A sprinkling of Agua Bella, or Peruvian Beautiful Water

paper-37332_1280Hi. A quick story. Had a shitty day. Diahorrea at 4am and agonising stomach cramps at 6am. Half a roll of toilet paper vanished, just like that! Wanted to stay in bed but had to put in an 11-hour shift again because of magazine deadlines. Made a couple of mid-morning emergency dashes to the men’s room at work. The company loo paper is cheap and rough! Ate dry biscuits and diahorrea tablets. Desperately needed a mid-afternoon siesta but had to make do with the office instant coffee instead. Soldiered on late into the night. Hailed a taxi near the office. I got into the cab. The driver looked Indian or Polynesian (most of the taxi drivers in Sydney are foreigners), he was quite dark skinned.

silhouette-44073_1280We set off, he was playing a CD featuring female singers. It took me a while to tune into it, to bring it from background muzak to front of mind. What language is this? I wondered. It’s not very Indian. It’s not very Bollywood. Some of the words I recognised. Was it some Indo-Spanish dialect? A Portuguese-speaking troupe from Goa? It’s kind of Lambada-ish (remember the lambada?). Quite soothing, in a way, the sort of music you need in a taxi home after a long diahorrea day. I thought I should investigate. My Shazam app was summoned. Sorry, we couldn’t find a match, it said. Singing or humming won’t be identified! Farting will be frowned upon! Oh fuck off, I thought.

stripper-150166_1280I gave up on Shazam and turned to the driver. “What is this CD?”. It turns out it was Agua Bella from Peru and, yup, he was Peruvian. And even for my tired brain there was no possibility of forgetting the group was Agua Bella because they somehow manage to yell the words “Agua Bella” in at the beginning and endings of all their songs, it seems. Talk about self-promotion! Since I haven’t featured any Peruvian music on this blog at all, I thought I would put you through the Agua Bella experience too. Judging by the visual and sound quality of these clips, they must have been around when video was just invented. (The sound was much better in the car.) Agua Bella seem to be a group of three, four, five, six or sometimes seven leggy women who prance around in mini-skirts or corsets or swimwear and wiggle their bums a lot. Now there’s a novel idea!


Dreams and nightmares on and off the football field

This school of piranhas could well be a pesadelo. Picture:  Pixabay

This school of piranhas could well be “um pesadelo”.  Picture: Pixabay

One Portuguese word that visiting journalists learnt in Brazil was pesadelo, although Brazilians would much rather they hadn’t. When Germany thumped the World Cup hosts 7-1 in the semifinal, it was “um pesadelo“, and then when Brazil’s great footballing rivals Argentina had the cheek to qualify for the final on Brazil’s prized home turf, it was, as Brazilian newspapers claimed, a case of “o pesadelo continua” – the nightmare continues. But Germany won the final so the latter pesadelo was averted.

I must confess I wasn’t greatly familiar with this word, I guess because I rarely have bad dreams. Bernardo’s biggest nightmare is having to get out of bed in the morning. So, let’s have a look at the bedtime possibilities in my five Romance languages.

 Better dreams tabPoints of note

  1. Italian, Spanish and Portuguese are very closely related except for Italian’s “incubo
  2. The French and Romanian “nightmares” are very similar.
  3. The “mar” element, and “mare” in English, are derived from the Middle Dutch mare (“phantom, spirit, nightmare”), from Proto-Germanic marǭ (“nightmare, incubus”), from Proto-Indo-European mor- (“malicious female spirit”), according to Wiktionary.
  4. Romanian appears to be doing the “vision” thing when it comes to dreams.

justice-297629_640Going back to the Portuguese word pesadelo…

  • It’s related to the word pesar, which as a masculine noun means sorrow, regret or grief; and as a verb means to weigh, scrutinise, consider, grieve or cause sorrow.
  • The adjectives pesado/pesada (masc/fem) mean heavy, weighty, hard, onerous, laborious, difficult and so on. In Brazilian slang they can also mean unlucky. Pesado as a noun in Brazilian slang means hard work.
  • Pesadamente is the adverb heavily, and pesadume (masc) is heaviness, weight, bitterness, sorrow, ill will, grudge.

Other common expressions

  • chuva pesada = heavy rain
  • indústria pesada = heavy industry
  • uma multa pesada = a heavy fine

It’s Bernardo’s bedtime, time to say good night and sweet dreams…

bed-307817_640P: boa noite e bons sonhos
S: buenas noches y dulces sueños
F: bonne nuit et de beaux rêves
I: buona notte e sogni d’oro
R: noapte buna si vise plăcute





The sultry chansons of Coeur de Pirate

Coeur de P Golden BayCoeur de Pirate’s cover of Mistral Gagnant on the tribute album La Bande à Renaud (now in its fourth week atop the French album charts) made me want to investigate her music a bit more. Coeur de Pirate (“Heart of a Pirate”) is the nom de plume of French-Canadian singer Béatrice Martin, who has had album and single chart success in France, Belgium, Switzerland, Austria and Germany as well as Canada. Some of her material is a little odd, but that could be said for many artists. Sometimes her songs remind me of a tinkling musical toybox with an outstretched ballerina going round and round on top of it. Perhaps its the way she tinkles the keyboards,or maybe they are childlike. See what you think…

First up is Place de la République, one of the most popular tracks from her album Blonde, released in 2011.

Also from that album is Golden Baby, which despite the title is mostly in French.

The next two, Comme des Infantes, and Ensemble are taken from her debut eponymous album, released in 2008.

Ensemble is a song I think my parents would like!

This collaboration with Julian Doré was a No.1 in France in 2009, but it has a very deliberate 1960s feel.

C de P's TraumaThis year Coeur de Pirate released an album of cover songs in English, as part of the series of soundtracks to the Canadian TV series Trauma, a medical drama set in a hospital in Montreal. The album includes Lucille (last made famous by Kenny Rogers) and Summer Wine, which was also covered recently by Lana del Rey.

Incidentally, Coeur de Pirate’s Mistral Gagnant is still in the top 30 singles in France, but Renaud’s original has dropped down 33 places to No.153.

Brazil 2014: The festa’s almost finished. Que pena!

World cup ballsBrazil’s participation in the 2014 FIFA World Cup has reached its amazing anti-climax – one goal scored and 10 conceded in its last two games. But once Brazilians get over the humiliation their team ultimately suffered on the football field, they should take some pride in having hosted what is widely regarded as the most exciting and colourful World Cup yet. So in that sense you have to say to the host country, “Parabéns!” – congratulations.

One reason why Brazil hosted the tournament was so that people all over the world could get to know more about the country. In Australia the World Cup has been shown on television by broadcaster SBS, and I was in the studio audience last night for the final episode (number 26) of The Full Brazilian, a prime-time comedy show that has been running ever since the tournament started. The atmosphere in the studio was great, there were four sexy female samba dancers decked out in feathers, three sexy males in capoeira uniforms thumping out infectious percussion, and the studio itself had great replicas of Cristo Redentor (the statue of Christ the Redeemer) and Pão de Açúcar (Sugar Loaf mountain), complete with cute little cable cars going up and down. The whole thing just made you want to go to carnival in Brazil immediately!

When you consider that his was just one of many offbeat shows that the event’s global broadcasters have been running over the past month, the tourism publicity for Brazil has been priceless, not just in the traditional media, but on social media too. The Guardian newspaper has given an excellent assessment of the event, from a socio-economic point of view in this editorial.

The event has also been a boost for the Portuguese language. Writers from English-language newspapers sprinkled their reports with catchphrases in Portuguese: for example, the jogo bonito, or beautiful game, for which Brazil was once renowned, which became the jogo colapso when Brazil was thumped 7-1 by Germany in the semifinals. By the end of that game every foreigner in Brazil could count to seven in Portuguese. And the non-Braziian fans who attended the tournament soon found out what a “festa” was. (On last night’s episode of The Full Brazilian, though, the host, comedian Jimeoin, took this to mean “fester“, which in English is not so pleasant. Still, by now you’d hope, journalists around the world won’t make embarrassing mistakes like this bunch of Australians did in saying that that language of Brazil was Spanish. No wait, Italian!

brazil-154542_640Many people are sad that the tournament is nearly over, but at least there is one more big festa to come – the celebrations of whichever nation that wins the final. And another consolation - we have the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro in 2016 to look forward to as well. Maybe we will all still be doing the full Brazilian for years to come.

Portuguese language notes

  • parabéns = congratulations
  • dar os parabéns = to congratulate
  • festa = festival, carnival
  • festar = to celebrate, dance, party
  • que pena! = what a pity!
  • (não) vale a pena = it’s (not) worth it
  • ter pena de = to feel sorry for
  • um colapso = a collapse, breakdown, break-up; (medical) shock or fit
  • sofrer um colapso mental = to suffer a mental breakdown
  • acabar (bem/mal) = to finish (well/badly)
  • acabou-se = it’s all over
  • terminar = to finish, to conclude
  • não se lastima o que bem termina = all’s well that ends well


Who’s afraid of Portuguese verbs? The first steps to fluency

mcall smith PIRPortuguese verbs have a fearsome reputation. The witty novelist Alexander McCall Smith wrote a short novel called Portuguese Irregular Verbs, a comedy about a well-meaning but mediocre German professor, Dr von Ingelfeld, who had spent his whole academic life studying Portuguese irregular verbs and felt that his efforts and expertise were not given due recognition. Surely he deserved a Nobel Prize at least! With a title like that, that novel was never destined to be a best-seller, but it did have interesting chapter titles, including “Duels, And How to Fight Them” and “Early Irish Pornography”. McCall Smith kept Dr von Ingelfeld going in two sequels, The Finer Points of Sausage Dogs and At The Villa of Reduced Circumstances, and all three books were later collated into a collection entitled The 2½ Pillars of Wisdom. Which just goes to show that a lifelong quest to conquer Portuguese verbs can’t be that bad after all.

Portuguese verbs can appear complicated but once you find the right way to go about learning them, it is possible to make progress. No matter how good your vocabulary is with nouns and infinitives, you can’t get going in any language until you can use verbs.

Like many Romance languages, Portuguese verbs require conjugation - the change comes in the word endings – and you just have to learn the endings by heart. But the good news is that in modern Portuguese, for each tense there are only four or five endings that you have to learn – depending on whether you include the “tu” subject pronoun or not. Tu means “you” (singular) but is used mainly in European Portuguese in very familiar relationships – with close friends and lovers, and so on. It is rarely used in Brazil, where the other singular “you” - você – is common, and você very conveniently takes the same verb endings as the third person singular ele and ela (he, she). The very formal ways of saying “you” singular, o senhor to a man and a senhora to a woman, also take the você/ele/ela endings, ditto for the plural forms.

So, the first thing you have to decide is: do you set out to learn the five verb endings typically used in Portugal, or the four verb endings typically used in Brazil? If your ambition in life is to holiday or live in Brazil but never in Portugal, then just opt for the four endings. Being lazy and keen on short cuts, that’s what I did initially. But afterwards I regretted it and had to backtrack and learn the “tu” forms, because they are used quite a lot in Portuguese love songs, films etc; and because if you develop an interest in the language you will probably want to go to Portugal or other Portuguese-speaking countries anyway.

We won’t deal with irregular verbs in this post, just regular ones in the present tense only, to illustrate the learning process.

Image from Pixabay

Image from Pixabay

There are three sets of regular verbs in Portuguese

  1. those ending in ar, for example, falar, to speak
  2. those ending in er, for example, comer, to eat
  3. those ending in ir, for example, partir, to leave

To conjugate the verbs, you drop the ar, er and ir to get the verb stems – in these examples, the stems are fal, com, part - then add the appropriate endings to the stems.

1) Let’s conjugate the ar verb to see the verb endings, present tense

  • eu falo - I speak
  • tu falas - you (singular, familiar) speak
  • você/ele/ela fala - you (singular) speak, he speaks, she speaks
  • nós falamos - we speak
  • vocês/eles/elas falam - you (plural) speak, they speak

So, to learn the verb, this is what you have to memorise

  • Brazilian Portuguese: falo, fala, falamos, falam
  • European Portuguese: falo, falas, fala, falamos, falam

2) The five endings for er verbs are: -o, -es, -e, -emos, -em. So to conjugate comer, this is all you have to learn

  • Brazilian Portuguese: como, come, comemos, comem
  • European Portuguese: como, comes, come, comemos, comem

3) The five endings for ir verbs are exactly the same as for -er verbs except in the first person plural, where emos becomes imos: -o, -es, -e, -imos, -em. So to conjugate partir, this is what you have to learn

  • Brazilian Portuguese: parto, parte, partimos, partem
  • European Portuguese: parto, partes, parte, partimos, partem

There are other points to note that will simplify the learning process.

  • For all verbs in Portuguese in the present tense, except for six, the first person singular (“eu“) verb ending is always -o. The six exceptions are: sou and estou (I am), vou (I go), dou (I give), sei (I know) and hei (I have).
  • Likewise, for all verbs in Portuguese in the present tense, except for five, the “vocês/eles/elas” verb ending is either -am or -em. The five exceptions are: são and estão (you plural and they are), vão (you/they go), dão (you/they give), and hão (you/they have).
  • For all verbs in Portuguese, in any tense, the first person plural (‘nós‘) ending is always -mos.
  • As noted above, the only difference between er and ir verbs is the -emos/-imos in the first person plural.

Bernardo’s learning method: Whenever I would go swimming (my main form of exercise), to the rhythm of a word for each freestyle arm stroke I would chant the following: falo, fala, falamos, falam, como, come, comemos, comem, parto, parte, partimos, partem... I usually used the four-word sequence rather than the five-word one (I prefer even numbers to odd) remembering that in the present tense, the tu ending is formed simply by adding an s to the second word in each sequence: fala(s), come(s), parte(s). Easy! :D

tile-214364_640However, although the four-word sequence was relatively easy to memorise, when it came to having a real conversation in Portuguese, I found that using one of the verb endings out of sequence was initially quite difficult. For example, if I wanted to say “we are speaking” my brain would have to go “falo, fala” first before allowing “falamos” to come to the fore. To counter this, you have to jumble up the sequence every now and then, giving yourself random bits in English to translate (for example: he is speaking – fala; they speak – falam; we speak – falamos; etc), or going through the sequence backwards: falam, falamos, fala, falas, falo.

When you can think of the right ending for the situation promptly every time, then you have mastered the present tense, and are ready to boldly go on to tackle the future, conditional, imperfect, past, subjunctive, imperative and all the irregular verbs and the so-called radical-changing verbs. How much time do you have, haha!


For a fuller explanation of the Portuguese subject pronouns, have a look at:

Know : List of Percentage of Websites by Languages

Bernard O'Shea:

Hi, this is one of many interesting posts on the blog Propel Steps. Take note, My Five Romance languages are all in the top 20! Do go to Propel Steps, which has information on many topics. One of their recent posts is all about Portugal.

Originally posted on PROPEL STEPS:

Most web pages on the Internet are in English, with varying amounts of information available in many other languages. In April 2013, almost 55% of the most visited websites used English as their content language. Other top languages which are used at least in 2% of websites are RussianGermanSpanishChineseFrenchJapaneseArabic and Portuguese.

The list below shows the Estimates of the percentages of Web sites using various content languages as of 12 March 2014

Rank Language Percentage
1 English 55.7%
2 Russian 6.0%
3 German 6.0%
4 Japanese 5.0%
5 Spanish 4.6%
6 French 4.0%
7 Chinese 3.3%
8 Portuguese 2.3%
9 Italian 1.8%
10 Polish 1.7%
11 Turkish 1.3%
12 Dutch 1.3%
13 Arabic 0.8%
14 Persian 0.8%
15 Czech 0.7%
16 Swedish 0.6%
17 Indonesian 0.4%
18 Korean 0.4%
19 Vietnamese 0.4%
20 Romanian 0.4%

View original 176 more words

Who will talk the talk as World Cup enters knockout phase?


It’s mine, mine, mine!

Sixteen teams have departed from Brazil, and the World Cup knock-out phase is shortly to begin. Sixteen teams still dream of being the 2014 FIFA World Cup champion (and in a couple of hours they will be down to fourteen). There is so much analysis of the event from a footballing point of view available, so let’s be nerdy and take a linguistic look instead. Who will get bragging rights come the final whistle, who will squawk and screech and howl in protest at the inevitable controversies to come?

In the top half of the draw, one semifinalist will come from the winners of  ….

  • Brazil v Chile
  • Colombia v Uruguay

It’s a Romance language affair – 1 x Brazilian Portuguese team among 3 x South American Spanish teams. The pressure on Brazil to perform at home is enormous. Chile and Colombia look dangerous.

... and the other semifinalist will emerge from 

  • France v Nigeria
  • Germany v Algeria

European giants v African outsiders; The languages involved, of course, are French (some commentators are calling Algeria the French B team), Arabic, German and English, bearing in mind that there are many, many languages African languages in Nigeria.

football-114653_1280In the bottom half of the draw, one semifinalist will come from the winners of  ….

  • Netherlands v Mexico
  • Costa Rica v Greece

This is Europe v Latin America; Dutch and Greek against Latanish/Spatin.

... and the other semifinalist will emerge from 

  • Argentina v Switzerland
  • Belgium v USA

So many languages involved here! Spanish via Argentina (and it’s increasingly important in the United States); Swiss French, Swiss German, Swiss Italian – and let’s not forget Romansh; Belgian Dutch (Flemish), Belgian French, Belgian German and Walloon (a Romance language), and American English.

People are saying it has been Latin America’s tournament so far, so just going by the force of numbers, Spanish has to be the best bet. But things can quickly change – in a couple of hours at least one, if not two, of those Spanish speaking teams will be gone. Now I am signing off to catch 2 hours’ sleep before Brazilian Portuguese takes on La Roja Spanish at the ungodly hour of 2am Australian time. If  your team is still in the competition, good luck!


Sex, cocktails and the World Cup: a uniquely Brazilian way to score

caipirinha condomThe World Cup is on and everyone has got to cash in on it somehow, particularly businesses in the host country Brazil. Not all the action happens on the field, of course. There is all the celebrating and partying and socialising that goes on too. You know, lots of kissing, hugging and biting. With that in mind, mischievous condom manufacturer Prudence has brought out a limited edition Caipirinha-flavoured condom. Caipirinha is Brazil’s national cocktail, made with cachaça (alcohol distilled from sugar cane juice), sugar and lime. I hope they bring out a feijoada version too (feijoada is the national dish, a stew made with black beans and pork). FIFA should cash in on this too and make it the official condom of the World Cup.

I’m partial to caipirinhas, vodka too. I’m so looking forward to the limited edition FIFA 2018 Russian World Cup condom, which is bound to have lots of vodka in it. I’m not sure what the limited edition 2022 Qatari World Cup condom will be, maybe a date juice-flavoured condom for those who like hot dates?

Watch out for the pingadeira!

Incidentally, another word for cachaça is pinga. When I first went to Brazil with my Portuguese-Australian friends, our hosts at a pousada in Paraty were saying we should go to a festival da pinga, which we thought meant a festival of the penis. :D (We don’t often come across pinga here in Australia.) But as you will see there are some kind of sex-related connotations in the related vocab:

  • uma pinga: a drop; booze (formal); a gulp, swallow; a roof gutter; a penniless person (all informal or popular usage)
  • estar na pinga: to be drunk
  • pingadeira: a dripping pan; small but continuous receipts; constant expense; (Brazilian usage) the clap, gonorrhea 
  • pingado: besprinkled, full of drops; drunk; coffee with a few drops of milk added

I don’t think Prudence is a good name for a condom brand – it’s too dull and earnest. It’s sex for prudes. Protuberance or Exuberance would be much better.

essential party vocabulary in my five Romance languages


If you enjoyed this post, or if you are thinking of making condom purchases, you might like to read about the Romanian computer hacker with a penchant for grape-flavoured condoms, a story where you can also find what the words are for “condom” in my five Romance languages.

Test your wits: can you pass the Maître Gims/Sexion d’Assaut Brevet quiz?

Bella for BrevetIn the past couple of days there have been rumours going around the Twitterverse, or at least the French part of it, that the lyrics to Bella by Maître Gims would be a comprehension text for this year’s Diplome National du Brevet. (You can hear the song on my post Sounds from France via Africa: three hits by Maître Gims). The circulation of a supposed picture of the exam paper (right) caused a French fracas.

While Bella is a decent enough song, to translate a quote on the subject on the Europe1 website, it “does not really lend itself to a test of French where one would expect to study Maupassant, Camus or Victor Hugo”. In other words: Quelle horreur! The lyrics by a rapper born in Zaire are suddenly worthy of serious study. The purists were choking on their cafés au lait and their croissants. (The Diplome National du Brevet is taken by students at the end of their troisième or “3eme” – the final school year before high school, their last year of compulsory schooling. More detail here if you need it).

Personally, though, if I was a student of that age, I’d rather have Maître Gims than Hugo on my exam papers. Unfortunately, or fortunately if you’re a purist, it was a hoax.

The weeks fly by fast. Once again Black M is top of the French singles charts – third week in a row now – with Sur Ma Route, while La Bande à Renaud have held on to the No. 1 album slot.

Maître Gims and Black M are members of a collective of mostly African-born singers known as Sexion d’Assaut, a group which, according to Wikipedia, distinguishes themselves by staying away from “bling bling” that other French rappers have adopted. Bernardo quite likes Maître Gims and Black M, and he tends to stay away from “bling bling” too, so he thought he’d investigate Sexion d’Assaut. This is what he found.

They had a No.1 hit in 2012 with this effort, which also features a great but bemused-looking string quintet playing in the background. What’s the symbolism? Not much bling bling here, grey is the colour. Are some of these rappers wearing cardigans!

That was taken from the album L’Apogée (a No.1 in both France and Belgium), which spawned other hit singles, including this one, which seems to have an educational theme. Are they sitting for their Brevet?

Ok, last song. The lyrics are on this clip. Study them carefully then answer the questions below to see if you are worthy of a diplome.

Diplome National du Brevet
Serie Generale
Session 2014
Epreuve de Franglais

  1. What do mothers, fathers, motherhood and fatherhood symbolise in this text?
  2. Write a 300-word Freudian analysis of the “Ohohohoh” refrain.
  3. Who would make a better rapper – Camus, Hugo or Maupassant?
  4. Does the French national football team wear too much bling bling?
  5. What problems do adults have? Limit your list to no more than 500 and offer solutions to half of them.
  6. Which comes first, the chicken or l’oeuf?
  7. The name Sexion d’assaut is a play on “section d’assaut” – the assault section (of a platoon etc). Think of 15 other words in which sec could be changed to sex and then use them to argue why we should make love, not war.
  8. Why do rappers flap their hands so much? Give your answers in sign language and post them on YouTube.
  9. Who should be the next white member of Sexion d’Assaut – Charles Aznavour, Plastique Bertrand, Gerard Depardieu, Renaud or Nicolas Sarkozy?
  10. Think of a 10th question then write it in the box below. Bernard’s grey cells have gone to sleep and the rest of his body wants to do the same. Bonne nuit!.


Straight to No.1 – the Renaud revival is in full swing

A fortnight ago I wrote in anticipation of a revival of interest in the music of the great French gruff one, Renaud. More specifically, that 15 artists under the moniker of La Bande à Renaud had recorded his best-known songs on an album, and that the first single from it, Mistral Gagnant by Coeur de Pirate, had entered the French top 50.

The following week the signs weren’t so good: Mistral Gagnant dropped nine places from 47 to 56. I grew morose. “Bernardo, you are out of touch,” I told myself. “You’re living in the past. Nobody likes Renaud anymore.”

Wrong, wrong, wrong! The album has just debuted at No. 1 on the French chart, and Mistral Gagnant has zoomed into the top 20 singles – at number 13, actually. “Bernardo, you’re bloody brilliant,” I now tell myself. “You are so on the ball. You don’t just anticipate trends, you don’t just set trends, you’re, like, so far ahead the Hubble telescope has trouble tracking you. Take a bow, Bernardo!” (Long pause while Bernardo tries to take a bow but his big stomach gets in the way and it’s all a bit of a strain).

Here is an extract of the details from the French music charts blog:

  • We have a brand new Number One in this week’s French albums chart, as La Bande A Renaud enters straight to the top. Like the two volumes of Génération Goldman for Jean-Jacques Goldman, some artists (such as Coeur De Pirate, Jean-Louis Aubert, Nolwenn Leroy, or Carla Bruni to name a few) sing Renaud‘s best-known songs. Since the first French albums chart was published in January 1985, Renaud got six chart-topping LPs, with Mistral Gagnant (for four weeks in January 1986), Putain De Camion (for two weeks in April 1988), A La Belle De Mai (for two weeks in November 1994), Boucan D’Enfer (for five weeks in June and August 2002), Rouge Sang (for two weeks in October 2006), and Molly Malone Balade Irlandaise (for two weeks in November and December 2009). Renaud‘s compilation Le Plein De Super ! re-enters at number 31.

On the singles chart, another song that I have been raving about, Black M‘s Sur Ma Route, has spent its second week at the top of the charts.

It hasn’t all be great news for La Bande à Renaud, though. The second single from the album, and the one on which they all perform, Dès Que Le Vent Soufflera, conveniently poitioned for you at the top of this post, has barely made an impression – after four weeks on the charts it drops from 96 to 107. Meanwhile, Renaud’s original version of Mistral Gagnant has re-entered the charts at 111. It will be interesting to see whether these songs go up or down next week. You can listen to Coeur de Pirate and Renaut’s new and old versions of Mistral Gagnant here.

For fun, I thought I would chuck in some covers of Renaud’s songs by other artists.

Here the sad ballad, Manu, gets some raw rock treatment from Zephyr 21.

Vanessa Paradis and Maxime Le Forestier did an acclaimed version of Mistral Gagnant way back 1998.

Italian singer Alessio Lega often adapts French songs into Italian, including these three by Renaud.

The Renaud song that seems to be covered most by other artists is Hexagone, (from 1975) probably because of its political venom – it is a sarcastic, brutal assessment of the flaws of the French people, going through their trivial pursuits month by month. On La Bande à Renaud, the task of updating it fell to Nicola Sirkis, the lead singer of Indochine.

There have been rap versions of this too, but for me none beats Renaud’s original. I have chosen a clip whose images will give you some idea of what he’s going on about.