I have a confession to make… I hate French music. After spending two years working at a popular French restaurant in Toronto, the sounds of Serge Gainsbourg, Edith Piaf, and other classic French chanteurs still drive me a bit crazy. I guess that’s what happens when you’re forced to listen to the same playlist on repeat for eight hours per day.
Since moving to Paris, I’ve given Francophone music another chance, but this time through a more modern lens. Inspired by some of my favorite anglophone artists, here are five modern French speaking music artists to check out now:
If you like Billie Eilish, Ariana Grande, and Lorde, check out Angèle
If you know anything about modern French music, you’ve probably already heard of the Queen of French Pop, Angèle. She rose to fame in 2018 after her single Tout Oublier broke the record for weeks at the top of the Belgian singles charts, formerly set by fellow Belgian singer and rapper Stromae. More recently, she’s broken into the international pop scene with her collaboration with English singer Dua Lipa on the single Fever.
If you like Mac Miller, Kid Cudi, and Childish Gambino, check out Roméo Elvis
Keeping it in the family, rapper and hip-hop artist Roméo Elvis is actually Angèle’s older brother. They’ve collaborated on songs like Tout Oublier and my personal favorite J’ai vu, alongside his producer, Le Motel. His music has evolved quite a bit over the years, so I recommend checking out his 2019 debut album, Chocolat.
If you like Kehlani, H.E.R., and Jhené Aiko, check out Yseult
Yseult rose to prominence in 2013 as runner-up on the tenth season of Nouvelle Star (France’s American Idol). She released her first self-titled album in 2015, but it wasn’t met with commercial success. She left her music label and returned in 2019 with her own independent label and a more raw and personal style of music, a stark contrast to her earlier days of electro-pop. Since then, her music has been widely recognized and praised. Earlier this year, her song Corps was nominated in the Original Song category at the French music awards Victoires de la musique. While she didn’t win in that category, she was named Révélation feminine, or Best Female Newcomer.
If you like SZA, J. Cole, and Frank Ocean, check out Swing
Okay okay, one last Belgian artist and then I’m done. Swing is inspired by hip-hop and soul, and especially artists who rap and sing at the same time. The catchy beats and refrains will catch your ear at first, but be sure to listen closely to meaningful lyrics in songs like S’en aller, Pas besoin de raison, and Homosapiens with his group L’Or du Commun, joined by fellow Belgian rappers Primero and Loxley.
If you like Marina, HAIM, and Robyn, check out Christine and the Queens
In 2016, Christine and the Queens was at the top of Vanity Fair’s list of the most powerful and influential French people, ranked ahead of the president of France! They have said that they don’t want to choose between English and French music, so they typically release singles in both languages. Their indie pop often takes a second listen to fully understand the lyrics, especially in songs like People I’ve Been Sad where they switch back and forth from English to French.
Take a listen to the playlist I’ve made of my favorite songs from all of these artists and be sure to let us know of your favorite francophone music artists in the comments below!
- Here’s where to hear some of our favorite French music and live performances online!
- Read about more essential French musicians!
- Check out an interview with Paris-based author Pamela Druckerman.
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