#albumoftheday / REVIEW: Alizée: BLONDE

French pop star Alizée’s career was launched after France’s most popular female pop star, Mylène Farmer, discovered her while watching the television program Graines de Star in 1999. The lyrics of Alizée’s first two albums, Gourmandises and Mes courants électriques, were written by Mylène herself with her writing partner Laurent Boutonnat composing the music. In that respect, they were like Mylène albums with someone else singing them. And they did very well. In the years since, Alizée’s popularity has continued to skyrocket. Blonde is her fourth album since the Mylène Farmer days and it’s also her best since then. As if that were not cause enough for Alizée to celebrate, she won the fourth season of Danse avec les stars, the French edition of Dancing with the Stars, on November 23, 2013. It’s because of her success on Dancing that Blonde came to be, as it comes a mere one year and three months after her last album, 5, the singer and her camp realizing that it would be ideal to release a new album hot on the heels of her Dancing victory.

The album opens with the title track, “Blonde,” and it’s a lovely little number that finds Alizée singing all about how it’s a blonde’s world. In fact, “it’s a blonde’s world” is the translation of the line she sings three times in a row during the chorus. The final line of the chorus translates as: “Beware of the bleached blondes.” That line is fitting since Alizée is naturally a brunette and only bleached her hair blonde recently. In fact, they show her with brown hair during the beginning of the “Blonde” video just before they show her having her hair bleached. Whether or not they actually bleached her hair during the video isn’t the point: the point is that “Blonde” is an insanely catchy song. It’s almost insidious because once it seeps into your head it refuses to remove itself, like a sinister force that’s possessing you. People call pop songs catchy all of the time, but this is like the ebola virus of pop songs. It’ll have you wanting to take a hammer to your head when you still can’t shake it five days after contracting it. Unless, of course, you’re a pop music junkie. If you are, then “Blonde” is like heroin that never wears off. Anytime you want a high, just think of it and you’ll hear it looping through your head. You don’t even need to play the song. Of course, the high is much more epic if you do, but that’s your choice to make.

Blonde, the album, runs 12 songs long and it goes by like a cool breeze on a hot day. Each of its songs have been carefully crafted by some of France’s best songwriters with the sole purpose of pleasing you. And they’re all short and sweet. Literally, none of them so much as hit the four minute mark and they contain so much sugar they can turn even the healthiest person into a diabetic. And it’s impossible to pick favorites. To choose any one song would be like choosing bread or butter. Any sane person would want both. “K.O.” will, in fact, knock you out before the beats even kick in, during the beginning when it’s just Alizée’s sweet voice and guitar. Of course, the beat proves to be punchy enough once it attacks, like someone hitting you in the jaw without a glove on. Well, maybe it’s not quite that punchy, but it’s far from being music to chill out to.

If there’s one bad thing you can say about Alizée it’s that she’s not a songwriter. Why, is anyone’s guess. You’d think that after having released five albums she would have at least written lyrics for one of the songs on Blonde, but, no, it’s business as usual, with others entrusted to come up with the songs. It’s hard to really take issue with that, however, because she continues to work with such tremendously talented songwriters. No less than three songs on Blonde have lyrics written by the brilliant Zazie, “L’amour renfort,” “Tweet” and “Charles est stone.” And, yes, the somewhat silly “Tweet” is about tweeting, so never let it be said that Zazie is out of touch with modern culture. Other songwriters who worked on the album include Pascal Obispo, Laurent Konrad and Timothée Selim Aymard, among others.

If a song about tweeting surprised anyone, they were probably shocked when the tracklist for Blonde surfaced and there was a song entitled “Mylène Farmer.” Pop culture icons have long played a role in Alizée’s career, but a song about her mentor, Mylène, caught everyone off guard with people wondering whether it would portray Mylène in a positive or negative light. As it turns out, there was no cause for alarm, it’s actually a lovely tribute to Mylène. It’s also the most au courant track on the album in the sense that there are bits of dubstep and the chorus has auto-tune. On one hand, the dubstep fits beautifully, but the auto-tune feels a bit 2010. Still, the song is contagious, one of Alizée’s best songs to date, and fans of both singers are eager for them to make a video so they can see what they do with it. People’s curiosity is such that it almost mandates they make it the next single.  If they don’t, well, it’s not possible for any of these tracks to flop because they’re all sinfully single-worthy.




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