Meet Christine and the Queens: French Pop for a Sweet, Slick Spring


The streets are getting warmer; there’s something in the air right now that reminds a person of what it’s like for her days to feel easy, unhurried, sweet—and if you play the above song, from a new French pop act called Christine and the Queens, you’ll hear it.

After any season marked by effort (winter, and all that drudge just to keep moving!) it can seem like a minor miracle to come in contact with organicism, a sense of lightness and heat. The same goes for music, where chemically engineered hook machinery and overworked common-denominator atmospherics currently mark much of the female-fronted pop genre I love so well: the acts that enter the game instinctively, and with a tangible sense of joy—the debut albums from Chrvches or HAIM come to mind—make me sit up and pay attention.

And so I’ve found myself putting “Saint Claude” on repeat, a track that’s all autonomous, sweet impulse: Christine and the Queens (the stage name for French singer-songwriter Heloise Letissier, inspired by her original drag-queen backing band) has some of HAIM’s tightly plucked rhythms, a Francis and the Lights ease, an eighties generosity of emotion, and a real tinge of low-key, poised weirdness that feels quite francaise. The “Saint Claude” melody is particularly wonderful: dreamy, classic, with structural handholds for the remix turnup.

(The track’s solo dance video is great, too, and dubiously honored by a Madonna-jacking; Madonna later acknowledged her… inspiration… by shouting out Christine.)

Christine and the Queens is extremely, blessedly heavy on both androgyny and perfectly bizarre solo dancing (the latter of which has had a banner year, thanks to Broad City and Maddie Ziegler). She replicates her Saint Claude tipsy-jamming-to-Michael-Jackson-in-your-living-room vibes in the video for French hit “Christine,” with the aid of three cute backup dancers, a clean, curious mini blip-riff at the top of the track, and the deep fluorescent pulse of the beat.

Christine has been sweeping up awards and chart spots in France, but it’s been a long time since a French artist has had real crossover pop success in the States; we’ll see about it with Christine, who’s gotten (big) ups from Mark Ronson and Lorde but whose best song (Saint Claude) is not easily sing-along-able unless vous parlez.

She’s reworked “Christine” to be in English, though; it’s called “Tilted,” here’s the lyric video.

It’s all tight, lush, translucent—airy and grounded to a rhythm, just like this season should be. Christine and the Queens has an EP coming out April 14th (and she’s playing her first New York show ever on the 21st) and my guess is that it’ll all feel as welcome as these tracks do now.

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