The Best French Indie/Pop Albums
Many people’s impressions of French music is limited to accordions being played by the Seine & Stromae. But I have albums upon albums of French indie pop worth listening to on repeat. Here are my favorites.
- On by Joyce Jonathan 
Though not her most popular album, my favorite is “On” . The title song’s music video features her completing a series of workouts alone and with friends, which I found interesting, since it shows French culture embracing workout culture as a way to release stress and have fun. The standouts in the album to me are:
1) “Une parenthèse”, where Joyce analyzes all the ways a parenthesis can be used & then relates it to her relationship:
“Une parenthèse: C’est toi, c’est moi, c’est nous deux. C’est nos deux bras ensemble qui forment un cercle d’amour.”
My favorite part is that last line that relates a parenthesis to: “our two arms together that form a circle of love.”
2) “Les blondes”, where Joyce shows her humorous side. It opens with: “J’aime bien les bruns, mais je préfère être blonds”, or, “I like brunettes well enough, but I’d rather be blonde.” She then continues with things in life that are fine, but then follows up with what is even better.
She then has a cute chorus about a love interest: “Puisqu’avec toi c’est un peu tous les jours dimanche, Quand je me réveille à coté de toi,” or, “Because with you, every day is Sunday since I’m waking up next to you.”
3) “Je suis une tortue”, where she compares her occasional introverted tendencies to being a turtle. Priceless.
I’m not sure why this album is not listed in her popular releases on Spotify. In my opinion, it’s her best. “Tic tac” and “Ne me brûle pas” are also on this album, and both are phenomenal. Her other music isn’t as unique or interesting, but I’d be interested in what you think about why On is not more popular on Spotify.
2. Blonde by Cœur de Pirate 
OK, so Coeur de Pirate is Québecoise rather than Parisian, but her soft piano ballads such as “Francis” and pop hits such as “Ne M’appelle Pas” (Don’t Call Me) are phenomenal and show her versatility. My favorite album by her is “Blonde” , with the following three songs as standouts:
- “Adieu” — a sassy song where she bids a betraying boyfriend goodbye. The music video tells the story in a pretty comical manner with some magical/ silly elements.
- “Verseau”, where the bright guitar and drums almost make the instrumentation sound like a Beach Boys track, but her lyrics are a bit more serious with the question of: “Au moins dis-moi si tu me tiens la main
Ou si c’est bien la fin” (at least tell me if you’ll hold my hand, or if it’s the end).
- “La Petite Mort” inspired me to choreograph a ballet dance to it 7 years ago because of the melancholic but pulsing piano that made me think of swans swirling. The chorus repeats: “Et au creux de ses bras, La mort nous bercera” (in the hollow of his arms, death rocks us to sleep). I’m unsure if she is referring to the typical meaning of the French phrase “La Petite Mort,” or if she is using it in her own way.
Her personal life is also quite fascinating and worth a read on Wikipedia (including a divorce and then a remarriage to the same person as before).
3. Meillure Vie by Jérémy Frerot 
Honestly his voice is so silky that every song he sings is addicting. But here are my three favorites in this album:
- “Qui a raison?”, or “Who is right?” questions authority and asks who could possibly know the truth in this life.
“Qui a raison? Dis moi qui a raison?
Pas de gloire, pas de jugement
Juste des hommes, juste des gens”
The last line: “just men, just people” shows that even when people are given special roles or are “experts”, they are still mortal and fallible like everyone else.
2. “Je te veux” is a sultry song about an afternoon together. Me quoting it here will not do it justice. You will just have to listen to it.
3. In “Le pestacle” or the plague, Jérémy revels in life and death. He even says we can, “Admirez le pestacle, Ce soir on sera loin et loin est dans nos mains”, or, “Admire the plague, tonight we will be far and far is in our hands.”
Some of his other great songs are “Revoir” and “Tu donnes”. Also, I have to give a shoutout to “Regarder les gens,” when he reminds people to “Look people in the eye” and treat people humanely.
OK, that’s it for now, but be sure that more French music recommendations will be on the way :) Would love to hear your favorites as well!