11.4.07

A talent for looking miserable

While waiting for any Eurovision news of note, here's an artist who doesn't get enough mention in the blogosphere. Axelle Red is a Flemish singer who sings mostly in French but sometimes in Spanish. For anybody who doesn't know, Axelle has been a star in the French speaking world for almost twenty years. One of her greatest talents is the ability to look miserable and sulky on demand. Perhaps that's why modern Axelle makes piano, jazz and rhythm and blues records, which take a while to grow on you and are simply not cheesy enough to be posted here. But in her youth, her musical idols were ABBA, and her earlier stuff was much more fabulous. If you want to get hold of it, you'd need to get the album Sans plus attendre.

This album features one of her biggest hits to date, Sensualité, which sounds a little dated now, but is still one of the trashiest pop songs ever written. In true trashy style, Axelle spends much of the video writhing against a padded wall. But riddle me this, if you were going to shoot the video for one of your first major chart hits, would you allow your stage manager to twin your bright red hair with a turquoise stage set? And would you allow your costume designer to dress you in what looks like a shabby maternity dress? These things aside, the song is still a classic.

After a good twenty minutes crawling the web, I think I can say authoritatively that there is no available video clip to post of Axelle's trashiest work, Kennedy boulevard, a motown pastiche featuring just about every possible sixties cliché you could think of. Think of a cross between Vanessa Paradis' Be my baby and Sonia's Only fools. Anyway, let's settle for Axelle in more sombre mood with the video for her later hit, Parce que c'est toi. I think you can see the blues influences creeping in here quite clearly. It's a beautiful song and you can see Axelle using her talent for looking 'miserable and sulky' to the maximum here - and maybe there is good reason: by this point in her career, you'd think she'd have enough money to furnish her flat with luxuries, but in this video, it looks as bare as Mother Hubbard's proverbial cupboard. In the back of the limo, Axelle's boyfriend appears as miserable as she is - but then, it wouldn't surprise me if he was about to dump her, given that she's turned up for their big date wearing a shapeless orange dress which clashes with her flame-red hair. He'll probably end up colour-blind after looking at that all night.


Good things come in threes, so here's a final video from Axelle, this time from her Face A/Face B album, the sleeve of which saw her take on an almost Kylie-ish image, even though her musical influences were still quite varied. There was a disco theme behind some of the tracks on the album, which made it more upbeat. The single Toujours taken from the CD was one of Axelle's best, although the video opens with her looking quite sweaty and dishevelled. Almost dirty. Never mind, at least she goes wading in her best dress at the end, that'll get some of the filth off.

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