best-french-songs-80s-modSee also:

Big hair, shoulder pads, easy listening rhythms and lots of synth: when we think about the 80s music, this is what it comes to our minds… France was not an exception to this trend: the musical stage of the 80s was dominated by pop music (called Variété in French). Nevertheless, some great rock bands made their appearance; musical styles such as punk, new wave and dance were also represented.

Check out this list with the boldest songs of the 80s:

55) Herbert Léonard, “Pour le plaisir” (1981)

“Pour le plaisir” (English “For the pleasure”) was performed by variété singer Herbert LéonardThe album quickly reaches  the number 1 in the charts, selling 2 million records.


 56) Jean-Jacques Goldman – Comme Toi” (1983)

Grammy Award-winning Goldman is a hugely popular singer in the French-speaking world, and since 2003 he has been the second highest-grossing French living pop-rock singer, after Johnny HallydayComme toi (“Like you”) is about Sarah, a jewish girl victim of the Holocaust (he is Jewish origin).


 57) Les Rita Mitsouko – Marcia Baila” (1984)

With their unique blend of punk, new wave, dance and cabaret, Les Rita Mitsouko are considered one of the most representative bands of the 80s. The title song is in Spanish (“Marcia dance”) as is dedicated to Argentinian dancer Marcia Moretto, who was part of the band’s tours before her death from breast cancer at age 32. The song was a huge hit, remaining on the Top 50 chart for 29 weeks.


58) Étienne Daho – Week-end à Rome” (1984)

Étienne Daho has released a number of synth-pop hits since the 80s; all his albums have been certified at least gold or platinum. Famous in French-speaking countries, Daho is best known in Britain for his appearance on Saint Etienne hit single “He’s on the Phone“, an English-adaptation of “Weekend à Rome”. Nouvelle Vague recorded a beautiful cover of this song together with Vanessa Paradis.


59) Renaud – “Mistral gagnant” (1985)

Singer and songwriter, with a unique ‘broken’ voice, Renaud is the author of several popular classic songs, although his work is almost unknown outside the French-speaking world. In this sentimental song, Renaud tells his daughter about his childhood, how time flies and that she will eventually grow up: “time is a murderer, that takes away children’s laughter, and the Mistral gagnants” (Mistral gagnant was a candy sold in the 50’s and 60’s).


60) Daniel Balavoine – “L’Aziza” (1985)

With his powerful voice and meaningful lyrics, Daniel Balavoine remains one of the greatest artists of the 80s, selling over 20 million records until his tragic death in 1986. “L’Aziza” means ‘My dear’ in Arabic; it is the singer’s tribute to his Jewish Moroccan wife, and a statement against racism. In France, the song was very successful, topping the charts for two months and becoming a classic song throughout the years.


61) Laurent Voulzy – “Belle-Île-En-Mer, Marie-Galante” (1985)

Already world-known by his 1977 hit Rockollection, Voulzy records this beautiful song, which takes its name from two islands,  Belle-Île-en-Mer in Bretagne (that he loved) and Marie-Galante in Guadeloupe (his parents’ homeland).  Although the song is about his own life, on a second reading it also talks about isolation and loneliness (and possibly discrimination). It’s one of Voulzy’s greatest hits and has been elected “the best song of the 80s” and “the 14th best song of the 20th century” by Victoires de la musique.


62) Desireless – Voyage Voyage” (1986)

Arguably one of the 80’s most emblematic songs, and certainly the decade’s biggest French hit worldwide. Despite being sung entirely in French, it managed to circumvent the language barrier and became a huge international hit between 1986 and 1988.


63) France Gall – Ella, elle l’a” (1987)

France Gall was a popular French yé-yé singer from the 60s, but this is -in my opinion- her most beautiful song. “Ella, elle l’a” (French for “Ella, she has it”) is a tribute to Ella Fitzgerald. The song achieved great success in many European countries; in France it remained on the Top 50 chart for 19 weeks and nine weeks in the Top 10.


64) Florent Pagny – “N’importe quoi” (1987)

This is Florent Pagny debut song, which became a big hit in France, topping the chart for two months and remaining his second best-selling single. In this protest song, he talks to a friend addicted to drugs and alcohol.


65) François Feldman – Le mal de toi” (1987)

A well-established star in France, François Feldman has sung several classic French songs, selling over 10 million albums during his still ongoing 25-year career. This song is from his first album, Vivre, vivre.


66) Vanesa Paradis – “Joe le taxi” (1987)

“Joe the Taxi Driver” was the first hit of singer/ songwriter/ musician/ actress/ model/ ex- Johnny Depp wife Vanessa Paradis. She was 14 years old when she recorded this song, which went on to top the singles chart in France for 11 weeks and, uncommonly for a French-language song at that time, was also a hit in the United Kingdom.


67) Patricia Kaas – Mon mec à moi” (1988)

This is to date Patricia Kaas biggest hit. In the song, which translates “My boy (says) to me”, a woman talks about her love life with her boyfriend, who tells her many lies, but she believes them. It has become a real popular success throughout the years.


68) Patrick Bruel – J’te l’dit quand même” (1989)

A huge personality in France, adored by his fans – what the media called “Bruelmania”, Patrick Bruel is also a talented actor: he has performed in many  films, including “Le Prénom” (What’s in a name?). This romantic song (the title means “I’m still telling you”) belongs to his album Casser la voix.


Don’t miss:

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French comedy films collage I love French cinema, especially comedy films. French comedies have a particular humor, usually making emphasis on social or racial differences. Many times they are irreverent, unsettling and “politically incorrect”… These characteristics in my opinion reflect Frenchs’ culture and character, hence the difference with american comedies… These are 10 of my favourite French comedies, that will make you laugh, smile, think and occasionally cry…


French comedies Intouchables posterThe plot: Philippe is a quadriplegic millionaire who lives In Paris, and is interviewing candidates for the position of his carer. When he hires Driss, an African man, his boring life changes forever…

Go see it, because…The movie is actually a true story, based on the book A second wind written by Philippe Pozzo di Borgo (his real name). It’s a wonderful film, touching and funny at the same time. It’s about love, friendship and tolerance… Sy and Cluzet’s performances are just memorable…

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French comedies Amelie posterThe plot: Amelie, a daydreamer waitress living in Paris, decides to anonymously help people being happy. By doing so, she discovers love and happiness herself.

Go see it, because… Amelie is original, romantic, heart-warming, showing that there is love and magic everywhere, even in simple things of life… Besides the excellent photography and the superb acting of Audrey Tautou, the magnificent music by Yann Tiersen adds up to make this movie a true gem…

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French comedies Bienvenue Chez les Ch'tisThe plot: Philippe, a post office administrator living in the French south, is banished to the Far North of France, that he believes is a dreadful and cold place, with heavy-drinking people who speak an incomprehensible dialect called Ch’ti…Soon though he realises that things are actually not that bad…

Go see it, because…Bievenue chez les Ch’tis is France’s highest grossing film of all times. It’s a comedy about love and friendship, giving the message to avoid making assumptions or having preconceptions about people… It may lose some of the jokes when translated, so if possible, see it in French…

IMDB link


French comedies Qu'est-ce_qu'on_a_fait_au_bon_dieu?_posterThe plot: A catholic, bourgeois French couple has four daughters, the three older being married to a Muslim Arab, a Shepardi Jew, and a Chinese. Having a hard time to accept the new members of the family, their hopes are set on their younger daughter…

Go see it, because… This controversial film was a great box-office success in France, but it was not released in the USA and UK because it was considered “too racist and politically incorrect”. True, it is at times too cliché and eventually unsettling… But it’s hilarious, with great acting (Christian Clavier is superb), making fun of everybody, no race or religion is left outside… Go see it, provided that you don’t feel uneasy with religious or racial jokes…

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French comedies La Famille BelierThe plot: Paula Bélier is the daughter of Gigi and Rodolphe and has a brother called Quentin. Her parents and brother are deaf, and rely on Paula as their contact to the rest of the world. When her music teacher discovers that she has a gift for singing -which obviously her family cannot understand- she faces the dilemma whether to stay with her family or follow her dreams…

Go see it, because… This feel-good, touching film will make you laugh, but also shed some tears… Besides the great acting (all the actors learnt sign language for the movie) and clever dialogues, the movie deals with the issue of leaving our family, which certainly touched me on a personal level…Louane Emera (Paula) became known in France after her participation in a reality show, The Voice, and with this film she won a Cesar for Most Promising Actress.

IMDB link


French comedies Le PrenomThe plot: Vincent is about to become a father, and he is invited for dinner by his sister and his brother-in-law; there he also finds a childhood friend. When he reveals the name they chose for their unborn son, his response provokes a discussion that eventually gets out of hands.

Go see it, because…This film is actually an adaptation from a theatrical play; it has great performances and very intelligent dialogues. There are many similarities with Carnage by Roman Polansky, a film I also enjoyed very much.

IMDB link


French comedies L ArnacoeurThe plot: Alex and his sister run a business designed to break up relationships. He is hired by Juliette’s father to prevent her from marrying an English millionaire. But Alex has only one week to seduce Juliette…

Go see it, because… This is a funny, smart, witty and romantic film. Roman Duris and Vanessa Paradis have great chemistry, and the Montecarlo settings make it even more enjoyable…

IMDB link


The following 3 movies are much older, but classical, must-see, timeless French comedies:


French comedies Les visiteurs posterThe plot: A medieval knight and his servant, who were supposed to travel to the past to correct a fatal error, are accidentally transported to modern times by an old sorcerer. While trying to find a way to return home, they must cope with the cultural and technological differences between medieval and modern times…

Go see it, because…The plot is extremely original, just imagine what can happen when men living in the medieval times see “horseless chariots” (cars) and many other modern inventions… Les Visiteurs was a huge box office success in France. Reno and Clavier reprised their roles in the sequels Les couloirs du temps: Les visiteurs II and Les Visiteurs 3: La révolution. An American remake, Just Visiting, was made in 2001.

IMDB link


French comediesLa_Grande_Vadrouille_posterThe plot: During World War II, two French civilians and a downed British Bomber crew leave from Paris to cross the demarcation line between Nazi-occupied Northern France and the South, in order to escape to England. For that, they must avoid German troops – and the consequences of their own gaffes.

Go see it, because: La Grande Vadrouille was the most successful film in France for more than 30 years, only surpassed lately by Bienvenue Chez les Ch’tis and Intouchables. The dialogues are hilarious, it dares to make fun of anyone: British, French, and mostly Germans… Louis the Funes, with no doubt, is one of the greatest comedians of all times…

IMDB link


French comdies Les_vacances_de_monsieur_HulotThe plot: Monsieur Hulot goes on holidays to a seaside resort in Brittany. Although his intentions are good, accidents and misunderstandings follow him wherever he goes, affecting the peace and quietness of the hotel guests…

Go see it, because… Jacques Tatin’s Hulot has become an all-time classic. He reminds us of Charles Chaplin, but also of Mr. Bean (Rowan Atkinson has admitted that Mr. Hulot influenced Mr. Bean’s character)… This film, with very few dialogues, manages to satirize France’s middle class and “the comical nature of humanity when interacting as a group”.

IMDB link