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FRENCH FACE OF THE WEEK

MUSIC

Meet Katerine: France’s sexy summer cheerleader

Move over Gangnam Style. An ironic dance track of an altogether new calibre of kitsch looks set to take French discothèques by storm this summer. Meet Philippe Katerine – the man behind ‘Sexy Cool’. He's our French Face of the Week.

Meet Katerine: France's sexy summer cheerleader
Philippe Katerine, otherwise known as just Katerine who is hoping to get France dancing this summer. Photo: screen grab from video.

Who is Philippe Katerine?

Philippe Katerine, known simply as “Katerine” in France, is a French singer-songwriter, artist and author, best known for his boundary pushing music.

With his offbeat lyrics and kitsch costumes that would put Austin Powers to shame, Katerine is gyrating proof that the French can do irony after all.

In his years in the music business he’s progressed from easy listening to electro pop.

The 44-year-old, who comes from the commune of Chantonnay in the Vendée department of Pays de la Loire in western France, has also directed and starred in films and written a book.

Why is he in the news?

His new song ‘Sexy Cool’ – released earlier this month – was this week declared France’s “summer dance anthem” by the French media.

The track, which features on the pop star’s forthcoming ninth album ‘Magnum’ to be released on October 14th, is an ironic summer music video in which Katerine sings about how “sexy” and “cool” he is.

Tell me more about him.

Unsurprisingly, Katerine is no stranger to strange headlines.

In April 2012, the artist experimented in a new form of artistic expressionism when he was invited by the upmarket Paris-based department store Galeries Lafayette to display his artwork in an exhibition entitled ‘Comme un ananas’ (‘Like a pineapple’).

In 2011, the artist also made a splash when he published the book ‘Doublez votre mémoire’(‘Double your memory’) under the alias Philippe Bouchard. Presented as a kind of artistic diary, the book is described by its editor as “a unique work, worthy of the best artist notebooks” consisting of “narcissistic inspirations and schoolboy outbursts”.

Since 2000, Katerine has also acted in many films and even directed two of his own.

So what’s so sexy and cool about ‘Sexy Cool’?

Well perhaps it's the cheesy dance routine, the catchy lyrics as well the 70s costumes and mustache.

If you find yourself on a dance floor in a French disco this summer you will probably here these lyrics: "Je suis cool quand t'es cool/Je suis triste quand t'es triste/Je suis stress quand tu stresses/Je suis sexy quand tu es sexy". In other words: "I'm cool when you're cool/I'm sad when you're sad/I'm stressed when your stressed/I'm sexy when you're sexy" (in case you want to sing along).

But we don’t want to spoil it for you. It is better to let you judge for yourselves in the video below.

What about the other tracks on the album?

Another cheesy delight is ‘Banane’ (below), featuring Katerine parading around on a beach holding a banana dressed in nothing but a white sheet as he sings: “No, leave me/To eat my banana naked on the beach”. In another scene hundreds of people dance along to the tune whilst waving a banana in the air.

Again it's better to let you watch the video for yourselves.

What does he have to say for himself?

Why don’t we let this translation of a typically, shall we say unsophisticated, extract from another single on his upcoming album, ‘Efféminé’, speak for itself? 

“With my big b***s/I go to the casino/With my big b***s/I buy myself a Kinder Bueno/With my big b***s/I call my beloved/She laughs/Because I’m effeminate.”

What do others say about him?

“Philippe Katerine has forced us to become accustomed to his style, by flouting all conventions, fluctuating between total nonsense and misunderstood genius,” wrote Le Figaro newspaper.

After all, says the paper, “who can boast of having dared as much as Katerine to push and play with the borders of pop which are all too often sterilized and formatted,” adding “You could dance all night [to his songs] if the lyrics weren’t so crude.”

Commenting on the video clip ‘Sexy Cool’, which has also clocked up over 200,000 views on YouTube, one viewer wrote: “These are the most sensual 3.51 minutes of my life.”

“This is the best clip of all time…and I’m serious,” chimed in another. 

What do you think? Let us know in the comments section below.  

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MUSIC

8 of French duo Daft Punk’s most memorable moments

One of the era's defining dancefloor acts hung up their helmets on Monday, as French electronic music stars Daft Punk announced their retirement in a typically enigmatic fashion with a video showing one of them exploding in a desert.

8 of French duo Daft Punk's most memorable moments
Photo: AFP

From Da Funk in 1995 to Get Lucky in 2013, Daft Punk became the torch-bearers for French house music across the globe, winning six Grammy awards and pioneering the monumental sound-and-light shows that came to characterise the electronic dance movement (EDM) of recent years.

They did so while almost never revealing their faces — the ubiquitous helmets became another much-copied trope of EDM stars, but also afforded Thomas Bangalter, 46, and Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo, 47, a freedom from the fame that quickly encircled them.

“We have daily lives that are a lot more normal than the lives of artists who have the same level of fame as us, but who might be attached to being physically recognised,” Bangalter said in a rare authorised documentary by the BBC in 2015.

Here are some of the highlights of their career – although for our money nothing will beat the French army band’s performance of a Daft Punk medley at the Bastille Day celebrations in 2017, in front of president Emmanuel Macron and a plainly bemused Donald Trump.

1. “Daft punky thrash”

Bangalter and Homem-Christo met at school in Paris before an inauspicious start in music with the rock band Darlin’, which also featured a future member of the French indie band Phoenix.

One review in the British music press dismissed the band as “daft punky thrash” — which struck a chord with them.

Reemerging as an electronic outfit, they met with instant success.

This interview from 1995 is one of the few images of their faces:

2. Their signature look in “Around the World”

Early singles “Da Funk” and “Around the World” became club fixtures, and led to massive sales for their debut album “Homework” in 1997.

It was in the video for “Around the World” that they first donned the helmets that would become their signature look. It mirrored the tight control they exercised over every part of their career, which included ownership of their master recordings.

3. “One More Time”

They followed up with the even more successful “Discovery” in 2001, which spawned the hits “One More Time” and “Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger”.

There were some distinctively left-field choices in the years that followed, including producing the 2003 film “Interstella 5555” by Japanese anime master Leiji Matsumoto, which featured music from “Discovery”.

4. Human After All

While their next album in 2005, a more sombre “Human After All”, received mixed reviews, these were quickly forgotten amid the euphoria of their live shows over the next two years.

This included a headline appearance at US festival Coachella in 2006, performed inside a giant LED pyramid. EDM fans still speak about it with an almost religious reverence.

5. Tron soundtrack

In 2010, they released a soundtrack to the Disney reboot of Tron, which picked up a Grammy nomination.

6. “Random Access Memories”

But no one predicted the massive success of their last album, 2013’s “Random Access Memories”, for which they gave up their usual makeshift home rig for a full commercial studio– and used entirely live instruments.

The resulting work dominated album-of-the-year lists and helped lift their total worldwide sales to 12 million. It won four Grammies the following year including record of the year for “Get Lucky”, the millions-selling lead single featuring Pharrell Williams and Nile Rodgers.

Their appearance at the Grammy Awards show was their last public appearance for three years.

7. “I Feel It Coming”

They showed up one more time for the Grammy ceremony in 2017, alongside The Weeknd, after collaborating on the Canadian artist’s most recent album.

Despite the Twittersphere erupting in excitement last month amid rumours they would rejoin The Weeknd for the Super Bowl half-time show, that did not in the end materialise. 

8. “Epilogue”

The video titled “Epilogue” announcing their split used footage from their cult 2006 film “Electroma” in which one of the robots sets the auto-destruct of the other.

A cutaway then reads “1993-2021” with two robot hands making a circle around a sunset.

Their publicist, Kathryn Frazier, confirmed the news to AFP by email, without giving a reason for the split.

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