Pop Music À La Mode

Alizée, a waifish French chanteuse from Corsica, burst upon the European music scene in 2000 with Moi…Lolita (I…Lolita), a song crafted, and destined, to become the Continent’s big hit for summer 2000. Recorded before Alizée’s 16th birthday, Moi…Lolita was followed by Gourmandises (Delicacies), her first album. By her 17th birthday, on Aug. 21, 2001, she had taken the world music scene by storm. Her first hit was followed by a string of others spun off Gourmandises, with the songs reaching the top of the Italian, Spanish, German, British, Polish, Dutch, and Russian charts, often remaining there for several weeks. She also developed a following in Japan, where two different remixes of her first hit were included on her debut album. In the U.K., she became the third female French artist in recent times to crack the British top-10. Alizée’s is world music with a distinctly French flair and it’s delightful. I think of it as pop music à la mode. By 2002, over four million records by Alizée had been sold around the world, and she had received numerous awards, including the NRJ, World Music, and M6 Awards, and other European music honors. However, her music is yet to be released in the U.S. Fans of Alizée’s music have watched closely to see if she would follow up on her astounding initial success or simply become another one-hit wonder. Until recently, it didn’t look good. The songs on her original compact disc were by Mylène Farmer, legendary French pop-music king (or queen) maker, and Laurent Boutonnat. It was Farmer who was credited with carefully crafting Alizée’s initial success. But rumors swirled of a falling-out between the two, leading to a parting of the ways. Could Alizée continue her success without the team of Farmer-Boutonnat behind her. Given her talent, the answer is, “probably yes,” but, happily, she didn’t have to. On March 18, 2003, her long-awaited second CD, Mes Courants Electriques… (My Electric Currents…), made its debut in France. The CD, released by Polydor on the Universal label (album number 076 053-2), features music by Boutonnat and lyrics by Farmer. A month later the CD was released in Norway, Finland, Poland, Italy, and Spain. My wife, college-age daughter, and I have all followed Alizée’s career since we discovered her on a Dutch television show in early 2001. An e-mail alerted us to the impending release of her second CD and a few days spent in France in May gave us an opportunity to pick up a copy. It does not disappoint. From the opening of the first track, J’en ai marre! (I’m Fed Up), also released as a single, it is obvious that Alizée is back stronger than ever. Despite her waifish appearance, this is a singer–now about to turn 19–who clearly has the tubes, the pipes, the voice to deliver and deliver well. The three years since her initial CD release have obviously been kind to her, giving her full, rich voice a maturity that adds to her previously recognized talent. Simply put, this girl is good. And she’s working with good material. In her debut CD, Alizée, like many performers, experimented with several different musical styles, ranging from the upbeat and lively to a darker, more plaintive variety. All worked but some worked better than others. In her second CD, Alizée seems to have found her niche, her comfort zone. Fortunately, it is the style that shows her off to best advantage, less dark and more full-throated and exuberant, ranging from the pulsing and rhythmic Youpidou (roughly translated, Yippee) to the haunting and lovely Cœur déja pris (Heart already taken). In an interview in 2002, Alizée hinted that some of the songs on her second CD might be in English, which she is learning. Alas, for those who would prefer to hear her in English rather than her native tongue (and I can’t for a moment imagine why anyone would), all of the tracks on the homegrown version of Mes Courants Electriques … are in French. In a nod to her international following, however, one is titled Hey! Amigo! (Spanish for Hey! Friend!). According to several unofficial Alizée web sites, there is an international version of Mes Courants Electriques … that features J’en ai marre! and a second track, J’ai pas vingt ans! (I’m not twenty!), in English, but I’m yet to hear it. Alizée’s artistic talents first came to light when she was 11 and won a contest to design the color scheme and decorations of an Air France plane. An aircraft was actually decorated in her stars and planets motif and christened Alizée, winning her a trip to the Maldives. Prior to her success as a singer, Alizée studied dance for many years and has expressed a desire to tour, to take her music on the road. This year, it appears, she will get her chance. Between Aug. 26 and Dec. 20 2003, Alizée will be embarking on what has already become a 41-concert tour. Most of the tour takes place in France, with the majority of the concerts in Paris, but she will also appear in such places as Limoges, Toulouse, Marseille, Nice, Dijon, Grenoble, and Albertville (in the Olympic Hall). The tour also includes stops in Belgium and Switzerland. If you’re reading this in the U.S., you won’t find Alizée’s music in your local record store, but it is available throughout Europe and much of the rest of the world, and also at Internet retailers such as www.amazon.fr and www.fnac.com. For more information, visit www.moi-Alizee.com. —Dawson Mills, of Norfolk, Va., caught the travel bug as a kid growing up in a Navy family and the writing bug not too much later. He currently has approximately 1,500 published articles to his credit, on a wide range of subjects including travel (one of his favorites).
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