Sunday Music Selections: Nouvelle Vague

A while back I was in the car and heard an NPR interview of one of the co-founders of the French band, Nouvelle Vague. Here’s the band’s website. What are they all about?

Led by producer/arrangers Marc Collin and Olivier Libaux and sung by a revolving cast of chanteuses, the group’s first two albums, Nouvelle Vague (2004) and Bande A Part (2006) have sold well over half-a-million copies. Not wishing to tinker with this winning formula, but evolving all the same, NV3 picks up where Bande A Part left off, and this time they’re joined by some famous names.

On their debut, Nouvelle Vague took cherished tracks from the late 1970s and early 1980s by acts such as Joy Division, The Clash, The Cure, Depeche Mode and the Dead Kennedys and reworked them in a gentle bossa nova style. Sung by French female vocalists, some of whom had never heard the originals before, these cult hits had new life breathed into them, and their meanings became softly subverted. In French, Nouvelle Vague means “new wave”, and “bossa nova” in Portuguese. Even the records’ sleeves wittily referenced the artwork for Jean Luc Godard’s early-’60s new-wave films.

“The original concept of Nouvelle Vague was to use young girl singers who don’t know the meaning of punk and post-punk music,” says Marc Collin, in whose Paris studio the records are made. “That way, they are bringing something new and totally fresh to the songs, and it really worked. So we kept doing it in this direction.”

OK, let’s have a listen, shall we? Here’s the only YouTube video of an actual live performance I could find, Joy Division’s Love Will Tear Us Apart.

How about Vanessa Paradis’ LaLaLa? This one isn’t on any of their three albums (I have all three) but is available at iTunes. It also features Julie Delpy.

And I really adore this one, set in near perfect rhythm to a clip from the 1964 Jean-Luc Godard film, Bande à part. Lords of the New Church’s Dance With Me.

So there you have it, just more of my eclectic musical tastes. Hope it floats your boat.


  1. David McCracken on May 23, 2010 at 12:05

    LOL. I’ve got a varied taste in music too, but it doesn’t seem to often overlap with yours. Today does. I still enjoy punk and everything descended from it, and I really enjoy covers. Check out this one of Love Will Tear Us Apart, live by U2 and The Arcade Fire: for a fun live version.

    And how about Johnny Cash covering Nine Inch Nails: , or Depeche Mode: from his last album. Even when ill, his voice is so emotive. It’s amazing how he takes songs about drug addiction and prostitution and turns them into songs of faith.

  2. John Campbell on May 23, 2010 at 22:03

    Awesome stuff – my personal favorite is Dancing With Myself:

    Who knew Billy Idol could be exceeded in this song.

    Say what you like about the French, but for food and sexy women, they cannot be beaten. Ahhhh…

  3. KenP on May 23, 2010 at 12:17

    I’ve been listening to this band for a few years and their version of Too Drunk to Fuck is one of the sexiest remakes of a song made.
    Guns of Brixton is a pretty sweet redo as well.
    Thanks for the tunes.

    • ToddBS on May 23, 2010 at 19:04

      Ha! I had to go to iTunes as soon as I read they did a DK cover. Too Drunk to Fuck is awesome. Thanks for the tip on this one Richard. Gonna have to download some of this.

  4. mike mallory on May 23, 2010 at 12:38

    good stuff! Susanna and the magical orchestra also has a great version (albeit a bit of a downer) of LWTUA……….vid here

  5. Marc on May 24, 2010 at 03:10

    Too Drunk to F… has been on my ipod for years. Hence my apprehension for my kids listening to my ipod….especially years ago when they were younger, and the 20 gig had the hard drive.
    Cool ittle band for sure.


  6. Anthony Michael on May 24, 2010 at 10:39

    Nice find, Richard! Thanks for sharing. And here I thought you only liked dinosaur rock;)

    • Richard Nikoley on May 24, 2010 at 11:30

      Nope. I have U2s older albums. Even a good bit of Talking Heads among other stuff. Oh, and The Car’s first two. Love that electric drum sound.

  7. William on May 24, 2010 at 19:46

    Brilliant (!)… absolutely brilliant! God how I love the internet, for if no such thing were to exist, I would most likely never hear this wonderful hybrid of genres. And, if these folks ever need a replacement guitarist, I’m their man!

    Never a purist of the infinite varieties of music, my love of combining various sounds never ends. After all, inspiration simply doesn’t manifest from thin air. Therefore, a hybrid of styles is essential to give pleasure to our senses for perpetuity. In other words, this is some pretty cool shit, dude!

    • Glenn on May 27, 2010 at 09:38

      +1!! Just picked up all 3 CD’s — thanks for recommendation!

Leave a Comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.