French singer Pascal Obispo has a new release out this week, Le Grand Amour, his 11th studio album since 1990. It will be interesting to see how it fares – most of his albums have peaked at either No. 1 or No.2 on the French charts, and he’s already had a No.1 this year – the 35-track compilation CD Millésimes – so he is well and truly in the public eye. I love the cover of that album (right) – with its black and white photo of a kid in a cloth cap (is it Pascal himself?), the lips in a contorted position, the expression on the face that only a kid, really, can produce. It evokes another, more innocent era, rather like the films (My Father’s Glory, My Mother’s Castle) based on the memoirs of Marcel Pagnol, which I vaguely remember having to read either at high school or university. Obispo can sing in a number of styles, including uptempo pop/rock, but on the whole his music is soft, with lush strings and piano melodies (Lucie, for example). I sometimes wish he would put a bit more “oomph” into it. The first single release from Le Grand Amour is a typically sombre but melodic ballad, D’un Avé Maria. It highlights the clarity and versatility of his voice and the beauty of the language.
Here are a couple of popular songs from early in his career. Personne, from 1996, was his first top 10 hit in France. “Personne” in French can mean “person” but also, oddly, “no one”, or “nobody”.
His first No. 1 was a song called Fan. It’s pretty gimmicky. In the video he goes good impersonations of the likes of AC/DC, Kiss, an amusing, big-boobed Freddie Mercury from Queen, Elvis and James Bond, among others. Check it out.
Having spent the past couple of hours skimming through Obispo’s back catalogue, though, I must say that while I find much of his music is pleasant, and sometimes quite unusual, it doesn’t exactly make you sit up and take notice. My next post will feature someone who definitely does.