Paris in Person | The History of French Pop Songs – La chanson française of 1990
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The History of French Pop Songs – La chanson française of 1990

Cover photo taken from wikimedia commons https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:DOC_GYNECO-24×30-1997.jpg

 

The conclusion we came to in our (two) previous chapter(s) was that the Parisian collective unconscious grew ever more uneasy faced with the possibility of immigrants coming to the city and bringing their own culture, that will inevitably fuse with the already existing one. As for obvious from the previous decade especially, most of performers would resent the notion, while some would embrace it. It seems that this particular glass ceiling, that started having some shy cracks in the 80’s, was finally broken (many other are still intact, though, but that’s another subject altogether). So, the foreign influences have come and have taken a seat at the table. The French music was never to be that, well, singularly French again.

 

 

MC Solaar – Bouge de là (Scram, or to keep it with the pop context, Beat it)

 

 

Possibly one of the internationally best known MC’s from the 90’s, MC Solaar gives us his take on the Paris life and comes very close to describing an authentic experience of this city living. In a nutshell, it would be this – either you’re rude to someone, or someone is rude to you. Note though that this is not a choice situation ; if you’re rude to someone, you’re not going to stop them, or someone else, to be rude to you. Nothing to do there to prevent it – it’s Paris living, meaning, simply, that everyone is rude to everyone and there is really no escaping that.

 

Our lyrical subject starts the song in the city projects (otherwise lovingly known as the ghetto) where a rather generously built girl offers to give him some solace, and his response is that he doesn’t consume porc, so she can ‘beat it’. Keep it classy, MC Solaar. Still, note the hints of alienation in this situation – people who most famously don’t eat pork, in France at least, are muslims. MC Solaar therefore addresses, ever so subtly, the cultural incompatibility between the religious and identitary minority and the majority – a problem that will, as we all sadly know, only continue to grow as the time goes by.

 

Our brave urban poet continues his adventures, following by now well established trope of the chanson française/parisienne – mapping out the city in his song. Next stop is gare de Lyon, where a guy covered in bruises proposes a fight ; we don’t know what happens next. Back in the project, a neighbor of MC Solaar asks him if he can ‘take down her dog’ which he confuses for a mercy kill and takes his gun out – her response is ‘beat it’. Followed by that is another misunderstanding with a pet loving girlfriend (saying that he’d like to eat her pets), than a staple Parisian situation, a conversation with a homeless person in the subway. Here, MC Solaar’s misanthropy shines the brightest. As the homeless person says that he stinks and he needs a bath, lyrical subject’s response is that he can throw himself in the gutter and travel to the Seine directly. Geez, man, who rattled your cage ? Logically, the homeless person’s response was ‘beat it’.

 

Next stop is the famous Boulevard Barbès ; where our hero comes by a fellow from Marrakech, meaning another poorly adapted immigrant. This is to be his last misunderstanding of the day, before he reaches a conclusion that he should really ‘beat it’ and simply disappear, so that he could eventually reappear. In all honesty, more than half of these ‘beat it’ seem well deserved, but we’ll get back to that later.

 

 

Marc Lavoine – Paris

 

 

OK, let’s switch gears for a minute. The conquest of the chanson parisienne by the foreigners of different races wasn’t that complete – a lot of (bad) music came from the staple white French singers. Marc Lavoine is a great example – he gives us this terribly schmaltzy yet somehow strangely 90’s song about the cruel beauty of the city and the inherent masochism of everyone who decides to live here despite everything. He says that Paris takes everything from you, your joy, your sadness, your breath and tears ; as you walk aimlessly over its boulevards, dream in its bistros, do whatever it is that you do in the subway, the city takes everything from you and your only response is ‘how much more do you need ? I’ll give anything and everything’. Then, the city leaves you abandoned on the pavement.

 

Also, much in line with the tradition of la chanson parisienne, this singer can’t seem to get over the fact that Paris has a subway. OK, it is the most expensive urbanistic project a city can undertake, but you know, many cities nowadays have subways, and almost all of them are better than the Parisian one. Seriously, if there was ever a subject you should avoid if you’re trying to make a city look good, in case of Paris it’d be its subway. Much like anything else, it also makes our sentimental singer want to cry – that is, unlike anything else in this song, an emotion we can actually empathise with.

 

While we can’t argue with the logic and the final conclusion of the song, the tone and the delivery do have something so inherently wrong about them that make this song impossible to like. Then, on another note, it is so laughably bad and overly pathetic that you can’t really hold it against that much neither, especially if you are, like us, a great lover and a connoisseur of kemp, kitsch and all things terrible. But then again, the tone of the song is that of those hopelessly sappy ballads where someone sings about being in love with an absolute monster that is taking everything from them and they don’t really object it. The type of song that makes you come to a conclusion that the lyrical subject is actually enjoying that kind of relationship and is, although not necessarily aware of it, in capable hands. Another, more Nietzschean type of conclusion is that it’s hard to feel empathy towards someone who will debase himself as much for whatever cause.

 

And while you’re murmuring in your chin ‘this just revealed more about the staff of this company than it did about this song’, yes, we are aware of criticism being a two lane road and yes we know about Wilde’s famous ‘criticism speaks more about the critic than it does of the work of art’ but all that (and many of our own issues) aside this is really just a laughably pathetic attempt of recreating an already stereotypical and washed up sentiment regarding this city – you are horrible, yet we love you. We’re heard it before, done better, so, sorry Marc, we can’t quite partake with your sadness, but we’re more than willing to partake in your hilarity. And speaking of hilarity…

 

 

Malcolm McLaren & Catherine Deneuve – Paris Paris

 

 

So remember when a couple of decades ago, while we were writing how the punk and la chanson française actually had a lot in common and were quitte near to each other stylistically ? Well, here we have a prime example of the this unholy alliance coming together for god-only-knows whatever reason. The godfather of punk himself, a man who possibly half-handedly (other half of a hand being Vivienne Westwood) created the entire genre, joins forces with Catherine Deneuve, a queen on Parisian snobbery and pretentiousness. If you’re looking at this actress from any period of her activity, you will see the French and especially Parisian fantasy incarnate, a perfect (haute-bourgeois) woman of their dreams – cold, dismissive, contemptible, up-tight, frigid, and resentful. The famous ice-queen of the pretentious artsy films, Catherine Deneuve is possibly the greatest diva of the French cinema, meaning also that is a woman who no one ever actually saw to crack a smile, unless it’s ironic and full of cynical pity for her interlocutor.

 

So, what is such a person doing in a duet with Malcolm McLaren is beyond any viable guess that is to be made. But, together in a duet they are, and sweet mother of all that is wrong in this world, it is glorious. If it weren’t for one the next entries, this would easily be the most pretentious, vapid, over-the-top and laughable piece of poor taste that we’ve thus far seen on this list. But it’s not, so, you can just imagine what still lies ahead.

 

Anyhow, the very idea of letting Catherine Deneuve merely attempt at making anything sensual and inviting is dead in the water before the very beginning. The actress has spent her entire carrier carefully honing the capacity to freeze anything she not only touches, but merely looks at, or addresses. Just listen to that voice and you be the judge of it. Pared with the imagery of scantily clad models in provocative underwear, it just goes nowhere fast. Add to that the less-than-motivated voice of Malcolm McLaren, who is probably wandering what is he doing here in the first place, and a very bland regurgitation of how cruel and beautiful the city of Paris is (yes, we heard it already), you get a piece so cringe worthy you may actually do some permanent damage to your eyes, teeth and brain. Than again, if this is your thing and you are a fan of intentionally uncomfortable comedy, this is a veritable gold mine of all things uneasy and the penultimate transfer of shame. Why penultimate ? We’ll get to that. For the moment, let’s bask in the uneasy luke warmth of McLaren’s bad acting as he’s trying to persuade us (but is he even trying, really ?) that he is sad and lonely in Paris.

 

But let’s backtrack some and shake the cringe away for a second. Much in line with the MC Solaar’s work as well as with parts of the previous decade, this song is trying to blend in the foreign influences (although, again, in a very kitschy and new-age manner). It opens with the ‘african’ tune sang by a black choir. It repeatedly mentions jazz, famously performed in Paris by black artists who would leave US for France as they felt it had less racial tensions. So, in theory, you could say that heart of this mess is in the right place, trying to include and affirm bits and pieces of foreign influences that are now a part of the French culture; but no matter how well placed the heart is, this is just soooo wrong. And, if you are a twisted soul, like some of us are, it makes it soooo right. Speaking of things that are very wrong (yet not necessarily so right)…

 

 

Mano Negra – Paris la Nuit (Paris by Night)

 

 

Here we have the king of all fakeness and the last-season-hipsterdom, Manu Chao, performing with his band Mano Negra. They were (he still is) a curious bunch of superbly privileged people who ‘grew up surrounded by artists and intellectuals’, in love with higher values in life, multiculturalism, ecology, fair trade and all those things that come easy and natural when you’re a millionaire like Manu Chao is. It therefore makes it all the more aggravating when such a person starts wearing dreadlocks and pretending that he’s a broke hippy that lives of off prana, good vibes, sunshine and universal harmony, all while traveling around the world on a private plane.

 

Anyhow, before he capitalized on that type of hypocrisy, Manu Chao and his band her played on a somewhat different type of the same notion – lamenting the city that Paris was. Manu Chao is an early critic of gentrification, saying how Paris is simply dead as a city ; everything is too clean, too stale, too bourgeois. It is only proper that a bourgeois complains about this, as it takes one to know one – this instantly makes us think of that facebook group ‘hipsters hating other hipsters for being hipsters’, as that is exactly what Manu Chao is doing here. As he’s lamenting all the grit that has been cleansed from the city, and complaining about the ruthless mayor who culturally purged Paris, Manu Chao is calling for the revolution (somewhat forgetting that in any type of revolution that were to take place, his own door, comfortably situated in the top 1%, would probably be the first to come-a-knockin’ upon), but he’s doing it in such an apathetic and bland voice that we feel more sorry for that unfortunate revolution than for anyone who would possibly be harmed by it.

 

It is, in itself, a stereotypical staple of the chanson française, to lament the gone glory and glitz of Paris, so carefully mixed with the grit, dirt, and sleaze – in fact those very qualities were, such is the message, the glory in question. What situates Manu Chao and Mano Negra so firmly in the context of the chanson parisienne à la 90’s is their overall attempt at multiculturalism – much in the line with the previous performer(s), he’s attempting to blend in different musical styles and traditions, so much so, in fact, that in most of his other songs he sings in many other languages. So again, as hypocritical and fake his persona and music are, they are a very good sign of their time – other influences seeping into the popular music of France and contributing to the image of Paris that is being built by them.

 

 

Michel Delpech C’est à Paris (It’s in Paris)

 

 

Lamenting over this that and the other seemed to be a thing in the 90’s, but also we can say that is a staple sentiment of the genre as such. Michael Delpech keeps it that way and doesn’t try to deviate much from the source material. Which is, in all honesty, probably the only reason why it’s included here – to show that, despite all the mutations and advancements of the genre, certain parts of it are staying close to their origins.

 

The tune is somewhat jazzy and sentimental, but not in an overtly and aggressive (therefore failing) manner as the Marc Lavoin’s song. It’s somewhat distinguished in that respect, not wallowing in the sentiment, but swimming through it with certain composure. The lyrics tread alike – they are close to the origins of the genre, meaning the context of the marginalized of the metropolis, the lumpen-proletariat and all that is lowly and sleazy – still, the lyrical subject is able to give it a certain hint of elegance and respectability. For example, he sings about meeting a girl in the street Saint Denis (today still, street famous for its very apparent and conspicuous prostitutes and B-grade sex shops) – a subject straight from the gutters, keeping it in line with the origins of la chanson française. But, in an elegant manner.

 

This brings us to an interesting mini conclusion – this song is the process of gentrification incarnate in lyrics and melody. In the grit and slime of the capital, you stumble upon a notion that holds a certain potential and you polish it. You do so until it starts reaching the transitory stage between its uneasy origin (that is where the interest comes from in the first place) and the blandness and uniformity that awaits in the end of that transition (when the notion is finally rendered ‘perfect’ and therefore perfectly boring and void of attraction). Inevitably though what happens, as it does with any gentrification, is that the notion is polished too much and as such becomes a parody of itself – then, the process starts from the top. You can to a certain extend apply this to most of the songs we represented in this decade – Catherine Deneuve’s effort being the shining example of void blandness that had (on the plus side) the superb quality of unintentional hilarity. Michel Delpech is keeping this song elegant and polished, but not too much ; it is still in that transitory stage where some grit is still to be found, thus making this effort appear acceptable.

 

 

Suprême NTM – That’s my people

 

 

So we mentioned that after a certain notion becomes too stale, stereotyped and washed up, it tends to be spontaneously restarted. In the case of la chanson parisienne, the very thing that was the dread of the previous decades (and centuries, if we are to speak about the colonial and the postcolonial context this is inseparable from) was what restarted the genre – the rap music, placed fourth mostly by the african immigrants. Much like in the US, where the genre originated from, it had a lot to do with poverty, oppression, and the attempts of the margin to create its own distinct culture (as it was already separate and excluded from the mainstream).

 

So, it happened that la chanson française, and with it la chanson parisienne, became a thing of the middle class, what they call variété in France – a shallow, pop, consumerist mainstream music. Next to honorable exceptions to the rule, it seemed that the great classics of the genre, who themselves came from misery and who made their names singing about it (Edith Piaf, Fréhel, etc.) were all but gone. Paris slowly pushed out all of its less presentable inhabitants to the projects situated outside of the city’s borders – and that is , ironically or not, from where the refreshment and the ‘reboot’ of the genre came from.

 

Now you may think that connecting la chanson française with rap music is a stupid idea, but we here beg to differ. Not only is the cultural context from where two genres came and in which they flourished very similar (if not the same), the approach to life, the values, the explosive mixture of pride and rage, the rawness that we came to witness in many of the songs of the genre all point towards this. These two genres are natural allies, because they come from the same background. Still not convinced ? Take a look at this article from Le Monde, about the first time Suprême NTM and the legend of la chansone française Juliette Gréco met at a music festival. Juliette said, whilst some disapproved of these seemingly impossible mixture, that she felt them to be her ‘natural allies’ and that she felt them to be more authentic than most of the recognized performers of the genre. Basically what we are saying here – thanks Juliette. The article keeps giving the references that back this claim – rap music and chanson française are ‘old lovers’ and bringing them together is the most natural of all things. Certainly more so than bringing Catherine Deneuve into it all.

 

Our point is, rap is a musical style built around essentially the same notion as the genre of la chanson française. It is the same idea, the same social (and cultural, etc.) context of the marginalized and oppressed singing about their misery, and through doing it, gaining strength and pride, before they become mainstream, rich, decadent and basically washed clean of their substance. It took la chanson française almost a century to get to that point – rap music burnt through the process in only a couple of decades – but it still the same road that was taken.

 

Let’s go back to the song in question. Suprême NTM is one of the most important French rap groups of the decade, if not the most important. They situate their expression as they should, on the outskirts of the city, showing that their Paris is very different than that of Catherine Deneuve or Marc Lavoine – certainly very different than that of Manu Chao. Unlike with all the mentioned there, everything about this group and song rings real. Their metro is not a place to mistreat a homeless person (MC Solaar) have a sentimental breakdown (Marc Lavoine) or feel lonely (Malcolm McLaren) – their metro, much like the rest of their habitat, is a place where you best move in a group and best be on the lookout, from the police (as we can see in the video) as well as from the other like minded groups.

 

The number you can see repeated throughout the video is 93. It stands from the suburban project site of the infamous faubourg Saint Denis, well known for its ghetto like living conditions, crime and frequently occurring violent demonstrations. If you hear of riots happening in or around Paris, chances are it will be in 93. This is their context – even the culture they are trying to create, graffiti, is illegal and persecuted. The song, as you can guess, is about that as well – living the life in a direct and frank manner, telling it as it is, keeping it real. Doing as you speak and speaking as you live in this particular case means being direct, cruel and unforgiving – as they say, they are ‘madmen stuck in an elevator’ as such are their lives. Interestingly, all of the shots taken in the Parisian subway in this video let us see the background and feel some space (as much as it is possible in a Parisian subway, at least) whereas all of the shots taken outside are blurred, with the city looming in the background. This is indeed the case here – the city with all its lights and splendor is just a faint notion flickering on the horizon, whereas the claustrophobia of the subway is the clearly visible and tangible reality. Again, much like in the original chanson française – the good life is something you can observe and lust for, be on the fringes of, but never truly have.

 

Still, what is interesting here, and again, very much in line with the genre of chanson française, is the certain pride you manage to build out of the given situation. Your life is factually rather miserable, you are in so many ways constantly in danger, but it means that you’re tough, and that gives you not only confidence, but a certain sense of purpose and pride. We can draw a very clear comparison between the classics of the genre such are Mistinguett, Edit Piaf and to a lesser extent Fréhel – they are all outcasts, economically, socially and culturally on the margins of the city/society, but they take pride in their circumstances. Is this but a rationalization of a hopeless social position, that in itself annul the possibility of a concrete change ? It may be, but it doesn’t have to. In any case, it is obvious why the connection between this type of rap music and the roots of la chanson française is such an obvious and welcome one. We can but confirm the attitude of Juliette Gréco whose intuition and heart were in the right place when she recognized this so early on.

 

 

+ mini bonus :

 

Doc Gynéco – Dans ma rue (On my Street)

 

 

Essentially everything we said about the previous group stands here. It’s about the outskirts of Paris, the hard life, the constant danger of the gangs, guns, the multicultural setting of a particular nature. Not that of the fancy hipsters in the line of Manu Chao, who dream of India and discuss of the beneficial influence of ayahuasca on their Weltschmerz struck ailing souls – this is the expression of the working class multiculturality, where people don’t speak any other language than their own, where you ‘need three languages if you want to understand everyone on the street’, where you feel isolated, marginalized and foreign. This is very much in the line of the previous song, only done in a more reggae, mellow, and therefore approachable manner.

 

 

Alain Souchon – L’amour à la machine (a play on words – Machine like love, but in this context Love In a Washing Machine)

 

 

Speaking of the more mellow approach to things, here we have the quintessentially 90’s clip speaking about washing your love in a washing machine. What ? Yes, the image is strained, tacky and honestly stupid. There is no ‘but’ after this – the reason why we’re placing it here can’t really justify this fact. What the poet had in mind was washing his Love so that it could lose all stains (yes, the entire song is a developed comparison of a relationship with doing laundry, deal with it) and ever more importantly, reviving the paled colors in it. The accent seems to be on the latter, as he is talking about bringing back the veined passion by somehow laundry-recycling his love. Wait a minute, isn’t repeated washing what kills the colors of the textile in the first place ? Are we getting too deep into this laundry imagery ? My god, this is so stupid that it’s dragging us deep inside in its rabbit hole of stupid.

 

Yes, again, while it is monumentally dumb and stretched out (keeping the language well contextualized within the verbal laundry scenery), so is a considerable part of this decade and, honestly, this list as well. So we’ll roll with it. Also, it does, strangely enough, hit a certain note with the decade, speaking not only about the love that needs to be reinvented, but also of the life as such, and as a reflexion of it, of the musical genre dealing with that life (and love, as la chanson française) does. This song is saying what the entire decade is saying – we’re at the end of the rope, we’ve used up the genre, it needs to be reinvented. Something needs to happen. A decadent swan song of the genre, you could say that this essentially 90’s video is a good representation of it – a guy pushing a broken car through the merciless and already congested Parisian traffic is a good representation of the state of affairs. The change was coming with the foreigners who started bringing their own influences and their own culture(s), fusing it with the local colors (get it? colors ? as if in laundry?) but the likes of Alain Souchon are not necessarily aware of it, as they are too busy pushing their broken car around.

 

But is he perhaps aware of it after all ? Most of the song deals with the idea of ‘applying bleach to laundry’, ‘trying to make the original colors pop up’, ‘boiling our love (really gross and hamfisted imagery here)’ and so on. In the video, we see the red, white and blue, the colors of the French flag, playing a key role in representing their love life and the exact colors that need to be ‘brought back up to the surface’. Could this in fact be a racist rant after all, aimed against all of the foreign influences, speaking nostalgically about the ‘original colors’ that we need to bring back by using bleach ? Wouldn’t that mean that the original color that we need to find is white, and that we need to ‘boil away’ and ‘wash away’ everything other than that ? He even says ‘the whiteness we believed would be eternal, before’. Hmmmm. Let’ stop here before we get to some really uncomfortable conclusions.

 

As laughable (and hidendly sordid) as this song may be, at least we see who was the first to come up with the idea of connecting romantical affairs with colors and who inspired that Gotye video that was so popular back in 2011, Somebody That I Used To Know. There too we had the white man’s dream fulfilled, taking all the nasty colors away and coming back to pure whiteness. To Jungian for you ? Not the first time we’ve had that remark.

 

 

+ mini bonus :

 

Mano Solo – Allô Paris (Hello paris)

 

 

Speaking of white people struggling with colors in a highly symbolized manner, we have this very spot on Parisian video about a person profoundly disappointed with the city. It is exactly the opposite of Sinatra’s New York – meaning, it’s about the city that makes you fail, lose all hope, feel miserable and ultimately crack. A very jazzy tune to accompany the most bitter of all of feelings, this is a very catchy tune that, again, much in the line with the tradition of the genre, with its joy and upbeatness contrasts the grimness of the lyrics. If the joyful melody takes us off guard, we can feel what the song is really about by paying attention to the trembling and nervous singer’s voice. ‘So Paris, all if finished, all is wasted’. The refrain is ‘I would have loved’ and is essentially not a love letter, but a break up note to the worst of all cities (if we’re to trust the singer, anyhow). Although a mini bonus and not a number of the list, musically speaking, easily our favorite of the decade. And speaking of the favorites of the decade, our finalist is…

 

 

Mylène Farmer – Désenchantée (Disillusioned)

 

 

Naturally, for all the wrong reasons. What else would you come to expect ? So remember that earlier in the article we mentioned that Catherine Deneuve’s and Malcolm McLaren’s masterpiece of awkward kitsch would take the cake of the decade if it weren’t for another piece that vent a step further ? Well, this is it. The most cringe worthy song&video of possibly ever, and certainly in this decade’s songs from the genre (if you have some other contender in mind, we’d love to hear about it). Take a look at the video and then we’ll continue.

 

So, as you’ve seen, Mylène is flaunting a film-like production values for a video of a song that is about the most Parisian (and French, but mostly Parisian) sentiment of them all – disappointed and disillusionment. The song goes on about how it’s not only her that is utterly disappointed, but her entire generation as well. We get it thus far, honestly, after having spent a couple of months in this city, let alone more than a decade, you get it.

 

But what in the name of all that is distasteful and horribly-gone-wrong in this world it has to do with the Holocaust ? The video, as you’ve seen, is very much set in the context of the Shoah, as we see the concentration camp looking like people taking over their totalitarian guards, killing most of them and breaking free. Mylène Farmer leads them through the snowy desert, very Moses like, thus assuming the role of the chosen-one, at the head of the chosen people. Now seriously, how to even start stating everything that’s wrong with this ? Where to begin ? We’re sure to miss something out.

 

First on our list would have to be the French role in the Shoah and the WWII in general. It would make equally much sense for a German singer, possibly from a Nazi family, to make a video about rescuing the Jew’s from the camp, actually being in a camp herself. What are you trying to say here, Mylène ? So that gross historical misconception out of the way, how is this video linked to the song ? Isn’t the message of the video positive ? They do manage to break away from the camp, kill the guards, arm themselves and start their Exodus (to stay with the mythical decor proposed by this video) towards the promised land. As we know from the Bible, that is at the very beginning of not only the Bible, but the Old Testament and the history of the Jewish people. Mylène Farmer, on the other hand, sings about a decadent, bored generation, who is disillusioned and blazé, fed up with everything. Also, why would you couple the Shoah, what was planned by the Nazis to be the end of the Jewish history, with the Exodus, which is its beginning ? What are you trying to say here Mylène ? Aren’t these topics a tad pretentious for a pop singer that basically tries to present herself as a French version of Madonna ?

 

Speaking of, we all remember the shocking video Madonna made for her song Like a Prayer. There she would hint at a very intimate relationship with a black Jesus, which made waves back in the day. Thing is – Madonna (despite her very name meaning the mother of God) didn’t represent herself as the Jesus – Mylène here did represent herself as the Moses. On any conceivable level, it just makes no sense. The fact that this is a short movie, with a movie like budget, that was expensive and demanding to make, just further aggravates the lack of sense and the tackiness of it all. It is a very expensive and pretentious piece of kitsch that was (we assume) meant to be perceived as high art, or something. Mylène Farmer obviously has a thing for the historical kemp, as we can see from a couple of other videos she made. The rest of them are mostly with her dancing scantily clad in provocative underwear, as you would expect from a pop singer of her style and format.

 

So not to mention the screamingly poor taste of representing yourself as Moses, as she does – how do these threads connect ? She’s singing about all of her ideals being gone, all of her values spent, all of her illusions broken – OK, we get that – and then, she says that she dreams about a fresh start (back to Alain Souchon and his love washing), that she needs someone to bring all of those back to her. So all of this – ALL OF THIS – turns out to be a love song about loneliness ? Seriously ?!? You just went and invoked the Holocaust, the Exodus, spent millions of francs (back in the day, before the euro) for this ludicrous video, for that ? You invoked one of the most painful and shameful failings of European civilization just so that you could say that you are lonely and bored ? Wordless. Perhaps, such is the width and depth of Mylène’s soul that her emptiness equals those events she obviously needs to depict how she feels. Or it’s just an incredibly tasteless comparison and a horrendously bad idea. It’s just too much wrong condensed in one place/moment. If the time space continuum didn’t break from this, the CERN collider shouldn’t worry us in the slightest.

 

What can we conclude about the songs about Paris, featuring Paris and bearing Parisian spirit of the 90’s ? Obviously, as the century came to an end, so did many other things. The genre tired itself out, archetypes were turned to stereotypes, themes and questions got used up, and the change was sorely needed, and often invoked in the songs. The change did come, but not from ‘the inside’, as some of these singers were hoping for, but from ‘the outside’, meaning the former French colonies. The different races who were imported to France to be cheap labour continued producing their own culture and continued imposing themselves as the part of the mainstream, much to the chagrin of the hidden (or open) racists who dreamt of bleaching everything back to perfect white as it once was. But, as we know from the beginning of this series of articles, even the good old times were once the bad new times. What will the new century bring ? We’ll find out soon enough, in the following article.