Greatest French Musicians And Singers: 25 Legendary Artists

As probably the most aurally pleasing of the romance languages, it’s no surprise that a lot of French music is dominated by seductive singers and coolly delivered pop. Their classical music pedigree can be unquestionable, having spawned the likes of Ravel, Satie, and Debussy, however French music can be characterised by a sure joie de vivre that resonates all through genres and many years. To have a good time Bastille Day – the anniversary of the storming of the Bastille in 1789 – we’ve picked some revolutionary French musicians who outlined widespread music in France.

Serge Gainsbourg

France’s beloved cult hero nonetheless stays the very embodiment of French inventive expression, the place hedonism and extra meet. Serge Gainsbourg was one of many world’s most influential songwriters, composers, and cultural figures and continues to seduce and appeal posthumously even seven many years after his debut.

Brigitte Bardot

Celebrated as a French movie star, Bardot’s singing profession is to not be neglected. Through the 60s she teamed with pop provocateur Serge Gainsbourg on a string of data that embodied the freedoms of that period – they went proto-punk on “Harley Davidson” and acquired sultry on “Bonnie & Clyde.” Their most placing duet wasn’t launched on the time: Bardot feared they’d gone too far with the steamy “Je T’aime..Moi Non Plus,” so she had it shelved and Gainsbourg reduce the well-known model with Jane Birkin. The unique grew to become a shock hit when issued many years later. – Brett Milano

Édith Piaf

As one of the vital well-known French singers ever, Edith Piaf turned romantic strife into beautiful artwork along with her enduring ballads “La Vie En Rose” and “Je Ne Regrette Rien.” As certainly one of first true crossover stars, her melancholic melodies received the world over after which some.

Maurice Chevalier

There was much more to Chevalier’s profession than the borderline-camp track he’s finest remembered for, “Thank Heaven for Little Ladies.” In a profession that spanned 60 years together with each world wars, Chevalier was the embodiment of the suave French main man, making movies with everybody from Sinatra to Jayne Mansfield to the Marx Brothers. He was admired by the main movie and Broadway composers, and acquired to introduce songs by Rogers and Hart, Gershwin, and Berlin. The oft-recorded “You Introduced a New Type of Like to Me” was one of many sweetest signature tunes for one of the vital iconic French singers. – Brett Milano

Johnny Hallyday

Regardless of by no means having damaged out of his native nation, probably the most beloved of French singers, Johnny Hallyday, retains his repute as being the Elvis Presley of France and placing his personal Gallic stamp of hip-gyrating rock’n’roll for many years.

Carla Bruni

Carla Bruni was already a world-famous mannequin, however not but the First Woman of France, when she made her French singing debut with 2003’s, “Quelqu’un m’a dit.” And it wasn’t simply her celeb that made the album a runaway hit: Writing a lot of the songs herself, she proved a successor to the perfect of 60s French pop, even drawing the one cowl from Serge Gainsbourg. Like most of her work since, the sound was stored intimate and largely acoustic. – Brett Milano

Jacques Dutronc

The previous teen idol turned cult hero of 60s French musicians captured the rebellious spirit of American rock’n’roll. Together with his provocative songs, this former session guitarist turned actor stays one of the vital widespread French singers and musicians within the French-speaking world.

Yves Montand

Although Italian-born, Montand was one of many nice French pop singers, with a evenly swinging contact that made him a kindred spirit to Bing Crosby. (They sang collectively within the 1960 movie Let’s Make Love, during which Montand additionally romanced Marilyn Monroe). Found by Edith Piaf in 1944, he grew out of the cabaret circuit and have become a world movie star, additionally doing a one-man Broadway present in 1960. Among the many pop requirements he originated have been “Mais qu’est-ce que j’ai,” which was cowriter Piaf’s parting reward when he left her act; and “Les Feuilles mortes,” which Johnny Mercer later anglicized as “Autumn Leaves.” – Brett Milano

Sexion d’Assaut

At the moment on the forefront of French rap, Sexion d’Assaut would sound refreshingly old-school to American ears; their songs characteristic a live-band sound and loads of hooks. Shaped as a collective in Paris, the group now contains eight rappers with a range of approaches. Although the group courted controversy in its early days, they’ve since adopted a extra socially aware route. – Brett Milano


Zaz (born Isabelle Geffroy) acquired broadly in comparison with Edith Piaf early on; they each began as road performers, have equally husky voices, and even look considerably alike. However 2010’s infectious “Je Veux” grew to become a world hit and established Zaz as an artist in her personal proper, updating classic gypsy jazz with fashionable soul touches. Followers of French singers will love her album Paris, a set of basic songs about that metropolis. – Brett Milano

Jean-Jacques Goldman

No one embodied ‘80s/’90s French pop like Goldman, a singer/author with a large stylistic attain and an unfailing business knack. As a author/producer he labored on early hits by Celine Dion, incomes him his one U.S. Grammy. After a sting within the band Tai Phong, Goldman went solo on 1986’s “Je te Donne,” launching a run of hits that continued till 2002, when he introduced his retirement from music at age 50. Rumors of a comeback present, or not less than a proper farewell, persist to today. – Brett Milano


2010’s “Alors on Danse” made a world star out of the Belgian rapper/producer, going to Quantity One in 19 international locations – although most U.S. audiences didn’t hear the track till TikTokers acquired into it a decade later. However the track had an underlying seriousness – the world’s in disaster, says the French lyric, so we dance; and Stromae went on to visitor with Coldplay and a video for Dua Lipa. In the meantime, his 2022 single, “L’Enfer,” revealed his longstanding battles with despair. – Brett Milano

Coeur de Pirate

Quebecois singer/pianist Beatrice Martin (who’s the imaginary band Coeur de Pirate) was solely 18 when her single “Comme des enfants” grew to become an unintended hit, due to its placement in a viral video. The track evinced appeal and innocence, qualities that Martin has retained as she’s grown up and explored deeper issues, together with problems with gender and sexuality. The 2015 album Roses marked her first (and up to now solely) album to incorporate English lyrics. – Brett Milano

Françoise Hardy

Françoise Hardy was one of many quintessential French yé-yé singers alongside France Gall, Sylvie Vartan, and Sheila. Hardy imbued a way of sophistication to the bubblegum style, rising to the highest of French and British pop charts with “It Hurts To Say Goodbye,” written by Serge Gainsbourg.

Celine Dion

She is after all from Quebec, however belongs right here as a pop icon who not solely sings extensively in French, however embodies the trademark qualities of French pop: Romance, emotion, vulnerability. Céline Dion’s French-language albums truly outnumber her better-selling English ones, and followers swear that her most suave performances might be discovered there. She’s presently the toast of Las Vegas, although she introduced in early 2022 that muscle points had put a short lived finish to stay reveals. – Brett Milano

Georges Brassens

Together with Jacques Brel and Léo Ferré, Georges Brassens is among the trio of artists that represents the French chanson custom. A bawdier model of Woody Guthrie, the poet-singer might rhapsodize about class and faith in addition to consuming and girls with equal zeal, ah oui.

Mylene Farmer

One of many extra daring artists in fashionable pop, Mylène Farmer has explored each dangerous territory there’s: Intercourse, spirituality, society, philosophy, and extra. One in all her most well-known songs, “Désenchantée,” was impressed by early ’90s pupil protests and the Gulf Warfare. Musically she’s embraced basic pop, goth synthscapes, and disco – plus an occasional high-profile duet like “Stolen Automotive” with Sting, which acquired her on the US dance charts. – Brett Milano

Daft Punk

Simply because the French made their mark on singer-songwriter pushed pop music, they’re equally liable for shaping home and digital music in the present day, in no small half due to retro-futurists Daft Punk who took French home music “all over the world.”

Charles Aznavour

It appeared no one knew extra about love than Charles Aznavour, who wrote and sang about it for three-quarters of a century. His profession was initially nurtured by Edith Piaf, and in 1953 he was one of many first singers to put in writing most of his personal debut album. One other admirer, Frank Sinatra, launched Aznavour’s US debut on his Reprise label. His basic songs included “La Boheme,” “Yesterday After I Was Younger” (coated within the US by Roy Clark), and 1972’s “What Makes a Man,” one of many first non-rock songs to take care of homosexual sexuality. Aznavour was nonetheless performing shortly earlier than his dying in 2018, at age 94. – Brett Milano

Pierre Schaeffer

Engineer, author, composer, thinker, and musicologist Pierre Schaeffer is named the “godfather of sampling” for his pioneering musique concrete work (together with Pierre Henry) that used recorded sounds to create authentic compositions.

Jacques Brel

The Belgian born composer/actor was a grasp of the theatrical character track, so it’s no shock he was beloved by the likes of Scott Walker (who partly constructed his early solo profession on Brel materials) and David Bowie (who made “Amsterdam” a staple of the Ziggy reveals). In America he had a fruitful collaboration with the pop poet Rod McKuen, whose English lyrics made requirements of “If You Go Away” and “Seasons within the Solar.” Brel died comparatively younger in 1978, however the off-Broadway revue Jacques Brel is Alive and Effectively and Residing in Paris performed for many years afterward. – Brett Milano

France Gall

An authentic yé-yé woman, this French pop singer shot to fame after profitable the Eurovision contest and dominated the French charts along with her sexually suggestive songs for many years. She additionally served because the inspiration of Frank Sinatra’s “My Method.” (It was tailored from the French tune “Comme D’Habitude,” written by her jilted ex-boyfriend Claude François.)

Sylvia Vartan

Together with Francoise Hardy, Vartan was arguably the brightest star to emerge from the mid-’60s ye-ye motion. However whereas Hardy was a extra introspective determine, Vartan was a pure rock & curler. She first hit the charts with French variations of “What’d I Say” and “The Loco-Movement” and in 1964 went to Nashville to make an English album with the Jordanaires. 1968’s hovering “Irresitiblement” was maybe her biggest, however she continued having hits into the 90s. – Brett Milano


As one of the vital influential French digital musicians of 2000s and past, Air grew to become the unlikely torchbearers of French pop and probably the most profitable crossover acts to dominate the Anglosphere with their distinctive tackle electronica, baroque pop, jazz, and lounge.

Nouvelle Imprecise

Any person had to think about it in the end: Combining the spirit of French new wave cinema, the sound of Brazilian “new wave” (bossa nova), and the best hits of 70s/80s new wave (punk rock). What’s shocking is how nicely the Paris-based group has pulled it off, making a love track out of “This Is Not a Love Music” and a seductive monitor out of that Lifeless Kennedys track about being too drunk. Their moody tackle “Our Lips Are Sealed” could be the definitive model. – Brett Milano

Whereas it’s inconceivable to distill a complete nation’s musical output into an inventory of artists, listed here are just a few extra French musicians additionally liable for shaping the French music panorama: Jean-Michel Jarre, Charles Trenet, Jean-Luc Ponty, Christine and the Queens, MC Solaar, Noir Désir, Phoenix, Yelle, Vanessa Paradis, Alizée, Justice, St. Germain, and Renaud.