Many music critics – chiefly English-speaking ones – tend to be contemptuous of French “rock” music, arguing that rock is not something the French do well. To which I say, listen to something by Téléphone. Unfortunately Téléphone split up a long while ago, and in their absence my favourite French band nowadays is Indochine. Here is a selection of some of their best known songs. I was going to restrict myself to three, but the more I listened to their music, the more I had to include, it was that good (there are seven clips, but two are of the same song, one live and one studio, so I am counting it as six of the best.) It’s not for nothing that this band has had four No.1 and three No.2 albums in France and have charted consistently in Belgium and Switzerland and other Francophone countries. Much of their music is more pop-rock or new wave (they formed in the early 1980s) than rock, but as you will see from the clips below, they can certainly rock the stadium (the Stade de France, in Paris, recorded in 2010). What I also like about their material is that it makes the French language seem very user-friendly … see how vocal the crowd is and how easy the songs are to sing along to. If you like this sort of music and want to brush up on your French, this is the band for you.
We’ll start off with two songs, Le Lac (The Lake) and Little Dolls, which were on the album La République des Meteors, which made No.2 in France in 2009.
Next up is my pick of their grittier rock songs, Marylin … looks like it is more Marylin Manson than Monroe. This is the sort of music I like to play loud when I am feeling energetic, when vacuuming, for example (which is about the most energetic activity I can do nowadays).
Here’s the stadium version. What a buzz the singers must get in front of crowds like this!
Although they have charted many times, Indochine’s only No. 1 single in France to date is J’ai demandé à la lune (I asked the moon), one of six singles taken from their most successful album, Paradize, which was released in 2002.
Moving on a decade, the next song is from 2012, Memoria, the first single of from what would turn out to be another No. 1 album, Black City Parade.
The follow-up single, College Boy, is all about homophobia, bullying and violence, and how onlookers who turn a blind eye allow cruelty to fester. Be warned, it’s quite confronting.
Incidentally, lead singer Nicola Sirkis was one of the artists involved in La Bande à Renaud, the album that recently spent four weeks at the top of the French album charts, as was Jean-Louis Aubert of Téléphone. Indochine’s official website is here. Indochine are currently doing gigs and are said to be working on new album.