Nowadays, music is all about who goes viral and who becomes more popular on YouTube – but it wasn’t always that way. Way back when, it was all about the music, the voice, and the soul of a song and French music is the perfect epitome of that soulfulness. Now, some might say that French music got stuck in time, but we know there are plenty of French singers with sexy voices. That’s quite enough to help save (or at least bless) a musical scene. It’s not just the language, but also those voices, some raspy, as if these people have been smoking since day one, others so saccharine that you could use them instead of jam for breakfast. And of course, as the soundtrack for some serious kissing.
10 French Singers with Sexy Voices
1. Serge Gainsbourg
Le Roi. With his huge nose and weird appearance, Serge was ugly as hell, but he had that French charm (and raspiness) that would bring any girl down, even Brigitte Bardot. This playful pervert who was a master of double entendre let teenage France Gall think she was singing about a lollipop when in fact she was telling everybody about a rather more risque and raunchy subject. He is also the author of the infamous Je t’aime… moi non plus, a song most famous for Jane Birkin’s moans. First and foremost, his music is about being daring, and that’s what keeps it young and actual, while also making him one of those iconic French singers with sexy voices.
2. Carla Bruni
OK, this heiress turned model turned singer turned politician’s wife is Italian, but once you’ve become the first lady of France for five years, who cares anymore? Carla is the daughter of a pianist and a composer, and got her first guitar when she was 9. Since her first album, Quelqu’un m’a dit, came out in 2003, she became not only the perfect soundtrack for a herd of tea shops, but also for steamy stories. After all, this is the woman whose behind was photographed by the likes of Helmut Newton, and whose nude photo taken by Michel Comte sold for 91.000$. Her music is just like those pieces of art: pristine, yet sharp as a scissor.
3. Mélanie Laurent
The list of actors turned singers is neverending, but ever interesting. So in 2011, when Mélanie Laurent released her first album which she worked on with Damien Rice, everybody wanted to hear. Laurent started acting thanks to French movie god Gérard Depardieu, and became famous internationally after playing a dazzling Jewish blonde in Quentin Tarantino’s Inglourious Basterds, one of the best modern movies. She is now a successful actress, but she can also sing. Just watch those heavy eye-lids and hear that sleepy voice in the video for En t’attendant. And sigh.
4. Charlotte Gainsbourg
So I give myself to strangers / Like I gave myself to you, sings Serge Gainsbourg’s daughter on her latest album, reminding that her music is just like some of her roles in Lars von Trier movies: dark, good for bad things. And it’s been so since she was twelve. In the video of her first song, Lemon Incest, she sits alongside Serge himself (who is shirtless, mind you!) and sings in a suffocated voice about their beautiful, violent love. Such promising beginnings.
5. Vanessa Paradis
Her name says it all. With those gapped teeth, that doll face, that impossibly lollipoppy voice Paradis became famous at the age of 14, by singing Joe le taxi, a song about a Parisian taxi driver with a knack for rumba. She’s been acting and singing and modeling ever since and she is clearly one of the best-known French singers with sexy voices the world over. She dated Lenny Kravitz before becoming one of the most envied women in the universe because of her 14-year long marriage to Johnny Depp. Gotta love a woman who can make such a man sing.
6. Benjamin Biolay
Some have called him the next Serge Gainsbourg thanks to his voice, his talent with words and to the fact that he writes music for a bunch of singers, both young and consecrated, including Juliette Gréco, Julien Clerc, and Françoise Hardy. However, Biolay, who declares himself a romantic, hates the comparison. Listen to La Superbe (featuring Vanesssa Paradis) and you’ll see what makes him special: the guy doesn’t have to sing a note, a whisper is enough to make women swoon.
7. Coralie Clément
France is so small when it comes to music that all singers seem to either be relatives or lovers or might have worked together. Coralie is Benjamin Biolay’s sister, but doesn’t have much in common with him music wise. Her singing seems made for teenagers laying together in the grass and hugging at a Sunday picnic. One of her songs was featured on the soundtrack of Something’s Gotta Give, thus taking her name to American heights.
8. Marina Celeste
Marina used to be a member of Nouvelle Vague, that French band that’s great with covers of classical New Wave songs, and that can make any woman sing that she’s glad to be dancing with herself. Marina embraced her angelic voice and released her first single album in 2007, in which she sang about ladybugs and black butterflies. She later started singing in English with a slight accent that’s almost kinky, but it’s still French where her sweetness thrives.
9. Juliette Greco
La grande dame of French song and clearly one of the most famous French singers with sexy voices was born in 1927, studied in a strict convent school, and discovered the beauty of bohemian life once she moved to Paris and started dancing. After spending time in prison during World War II, she launched a glorious singing career, that the best of composers helped build. Just think of La Javanaise, written for her by Serge Gainsbourg. Unlike many female French singers of her time, she had the smokiest, most womanly of voices. That’s how it goes in the better worlds: shy girls raised by nuns end up singing Déshabillez-moi at 40.
10. Françoise Hardy
You’ve probably heard this beauty on the soundtrack of Wes Anderson’s Moonrise Kingdom. The image of two teenagers dancing on a deserted beach on Le temps de l’amour as if in the most beautiful apocalypse is just the kind of feeling Hardy’s music conveys. Just like Tous les garçons et les filles, her first major hit, her songs seem made for young love. Bob Dylan mentioned Hardy in one of his poems, while Mick Jagger called her his ideal woman. She married a French actor, though.
Out of all the numerous French singers with sexy voices, who’s your all time favorite? Do you think we left anyone out? Who else would you like to add to this list?