Based on a series of miniaturized history lessons held at the open mic nights in Paris from December 2012 to March 2013, A Brief History Of Postwar French Popular Music is a cultural studies lecture in verse. Framed as a poem in tight alexandrines (in English), the lesson is punctuated with live renditions of referenced songs (in French). Expect a subjective, somewhat insolent and completely out-of-the-box analysis of the French musical tradition, a sweeping portrait from the underground scene in the cellars of Saint-Germain-des-Prés to the contemporary music industry.
Vaguely organised as a series of thematic chapters, the poem is an homage to the vibrant, multi-faceted musical heritage known as la chanson française, a heritage intimately tied the French language itself, for better or for worse. The lesson covers a tight selection, from the linguistic gymnastics of Boris Vian to France’s ridiculous Anglo-Saxon pop-star wannabes, by way of Dick Annegarn’s fantastical themes and of course the fully-rounded, delectable work of Serge Gainsbourg (whose legacy represents the backbone of the series). This night of academic sing-along is your entry ticket into the world of French pop-culture in all its double-edged glory.