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Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Before Iggy Pop: Five Artists' Memorable And/Or Awful Attempts to Sing in French

Posted By on Tue, Apr 24, 2012 at 8:41 AM


On May 9th, Iggy Pop is releasing his latest album. Woo-hoo! But wait. Simmer down. The record is called Après and it will be comprised mostly of French cover versions -- Edith Piaf and Serge Gainsbourg songs included. We applaud Iggy's ongoing enthusiasm for multi-culturalism and bilingual experimentation, but when native-English-speaking artists have rolled into Francophilia-town before now, the results haven't always been stellar. We'll start with the best and roll on up to the worst. Here are the top five most memorable incidents of English-speakers singing French. Voila!

5. "Sunday Girl (French Version)", Blondie

Frankly, Debbie Harry could sing in Swahili and it would still sound dreamy, so we can't be mad about this en Francais rendition of "Sunday Girl," which is actually executed remarkably well. The only part that bums us out is that they leave "Sunday Girl" in its original English, instead of fully committing and boldly translating the entire song. We think "Dimanche Fille" has quite a nice ring to it.

4. The Beatles, "Michelle"

In the U.K., schools more commonly teach students French than any other language, thanks to the fact that the two countries are directly next door to each other (and are now joined by an underwater tunnel). As such, most British people have some grasp of the language. Here Paul McCartney pulls out his old vocab dictionary and peppers "Michelle" with one basic French phrase that if translated entirely, leaves McCartney singing: "Michelle, my lovely, are words that go together well, very well together." A for effort, Paul. A for effort...

3. "Je Ne Sais Pas Pourquoi," Kylie Minogue

Speaking of high school French, Kylie Minogue also had the good sense to stick to one key phrase (the song title means "I Do Not Know Why"), rather than going overboard. But then the video happened, featuring an intro involving an elegant and wise French woman who doesn't roll her eyes at Kylie's terrible accent (anyone who has been to Paris knows that there is, in fact, a great deal of eye-rolling involved when speaking the language to the natives), followed by one of the flattest and most lifeless music videos in history. Not Ms. Minogue's finest moment, by any stretch of the imagination.

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