Paris is the subject of thousands of songs. In France and abroad, authors and composers have a field day immortalizing the French capital in song. So many different visions, sometimes realistic, sometimes full of imagery: classic songs the French all know well enough to hum. Josephine Baker, adopted Parisian sings loud and proud about her love for France and its capital. His best hit would be covered, seventy-four years later, by another American singer, Madeleine Peyroux, who also covers, among others, famous tunes by Bob Dylan and Leonard Cohen. A hit never dies. In the song, he recounts the life of a metro ticket-puncher, tired of such a repetitive job. Through his mechanical routine, we are immersed in the underground atmosphere of the era and we have fun browsing a Paris metro map that is no more. A simple life, penniless but carefree, well away from the bourgeoisie of the time.
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Some of the links in this article are affiliate links. This means Benjamin Houy may earn a commission for purchases made through these links. Read affiliate disclosure. Something about the rhythm and often repetitiveness of music just helps our brain retain things better. But music can help you learn and remember vocabulary, not to mention grammar rules. And if a French song you like has complex lyrics and wordplay, you might feel more motivated to decipher them than you would a simple text. So, French songs are a great way to add to your French learning experience.
Édith Piaf – “La Vie En Rose” (1946)
If your fantasies involve riding through the streets of Paris on a bicycle, fuel your dreams with this soundtrack of gorgeous vintage French pop songs. Start with these ten songs, beloved classics of the genre. This little gem, written by Jean Lenoir and performed by Lucienne Boyer among dozens of others, both in French and in translation has a lilting, dreamlike melody that is often heard in French music boxes. The title translates to "Speak to Me of Love" and the lyrics tell of the sweet nothings that lovers whisper in each others' ears, and how these words can melt the troubles of the world away, even if they're not entirely genuine. The lyrics speak of awaiting the return of a lover who has gone far away to an unnamed place, and it became something of an anthem for young couples during WWII. No one has made such a singular impact on the history of French popular music as the golden-voiced Edith Piaf. Of all the wonderful songs in her repertoire , though, "La Vie en Rose" "Life Through Rose-Colored Glasses" is surely the most beloved and best-remembered, all around the world. Piaf wrote the lyrics herself, and the melody was written by Louis Guglielmi. Legend has it that singer, composer, and lyricist Charles Trenet wrote "La Mer" in just ten minutes, scribbling the lyrics on sheets of toilet paper as he rode on a train.
Popular French Music — songs. Have you wanted to listen to French music but never knew where to start? This huge list spans several genres and the music is sung by a myriad of artists.