French Rock is Alive and it Lives in Paris

By: linx_smart
Like many other European countries outside of the UK, France has always struggled with it's own musical identity. In the second half of the 20th century, the music scene in France ended up mimicking the sounds of popular American and British artists. Starting in the 1980's, France saw an influx of new and distinctive rock bands like Telephone and later Pigalle that carved out the path for a new breed of artists that were uniquely French in attitude and sound. During the explosion of "French Touch" in the early 1990s, electro and house artists like Daft Punk and Air invaded the world's dance floors, bringing attention to the overlooked Country.

Primarily due to the language barrier, many French artists have trailed behind their American and Britain counterparts in both sales and reach. In order to reach a wider audience many French rock bands are abandoning their native language in order to reach the English-speaking music market. While many French nationals hold distain for this trend, it's the lure of gaining international exposure and tapping a larger fan base.

Adding to the identity issues plaguing French bands is the French radio quota system, which states that 40 percent of tracks played on the radio must be sung in French. Originating in the 1990s, these new requirements were a form of affirmative action meant to preserve a sense of musical nationalism and help offset what was deemed the unfair advantage of the marketing machine of the English-speaking market. This leaves French artists struggling with the difficult decision of targeting a larger audience or taking advantage of the enacted quota requirements. In an attempt to take advantage of both outlets, rather than limiting themselves to one specific language, some French artists have opted to release discs that incorporate both French and English sometimes going so far as releasing singles in both languages. While the French music scene has always faced difficulties expanding their reach, in the last 10 years French and French-speaking artists have gained in popularity worldwide. Bands like Phoenix, The Prototypes, A.S Dragon, and Camille have created an international buzz as some of the country's best new artists.

For those interested in discovering the next great French band, grab the latest issue of the Pariscope weekly and check the listings to see what bands are playing around town. If none of the listings strikes a chord, simply venture up to the 11th arrondissement with it's plethora of hip boutiques, local restaurants and dive bars. Staring on Rue Oberkampf, venture into the popular Café Charbon (109 Rue Oberkampf) as well the club's discreet basement venue Nouveau Casino, which is known for featuring some of the most edgy bands France has to offer. However, the entrance is hidden and only reachable through an unmarked door at the back of the Charbon. Le Pop In (105 Rue Amelot) is a popular dance club among locals, complete with cheap booze, great DJs, and no entrance fee. There are also a number of other up and coming clubs in the immediate area that cater to the trendy French hipsters. Simply wander a few blocks along Rue Oberkampf, Rue St. Maur, and Rue Jean-Pierre Timbaud and on the right night you might just discover the next great French indie-rock band.
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