Make The Girl Dance is a French group that’s probably best described as danceable electro-pop, though their bio indicates that they’re influenced by things like 60’s French films, hand claps and the Eurythmics. Oh, and Voodoo music! Can’t forget the Voodoo music!
Extraball is MTGD’s second album following the hugely successful Everything Is Gonna Be OK In The End. You might be thinking, “How successful can an album be if I’ve never heard of it?” Well, for one thing, their videos have more than 40 million views. And you might very well have heard them without realizing it, as their infectious songs were used in TV ads for Microsoft, Magnum Ice Cream, Victoria’s Secret and Nivea, to name a few. Their music has also been placed in a wide variety of television series, including Castle, Gossip Girl and Jersey Shore. Recently, they were part of the soundtrack for Luc Besson’s movie Lucy. So, yes, you’ve probably heard them. And if you don’t remember hearing them you can head right over to Youtube and refresh your memory. They’re that cool group you heard and wondered who the hell they are but forgot to investigate by the time you were done watching TV. Or maybe you Shazamed them and immediately bought their album from iTunes. Or downloaded it from a torrent. But this is supposed to be a review of their new album, not their resume, so I digress.
Extraball opens with the ridiculously catchy “Candystore” featuring Ornette and Yard of the group Blondes. Interestingly, neither of these women have ever met, or at least they hadn’t at the time the song was released. The group had sent the instrumental of this one to Yard, and while they were waiting to hear back from her they decided to work on it with Ornette, whom they’d just collaborated with on another song for the album. Ultimately, they loved both versions so they decided to turn it into a duet. This one reminds me of 80’s music by the French pop diva Lio. It’s like a modern re-envisioning of her song “Le Banana Split.” In fact, this whole album has Lio written all over it. Even if they didn’t realize it, they were surely influenced by her. Growing up in France, it would’ve been impossible to avoid hearing her buoyant pop songs. Back then, she was to France what Kylie Minogue was to England.
MTGD’s love of hand claps is audible all over the zany “Mad Clap” featuring JoeyStarr. If Serge Gainsbourg were still around today, he’d probably have a song like this. He was always one to do weird yet captivating things like this gem of a song that commands you to get the fuck up out of your seat and dance. And clap! If I understand correctly, this song was going to be an instrumental focusing on the percussion — claps included — and an electronic bassline they’d originally recorded for another track. But they had JoeyStarr, one of the biggest hip-hop stars in France, in the studio doing another track and he decided that he’d like to do something with this one, too. So, naturally, they let him. Just don’t expect him to rap here. He mostly screams and yells. C’est amusant.
“Yé Yé (Ohh La La),” featuring the lovely Ornette on vocals again, has the group’s fondness for 60’s French pop all over it. This could have been a Chanson produced by Serge Gainsbourg with Jane Birkin on vocals. Some of the lyrics here are even in French. Most of it is in English though, which I think is a bummer because the song would’ve been thirteen times more cool if it was just in French. And, you know, I’m a French pop junkie. Oh well, it’s still a sexy, delicious treat and with a little luck it will be all over French radio by year’s end.
Speaking of JoeyStarr not rapping, he mostly screams and grunts and delivers a menacing laugh on “Voodoo.” I’m not very familiar with Voodoo music, but I listened to a few things on Youtube in preparating for this review and I can say that the rhythm of this one definitely has that vibe. And I suppose JoeyStarr is playing the part of a mad preacher who’s summoning a demon. It’s not the most irresistible track on hand but it’s still bloody good.
The final track I feel I have to mention is “Dancing In Nowhere” featuring the group’s Swiss friend Solange La Frange, who delivers some very potent vocals, hitting impressive high notes. I don’t know what kind of singing she normally does, but I think her voice would be perfect for a hard rock project in the vein of early Evanescence. Although I’m sure that idea will make her cringe if she ever reads this review. Oddly enough, this song was written and produced months before they started making Extraball. But, it trips the proverbial light fantastic, so, naturally, it had to be included. Of course, ultimately, all of the songs on Extraball had to be included. You can cherry pick a song or two and just listen to those over and over, sure, but for me the songs are better digested as part of the album, which I believe was designed to listen to from start to finish. Just downloading one song is like downloading one piece of a puzzle. You get the colors that are on it, but you’re missing the greater picture. So, don’t do that. Buy the whole album. Now. Because, obviously, you don’t want to wait until you hear one of their new songs in a suggestive underwear commercial to get into them. Get the record now and you can be the one to introduce your fans to the wonder that is Make The Girl Dance.