Tuesday, June 12, 2007

More Songs To Learn And Sing #12

Our asking around for people to recommend a song for the hoi polloi progresses through Mark X of Broken TV and, more pertinently, Broken FM:

Stereo Total - L' Amour À 3

For me at least, Stereo Total seem to be one of those bands that seep into the consciousness by way of gentle osmosis. Classifying themselves as part of the chanson- electro- nonelectro- garage- rock'n'roll- french-pop- rock-à-billy- disco- international- underground, it's entirely possible that you've heard at least half-a-dozen songs by the duo, but haven't actually heard of them. Since first encountering the band (somehow - I've no idea how I first discovered them, other than it was probably via some file-sharing network), I've made a point of buying each one of their ten or so albums to date (it helps that most of them are on eMusic, of course). These don't just take in an almost alarming number of musical styles, but also languages; performing principally in French, German and English, the band have also found the time to take in other languages such as Japanese, Spanish and Turkish.

Of the [checks iTunes] 164 songs I've managed to amass from the polyglotic popsmiths, there can surely be none finer than their ode to... how best to put it? Erm, the beast with three backs? Listening to L'Amour À 3 is a magnificent way to spend three minutes of your life. Sneaking up on the innocent listener by way of a catchy, bouncy slice of Euro-trip-hop, it grabs a hold of the part of the frontal lobe that is most susceptible to catchy summer pop splendidness and does all kinds of unspeakable things to it. With tongues. Well, that's the French for you, I suppose.

Handily, for any Stereo Total fans who find themselves generally lacking in the French-speaking department, the album that contains L'Amour À 3 - the quite magnificent Musique Automatique - also plays host to an English-language version of the song, so we can actually find out what it's all about. To be fair, the repeated use of the words 'trois', 'amour' and assorted groaning noises that make up a large proportion of the track should provide ample evidence as to the content of the lyrics, but some of us need it spelling out.

Another handy side-effect of the song is that it goes a reasonable way to proving the seldom-asked question: Just Which Language Is the Best One for Singing In? Way back in the days of Audiogalaxy, I managed to source the German-language version of the song, making up a not-quite-holy trinity of versions of the same song about multiplayer coitus. I could probably knock up a quick graph on the results of this, but resisting the urge to fire up Excel, it is German that comes last out of the three (so to speak), with the preponderance of glottal stops required by the language hardly serving a flowing, breathy pop song about nookie very well. English slips into second position, not because of any major failing relating to the language of Shakespeare, but partly because the song was originally written on French and translated, and partly because a French tongue does lend itself magnificently well to that kind of song. Just ask Jane Birkin.

Come to think of it, all of this might go some way to explaining how Serge Gainsbourg got so much 'action' despite looking quite a lot like Moe Szyslak. I'm kind of wishing I'd paid more attention at French lessons in school instead of excitedly exchanging lines from Absolutely with my classmates. As it is, thanks to Stereo Total, I've picked up several phrases in French that could quite conceivably see me either arrested or quite unexpectedly happy were I to try and use them the next time I find myself in Boulogne. Comme ci, comme ça.

The complete collection

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