Summer is starting. And there’s nothing more freeing that the windows open and some great music on your stereo or in your ear buds. The francophone music scene runs across a spectrum of genres, from R&B and psychedelic rock to experimental pop and Parisian rap. Here are some of the artists you should be adding to your “je kiffe bien ça” playlist.
Amadou & Mariam
Amadou & Mariam is a music duo from Bamako, Mali. In an interview, the band members Amadou Bagayoko and Mariam Doubia, who are both blind, agreed that, “People are surprised by the quality of our music, and the way we are able to play with other musicians, to fit into other kinds of music – that is what amazes them. It helps them realize that no matter whether you are blind or not, you can work, you can make music.” Their album, Welcome To Mali, was nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Contemporary World Music Album in 2008, and they have continued to release and experiment across the spectrum of musical style. What especially draws listeners to Amadou & Mariam is their unique and constantly evolving sound. Despite remaining rooted in traditional Malian music, Amadou & Marian are constantly integrating international cultures into their songs, from rock guitars, Syrian violins and Cuban trumpets to Egyptian flutes and all forms of percussion. The only genre that truly categorizes this duo is “world beat.’’
Mathieu Claude Daniel Pruski is a French rapper from Paris, France. Growing up in a family of Polish origin, his father often called him ‘mini Polak’ which led to his stage name PLK. Although PLK was releasing music throughout the 2010s, the rapper rose to national and international prominence with his 2019 Platinum album Mental. He has since dominated the contemporary French rap scene, garnering millions of streams across social platforms, and he is consistently releasing music videos which portray the Parisian hip hop world through a distinctly theatrical lens. PLK has also collaborated with a number of other French hip hop and rap artists, including Nekfeu, SCH, Mister V, Hamza, and Lefa from Sexion d’Assaut,.
Videoclub is a French duo and musical project by Adèle Castillon and Matthieu Reynaud—a couple based in Nantes, France who decided to experiment with their musical sound and start a band. In 2021, they fused their styles together and released their first (and so far only) album Euphories. This synth-pop record features a number of hit singles, including their most popular Amour Plastique.
Pauline Croze is a French singer, songwriter, and producer from Noisy-le-Sec, France—an eastern suburb of Paris. She released her first album in 2005, and has steadily continued to expand her discography. Her most recent album, Après Les Heures Grises, was released in 2021, and combines folk, pop, and traditional French Jazz through persona adoption, poetic, and at times political lyrics emblematic of the ‘Nouvelle chanson’ (also known as New Chanson) genre.
La Femme is a French band whose original members are from Biarritz, Brittany, Marseille, and Paris. La Femme combines synth-psychedelic rock, new wave, yéyé, and various other styles in their discography. Their most recent album Paradigmes features songs like “Cool Colorado” in which the band unconventionally draws on 60s and 70s rock influences to create a new and eclectic sound.
Angèle Van Laeken, known by her stage name Angèle, is from Uccle Belgium, yet she has dominated the French pop scene since 2018. Her first album Brol is known for strong lyrical content alongside incredibly danceable rhythms. Since her first release, she has remained dedicated to creating an experience through her music, using YouTube videos as an innovative component to her work. Both the lyrics and music video for Balance Ton Quoi reveal Angèle’s support for the French #MeToo movement known as “Balance Ton Porc.” Her most recent album, Nonante Cinquante has seen immense success, with the single “Démons” reaching the top of French music charts.
Requin Chagrin is Marion Brunetto’s independent rock and pop music project. Brunetto is originally from the Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur region, but she debuted onto the music scene in Paris under the name Requin Chagrin with her first release: Adelaïde. Although Marion Brunetto plays with a band on stage, she is the singer, songwriter, composer, and primary producer of the band’s albums. Her most recent album Bye Bye Baby (2021), remains rooted in Brunetto’s new wave and yé-yé influences, while carrying the listener through what the opening track calls “la première vague” or “the first wave.”
Charlinda Banks is a rising Junior at Brown University studying International and Public Affairs & Literary Arts. She is currently an intern at Frenchly, and she is passionate about all things francophone and creative writing.