A particularly touching sub-genre of love songs is the love song from a father to his spouse once they’ve had children. The Nature Of Me is one of these – it’s got a quality to it that is at once anthemic and intimate, and Michael’s wife and long term musical collaborator Shimrit features on backing vocals.
You might remember Michael and Shimrit from the Israeli national Eurovision final in 2011, where they delighted us with Tou Dou Dou. If you don’t remember that, you should definitely check it out. In fact, check out all his work, it’s delightful.
Michael has a website.
Michael is on Facebook.
How about some totally chill French hiphop just as the temperatures in the UK start rising? Hippocampe Fou, the crazy seahorse, who describes himself as an underwater troubadour brings us a cloud of verbiage including the phrase “I couldn’t make friends with my 3D printer” and name-checking Prince, Queen, GTA and the Kingdom of Hyrule.
Hippocampe Fou is on Facebook
Continuing the party theme that we seem to have spontaneously dropped into on this unseasonably hot week in September, we’ve got a bit of French dance pop that seems to suggest the drinking of cocktails next to perfect azure hotel pools and the wearing of expensive sunglasses on French beaches.
Lockhart is a Parisian DJ/producer and Fishbach is an extremely interesting alt-pop singer songwriter. Together, they conjure up a bit of louche magic.
Lockhart generously has this song available for download on Soundcloud
This is so cute. So colourful and loveable. This is ‘Toi et Moi’ by Lea Lu from Switzerland and it’s notable in being a song that contains a whistled refrain that didn’t immediately prompt me to skip over it – whistling being my musical bête noire – but instead made me go back to the beginning and give it a proper listen.
Then I went to her website and found a picture of her wearing turquoise metallic eyeliner and green eyeshadow in a look that I can only describe as #goals.
Lea Lu is on Facebook
Lea Lu is also quite good at Instagram
Continuing our occasional visits to the littler countries of Europe, tonight we bring you IRINA from Luxembourg. This band grew out of an acoustic duo of songwriters, and are now a six-piece with an accordionist and a full album that is out now. I really like Irina’s singing voice, which has a richness and strength to it that you don’t often hear in a folky singer-songwriter context. Home is a warm but gently sad song, partially in English, partially in French (unless that’s Luxemburgish). I think the French bit sounds like it’s got a bit more welly behind it, and I’d be interested to hear an alternate version all in French.
Irina are on Reverb Nation
Irina are on Soundcloud
Irina are on Facebook
And after the disappointment of yesterday’s Wales game, I bring you some good stuff to enjoy during Germany vs France, a game which feels more like the final than the final actually will.
For Germany we have Richard Istel, who I understand to be something of a child music prodigy who is now a grown adult and still a popstar. Unlike The Biebs, Richard appears to have kept it together, but like The Biebs, he’s making vaguely tropical pop – this sounds like you could mix it very smoothly into Era Istrefi’s big song and then top the whole thing off with Margaret. And you would have a nice time.
For France we have something completely different, and one of the more unsettling videos that I’ve posted. Ina-Ich are an alternative rock band formed by Kim Thuy Ngyuen, jazz prodigy and daughter of political refugees. According to their website, their name means ‘persistent and disturbing’ in Vietnamese and that is a good stab at describing their song ‘Ma chair et mon sang’. It’s lovely, have a listen.
Still Mir Dir – Richard Istel [It’s the sound of the summer. Es ist zo schön.]
Ma chair et mon sang – iNA-iCH [Very abrasive French art-metal with a nice guitar solo and UNSETTLING VISUALS – YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED]
And we start the last round of games with something a bit nice. If you want something loud, try the other match.
For Switzerland we’ve got James Gruntz from Basel, who isn’t the punk tribute to James Blunt, but a pop balladeer.
For France we have Christine and the Queens. They’re famous enough outside France to be advertised on the London Underground, but I thought you might like her song Christine.
Dark Side of the Moon – James Gruntz [Delicate, spacey ballad. Not a cover]
Christine – Christine and the Queens [Laid back but melodic pop with a spoken word middle eight]
It’s Belgium vs Ireland and I’m going to introduce you to the biggest star you’ve not yet heard of.
Stromae is MASSIVE in Benelux and France. Seriously, look how many views Tous les mêmes has and boggle at how this is the first you’re hearing of him. Anyway, he can sing, he can dance, he looks good in and out of drag, what more is there for a pop star to achieve?
From Ireland we’ve got a really good band who play big band Jamaican ska, Interskalactic. They have such a lovely retro sound and they just seem happy.
Tous les mêmes- Stromae [Extraordinarily accomplished gender pop with amazing physicality]
Simmer Down – Interskalactic [The sunny sound of ska, authentically and enthusiastically interpreted]
I am really starting to get into French pop music. And the football is quite diverting, I suppose. Tonight’s final match is France vs Albania. France is represented by epic pop diva Shy’m who has a song called Tandem which I don’t think is about cycling. From Albania we have some quite mellow hip-hop from MC Kresha. The song is called Hip Hop and as far as I can tell, it’s the story of how much hip hop meant to the rappers as kids in a communist country.
Tandem – Shy’m [Fashion forward pop with a massive chorus]
Hip Hop – MC Kresha & Lyrical Son feat Ledri Vula [Rather old school Albanian rhymes over some rather old school Albanian samples]
This is a track from 2004 – which was a pretty impressive year for pop music and Ma Philosophie sits comfortably alongside the best of the R&B ballads in the UK charts from the time. 2004 was also the year when reality TV music shows really got going, when the artists/contestants were still generally good but the music hadn’t totally infiltrated the market to the detriment of (almost) everything else. Amel Bent got through to the semi-finals of France’s version of Pop Idol, Nouvelle Star 2 and got signed after she left the show. She released her latest album in 2014 and looking at her Twitter account it appears she’s just had her first baby – Congratulations Amel!
The music buying people of France kept this at Number 1 in the charts for six weeks and it sold 500,000 copies which is pretty good going. My GCSE level French can keep up with bits of it and it’s clear enough that you could sing along approximately and still get a reasonable amount of the words right. Having run the lyrics through a translator I’m happy to say they are quite empowering, “I am the ace that beats the king” is one line that is particularly strong. It’s a R&B/soul ballad of the best sort.
You may also be interested in hearing Amel singing Eye of the Tiger.