Sixty for 60: 20. Camille

To celebrate my 60th birthday, I asked my social media friends to nominate a favourite song from 2021 – 60 to…

No FUCK THAT. My blog, my rules. I have no fucking words right now. I have just rediscovered French singer Camille‘s 2008 album Money Hole and… fuck me. This song is like Robin Thicke meets Whitney Houston meets the Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band… and. Fuck me. It’s really fucking irritating on a third listen. The album is so.,. Fuck it. Just for once, I am going to leave it to one of the professionals (the people paid to write about this shit) to try and put across the sense of disorientation Camille causes on her third album. Take it Alexis:

It’s not often that one record can claim to have laid waste to an entire musical genre, but then, it’s not often that anyone releases a record as unmitigatedly wretched as Bobby McFerrin’s novelty hit Don’t Worry, Be Happy. It wiped the collective memory of the glorious musical heights that can be scaled with the human voice alone – the gorgeous old doo-wop singles, the chilling, blood-spattered folk ballads, the Beach Boys’ ethereal Our Prayer – in three minutes of revolting bumper-sticker sentiment and flatly dreadful advice: in the event that your landlord say your rent is late and he may have to litigate, there are several options open, but the one thing you definitely shouldn’t do is follow McFerrin’s suggestion, which seems to involve chuckling at him and saying, “Look at me, I’m ‘appy.” Ever since, acapella pop has been a cordoned-off area. Like one of those game Ukrainan businessmen who organises tourist trips around Chernobyl, Björk had a go with her 2004 album Medúlla, but the public remained deeply wary.

So you have to admire the guts of Camille Dalmais. The 30-year-old Parisian vocalist has set up shop right in the middle of the musical Zone of Alienation that is a cappella pop, apparently without a thought for her own safety. While others still quail at the very memory, she is prepared to confront the genre’s darkest hour head-on: she has not only adapted McFerrin’s infamous body-slapping percussion style, but also covered Don’t Worry Be Happy live. Perhaps her fearlessness has been boosted by her surprising success in her homeland. Every track on 2005’s Le Fil was based around the same single droning note, an avant-garde conceit that didn’t prevent it going gold and winning the French equivalents of both the Mercury prize and a Brit award.

Music Hole dispenses with the drone and offers lyrics in English, but otherwise sticks with its predecessor’s approach. There are odd shadings of piano and electronics and a handful of sound effects – Money Note, a witty satire of the vocal histrionics employed by Mariah Carey, features a rhythm of clattering coins. Otherwise, virtually every sound you hear is made by Dalmais herself.

Well yeah. I’m loathe to share a single song because NONE of them are representative. She sounds like she’s having so much fun, it’s near unbearable. Love the fact she’s got a song called ‘Winter Child’ followed by a song called ‘Winter’s Child’ on her album, and for all I know they’re the same song.

Cabaret for sure.