Whether or not you know who Mylene Farmer is probably depends on whether you’ve spent time in Europe, and especially in France. She’s a pop star. She’s not only a pop star, but she’s a pop star who has a string of hits reaching back into the 1980s and holds the record for #1 songs in France. She’s recorded songs with Sting (“Stolen Car“), Moby (“Slipping Away“) and Seal (“Les Mots“).
Success as a singer isn’t easy, nor is success as a songwriter. That said, what most sets Farmer apart from others is her videos. Anyone clicking on the links above may notice that most of the videos have a very cinematic feel, up to the inclusion of credit sequences.
This was due to a happy accident.
In 1984, Farmer was pursuing her dream… of being an actress. She landed some minor parts in commercials, and was hoping for a larger role when she answered a newspaper ad seeking a young woman for a movie project. The actual position wasn’t for a movie. Laurent Boutonnat, an aspiring film student, had co-written a few songs with a friend, and was trying to create short films arranged around the music. Farmer and Boutonnat hit it off, and she was cast for the short films.
The first effort was basically just a stylish music video, clocking in at about four minutes. It got a bit of positive attention, and that inspired more.
The result was a set of mini-movies, typically between 8 to 12 minutes long, each with a single song showcased. The combination of film, voice, and song caught people’s attention. Boutonnat also noticed that the songs to which Farmer had suggested lyrical changes received greater acclaim.
For comparison, it was as if someone had created a “Thriller” video for every song on someone’s album.
Boutonnat’s friend went off to other projects, but the filmmaker/musician joined forces with the singer/lyricist. A couple of careers were born, as well as a series of music video/mini-movie crossovers which continue to this day.
It’s pop music, so some of the lyrics can be racy. It’s French video, which means that there can be videos using sexuality, violence, religious imagery and just about anything else which might offend someone. But there are a lot of interesting works among her repertoire, as well.
Warning, this one has some frontal nudity:
Question of the night: Are there any songs you enjoy which aren’t primarily in English?