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French Music 101 - Georges Brassens, Edith Piaf, Charles Aznavour, Françoise Hardy

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There’s a wide variety of French singers that have made their mark, but here we give you four of the most important French musicians of all time:

1. Georges Brassens (1921-1981)

His incredible wit and mastery of language brought him widespread fame and an immortal name. His lyrics are overflowing with creativity, humor, and sharp criticism, and his music is melodic and complex. Songs like Les amoreaux des bancs publics and Les Copains d’abord are iconic in the country. His song “Fernande”, an incredibly funny song was banned from the radio for its sexual content. Brassens is also distinguished for having put some of Victor Hugo’s, Paul Verlain’s, and his own poems to song.

2. Edith Piaf (1915-1963)

France’s Sparrow probably needs no introduction. Her unique, raspy voice has given a new meaning to La vie en rose, and has perfectly described the French capital in all its minute details in her song Sous le ciel de Paris (Under the Parisian Sky). Edith Piaf is probably the most widely recognized French singer outside of the country, as her beautiful music reached all corners of this planet, and continues to be emblematic of French song. Her music reached an even wider audience in 2007, when Marion Cotillard played her on “La Vie en Rose”, a film about the singer’s life.

3. Charles Aznavour (1924-)

Born in Armenia, but raised in France, Aznavour is a name every French person is familiar with. Often called the French Frank Sinatra, he has written more than a thousand songs in more than seven languages. As the opening act for Edith Piaf at the Moulin Rouge, his voice is as distinctive and unique as hers. Songs like Que c’est triste Venice and Apres l’amour have been heard all over the world. Even more impressive, he has sung for Kings and Presidents, and has collaborated with artists such as Bob Dylan, Andrea Bocelli, and Ray Charles. He also has an impressive career as an actor, even starring in one of François Truffaut’s films, “Tirez sur le pianiste”, and is now the Armenian ambassador in Switzerland.

4. Françoise Hardy (1944-)

With her big, brown eyes and wide smile, this French beauty conquered all of the country along with her husband and French singer, Jacques Dutronc. Hardy and Dutronc are some of the most important singers of the French Ye-Ye movement, and it was her most popular song, Tous les garçons et les filles, of this musical style, that brought her to fame. Her music tends to be soft and melodic, often dealing with the themes of love, and heartache. Her music videos are also very simple, focusing on everyday scenes and clear shots of Hardy’s face. Some of her other most famous songs include Le temps d’amour and Comment te dire adieu. Her music is referenced in several movies like “Moonrise Kingdom”, “Save the Tiger”, and “The Dreamers”. She is also considered an important fashion icon that has inspired several trends.

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