‘I want to be one with the desire, rather than simply being desired.’
The words of French singer songwriter Héloïse Letissier who you may have seen recently on Graham Norton’s TV show or perhaps the BBC coverage of Glastonbury.
Here’s the video for her track ‘Tilted’ which has got a lot of people noticing her.
Her recent TV exposure and live performances have led to all sorts of comparisons and labels (Michael Jackson, Madonna, ‘pansexual’) but most encouraging is the fact her UK tour sold out in less than a week. Here we have an artist that music fans up and down the country have been waiting for.
As a dancer Christine has few equals. The choreography is outstanding, there’s an energy and a quiet confidence to the whole thing and the production of the track, (which she wrote and produced…yes, the beats and bass you hear were laid down by Christine herself using actual software and her ears. Just as men and women can use Microsoft Word to type they can also use ProTools and FL Studio to make music…who’d have thought it?!) has propelled her album to No.1 in Belgium, 6 in the UK, 2 in France and 3 in Ireland.
That sell out UK tour will be preceded by what’s almost certainly going to be a sell out US tour boosted by a critically acclaimed performance at SXSW earlier this year.
So to Christine and what she stands for.
First and foremost, great tunes, smart lyrics, a world class performance and a deep love of pop music.
But there’s more.
In an age where feminism has never had a higher profile yet where women have never been more exploited it’s inevitable Christine will attract interest because she’s doing it differently.
Early interviews and commentary makes reference to the ‘queer’ movement, Wikipedia claims Héloïse identifies as ‘pansexual’ although my French isn’t what it was and I can’t translate this clip in its entirely I think what she’s saying is that she doesn’t believe in labels or reducing sexuality to a single word.
For me, Christine represents being yourself and going at it with passion.
She’s driven, talented and doing it all on her own terms.
I admire the fact she sings a proportion of her lyrics in French – it sounds brilliant, and the bursts of cover versions she uses in her performances (Chaka Khan ‘I Feel For You’, Technotronic ‘Pump Up The Jam’) tells me her love of pop music transcends what’s ‘cool’.
Any artist who defies categorisation will face challenges.
MTV wasn’t sure what to do with Michael Jackson at the release of ‘Thriller’, hence the guitar solo in ‘Beat It’.
Christine doesn’t have (yet) today’s slick band of super producers queuing up to write for her. That’s fine but it means there’s perhaps a slight lack of depth to her set and maybe some justifiable accusations of filler material. Although it’s still relatively early in Christine’s career so that will likely change.
And she’ll struggle to make the major radio station playlists. For reference, she received considerably fewer plays on UK radio in the last 30 days than Huey Lewis And The News although BBC Radio 2 and 6 Music are supportive and she’s had spot plays on various Capital network stations.
Social media then is her friend and it’s fuelling considerable interest. That sold out UK tour (which wraps up in my hometown of Glasgow in November!) will likely be followed by a return visit at larger venues, her physical performances will ensure healthy TV interest and magazines and blogs will dissect much of what she says and stands for.
All of that – along with her talent, confidence and individuality – will lead, as it always does to Christine receiving what she says she isn’t in this for, that is ‘to be desired’.
There will be interest, opportunities, pressure and inevitably criticism.
For me, there’s nothing worse than someone who doesn’t like labels being labelled as the person for people who don’t like labels.
Let’s just let her be and enjoy what she creates.
And I hope she keeps dancing.