- 100 Essential French songs you must hear – Part 1: The 1930s, 40s & 50s
- 100 Essential French songs you must hear – Part 2: The 1960s
- 100 Essential French songs you must hear – Part 3: The 1970s
- 100 Essential French songs you must hear – Part 4: The 1980s
- 100 Essential French songs you must hear – Part 5: The 1990s
- 100 Essential French songs you must hear – Part 7: 2000-2016
During the 2000s, France witnesses the revival of the chanson Française with the establishment of a generation of popular artists collectively called “New French scene” or “New chanson”; this trend had already began, timidly, during the 90s. In a decade where talent shows deliver rising -and falling- stars, this new generation focuses mostly on the engaged content of their lyrics, rather than performance, while they introduce the fusion with other musical influences, such as of pop, jazz and electronica.
Nevertheless, alongside with this strong new wave, genres such as pop, rock, dance and hip hop are omnipresent in the French musical stage of the 00s.
These are 10 emblematic songs of that decade:
81) Philippe d’Avilla, Damien Sargue & Grégori Baquet – “Les Rois du monde” (2000)
This song (French for “The kings of the world”) was written for the world-wide successful musical Roméo et Juliette. In France, the single was a massive hit, topping the charts for many months and becoming one of the top selling singles of the 2000s.
82) Alizée – “Moi… Lolita” (2000)
Alizée, who became famous after her participation in a talent show, recorded “Moi…Lolita” when she was 15; the lyrics were written by Mylène Farmer. The song, which makes allusion to Vladimir Nabokov’s Lolita character, achieved a huge success not only in France, but also abroad.
83) Yannick – “Ces soirées-là” (2000)
Falling in the category “One hit wonder”, French rapper Yannick recorded this song (English: “Those nights”) which contains a sample of The Four Seasons’ “Oh what a night”. It was a tremendous success in France, becoming the third top-selling hit of the decade and one of the best selling hits of all time.
84) Noir Désir – “Le vent nous portera” (2001)
Noir Désir is one of France’s most representative alternative rock bands. This beautiful song (English: “The wind will carry us”) is the band’s most successful piece, which was recorded in collaboration with French artist Manu Chao.
85) Indochine – “J’ai demandé à la lune” (2002)
Although formed in 1981 and critically acclaimed since them, this pop/rock/new wave band found its way to stardom with the release of their album Paradize in 2002. This song (“I asked the moon” in English), quickly became a national success, selling over a million units. Many interpretations have been given to its lyrics, which remain quite dark and mysterious.
86) Carla Bruni – “Quelqu’un m’a dit” (2002)
I have little doubt that you heard about Carla Bruni as the former First Lady of France. But many people don’t know she’s also a singer, and actually a good one! Quelqu’un m’a dit (“Someone told me”) was her debut album, which quickly reached number one on the French Album Chart, spending 34 weeks in the Top ten. This melancholic song, from which the album draws its name, speaks of the sadness of life: “They tell me that our lives are not worth very much, / They pass in an instant as roses wilt…”. It was included on the soundtrack of the wonderful film (500) Days of Summer.
87) Calogero & Passi – “Face à la mer” (2004)
This song (French: “Facing the Sea”) was recorded by Calogero together with rapper Passi. It achieved success in the countries in which it was released, becoming to date his most successful single on the charts. Another great song by Calogero is “Si seulement je pouvais lui manquer”.
88) Zazie – “Je suis un homme” (2007)
“Je suis un homme” (“I am a man”) is Zazie’s most successful solo single, being a top ten hit in France and Belgium. The insightful lyrics critizise human behavior regarding environmental issues and consumerism. Don’t miss the video: it’s artistic, stylish and thought-provoking.
89) Cœur de pirate – “Comme des enfants” (2008)
Canadian singer Cœur de pirate is credited with “bringing la chanson française to a whole new generation of Quebec youth”. This song (the title means “Like children”) from her first studio album Cœur de pirate won many awards, both in France and Canada. In 2014, an instrumental version of the song was used in an advertisement for Disneyland Paris.
90) Benjamin Biolay – “La Superbe” (2009)
Benjamin Biolay is regarded as one of the most gifted artists of his generation. With his double album “La Superbe” he managed to impress not only critics, but also the general public: it became a huge commercial success and won many awards. The album contains many great songs; I chose the eponymous La Superbe.
YouTube playlist here