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Today’s Hit-Music Franco-Countdown (#43)

I’m trying to keep up with one daily blog post per day… but I have a pretty busy life, so I may slip from time-to-time (not much time is spent at home).  You might not guess it from my blog, but I don’t have much time to watch TV.  However, the “on-the-run” version of the internet keeps me in the loop with news, snippets and subjects of interest.

So, this post will be a bit of a filler, but it’s still pertinent if you want to keep in touch with what’s hot right now in francophone music.  I encourage Anglophones of all stripes to incorporate bits and pieces of our country’s francophone culture into their own lives as part of their own Canadian culture and identity.

The following list is the result of “averaging” Francophone hit-music countdowns from several radio stations.   Basically, it’s the top of the charts of Francophone music in Québec and Canada at this moment.   Some of these tunes are great to listen to when cruising down the highway or doing chores around the house.

If you’ve been following this blog for a while, you’ll surely recognize a few names in this countdown list.

(Artist — Song)

1st place tie
Mika — Boum Boum Boum
Rémi Chassé — Une armée dans ma voix

2nd place tie
Joseph Edgar — Espionne Russe
Dominique Hudson — Les Sunlights des tropiques
Les Trois Accords — Personne préférée

3rd place
Olivier Dion — Sortir de l’ombre

4th place tie
Alfa Rococo — Lumière
Laurence Hélie — Plus peur
Étienne Drapeau — T’es toute ma vie

5th place tie
Les Respectables — Cette fille
Andee — Never Gone
Maxime Laundry — Rendez-vous
Sam Roberts — Shapeshifter
Alex Nevsky — Vivre Pauvre

6th place tie
Jerôme Couture — Amoureux
Indila Dernière — Danse
Marc Dupré — Être à toi
Fanny Bloom — Piscine

7th place tie
Simon Boudreau — Fleur bleue
Alfa Rococo — Lumière

8th place tie
Alexandre Désilets — Crime Parfait
Jonathan Painchaud — Edge
Sophie Pelletier — Sans remords

9th place tie
Marie-Mai — Indivisible
Stéphan McNicolle — Tomber en amour

10th place
David Jalbert — Rassure-moi


Songs are available for purchase through various venues, online and in stores.  Please do not pirate (our artists form part of our cultural fabric).

Bonne écoute!


Les Trois Accords (#42)

Les Trois Accords (the Three Chords), is actually a music band of four; one lead singer, Simon Proulx, as well as a bass, guitar, and drums player (interesting note:  in French, “drum player” is “batteur”.  But in Eastern Canadian English it is generally “drummer”, so you’ll sometimes hear people in some regions of Québec say “drummeur”. …  But in Western Canadian English, “drummer” is most often called a “drum player”… a difference I noticed when I first moved to Toronto).

If I could sum up this group in one word, it would be “fun!”   They’re one of my favorite francophone bands, and they’ve been one of the best known music groups in Québec for more than a decade (who doesn’t know Les Trois Accords!?!?).  Seriously…  listen to any hit music radio station and I’ll bet you won’t last two or three hours without hearing at least one of their tunes – and that is how it has been for a decade.

Using an Anglophone comparison, they’re kind of the like Toronto’s “Barenaked Ladies” of Québec.  They play on their words, come up with crazy stories for their lyrics, combine it all with a catchy tune (like the Barenaked Ladies’ songs, their tunes tend to take a back-seat to their lyrics), and voilà – lots of fun and laughs!

They’ve also put their hometown of Dummondville, QC, on the map in a whole new way.   When people now think of Dummondville, they think of Les Trois Accords (just as people associate Hanna, Alberta with Nickleback).

Les Trois Accords write and sing about some of the most unexpected things… but do it in a humorous way –while still maintaining good PC, and good taste.   That’s not an easy accomplishment to pull off when singing about matters which are not often PC, or which could otherwise offend certain groups or people.

Some examples:

  • Dans mon corps (HUGE HIT!) – a man singing about himself in “his” body of a “young girl”.
  • J’aime ta grande-mère – “I love your grandmother” (self-explanatory). Lol!! 🙂
  • Elle s’appelait Serge – “She was named ‘Serge’” (need I say more?).

As much as the above songs are hilarious, there have many other ones that are just plain fun!

My family is from small town Saskatchewan (right from my great-great-grandparents down to my own parents).  Even though I have never lived there, it’s the only place I’ve ever known and have always “gone back to” my entire life (annual holidays are still split between family in Saskatchewan and Alberta – and Saskatchewan will always be considered one of my unofficial homes)… so don’t think my ears didn’t perk up when I first heard Les Trois Accords’ monster-hit song “SASKATCHEWAN” — about a dude who was ditched by his girlfriend after moving from out East to start anew with her in Regina.   The lyrics are hilarious, and, in addition from being a chart-topper, for many it has become the unintended and ridiculous national anthem of Saskatchewan!  Love it!!  (it even landed Les Trois Accords a face-to-face meet-and-greet with the premier of Saskatchewan – there’s the power of pop-culture).

When you see their music videos for the first time, it’s can sometimes be a funny WT# moment!   Saskatchewan’s music video has nothing to do with the song’s lyrics.  It’s just the band dressed as Ninjas doing slow motion Tai-Chi!!    Dans mon corps is a man, completely unrelated to the group, lip-syncing on stage to the group’s song (again, nothing at all related to the lyrics)… and the list goes on.   The group’s style is brilliant!

They take no guff either (to the delight of their fans!).  Their interview a few years ago on Tout le monde en parle sort of went down in Québec pop-culture history, and people are still talking about it.   You’ll recall from the TLMEP post that I mentioned the show’s host, Guy A. Lepage, can carry his opinions with him on the stage (that’s the nature and the success of the show, as much as the show is an opportunity to allow others to also express their own opinions).  Les trois accords are known for being a pretty open group on all fronts, and very easy-going and cool with all types of people and different political views (unlike some other pop-artists in Québec, Les trois accords keep their song lyrics out of sovereignist/federalist politics).  They are also a very open group towards Canada (they spend a lot of time doing shows and just having fun with people in all provinces across Canada, both Francophones and Anglophones – in fact, one of their largest concerts was before 85,000 people in Moncton, New Brunswick!!).   Keep this context in mind, and combine it with their quirky lyrics which lends them a certain “ridiculousness”, in the “laughable” sense of the word (much like the “Barenaked Ladies”).   But right at the onset of their interview on TLMEP, Lepage called them “con” (“stupid”… as in the not so nice sense of stupid, rather than the more “ridiculous/ridicule” sense of stupid).  Lepage must have seen the looks on the group’s faces, because he seemed to quickly back-peddle and by flowering-over his “con” statement with a remark that the group’s songs are “good”.   To his credit, he did say he was paying them a compliment.  But then he again called them “niaiseux”, and again flowered his statement, and then he did it yet again.  Well, the way I interpret it, the group came back with some comments of their own for Lepage (something which rarely happens on TLMEP, simply because the show’s format tends to give Lepage the upper hand).   The looks exchanged between sidekick Danny Turcot and Guy A. Lepage seemed to seal the goal for team Les Trois Accords.    At the end of the day… we all still love Guy A. Lepage (hey, I might not agree with a chunk of his views, but I admire anyone who has a passion and devotion to making their world better place – even if we don’t agree on what form that “better place” should necessarily take)…  and we all still love Les Trois Accords… so all-in-all, it was just funny to watch a some sparks fly during those few moments of the interview.

Something else that’s kind of quirky about the group… when they perform outside Québec, they perform for both Francophones and Anglophones audiences.   But Francophones tend to appreciate them more for their quirky lyrics, whereas Anglophones, who sometimes may not have the best grasp of French, tend to appreciate them more for their music (for Francophones, the group is known as just a funny pop-music group, but Anglophones may define them more as a punk-rock artists).   They’ve also toured in France, but the subtext of their Québécois play on words and situational-specific lyrics are not as well understood by the French in France as they are in Québec.  The group has said they feel the French in France also tend to concentrate on their punk-rock genre more than their lyrics, and only in France does their audience ever “trance-bounce” to their music (which never happens in Canada).

It’s interesting to hear how groups of people can interpret music and lyrics very differently, within the same country, and even between countries which share the same language.

But, hey, that’s the beauty of La Francophonie.

Le trois accords music is sold through various platforms and venues.   When searching for videos and songs, please stick to only officially approved sites and channels, and please do not pirate (our artists form part of our collective culture fabric).

Cayouche (#41)

You may recall I mentioned the singer Cayouche in the post titled “Country music = Québec”.

Cayouche is difficult to describe because there’s little in the way Anglophone singers to truly compare him with.  His real name is Réginald Gagnon, but you’d be hard pressed to find anyone who knows him other than just “Cayouche.”

From the most basic set of information (age, genre of music, origins), you may not think there’s anything extraordinary about him:

  • He’s 60 years old (singing for the public for around 20 years).
  • He’s not Québécois, he’s Acadian (originally from Moncton, but I believe he lives somewhere around the Acadian Peninsula now, perhaps Paquetteville).
  • His style of music is similar to a 1970’s, early 1980’s country.

But boy is he popular!  And not just with fellow Acadians, or others of his generation.   He draws in crowd-after-crowd of 20-somethings and 30-somethings, from all across Québec and Francophone regions of Ontario, in addition to his native Acadia.

Strangely enough, you may rarely see him on television (I have never seen him on TV — he’s more an in-person kind of act)… but a big big chuck of Québec, especially Québec City, seems to know him.  Perhaps owing to certain cultural demographics in Montréal, a lot of Montréal ubanites, especially Le Plateau, may not know him… so this can serve as a good example of how there can often be a disconnect between Montréal culture, Montréwood, and what’s actually popular in the rest of Québec.

It’s as much (or more about) the mystique and legends surrounding Cayouche (kind of like that crazy, almost unbelievable story of what Detroit’s Rodriguez “Sugar Man” is to South Africa), how and where he performs, his persona, the way he looks, the words he chooses when composing his songs, as much as it is his actual tunes.

Picture this…

  • Santa Clause (belly and beard) goes Willie Nelson (bandana, guitar and all) – now you have the look,
  • After leaving the military, he lead a wandering life on the road, performing from bar-to-bar across Canada, bit-by-bit leaving a name for himself… especially in Francophone regions of the country. The urban myths aren’t true that he would down a 24 pack during his performances, but he does bring a few beers on stage to lubrifier his performances as the night goes on (“lubricate” doesn’t quite work in English, like it does in French) – now you have the mystique and legend factor,
  • He’s illiterate (having to compose songs purely from memory), with a very rural style of heavy-accented regional French, often crass, which makes his lyrics unlike anything else standard recording artists would choose. His language is sometimes crude, sometimes not so politically correct (such as his well-known drinking & driving song, L’alcool au volant), and the lyrics are smash hits with a lot of younger guys (you’ll see him at outdoor concerts across Québec, and guys in their 20’s, à moitié chaud, will be holding a beer over their heads, singing along with him, word-for-word) – now you have the words,
  • He’s always smiling, always laughing, telling jokes and coming across as a simple, humble, next-door type of bon Jack. You’d think he was just one of the guys from the audience who decided to get up on stage while everyone was having a good time, and just add a bit more to the mood – with the only difference being he is the show! – now you have the persona.

I get the impression he’s doing a good number of summer festivals each year, and quite a number of other performances in bars & pubs.   Usually someone who relies on these types of venues for their bread-and-butter will tend to stay in the shadows of popularity, but not Cayouche.   People across Québec know where he’ll be, and they turn up in droves!   He has become one of the biggest selling and best known Acadian artists in history.   It’s how he’s done it (by staying out of the concert halls and away from Montréwood) which lends to much of his appeal with Québécois, Acadiens and Ontarois – an average Joe Blow, like everyone in his audience.   There’s an amazing connection.

In closing, the one thing that has me a bit stumped is his accent.  I’m not a linguist or an expert, but to me, although his vowels definitely have an Acadian accent, his vocabulary and intonations don’t always sound like Chiac French from his Native Moncton.   And there seems to be a good number of differences between the way he speaks and Acadien Peninsulaire French where he currently resides (lots of what he says sounds like it could almost be Sudburois French, or Ontario “Nickel-Belt French”; a type of unique accent spoken in Sudbury, Ontario — I would have almost pegged him as being from Sudbury if it wasn’t for his vowels.  Even some of the things he says makes me think of Rivière-la-Paix French from the Peace River district in Northern Alberta, where I lived for a while as a child).  Feel free to offer your comments on this if I’m wrong … it’s a mystery to me.  Perhaps it’s owing to his many years spent travelling around, meandering from place-to-place on the road, bar-to-bar, which could have given him a mixed-style of hors-Québec French accents.  Avec sa personalité et son choix de paroles, son français est pas mal franc comme un deux par quatre.  But regardless, it makes me, and everyone else smile any time he speaks.  It’s great, and it’s part of his unique character which makes him so popular in Québec.

We don’t have many characters like Cayouche in Canada — this kind of legendary icon.  Lets keep his flame alive and support him by getting out there and buying his work.   He adds something very special and unique to Canada’s music culture.  That alone deserves our support.

His music is for sale through various venues.  When searching for it, please stick to officially sanctioned sites and do not pirate (he says he’s still working – and he seems to love what he’s doing and his fans – plus it’s likely his bread & butter… so don’t rip off his work.   He’s a good dude, so return in kind and pay for his songs).

Somebody seriously needs to make a movie about this guy!!

Bonne écoute!!

Louis-José Houde (#40)

This is our last in our series of three people named “Houde”.

As far as I known, Louis-José Houde is not directly related to Pierre or Paul Houde.

He is a famous comedian, but with a much stronger media presence than the average circuit comedian.   When trying to think of Anglophone comparisons for Louis-José Houde, it’s actually kind of tough to place him.  The closest I can think of would be someone with the star power of Jeff Foxworthy, just as funny, but not necessarily axed on red-necked comedy (his range of comedy is wider).   The other big difference is that Houde has a much broader and more frequent media presence than Foxworthy.

Although his career began by doing hundreds of circuit comedy shows, along with DVD sales of his shows in the tens and tens of thousands, he is now a regular feature on television, as a stand-in in variety and interview programs, as well as TV commercials (he’s a sought after guest for programs such as Pénélope McQuade, Tout le monde en parle, Le mode en Savail, Le Bye-Bye, as well as a presenter for award galas, and so so many more).   He’s also had his own TV show, Ici Louis-José Houde on Radio-Canada.  I’m not exaggerating when I say that it’s difficult to not see him somewhere on television, at least once every day — He’s one of the best known 30 somethings in all of Québec (born in 1977).  His face is one of the best recognized, and most often viewed comedians in Québec (you’d be hard-pressed to find someone who doesn’t know who he is) — and he has begun to venture into stand-up in France.

If you happened to view SNL Québec skits mentioned in the post Katherine Levac, then you would have seen Louis-José Houde as the host of the first episode of SNL Québec.   He has also taken acting roles along the way, including in box office smashes such as Bon Cop, Bad Cop, and De père en flic.

Paul Houde (#39)

In the last post, we looked at Pierre Houde.  Now we’ll let’s talk about his brother Paul – who is quite the TV and radio media star.

If you kept running into the same person everywhere you went, you could turn to them and say “Aren’t you quite the Paul Houde!”, and anyone in Québec would instantly understand what you meant.  Basically you’re telling them that you see them everywhere, just like Paul Houde.  In fact, he’s been parodied many times for being everywhere, all the time.  Apart from his scheduled media roles, his numerous adventures have certainly fuelled this type of connotation;  he set an around-the world record of 40 hours on commercial airlines, he climbed K2, he recently flew the same flight path of downed Malaysia Airlines MH17 to “relive their experience for the public” (that brought him a type of public attention I’m not sure he was expecting), and he keeps popping up as a sports commentator for major sporting events like the Olympics, Super Bowl, and Pan Am Games.  You never know when or where he’s going to appear, but you know he always will!

Another pop-culture reference to Houde is along the lines of the colloquial Québécois expression “une tête à Papineau”.  If you want to say someone knows everything, you can say “C’t’un une vrai tête à Papineau”, or conversely, “Ch’pas une tête à Papineau”.   But because Paul Houde was the host of a popular knowledge-based TV game show, Le Cercle, the expression “tête à Papineau” has come to be replaced by “Paul Houde”, ie: “Bedonc toi, t’es vraiement un Paul Houde!”, meaning “Well, aren’t you quite the know-it-all!”

You have read me mention a few times that it’s a characteristic of Québécois pop-culture that personalities often take on numerous roles across multiple media platforms.  But in this post, Houde not only characterizes that aspect of Québec pop-culture celebrities, but he also represents another common aspect which we haven’t touched upon very much… Québec pop-culture personalities intermingle and work with one another, over and over and over again, across many different media.   It is quite probable that, like many many Québec celebrities, if Paul Houde hasn’t worked with a certain celebrity over the course of his career, that he certainly would still at least know that celebrity personally, or within one degree of separation.  That, my friends, is Montréwood for you.

In the context of only 38 blog posts to date, here’s an example of how we can use Paul Houde, to demonstrate Montréwood’s prevalent interconnectedness:

Out of 38 posts, I’m already able to directly link Paul Houde to eight of them.  That’s over 20%… not bad, but some may say it’s on the low side. 😉

In all seriousness though… he does quite a good job in any role he is given — which is why we see him so often.  Québec’s pop-culture and the Montréwood scene in general is a much richer place because of him.

The last bit of trivia I’ll mention about Paul Houde is that he’s the host of the popular show Dans l’oeil du dragon on Radio-Canada, the Montréwood version of CBC’s “The Dragon’s Den”, or the U.S. version, “The Shark’s Tank”.   So needless to say, where there are viewers, there is Paul Houde.

I guess Waldo can retire now.