Reasons Why I Like Camille


Why do I like Camille (official website), French songstress…let me count the ways:

1. Camille is f-ing good. She has that nice ingenue voice that Mariah Carey perfected.

2. Camille is French. That’s not necessarily something good since my perception of French pop is that if it isn’t danceable or ambient or classic, then it’s probably not good. But being the budding Francophile I am, this does bear mentioning.

3. Camille is avant-garde. This particular point is much more of an umbrella point that will surface many times. For instance, Wikipedia says she sung a piece by Benjamin Britten…while he’s not really that avant-garde, it does take a certain amount of ambition and technical excellence to accomplish something at that level.

4. Camille sang the theme song for Ratatouille, one of the best films ever. The song, Le Festin, is written by Michael Giacchino and is used thematically throughout the score. By the time Camille’s version appears, the melody has been ingrained in us, and I don’t know about you, but it is very emotional.

5. Camille makes fun of Mariah Carey. Now, some of you know I actually like Mariah a great deal. But with love also must come a healthy dose of mockery. On her latest album, Camille’s song “Money Note” is all about Mariah’s vocal gymnastics. She sings in the breathily dulcet tones of the diva and then says “I just want to beat Mariah.” An announcer declares that Camille will hit an F sharp 7 taking us all to heaven. And then right on cue, she hits the whistle register, that rare-ified domain of songs of incredible range. And she squeaks higher and higher atonally as she goes into the stratosphere. It’s brilliant.

6. Camille likes Steve Reich. Well, I’m not exactly sure about this 100% but she does in fact reference Reich’s phasing technique in her song “Kfir.” It starts off with a phasing of her voice in the same way Reich did with “Come Out” in the 60s. The phase hits a syncopated rhythm which continues as an ostinato throughout the song. The song ends of course with the phase coming back together into sync. This moment alone would be enough to declare my love for her.

7. Camille likes a cappella. Much of her latest album, Music Hole, is a cappella similar to Bjork’s recent album Medulla. It features lots of beat boxing, vocal effects and choral arrangements. I know this rubs some people the wrong way, but I like it. It sounds fresh in the way it reimagines a style that too often sounds over-produced.

8. Camille sang with the group Nouvelle Vague. I don’t know this group very well, but I understand they are very well-respected.

9. Camille is really avant-garde. Her 2005 album Le Fil featured a drone throughout the album and minimal acoustic accompaniment. Inconceivable!

10. Camille speaks and sings English fluently. I have lots of respect for people who know languages. I hope she tours the U.S. (as of now, it seems that she’s busy touring all over Europe).

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