Indochine’s summer fantasies

Few bands give me more pleasure than French outfit Indochine, and I have been catching up on some of the tracks from their latest album 13 (yes, it’s their thirteenth studio album). It went to No.1 in France and spawned two No.1 singles. Here’s one of them, Un été français (A French summer).

So, it looks like it was filmed in frosty conditions, when one might be dreaming of a nice warm summer. Which is appropriate when you consider the first four lines of the chorus: Quand je suis cerné  (When I’m surrounded) Je rêve d’un été français (I dream of a french summer) Un été parfait (A perfect summer) Où rien ne pourra m’arriver (Where nothing can happen to me)

Indochine’s live concerts have a great vibe and I often prefer the live versions of a song to the studio equivalent, because the choruses are rousing and great for stirring up a crowd. Here’s a two-minute extract of the song from a concert in Lille.


Cerné is the past participle of the verb cerner, to surround, encircle, so if you were to say, Give yourselves up, you’re surrounded it would be Rendez-vous, vous êtes cernés (the s is added to make it plural).

There is a nice expression in French, avoir les yeux cernés – literally, “to have encircled or surrounded eyes” although this would be translated as to have rings under or around one’s eyes.

Cerner also has another meaning, to figure out, work out, determine. The example given in my Oxford Hachette dictionary is J’ai du mal à le cerner – I can’t make him out.

Cerner can also mean to shell nuts.


The full lyrics to the song are below, and here is the English translation on the Lyrics Translate website.

Un jour dans ma vie
Où je n’ai pas envie
De rester en place
Encore un lundi sans vie
Où je ne subis que le temps qui passe
Mardi c’est l’estomac noué
À rester enfermé
Et à marcher au pas
Mercredi je rêve d’une autre vie
Si tout pouvait s’arrêter là Histoire d’avoir le choix

Quand je suis cerné
Je rêve d’un été français
Un été parfait
Où rien ne pourra m’arriver
Pardonne-moi si ici
Tout devient froid national
Un pays infernal
À nous la petite mort

Je suis à la mauvaise place
Le jeudi et toutes les promesses que
Tu m’avais faites
Comme un vendredi noir
Où j’ai tout oublié
Et le rôle de ma vie
Et je me sens un peu solitaire
Un peu trop vieux
Pour mourir en hiver
Je voudrais bien une place au soleil
Mais ici tout le monde a encore
Besoin de moi

Des nuits sur un toit
À regarder les orages
Et en courant les dangers
Des éclairs sur ton visage
Et des étoiles près de toi
Et nos rêves imparfaits
Le temps d’un été français
Où on aurait tout oublié

Des nuits sur un toit
A regarder les orages
Et le ciel nous attend
Et les poissons volants
Et des étoiles près de toi
(quand je suis cerné…)
Et nos rêves imparfaits
(Je rêve d’un été français)
Le temps d’un été français (d’un été parfait….)
Et nos rêves imparfaits

Note: I’m a bit behind the times, the album 13 was actually released in September 2017, some four years after its predecessor. I was travelling at the time, and then moved house in October/November so in this period I had yeux cernés and wasn’t really paying much attention.


Maître Gims is back, so is Vianney. Are you disturbed?

It’s been a while since I listened to French music so I thought I’d see what some of my favourite singers have been up to. The first name I typed in Google was the “Master” a.k.a. Maître Gims. My timing was fortuitous – he has just released this third album after three years. It’s called Ceinture Noire (“Black Belt”) and already it has topped the charts in France, Belgium and Switzerland.

It’s a double album with 40 tracks on it, among them a number of collaborations, including this track, La Même (“The Same”), with Vianney, which is the No. 1 song in France at the moment. It’s very catchy, and as the video below with the lyrics shows, there is a lot of clever word-play in it.

I didn’t know much about Vianney and while I think they make great collaborators (I love Vianney’s vocals in the chorus), the fact that they had teamed up together must have raised eyebrows, for they’re quite different in style: Maître Gims with his hip-hop background, Vianney the geeky troubador. Here’s his most successful single to date as a solo artist, Je m’en vais (“I’m leaving”), which made No.2 in France two years ago.

Le Parisien did a detailed interview with Maître Gims about his latest album, you can read it here. Maître Gims says Vianney is like Ed Sheeran, but with more “urban zest”. Ouch, Ed! Still, as the following track shows, Vianney can be cheerful and chirpy too, and it has a zesty African feel (Vianney was born in France, Maître Gims in the DR Congo).


The chorus of La Même is mostly Si je vous gêne, bah, c’est la même.

  •  gêner  = to embarrass, bother, disturb.
  • c’est la même implies it’s always the same thing (c’est toujours la même, nothing changes, so what’s new.
  • bah implies contempt, disdain, exasperation! 

Alexandra Stan wants you to listen, Indila wants you to wait a bit more

Recently I heard a song that’s a mix of French and English by Romanian singer Alexandra Stan. It reminded me in parts of one of the most popular French singers of late, Indila, so I thought it worth sharing. It’s called Écoute, which means “listen”.

In truth there is not much French in the song, but hey, we have to be grateful for what we get, which in this case is the chorus.

Écoute, écoute, écoute-moi
Et suis la route après ma voie
Tu sais bien que je suis là pour toi
Écoute, écoute, écoute-moi

Alexandra is best known for her hit Mr Saxobeat, which was massive – and I mean MASSIVE – in some parts of the world in 2011. For me it was one of those songs that can irritate and yet prove infectious (like Macarena, for example)

In the meantime I (and I am sure many other fans) are waiting for something new from Indila – it’s been three years since her remarkable debut album Mini World and singles such as S.O.S and Dernière Danse made their mark. Still, she has been promising on her Twitter account for a while now that her second album is due out soon. Just to refresh your memories of her, here is one of the other singles from that album.


French chansons from the fairer sex

More sultry songs from Coeur de Pirate

pirateHello, me hearties, it’s time we caught up with Coeur de Pirate. So read on otherwise you will have to walk the plank!

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 Europe as well as Canada. The last time she featured her was in mid-2014 in the post The sultry songs of Coeur de Pirate. Those songs are well worth revisiting.

Since then, in late August 2015, she has released another album, Roses, which went to number two on the Canadian charts, and made the top 10 in both France and Belgium and the top 20 in Switzerland. This time, though, more than half the tracks are in English. Here are some songs from Roses, and you can get translations of her lyrics into various languages from this page on the Lyrics Translate website.

The first single from the album was Oublie Moi, (“Forget me“). It’s jaunty.

Coeur de Pirate did an English version of the song, using the title Carry On.

A good review of the album and interview with Coeur de Pirate discussing the inspiration behind it can be found here.

I really like Crier tout bas, which was the third single from the album. The title’s meaning is contradictory (in the same way that “more haste, less speed” would appear to be) – Crier tout bas means shout in a very low voice, or scream softly. The French lyrics are at bottom.

Crier tout bas

Je t’ai vu tracer le long du paysage
Une ligne des aimés qui détruisent ton langage
Et quand tu chantais plus fort dans ton silence
Je voyais les larmes couler toujours à contresens

Mais quand les saisons attendront ton retour
Ce sera le vent qui portera secours

Et si la terre est sombre, et si la pluie te noie
Raconte-moi qu’on puisse trembler ensemble
Et si le jour ne vient pas dans la nuit des perdus
Raconte-moi qu’on puisse crier tout bas

J’ai voulu calmer ton souffle qui s’étouffait
Des courses vers le vide, ton rire qui soupirait
Si tu mets le cap vers des eaux restant troubles
Je serai le phare qui te guidera toujours

Mais quand les saisons attendront ton retour
Ce sera le vent qui portera secours

Et si la terre est sombre, et si la pluie te noie
Raconte-moi qu’on puisse trembler ensemble
Et si le jour ne vient pas dans la nuit des perdus
Raconte-moi qu’on puisse crier tout bas

Je t’ai vu tracer le long du paysage
Une ligne des aimés qui détruisent ton langage
Et quand tu chantais plus fort dans ton silence
Je voyais les larmes couler toujours à contresens

Et si la terre est sombre, et si la pluie te noie
Raconte-moi qu’on puisse trembler ensemble
Et si le jour ne vient pas dans la nuit des perdus
Raconte-moi qu’on puisse crier tout bas





Frenchmania – A French night in Bucharest

If you have ever wondered how French sounds when spoken or sung by a Romanian (yes, you have thought about this a lot, haven’t you) well here is your chance to find out.

The Institut Française Roumanie in Bucharest recently held a musical gala to promote the French language, and les meilleurs artistes roumains sont venus chanter (top Romanian artists came along to sing). For some, it was quite a challenge, as Dorian Popa explains in a mix of French and Romanian before doing a cover of Maître Gims’ Bella.

If you are not familiar with Maître Gims, you should be! Read about him on my post Sounds of France via Africa. Here is the original version of Bella.

Dorian Popa is a popular pop-rap singer in Romania  who is also well known for his rippling muscles, bulging pecs and formidable six-pack. I’ve selected this clip of this duet with Ruby because it has a lot of footage in Paris and I prefer it to his solo efforts.

So, who else took part in the French soirée? One singer I really like, Keo (I will do a post  on him shortly) does a great cover of Le Vent Nous Portera (The wind will take/carry us), which was a big hit in Europe for the group Noir Désir in 2001.

Adrian (Adi) Despot, who is a member of the band Vița de Vi, did a cover of one of my favourite songs by the band Indochine, Tes Yeux Noirs (Your black eyes).

Here’s Indochine doing the much loved song at one of their tremendous gigs.

I also really like this version, recorded with an orchestra in Hanoi.

A French concert wouldn’t be a French concert without a really romantic ballad. Cornel Ilie, the lead singer of Vunk, steps up for a rendition of Je Te Le Dis Quand Même (I’ll tell you anyway).

Here is the version released in by Patrick Bruel, a prolific French actor and singer.

This upbeat live version shows how well the song has stood the test of time.

Alexandra Ungureanu came on stage to do I Need You More which has verses in French.

Here is the single version that she did with Crush and Leslie. It’s chirpy!

To finish, here’s Keo again, to say he loved you, he loves you and will love you.

That song was originally a single released in 1994 by Francis Cabral. Here is a clip from YouTube which has Romanian subtitles.


C’est fini, bonne nuit!

Hot Romance language hits from Black M, Calogero, Anitta, Arisa, Lidia Buble and more

Every now and then I have to catch up with what’s happening on the music scene in my five Romance languages. Here’s what’s hot at the moment – excluding Enrique Iglesias’s Bailando in its Spanish and Portuguese versions, which was covered in the previous main post.

In French

This video clip – a spoof on Westerns – is entertainment in itself (for example, when the tense gunslinging scene in the saloon is interrupted by a mobile phone call from “maman” or “mother”). It’s Black M‘s follow-up to his highly successful chart-topper Sur Ma Route. This time he gets some help from Dr Beriz.

Also doing well is Calogero, whose latest album Les Feux D’Artifice (in English, Fireworks) made No. 1 recently in France and in Belgium (his fourth album to do so). Un Jour Au Mauvais Endroit (which could be translated as A Day in a Bad Place, or One Day in the Wrong Place) is the single from it, and it sounds in parts a bit like Madonna doing ABBA and – near the end where people start chanting “plus jamais seul” (never again alone) – Pink Floyd’s Another Brick in the Wall. It made the top 10 in both France and Belgium.

In Romanian

Lidia Buble‘s Noi Simtim La Fel (We Feel The Same) shot up to the top of the Romanian airplay chart, got knocked off by Enrique Iglesias’s Bailando) then climbed back up to No. 1 again. Currently it’s No. 6 in its 22nd week in the chart. She has a powerful voice. This track also features Adrian Sina, who is one of the biggest figures (singer, composer, DJ, producer) in Romanian music today.

The chorus of the song is good for those learning how Romanian verbs ending in i such as a iubi (to love) are conjugated in the first person plural present tense noi gândim la fel (we think the same), simţim la fel (feel the same), iubim la fel (love the same)…

I also like this effort, Sarutari Criminale (Criminal Kisses) by Maxim, which made the top 10. I’ve chosen this clip with the lyrics, since they are a boy band and some of the other videos to with it are a bit juvenile. Here you will see that some verbs ending in i are conjugated with an esc ending in the first person singular: îndrăznesc = I dare; trăiesc = I live; amintesc = i remember. However, there are many conjugations in Romanian and this barely scratches the surface.

 In Spanish

On the Spanish music chart, Enrique Iglesias’s Bailando has just been bumped from the top spot by the earnest Pablo Alborán with a song of a quite different nature, Por Fin (At Last).

In Portuguese

The European Portuguese version of Bailando which features Mickael Carreira, is still top of the pops in Portugal, but in Brazil the music scene is currently dominated by Anitta, who has two hits in the top 10, Cobertor, which this blog has covered before, and the No. 1, Na Batida (The Beat).

In Italian

Bailando is also the No. 1 currently in Italy, according to my source, and the Italian Top 20 chart is dominated by English titles. Here is the only Italian entry, Fragili (which of course means Fragile) from a group called Club Dogo featuring Arisa.

Arisa won the annual Sanremo music festival this year with Controvento (Upwind)

Here’s your romance language weekend soundtrack

Along with Stromae, Indila has carrying the flag for the French language on the world music charts. Her debut album, Mini World, has done very well in places such as Poland, as well as closer to home in France, Belgium and Switzerland. The first single from that album, Dernière Danse (Last Dance), which My Five Romances featured on the post French chansons from the fairer sex, also did well further east, reaching No.1 on the charts in Greece, Turkey, Israel, for example.

Here’s another single from that album, S.O.S., which has also been getting a lot of airplay, deservedly so.

Also luscious in feel is this effort from Mellina featuring Vescan – the latter providing what is almost obligatory in modern music nowadays; a rap interlude, but his bit is overlaid in parts with keyboard flourishes that flutter around lightly like butterflies on a summer’s day.

Incidentally, poză in Romanian means a picture or a pose, not to be confused with pauză, which means pause.

Sticking with Romanian, here’s Tu (Inima si Sufletul), a single from Ruby, whom I’ve featured before along with Yogi and Shift on the post Get this îngheţată thing licked. This reminds me in parts of Kirsty MacColl.

Tu, of course, means you in the singular, inimă means heart and suflet means soul (-ul is suffix for the definite article the, hence sufletul = the soul).

Now for some Portuguese. David Carreira is the son of one of Portugal’s most popular singers Tony Carreira. In this song he tells his lover that even in 20 years’ time, if they are separated and in the arms of another, there will (haverá) always (sempre) be a song (uma musica) to remind him of her. And isn’t that what songs, do – remind us of phases of our lives?

David was born in France, and if you have been following this blog you would know that Tony is comfortable speaking and singing in both French and Portuguese. It seems David is too. Here is one of his French hits.

To finish on a happy, upbeat note, with a bit of Spanish, here are two Puerto Rican singers who go by the name of Wisin & Yandel.

Portuguese star Tony Carreira reveals his French inclinations

My last post on the LisbonLux guide was aimed at helping English-speaking people to learn Portuguese, or vice versa; this one is aimed at those who are interested in the Portuguese-French combination.

Tony Carreira, one of the most popular singers in Portugal, has teamed up with a host of great French singers to record songs in both languages.The album, called Nos Fiancailles France/Portugal, (Our Engagement France/Portugal) was released early this year and did surprisingly well in France, peaking at No.4 on the charts. The first single from the album was Sous Le Vent (Onde Eu For), by Tony and Natasha St-Pier. You will see a lot of the Lisbon trams on this one.

The collaborations feature some great singers with remarkable voices, such as Michel Sardou (who has had no less than twelve No.1 albums in France), tenor Vincent Niclo, Hélène Ségara, Dany Brillant, Indonesian-born singer Anggun, Serge Lama, Gérard Lenorman, Didier Barbelivien and Lisa Angell.

Be warned, though, this album may mess with your brain. Usually when I want to speak in Portuguese I blabber away in French, and when I want to talk in French the Portuguese words just slip off the tongue. So this album may ruin your command of both languages, but could very well improve your Fretuguese and Portench. 😉

On the following video clip, you can hear snippets of other songs on the album, and hear Tony, speaking in French, relate how he spent a lot of his musical youth in France, so he has a great affinity for the country, its language and of course its musicians and singers. Even if you don’t speak French, this video is interesting, if only to see how artists from different backgrounds and cultures gel together (watching some of them tackle singing in Portuguese for the first time is amusing).

You can listen to snippets of each of the 13 tracks in the FNAC Jukebox section of its FNAC page listing here.

Here is an article in French on Tony Carreira, and here is some info in Portuguese.

In forthcoming posts we will have a closer look at the French singers involved.

Music for a Romantic weekend, Part 1

tower-36275_640See what’s trending on Bernardo’sMusicMonitor™ at the moment … hot, smooth sounds in Romance languages from all around the world.

In Part 1 we’ll look at up-and-coming talent in Spain, see French favourites Indochine team up with the Hanoi Symphony Orchestra to produce exciting oriental orchestral versions of a couple of classics, and see a ghostly Romanian “Bonnie Tyler soundalike” in a video clip beautifully filmed in what looks like a spooky magnificent but rundown mansion. Part 2 will come tomorrow (hopefully) and will focus on songs in Portuguese and Italian. Have a great weekend!


Dvicio are doing well in the Spanish charts with a song called Paraiso which, according to their brief biography in English on Wikipedia, gained fame when employees of McDonald’s in Spain performed a flashmob to it and it went viral on the internet. Might as well see what all the fuss was about…

However, I much prefer this one Justo Ahora, (Right Now). Ahora is now in Spanish and in Portuguese it’s agora.

If you want to listen to more of Dvicio, they were originally called Tiempo Límite.

There aren’t many Spanish language songs in Spain’s Top 20 as outlined by Enrique Iglesias is at No.1 with Bailando (Dancing), while on its way down at No. 20, having peaked at No.4, is No Amanece by David Bisbal.

Amanecer  as a noun means dawn or daybreak, and as verb it can mean: 1. to dawn or get light, and 2. to wake up.


Directia 5 are a well-established and very versatile band. Normally I prefer their rock repertoire, but this bluesy ballad got a lot of airplay when I was in Romania last year and grew on me. Two members usually share lead vocals, to good effect. This is called O fată ca ea (A girl like her).

This next song has a beautiful atmospheric film clip to it … ghostly Gothic complete with squawking crows, flickering candles and creaking floorboards. It’s by Delia (Matache is her surname), who studied piano and flute at the Conservatory of Music in Bucharest before going into the modern music business. While some of her stuff can be very contemporary dance/club beats, this is more of a ballad that sounds Bonnie Tyler-ish! The title comes from this line in the chorus: Sunt aici, doar pentru tine = I am here, just for you

By the way, in Romanian the opposite of aici (here) is acolo (there).


I can’t get enough of Indochine at the moment. I’ve already shown they can rock a full house at the Stade de France, but they are equally accomplished in an Opera House, in this case one in Hanoi, Vietnam. It’s not often you see western rock given an oriental orchestral twist, but this is superb.

Here is the same song – Tes yeux noirs (Your black eyes) – performed live at the Stade de France. The introductions at the beginning are for former band members who reunited for this performance. I don’t normally like saxophones much but here the sound is beautifully plaintive.

Finally, one more of Indochine, avec l’Orchestre Symphonique d’Hanoï.  This makes a scintillating finale…

French rock rocks! Six of the best from Indochine

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 IndochineHere 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.