Chanson Du Jour 10/17/206 Vikki Carr: “Que sea él” (It Must Be Him)
I’ve always loved the hilariously desperate song “It Must Be Him” performed by Vikki Carr. The song sold over 1 million copies in 1967 and millions more since.
Vikki Carr remains a very under-appreciated vocalist, one who gets unfairly lumped-in with her white bread contemporaries dominating that woeful/golden era of 1960s MOR (Middle of the Road) radio.
On trips in the Stevenson family station wagon, my dad would play this musical spam on the car radio, punching in the dreaded WLKW button, while we kids in the back seat begged for DJ Joe Thomas playing Beatles, Beach Boys and Motown on WICE. But alas – this was elevator music without doors that open and let you out.
It was in the back seat of the Pontiac Tempest, that I learned Vicki Carr sang ‘grown-up” music that I actually liked. Eventually I saw her perform on TV with Merv, Johnny and Mike, where she was always beautiful, charming, and singing brilliantly. Still later, I became the odd used record customer who purchased both Vikki’s Greatest Hits album AND Moby Grape’s groovy debut (sans “flipping the bird”) while shopping at In Your Ear. Has anyone else ever purchased these two records together? No? Hooray for me.
Pomme, a singer with sensitive lyrics, who this week spoke out against sexual abuse in the industry was crowned Best Female artist of the year at the 36th annual French music awards. In the new talent category, Yseult, dazzled the scene with her message tackling the taboo of body shape and acceptance of one’s origins.
Due to the Covid-19 health crisis, the 36th Victoires de la musique took place on Friday evening in a strange atmosphere without any audience, at the Seine Musicale concert hall in Boulogne-Billancourt, on the outskirts of Paris.
However, nearly 200 extras were present in the hall to applaud the artists’ performance.
Pomme, the voice of the #MeToo movement in music, won Best Female Artist, her second Victoire, after her album Les Failles won a prize last year.
This trophy is a big spotlight on the #MeToo movement, still in its infancy in the music industry and named #Musictoo.
Pomme described her “arrival in the music industry” as “traumatic” in an open letter published Thursday by the online medium Mediapart. “From the age of 15 to 17, I was manipulated, morally and sexually harassed, without being aware of it at the time of course,” the 24-year-old artist said.
When she received her award on Friday, she wished for a “safer (music) industry for women”, hoping that they could “overturn the codes” of the business.
Also speaking out for women, and in particular women of colour, was Yseult, who won Best New Female Talent award.
“There is still a long way to go for women, for black women, for fat women,” commented Yseult.
The singer has always explained that she uses the colour of her skin and her body shape as a political weapon through her songs and videos.
Benjamin Biolay was awarded Best Male Artist and Best album for Grand Prix. At the age of 48, he has now won six awards. He didn’t shy away from pointing out how hard the year has been for the culture industry in France due to the pandemic.
“It hasn’t been a very winning year for music,” said Biolay as he received his first trophy of the evening, the trophy for male artist.
He has openly criticized what he describes as the “deafening silence of the public authorities” towards the music industry in general, and of the stage in particular, weakened by the Covid-19 health crisis.
Jane Birkin gets career award
Mais je t’aime, by Grand Corps Malade and Camille Lellouche, was named best song.
The Victory of Best new Male Talent came to Hervé. The best video clip was won by Julien Doré, for Nous, with his two mischievous dinosaurs.
The ceremony, regularly accused of snubbing the big sellers of the moment – from urban music – also highlighted the most streamed title (more than 101 million times) between December 2019 and November 2020, Ne reviens pas, by Gradur and Heuss L’Enfoiré.
Among the other prizes awarded was the Victory of Honour awarded to Jane Birkin for her entire career.
Following Les Négresses Vertes triumphant return last year to celebrate the 30th anniversary of their classic debut, guitarist Stéfane Mellino tells Gerry Ranson it’s good to be back.
After years dominated by low-rent rock and diminishing returns, the Reading Festival was in need of a revamp. Having found success following the heavy rock revival at the start of the 80s, it had been surpassed by Castle Donnington’s hard hitting Monsters Of Rock bash, and was now having an identity crisis: 1988’s bill found Iggy Pop and the Ramones sharing the festival’s twin stages with Starship, Bonnie Tyler and Deacon Blue. Something had to give.
One of the most successful promoters of the 80s, Vince Power had built on the popularity of his north London venues the Mean Fiddler and the Town & Country Club and was looking to move into the festival business. Reading provided the perfect opportunity. With a background in roots and world music, Power brought a marked change to the line-up, with sets from the likes of The Pogues, Billy Bragg, Mary Coughlan and The Bhundu Boys. Intent on trying out new ingredients, he also introduced a new band, in the form of many-legged French troupe Les Négresses Vertes.
Described at the time as a “French version of The Pogues”, in their crumpled charcoal suits, the men and women of Les Négresses Vertes fused traditional sounds with bawdy barroom lyrics and a robust ladleful of punk attitude. Recently signed, perhaps incongruously, to dance label Rhythm King in the UK, they’d just released a debut album Mlah, and a single ‘Zobi La Mouche’, featuring a William Orbit remix. Not sure what to expect, as the band took the stage after lunch on the Saturday, a bemused audience would soon be won over by their woozy French charm, personified in louche, charismatic frontman Helno.
“Of course we remember the Reading Festival,” laughs founding guitarist and singer Stéfane Mellino when I catch up with the band ahead of their London show in November. “It’s very rare for a French band to play there, but the audience was very cool with us, and we had a big success.”
After a lengthy lay-off, the band reconvened early in 2018 for a tour celebrating the 30th Anniversary of the release of Mlah. It has proved so successful that they decided to go round again and completed further dates earlier this year.
“Last time we’d played together was for an MTV show in Paris in November 2001,” Stéfane explains. “Then we decided to stop for a while; we didn’t know the pause was going to be so long, but with the death of our manager Jacques Renault in 2004 everybody started to make his own way solo. We decided to be back together in order to celebrate thirty years of Mlah. We did our first gig in front of friends in a small venue in Banlieue de Paris called Le Blanc Mesnil and the response was incredible. We saw on their faces that everybody was waiting for that, including us! Since then it’s really enjoyable to be back and playing.” Continue reading “Interview with Les Négresses Vertes”→