Thursday, May 12, 2005
spiffy special: Mylène Farmer
A very special guest joins us today at th' Hut:
Elisabeth Vincentelli is a former music editor and current senior editor at Time Out NY. Elisabeth has written for the Stone, EW, the Voice and has penned liners for more than a few discs. This is, I hope, the first of several pieces that she will be doing for us on French pop music.
Make her feel welcome and leave some commentary, n'est-ce pas?
Mylène Farmer - 'L'amour N'est Rien'
Mylène Farmer - 'Porno Graphique'
There¹s only one person who matters in French pop, and it¹s not Benjamin Biolay or Keren Ann or Phoenix or Daft Punk; it¹s Mylène Farmer.
In her adopted home (for she was born in Canada), Mylène¹s often dubbed "the French Madonna," a comparison she¹s earned by dint of her longevity as a best-selling star (close to 20 years), her ambitious, super-slick pop sound, and the obsessive devotion she inspires in her fans (of which I¹ve been one since hearing her first big hit, 'Libertine,' in 1986. Unlike Madonna, though, Mylène isn¹t really embraced by her own country¹s intelligentsia, which is sadly incapable of seeing that she¹s the most idiosyncratic, eccentric, completely sui generis singer we French have. She sells millions of records and is treated with derision by tastemakers, the fools!
Like her frozen-in-amber appearance, Mylène¹s songs, which she writes with longtime producer Laurent Boutonnat, have changed very little over the years: a disco-Goth stomper here, a dramatic ballad there; frequent lyrical references to mysterious shadows, obsessive love, death and the joys of anal sex; echo-drenched vocals alternating between sexy whispers and asthmatic high notes. (The one time she tried to deviate from her formula, on the guitar-heavy, Los Angelesrecorded Anamorphosée , the reception was frosty.) To accompany this delirium, the red-headed singer's made a string of demented videos boasting huge budgets, full credit rolls and nutty storylines.
Here are two excerpts from Mylène¹s brand-new CD, "Avant Que L'Ombre;" the first single is titled 'Fuck Them All' (in English) but the album is so good that it isn¹t even among the best songs.
'L'amour N'est Rien' is a straightforward, vaguely uptempo pop tune. The lyrics cover all the Mylène bases, referencing metaphysical something or other, the darkness, and love being boring when it¹s sexually correct.
In 'Porno Graphique,' a crow-like cackles introduce a typically catchy Mylène tune that, also typically, combines gloomy bells, a nursery-rhyme melody, a piano counter-melody, disco-inspired strings and treated vox provided by the multitracked singer. Lyrically, the song joins 1988¹s 'Pourvu Qu'elles Soient Douces' (available on Farmer's two disc best-of "Les Mots") in the pantheon of great Mylène songs praising sodomy. Oddly, the track concludes on the singer asking for a mojito before erupting into disquieting laughter. It doesn¹t make sense but then Mylène hardly ever does and still, it works; that¹s what makes her a pop star.
Import "Avant Que L'Ombre" (roughly, "Before the Darkness"), Farmer's new and long-awaited album, from Amazon.
Explore this extensive Farmer site.
It's in French but the monolingual among us can always rely on pidgin babelfish.
Download a score of Farmer tracks (and some wallpapers!) from this slick fansite.
Read this Farmer bio (in English!) from Radio France International.
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Dude is street fa real and fa sho.
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I'm a-hopin' and a-prayin' that this is some sort of Kaufman-esque stunt; otherwise, it's a damn shame.
Lord knows I monkeyed it up enough yesterday, but here's one more: An Ebay auction for a screaming monkey button.