Not Your Average Hit List

© This link for the illustrations.

© Per A.J. Andersson for the texts. Written April 2005, updated April 2016.

Music Down South

Latin music is more than meets the eye. Or, rather, dance-floor. Having learnt French in School was a great bonus, when finding out there wasn't only English-language music to be heard.

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And we're not talking French "chanson" here, but pop music often having enough rock feeling to it to attract the listener regardless of language barriers. Satirical disco, crazy new wave, eclectic world music, brooding balladeering and then some more. Not to mention some Italian and Spanish stuff I stumbled upon on the way...

(née Danielle EBGUY)
Born: 1950 (Marrakech, Morocco)
First album: 1977

My discovery: c. 1985

Multi-talented and multi-cultural, she was born as a French Jew in an Arab country. She has long worked as a writer and a reader of poetry and classic literature. But first and foremost she pioneered "world music", mixing new wave with her diverse ethnical roots and far-reaching influences long before Peter Gabriel and Youssou N'Dour coined this a genre within modern pop music.


Formed: 1978 (Belgium)
Members: Dan Lacksman, Michel Moers and Marc Moulin
My discovery: 1980

With tongue-in-cheek synth-disco sung in French Telex was a rare bird in the more "serious" new wave of the period. Their brilliant little mockery "Eurovision" was Belgium' representative at 1980's Eurovision Song Contest, receiving a smashing total of 14 points...


Formed: 1980 (?) (France)
Disbanded: 1984 (?)
Members: Grégory Ken (Jean-Pierre Trochu-Giraudon) and Valli

My discovery: 1983

Engaging and varied pop, combining chic style with intelligent twists. By a group no-one knew anything about! Singing all in French! But their hit "Chacun fait (c'qui lui plaît)" was huge on the airwaves, even beyond some of the borders of France.


Born: 1945 (Saint-Cloud, France)
First album: 1968

My discovery: 1983

Since the late 60s Manset has built his very own corner on the French music scene. The poetic and highly atmospheric pop and his own low public profile has only heightened Mansets cult status.


Formed: 1975 (Italy)
Members (1987):
Aldo Stellita, Carlo Marrale, Giancarlo Golzi, Antonella Ruggiero and Sergio Cossù
My discovery: 1985

What happens when you mix two famous progressive rock groups with a young opera soprano? Well, you might get one of the most popular and long-lasting of pop groups. At least in Italy, where the combination of Jet, Museo Rosenbach and the stunning voice of Antonella Ruggiero made this a fact.


Formed: 1980 (Paris, France)
Dissolved: 2007

Members: Catherine Ringer and Fred Chichin

My discovery: 1985

The encounter (in 1979) of the multi-talented Catherine and new wave guitarist Fred spawned one of the most eclectic and entertaining of French rock outfits. Not to mention a happy couple with kids...

Born: 1962 (Carthage, Tunisia)
First album: 1990

My discovery: 1990

Born in Tunisia but family moving to France when she was 13 made Amina an artist of many cultures. Following her mother in the dance, she soon involved herself in both acting in films and singing. Her musical career with songs in both Arabic and French was at a high in 1990, with both a smash hit album and a second place in the Eurovision Song Contest.


Formed: 1980 (Madrid, Spain)
Members: Ignacio "Nacho" Cano, Jose-Maria Cano and Ana Torroja

My discovery: 1991

Possibly the most successful Spanish group of all time was the brainchild of two Madrid teenagers and the little brother of one of them. The trio of Mecano hit the Spanish pop charts with their refined pop sense, lyrics about everyday life and the voice clear as crystal of Ana Torroja.
Not officially disbanded, its members have invested most of their energy since the early 90s in their respective solo careers.

(née Mylène GAUTIER)
Born: 1961 (Pierrefonds, Canada)
First album: 1986

My discovery: 1995

With stylish pop songs (composed by Laurent Boutonnat), extravagant music videos and a whole variety of stage personas, Mylène Farmer became a major French artist already with her first album. And she has never looked back since. Besides that she has grown into a major lesbian pop icon - albeit a not very outspoken one, making her a sort of Greta Garbo of pop.

Catherine LARA
(née Catherine BAUDET)
Born: 1945 (Poissy, France)
First album: 1972

My discovery: c. 1997

Since the 70s, Catherine Lara has been one of the leading female singers in France. She is classically trained and has used the violin on many an occasion. And a singer with a persevering, passionate temperament - one of her albums is appropriately named "La rockeuse de diamants".

Formed: 2004 (Ripoll, Catalonia, Spain)
Last active: 2009 (?)
Members: Nú́ria Pons, Eudald Rota, Jordi Rudé and Santi Surroca
First album: 2006

My discovery: 2014

Indie pop ensemble, formed in 2004 and possibly dissolved. Their one and only album contains some really good songs, including
"Ripoll m'agrada" (celebrating their home town). Listen to the whole album!

Not Your Average Hit List 43 minutes... Alla är Ambition Consequences Door to Door The Dreaming Dzien i noc État d'urgence In the Spirit of Things Kaze no tani no Naushika Lights in the Night Martwa woda Nuit d'amour Once in a Million Open Door People Are Strange The Royal Scam Stationary Traveller Victim of Love Whore Music Up North Music Out West Music Far East Music Down South Films I Like a Lot Comic or Not On and Off TV About Me There's so much more out there ...