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Thursday, July 14, 2011

The Ten Most Facepalm-Inducing Uses of French in Pop Music: In Honor of Bastille Day

Posted By on Thu, Jul 14, 2011 at 7:01 AM

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Bastille Day is upon us, when all the world celebrates Louis XIV crossing the Delaware or something. We're not clear on the details, and on that front we join countless English-speaking pop and rock stars who took similarly haphazard forays into the Language of Love. In honor of the Frog's big day, we present the ten most facepalmy uses of French in American/English pop music.

10. "Sorry" by Madonna

It's the deliberation we oppose -- trust our entire five years of French (and yeah: we paid attention in at least two of those) when we say no self-respecting French speaker would actually enunciate a sentence like this. "Je suis desole" should sound like "Juswedesso," and that's if you're feeling fancy.

9. "Bad Romance" by Lady Gaga

Oh la la? Really? You can't just say one line of the chorus in French, once, and expect to get away with that. It's like a Francophone slur, like saying "awww shucks" around a rural meth lab owner when you come from the city. Embarrassing.

8. "Voulez Vous" by ABBA

Frankly we always convince ourselves to love ABBA until we watch it on video. So. much. glitter...

7. "Eyes Without A Face" by Billy Idol

As in the Gaga song, we have an instance of a line being repeated verbatim, translated in French. Here it's just turned into the background hook. Which is worse, because it's like they went to write a backing part, sat around for a few days trying to come up with the right words for it, and finally settled on "Fuck it: where's Babel Fish?"

6. "Psycho Killer" by the Talking Heads

This one was subject to some debate because, of course, the Talking Heads is sacrosanct. And we want to be clear that we have and will continue to spin the rings off our copy of Remain In Light. But when it comes down to the tape, it's pretty clear the song merits inclusion. Yeah, we get it: You're smarter than us, David Byrne. Fuck you.

5. "Le Freak" by Chic

Just.... "The Freak" would have been fine, Chic. And we certainly understand that your name itself is in French, and in that sense the arbitrary articles in the tongue of your cheese-loving inspiration makes sense. But this is maybe the best example on this list of a song that would be totally and completely uncompromised by switching the French words to English. Don't force it, folks.

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