This is France in the Mitterrand years: fashions fleet as fast as governments. In the early eighties, the happy-go-lucky gather the nectar of each and every new release. Believing in a bright future for videotex, and loosened up by the sexy talks broadcasted on the budding pirate radios, the new generation dreams of dance floors and holiday clubs. French Boogie, which preserves the spirit of these years of boodle and bunkum, is the ideal soundtrack to their dreams. What the web now refers to as French Boogie is some synthetic funk reflecting the spirit of those days when nothing was impossible, or so it seemed. Its syncopated flow heralded the dawning of French rap. Often considered as some kind of post-disco, inspired as much by black music as by new wave, this carefree pop music with bawdy lyrics indulged in simple pleasures: holidays, swank and sun were recurrent themes. Totally in tune with its time, it incidentally glorified luxury, success, and a certain consumerism embodied, for instance, in Bernard Tapie. In popular clubs such as La Main Bleue in Montreuil, or L’Echappatoire in Clichy-sous-Bois – where Micky Milan could be seen behind the decks – an enthusiastic audience discovered this new sonic wave, influenced as much by French pop as by Sugar Hill Gang or Kurtis Blow. The artists who first launched the movement engaged in it wholeheartedly, but as often the case with new music trends in France, humour and casualness quickly became a decoy to impose a new style. This explosive mixture, in which startling and typically Frenchy French lyrics go along New-York-style tunes, is sometimes reminiscent of the kinky comedies directed by Max Pécas or Claude Zidi. On this prolific scene, partly originating from the Jewish community, everybody was looking for success, trying to hit the jackpot with what was to hand. Famous media personalities, one-hit wonders or John Does in quest of fame, all had a go at French Boogie – more or less successfully. Apart from « Vacances j’oublie tout » by Elégance, « Un fait divers et rien de plus » by Le Club, or « Chacun fait ce qui lui plaît » by Chagrin d’amour (produced by Patrick Bruel), very few songs became hits: the story of funk in France is that of a half-baked robbery. In this myriad of new musicians, the very young François Feldman and Phil Barney pioneered a fresh and hybrid style. Other well-known artists like Gérard Blanc from Martin Circus (Attaché Case), Richard de Bordeaux (Ich), or Jean-Pierre Massiera (Anisette, Pirate Scratch Band, Mandrake, Scratch Man…) added an eccentric touch to this sound-wave, making it often entertaining, and sometimes showy. Capture d’écran 2015-10-26 à 12.55.43Singers like Agathe (the author of “La Fourmi” and of the hit song “Je ne veux pas rentrer chez moi seule”) were far more than just window dressing. They even tried to give an ironic and subversive twist to this rather harmless genre. The very vindictive rebel Gérard Vincent shared in this spirit, but as a whole, French Boogie became associated with nonchalance and sauciness. Thus, Stéphane Collaro, Gérard Jugnot, Alain Gillot Pétré and other TV clowns would clumsily contribute to this French variation on funky sounds. In a few but intense years, French Boogie gave all the tips to party with style. If some hits made it possible for the happy few to get a real house under truly exotic palm trees, the wave actually ebbed away very quickly, leaving quite a few musicians stranded on the shore. Whether they were sincerely motivated, or simply opportunistic, they had failed. In 1984, French Boogie was already breathless, and got merged with other genres: on the one hand, rap and breakdance adapted its flow to a more urban world, especially with Sydney’s show, H.I.P.H.O.P, and Dee Nasty’s broadcasts on Radio Nova; on the other, italo, new beat and house began to rule over dance floors, even more strongly asserting the will to develop music for clubs. Squeezed in between the age of disco and that of modern electronic music, French Boogie was a transitional phase, but it remains an amazingly refreshing testimony to the intermingling of pop and underground cultures. The genre was hastily categorized as anecdotal in spite of its pioneering synthetic groove and matchless bass lines. An attentive ear will discover the poetry of the ephemeral beyond the eccentricities of the genre, as well as a certain unexpected avant-gardism. At the origin of major music trends, always cheerful and catchy, French Boogie is what you need to party.