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Tuesday, 28 February 2017

French journalist Vanessa Burggraf gives Philippe Poutou a lesson on how to humiliate a presidential candidate…without trying too hard

Media bashing has, in the wake of The Donald’s tediously repetitive “fake news” and “alternative facts” diatribe, become something of a recurring theme in the French presidential election.

Some supporters of the centre-right (although there’s not too much “centre” about him) candidate François Fillon, have been only too keen to lay the blame for the so-called Penelopegate affair (charges that Fillon had employed his wife, Penelope,  as a parliamentary assistant for the modest sum of €900,000 for work that was perhaps never done) at the proverbial door of journalists. The controversy has highlighted the shameful (but, it has to be said, not illegal in France) practice of disabusing tax-payers’ money and prompted the judiciary to get involved.

And the far-right’s Marine Le Pen…well, she’s more in the mould of The Donald in launching regular barbs concerning biased reporting or insufficient media coverage for the Front National while at the same time popping up whenever invited on prime time news to polish and preen her electoral image.

Journalists in cahoots with the political classes? Well, it makes for good fodder and it doesn’t matter whether it’s true (or fake or even an alternative fact). Most pundits would agree that the French are generally pretty cheesed off with their elected (national) representatives as a whole (and who can blame them?)

Vanessa Burggraf (screenshot "On n'es pas couché")

And an event on Saturday evening, will surely for many, only “add grist to the mill” (love a good cliché) that journalists and politicians are in their own little Parisian bubble - far away from the concerns of the general electorate.

It happened during a segment of Laurent Ruquier’s weekly talk show on France 2, “On n'est pas couché”.

The invited political guest was one of the so-called “minor candidates” in a field that currently boasts a total of 49  (although not all of them are expected to be able to gather the required signatures to be able to stand) Philippe Poutou from the far-left Nouveau Parti anticapitaliste.

Philippe Poutou (screenshot "On n'est pas couché")

One of Rouquier’s regular interviewers, Vanessa Burggraf, proved her full journalistic credentials in posing a question about the role of company bosses in preventing redundancies but somehow never managed to wrap her lips around what she really wanted to ask, especially after she was interrupted by the show’s host.

There then followed over two minutes of buffoonery from Burggraff, Ruquier and others as Poutou looked on, bemused and evidently uncomfortable. After all, his party - and it doesn’t matter what you think about its policies - is one the declares itself to “look after the little guy”.

Complete humiliation for Poutou, totally shameful on the part of Burgraff and Ruquier and simply unnecessary.

After all, the recorded segment could simply have been edited. But it wasn’t.

Saturday, 11 February 2017

Friday’s French music break…on a Saturday - Victoires de la musique 2017 (with Calypso Rose)

Phew. That was a close one. It’s surely a sorry state of affairs for French popular music when a potential winner of its most prestigious annual music awards is an also-ran from the previous year’s Eurovision Song Contest.

Thankfully though sense prevailed and on Friday, Amir (a product of the TV talent show “The Voice” in which he finished third) failed to secure best original song at Les Victoires de la Musique, the French equivalent of the Grammys.

Instead it was the 25- year-old Vianney, winner of Best Male Artist in 2016, who scooped the prize with “Je m’en vais”.


Je m’en vais

Relief all round then as it proves there is some hope for the future of French popular music beyond talent show also rans who fail at Eurovision (hardly the arbiter of good musical taste), a belief further reinforced by the cleverly marketed (and undoubtedly talented) 25-year-old Jain picking up Best Female Artist.


Perhaps that was something of an orchestrated shoe-in as oddly enough someone had forgotten to include Canada’s global screamer Céline Dion in any category in spite of the commercial and critical success of her latest album “Encore un soir”. Love her or loathe her, the decision not to include her among the shortlist was…er…strange.

While Vianney and Jain (oh all right then AND Amir) were securing the future of French popular music for years to come (along with the excellent 20-year-old DJ Kungs - Valentin Brunel - Best electronic and dance album) some of the country’s Golden Oldies were marking their territory.

Unsurprisingly Renaud - who last year made a long-awaited comeback with the album (his first since 2009) “Toujours debout” - added to his career collection of gongs with Best Male Artist, although he missed out in the Best Album category to Benjamin Biolay’s “Palermo Hollywood” and after a decade apart, Louise Attaque marked their get together with Best rock album.

Calypso Rose (screenshot “Calypso Queen” official version)

As far as the most magical moment of the night…well apart from Imany calling for justice and equal treatment of different races during her gospel-inspired (and inspiring) performance of the superb “Silver lining (all clap your hands)" it had to be Trinidad and Tobago’s Calypso Rose (Linda McArtha Monica Sandy-Lewis) singing “Calypso Queen”.

An encore - the “stuffed suits” of the audience doing their thing and a declaration from the 76-year-old that she was now the ^Queen of France” after winning the Best World Music award was quite simply the highlight of the evening.

So here you are… this week’s Friday’s French music break - Calypso Rose with “Calypso Queen”.

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