Tracks of 2016: #3 Christine and The Queens

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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.

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Tracks of 2015: #17 ‘Poison’ (Girl Friend)

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Forward to Track 18

Backward to Track 16

This article was going to be something different until approximately three days ago.

Doubts set in. Chins were stroked (I’m a big lad these days, there’s much chin to stroke). Whilst sticking to my long held system of having no system at all (these lists are always in no particular order, give-or-take occasional blips mostly for narrative purposes), the order is not set in stone. Something had to give. And so [TRACK I WON’T IDENTIFY] found itself off the list at practically the last minute. Cruel, cruel world.

From cruel to cool, though. Good heavens, “Poison” is a cracker isn’t it? It’s slick and sharp, as polished as a plate on which once sat a butter pie with red cabbage, and yet the song has a touch of giddy abandon about it. Maybe – and this being me, it’s very likely – the attraction lies in that chorus. “Earworm” doesn’t even come close, that’s an implant sewn beneath the skin and wired directly to the brain. Retro to its core, yes, with an ultra-cool hip and happening edge. I bloody love that chorus.

As it happens, this is the beginning of the end for my rundown. I suspect this closing section will look like the most overtly commercial and mainstream. I just wish that a band such as Girl Friend *had* more mainstream coverage, if only for a stand-out whammer of a song like this. We can dream.