" as well as (here comes another silly name) Cats on trees (duo Nina Goern and Yohan Hennequin) with their album of the same "Cats on Trees".

Yes it's Goern and Hennequin's debut album, but they've been performing together since 2007. Some revelation!

Anyway, the awards will be broadcast live on France 2 and transmitted on France Inter and France Bleu radio on February 14, in what promises to be its usually overdrawn luv-in with Virginie Guilhaume at the helm,

Yes, the same woman who hosted the whole shebang (with Laurent Ruquier) in 2013 and who also presents "Qui sera le prochain grand pâtissier?"

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