We could all use a little more romance in our lives, and no matter what it is they are singing about, the French do romance incredibly well. There is something nostalgic, something so tenderly beautiful about the city of love and all its artistic history, including the aching words of its love songs, and the passion and the candor of their execution.
When was the last time you sat with a record player and a glass of wine and simply listened to the crooning of a French song? We may or may not be able to put our finger on why, but there really is no other kind of music that makes us feel exactly like French songs do. Here is a list of some of the best romantic singers that France has offered us.
Was there anyone more beautiful than Brigitte Bardot? While better known perhaps for her acting roles than her singing, Bardot spent a significant amount of time producing some wonderful songs, the most famous of them perhaps being the 1968 hit Bonnie and Clyde, which she recorded with Serge Gainsbourg. Bardot’s music is sexy, dreamy, nostalgic. We dare you not to float away on the intoxicating French lyrics …
Gainsbourg was a writer and producer who worked with numerous French women to create some of the most charming pop songs, albums and film scores from the 60s through to the 80s. It was his earlier work, however, that truly struck a chord. His work with Bardot and wife Jane Birkin is memorable, particularly the heated (and controversial) track Je T’aime Moi Non Plus which he shared vocally with Birkin.
Perhaps the most famous of all the French singers, Piaf was indomitable. They called her “the little sparrow” and her legend has continued to grow posthumously. No singer has rivaled her since, for she was the most insane amalgamation of being street-smart, powerful, passionate and frail all at once. She learned to sing on the streets and was trained by professionals as she moved through the ranks to become the greatest French singer of all time. Her music cuts through you now, just the same as it always did.
The prettiest French pop songs you ever will hear come from this singer. You will never tire of listening to Françoise.
Also an actress, doe-eyed Birkin has a sensational music career to boot. First discovered by and then married to Gainsbourg, her tunes have a childish innocence while still oozing romance. The languid and poppy sweetness of her songs is the perfect slow-dance-after-dinner music.
Though Belgian-born, Brel composed and performed most of his songs in French. A friend and singing companion of Edith Piaf, Brel created some of the most beautiful, piano ballads and his songs were influential to the likes of David Bowie and Nina Simone.
A last minute replacing of her sister in a singing competition would suddenly veer into an illustrious pop career for the impassioned and beautiful Marie Laforêt. The videos of her live performances are compelling and emotionally charged, particularly her version of Viens Viens. Laforêt has a most unusual and distinguished singing voice, and her songs evoke passion and love. You’ll be singing in full (French) force in no time.
One could cook all their meals to a Carla Bruni album! Her smoky voice and gentle guitar makes you want to push open the windows and welcome in Spring (no matter what the season). It is the perfect floating-around-the-house music.
Bocarra is a Moroccan-born multilingual French singer, also of Italian heritage. With an operatic vocal style and an orchestra behind her, Bocarra is the stuff of legends. The track Hundred Thousand Songs is the quintessential example of the idea behind this article. Do yourselves a favor — grab a glass of wine, sit back, close your eyes, and just listen.
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