The YouTube video shows a woman wearing glittery antlers at the top of the fakest looking fake staircase in set design history. The camera pans up to her face in time for the chorus of her new single. She sings: “Cause I actually do enjoy being a cripple.”
This is Héloïse Letissier, aka Christine and the Queens, and “Cripple” is an early version of one of this year’s least expected earworms. We all know it now as “Tilted” with its off-kilter synths and Franglais lyrics. Back then “Cripple” was entirely in English and as Letissier has explained in subsequent interviews, she misunderstood the specific English definition of that word and the stony-faced silence of a crowd in Brighton during that song made her realise it was time to bring out the dictionary.
Commercial radio is a tricky mistress to impress. I have been genuinely surprised to hear “Tilted” on radio stations I had grown to believe would only recognise the Bieber-Goulding-Timberlake rota until the sweet release of death. Letissier, who goes by “Christine” now as a matter of course, is not the usual go-to playlisted artist for stations picking from a much reduced pot to play much repeated songs, often at the same time every day for each week of any given month. Given the lyrical content (Franglais, peculiar grammar and fuck-it attitude to rhymes included) it’s one rare glimpse of something genuinely different amongst a depressingly familiar compilation of crowdpleasers.
Yes I do understand that the statement “billingual queer electro anthem” contains enough words to send mainstream audiences running for their hills but what can you do when the year’s been such a clusterfruitcake. More please, Christine.