If you’re in war of culture and lifestyle with France, Good fucking luck. Go ahead bring your bankrupt ideology, they’ll bring you Jean-Paul Sartre, Edith Piaf, fine wine, Gaulois cigarettes, Camus, camembert, madeleines, macarons, Marcel Proust and the fucking croquembouche.
Basically, artists and songs that I enjoy listening to in my French-learning endeavor. As any playlist, it’s completely subjective, as well as a tad bit messy (since I’m not very systematic when music is concerned so expect time eras to overlap freely), but I hope you will like it anyway!
Édith Piaf –no surprises here, she really is a classic (and understandably so). I also love older music, so it wasn’t long before I was obsessed with a couple of songs. Personal favorites are Les Mômes de la clôche [x] (this one is reeeally old, it dates back to 1936!), L’Accordéoniste [x], Sous le Ciel de Paris [x] and the universally known Non, je ne regrette rien [x].
Zaz – definitely a more recent one, even though she has covered many classic pieces; I’m mostly in love with her jazzy voice and vocalizing. The first song I listened to was Je Veux [x], but I would also recommend On Ira [x], Gamine [x] and her wonderful cover of Dans Ma Rue [x] (be ready to bawl your eyes out).
Michel Sardou – whatever your opinion on the movie La Famille Bélier, it’s difficult to deny that its musical side was pretty cool. Listen to Je Vole [x] (here goes also Louane’s version [x]), En Chantant [x], and, if you are a les Mis fan, enjoy him Enjolras-ing in the Original French Concept album [x]!
Stromae – I’m well aware he’s actually Belgian, but I shall use the term French to designate the language here. There’s probably no further need to recommend him as I’m sure he’s pretty well known, but I like him so much that I’ll do it anyway, haha. Personally, I enjoy his original take on Bizet’s Carmen [x], Tous Les Mêmes [x], and of course Papaoutai [x].
Georges Brassens – a singer-songwriter that inspired many (and among those Fabrizio De André), his witty lyrics and rich voice are timeless. Listen to La Mauvaise Réputation [x], Mourir Pour Des Idées [x], and Les Passantes [x].
Joe Dassin – I’ll be honest and admit that I don’t have extensive knowledge of his discography, but I do know Les Champs Élysées [x] and truthfully it such a fun song to sing along to that I just had to include it in this list.
Les Choristes – actually a movie and not an artist; I first saw it in my last year of primary school and had its soundtrack stuck in my head for weeks. If you like choirs, these songs should be a good fit: Vois Sur Ton Chemin [x], La Nuit [x] and Caresse Sur L’Océan [x].
MIKA – kinda sure you’ve heard of this guy ;) There’s not much more to say other than his songs are extremely catchy in any language. The only ones I know well are Boum Boum Boum [x] and Elle Me Dit [x], but I’ll gladly listen to more if I find them!
Dalida – the Egyptian-born Italian-French singer (!), who tragically committed suicide in 1987, sang both in French and Italian. Personally, and for obvious reasons, I am more versed in her Italian production, but I can say that T’Aimer Follement [x] is a huuuge earworm for me, just like the French version of Ciao,Amore, Ciao [x] (I’ve got to warn you, though, if you aim for a native-like pronunciation don’t imitate her, for as far as I can tell she has a discernible Italian accent).