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Friday, 30 May 2014

Friday's French music break - Cœur de pirate, "Mistral gagnant"

This week's Friday's French music break is a remake of what might be called a (modern) French classic.

It's "Mistral gagnant" from Canadian singer Béatrice Martin - better known by her stage name Cœur de pirate.

Cœur de pirate (screenshot from "Mistral gagnant" video)

"Mistral gagnant" was first released by singer-songwriter Renaud (Renaud Séchan) back in 1985 and, over the years, has been covered (more or less successfully depending on your tastes) by a number of artists.

The song doesn't require a great voice (nobody could realistically maintain that Renaud himself is blessed with the widest vocal range) but has an intrinsic sensivity and melancholy which demands an interpretation that doesn't become overemotional and...well, cheesy.

Carla Bruni and Jean-Louis Aubert have tried it as a duet (enough said) as have Vanessa Paradis and Maxime Le Forestier (click on the names for their interpretations).

Belgian "songstress" Lara Fabian (the link should contain a health warning) has had a bash, successfully saccharine-ing it to the max.

And Amel Bent has given a tear-jerking performance or two of the song, proving that a great and distinctive voice can also to the song justice.

But the definitive version is arguably from the man who wrote and first recorded it - Renaud.

Until now perhaps.

Because Cœur de pirate's version is pretty true to the original. She almost has the same type of "broken" voice as Renaud and uses the simplest and most touching of musical arrangements which means that you actually appreciate the lyrics and the melody for what they are.


The track is one of the first to be released from the upcoming tribute album "La bande à Renaud" on which a number of artists, including Carla Bruni (can't keep her away obviously), Nolwenn Leroy, Elodie Frégé, Bénabar and Renaud's son-in-law Renan Luce reinterpret some of the 62-year-old's best known songs.

So, even if Renaud hasn't released any new material for several years and has pretty much been absent from public performances with recurring alcohol problems and a seeming predilection to self destruct, the track (and indeed, the whole album) will hopefully serve as a reminder of his immense talent.

Here's Cœur de pirate's version, followed by Renaud's.


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