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Top 10 CDs in the French Language

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Are you an avid francophile who loves the music of France and the French diaspora? Are you trying to learn French and need some help getting the sound of the language in your ears? Are you simply cooking a meal featuring fabulous French food and need some appropriate background music to feature at your feast? Check out some of these phenomenal CDs in French from around the globe for some ideas.

1. The Voice of the Sparrow - The Very Best of Edith Piaf

Edith Piaf is an absolute must for any francophile's music collection, or any music collection, for that matter! Her stunning voice, incredible dynamics and sadly romantic songs continue to captivate listeners nearly fifty years after her death.
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2. Maudite Moisson! - Le Vent Du Nord

Le Vent Du Nord are the hottest young Quebecois band in the world, and Maudite Moisson, their debut CD, makes it clear as to why that is. Highly addictive from the first song, "Au Bord de la Fontaine", a reworking of a traditional French Canadian folksong, the CD will keep you entranced all the way through. And as a bonus, the lyrics to all of the songs, as well as English translations, are provided, so you'll be singing along in no time! Full disclosure: Le Vent du Nord are close personal friends of mine.
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3. La Pointe - Balfa Toujours

This rollicking CD from Cajun music favorites Balfa Toujours is chock full of songs in both Cajun French and Louisiana Black Creole French. This CD also contains the lyrics of the songs, as well as English translations, to help you wrap your ears around the sound of the Louisiana French dialects. Full disclosure: Balfa Toujours are close personal friends of mine.
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4. Dimanche A Bamako - Amadou et Mariam

This highly addictive Afro-Pop CD from blind Malian couple Amadou et Mariam was produced by Manu Chao and was nominated for a Grammy Award in 2006, and achieved massive critical praise worldwide.
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5. Rasin Kreyol - Emeline Michel

Rasin Kreyol, which would be written Racines Creoles in standard French, and means "Creole Roots", is the latest offering from Haitian soul queen Emeline Michel. Sultry, sexy, rhythmic and highly danceable, this CD will leave you nothing short of spellbound. It's in Haitian French Creole, obviously, and the lyrics are far more comprehensible by standard French speakers than one might assume.
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6. Traditional Songs From Normandy - Jean-Francois Dutertre

Celtic music fans will go crazy for this collection of traditional folksongs from Northwestern France. Close your eyes and envision the stunning abbey at Mont Saint Michel while you listen to this one, and you'll be all but transported!
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7. Motifs - Paris Combo

Paris Combo is a hip young band out of... you guessed it... Paris! They combine traditional French chanson with the sounds of Manouche jazz (a la Django Reinhardt), as well as Tango and American jazz. It's tres cool, and evokes a Paris both modern and classic.
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8. Hot Heads - Les Tetes Brulees

This seminal album from Cameroonian bikutsi-pop band Les Tetes Brulees is somewhat hard to come by, but well worth the effort. The majority of the CD is in Cameroonian French, and that, combined with the effortless Afro-pop musical stylings, should make it irrestistable to any world music-loving Francophone.
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9. Zydeco Sont Pas Sales - Clifton Chenier

Clifton Chenier is the undisputed king of zydeco, having basically re-invented the genre by combining blues, soul and R&B with the sounds of traditional Louisiana Black Creole music. He was a master accordion player, as well as a powerful vocalist, and this album, primarily in Louisiana Creole French, is exceedingly captivating.
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10. Prose Combat - MC Solaar

I confess that my finger is not exactly on the pulse of the international hip-hop scene, and I first heard Senegal-born French rapper MC Solaar in the final episode of Sex and the City. Luckily, the DVD commentary on that episode provided his name, and the more I listened to him, the more I was hooked. His brand of hip-hop is a somewhat soft and clearly world-beat influenced, yet completely edgy and innovative.
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