Listen to Jarvis Cocker’s album of French pop covers ‘Chansons d’Ennui Tip-Top’
Set in the Parisian bureau of a New Yorker style magazine, Wes Anderson's new film The French Dispatch visualizes three stories from the final issue of the publication and stars most of Anderson's usual cast of players (I'm not going to list them). One of the recurring motifs is Tip-Top, a fictional French pop star who is heard on the transistor radios all around the highly stylized version of Paris in the film. Giving voice to Tip-Top is Jarvis Cocker who has lived in Paris for more than a decade and worked with Anderson previously on The Fantastic Mr Fox.
As a companion piece to The French Dispatch, Jarvis made a full album as Tip-Top using his ace JARV IS band and covering 12 classic French pop songs from the '60s and '70s. Already a master of sexy whispering in English, he is a natural for songs by Serge Gainsbourg ("Requiem Pour Un Con"), Jacques Dutronc (“Les Gens Sont Fous, Les Temps Sont Flous”), Claude Channes ("Mao-Mao"), and Max Berlin ("Elle Et Moi"). There are also takes on yé-yé hits by chanteuses including Brigitte Bardot ("Contact") and Francoise Hardy (“Mon Ami La Rose”), and he duets with Stereolab's Laetitia Sadier on Dalida & Alain Delon's "Paroles Paroles." Jarvis stays pretty close to the original versions of the songs; I cannot speak to his French elocution but sonically these songs are ringers for the era. Chansons D'Ennui Tip-Top is by nature a novelty, but that doesn't mean it's not entirely listenable and a lot of fun. And any record entirely made up of sexy whispering from Jarvis immediately justifies its existence in any language.