Today is La Fête de la Musique, that wonderful French festival where (often) free music events take place across France. To celebrate this annual noise-fest, let’s take a look at some lesser-known facts about French music.
- French people play bagpipes! There are even French varieties of bagpipes which sound just as bad as the Scottish ones.
- Johnny Hallyday is France’s biggest-selling musician with an estimated 80 million record sales to date, 5 million more than Kenny G.
- Accordions aren’t even French, they were invented in Germany.
- “My Way” may be Frank Sinatra’s biggest hit but it was adapted from a French song, “Comme d’habitude”, which was composed, written and sung entirely by French people.
- France is the third most-successful Eurovision country in history with five victories under its belt so far. It is tied in third place with the UK and Luxembourg.
- Jean Michel Jarre is the artist with the biggest-ever audience: 3.5 million people came to see him perform in Moscow in 1997, many – presumably – of their own volition.
- Edith Piaf’s funeral is the only occasion since WW2 to have completely stopped traffic in Paris.
- She was 147 cm tall, which is the maximum height a pony can be before it is technically a horse.
- Daft Punk used to be in a group called Darlin’ where they would expose their human faces.
- Serge Gainsbourg’s saucy hit, “Je T’aime… Moi Non Plus” was the first non-English-language hit to get to no.1 in the UK and features the second-most famous fake female orgasm in popular culture. (Obvs the first is this.)
- Talking of Serge, his Paris home remains exactly as it was when he died in 1991, except for some tins of food which were removed when they exploded.
- Quintessentially American gay disco band, Village People, have very French origins. They were formed by two Frenchmen and their trademark hit, “Y.M.C.A.”, was written by one of them, Jacques Morali.
- Ottawan, responsible for the disco hit sensation, “D.I.S.C.O”, were French too. Which just goes to show you that the French love to write disco hits that involve spelling.
- David Guetta’s brother, Bernard, is a highly respected journalist who was once considered for the position of editor of Le Monde.
- Bob Dylan wrote a song about Françoise Hardy and Mick Jagger claimed she was the perfect woman.
- ‘La Mer’ by Charles Trenet has been covered 4000 times, including one version by Cliff Richard.
Photo: Eric Fabet / Flickr, CC 2.0