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Friday, 24 January 2014

Friday's French music break - Yseult Onguenet, "Roar" and "Ne me quitte pas"

Friday's French music break this week is a double whammy from a singer who is just beginning her career.

It's Yseult Onguenet with her version of Katy Perry's "Roar" and Jacques Brel's "Ne me quitte pas".

Onguenet is one of the contestants this year in the TV talent show Nouvelle Star (the French equivalent of Pop Idol) currently being broadcast weekly on D8.

Now before you start groaning, give the format - and in particular Onguenet a chance.

Yseult Onguenet singing "Roar" (screenshot from D8 Nouvelle Star)

The 19-year-old is probably one of the favourites to win and she certainly seems to be the judges' pick.

But they've got it wrong before (and so has the viewing and voting public come to that).

Because the "collected works" of Star Academy, Nouvelle Star, X  Factor (which only ran for two seasons in France) Popstars and most recently The Voice have allowed some complete non-entities their proverbial 15 minutes and plus of fame.

But they've also provided the launching pad for some successful singers. Jenifer, Nolwenn Leroy, Élodie Frégé and the late Grégory Lemarchal from Star Academy.

While Nouvelle Star has, down the years, given us Christophe Willem, Julien Doré (both winners) as well as Amel Bent.

And Matt Pakora (winner) and Chimène Badi (eliminated because the producers thought her voice unsuitable to be part of the group they were looking to form) both owe their initial exposure to Popstars

Anyway back to Nouvelle Star, now down to the last five...including Onguenet

And it's not difficult to see why.

She opened the first prime time show with a rather rushed and not totally inspired version of Stromae's "Papaoutai". But that could perhaps be put down to nerves.

Since then though, Onguenet has blossomed, putting in one stunning performance after another

Sure, her choice of songs has sometimes been more than audacious, maybe even conceited, with renditions of Brel's "Ne me quitte pas" and "Comme d'habitude" by Claude François.

But it has also been varied with her tackling Lana del Rey's "Summertime sadness", Radiohead's "Creep" and Benjamin Biolay's "Ton héritage".

Yseult Onguenet singing "Ne me quitte pas" (screenshot from D8 Nouvelle Star)

Yes, this is a young woman who seems able to turn her vocal cords in whatever direction she chooses.

Her voice is distinctive. She has a great timbre and range and there's also the flavour of her Cameroonian roots (yes that sounds ridiculous, but listen) in some of her interpretations.

And each performance (even if it has been enhanced and produced for TV in spite of being live) has been a revelation.

Anyway put away any preconceived ideas you might have about TV talent shows and judge for yourselves.

Here are those two performances which (so far) stand out.

First up Katy Perry's 2013 hit "Roar" - which is exactly the full throttle approach Onguenet takes in her interpretation

And then Jacques Brel's much-(over) covered "Ne me quitte pas", into which she breathes ...well take a listen.

Un très bon week-end à toutes et tous!

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