Friday, October 26, 2012

French pop songs, iTunes, and iPod speaker limitations

I recently saw the movie Hugo, at the end of which is a very nice French song called Cœur Volant by the new-to-me French singer Zaz. I found that she released an eponymous (man, I never thought I'd ever use that word) album in 2010, which was for sale on iTunes.

Gone are the days when you had to buy an entire album to find out which songs you like. I listened to snippets of each track on iTunes, targeting two that seemed to my taste (Le long de la route, La fée). Then I was fortunate enough to borrow both the Hugo and Zaz CDs from the library, and listened to them on two different boomboxes, discovering another Zaz track that I liked (Port Coton). So iTunes snippets aren't necessarily enough to find all the tracks you'd like.

I bought Cœur Volant from Hugo, plus the 3 Zaz tracks, from iTunes, and returned the CD. Zaz also released her own version of Cœur Volant, but PC iTunes showed that that shorter version had been purchased far less often than the longer version from the Hugo movie, whose additional time is probably all instrumental.

One thing that surprised me was that when listening to Port Coton at a normal volume on a boombox, I couldn't hear the guitar(?) squeaking sound that precedes and follows her singing. That squeaking is annoyingly audible when listening to the song on an iPod speaker, which admittedly is far from a superb audio experience, but is still good enough for me most of the time.

As a language exercise, I typed out all the words I could make out while listening to Port Coton, then compared them with the actual lyrics. Clearly I have more work to do, but I like to think I've improved from 10 or so years ago. Back then I went to an all-day advanced French course, and was horribly, disappointingly inaccurate while filling in just the last word(!) of several lines in French singer Pauline Ester's Une Fenêtre ouverte song, which the instructor played several times for us. That's from a decent album (Le Monde est fou), but if I was introduced to it today I probably would similarly only buy several of its tracks. Hmm, maybe not -- one of the songs I like, La mer, isn't available on iTunes, even if my other favorites from that album are. Digital downloads don't necessarily completely mirror CD material.

Moving on to the same language exercise with La fée....

2/13/15: Well, I guess due to life realities I'll never get around to finishing the above language exercises, but I did buy Zaz's newer (though not newest) album Recto Verso, and I like it better than her debut album. Check it out!

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