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French Pop

From Music Hall to Yé-

Gareth Jones

From Django Reinhardt and Édith Piaf to Françoise Hardy and Serge Gainsbourg, French pop has long fascinated the outside world.

This book, the first in-depth history published outside France, travels from music halls, jazz cellars and cafés to discothèques and teenage parties to tell the tale of how the French transitioned from accordions to electric guitars, from Maurice Chevalier to Johnny Hallyday, from the existential angst of Left Bank chanson to the effervescent joy of yé-yé.

Across dozens of performers from Sacha Distel to Sylvie Vartan, and hundreds of recordings, this is the story of how the French fused their native traditions with the best the world had to offer – tango, jazz, swing, exotica, rock'n'roll and folk ­– and emerged in the sixties with their own unique and much-loved spin on the pop music conquering the world.

• Includes a guide to French record labels, an overview of the French record charts and a Glossary of Terms.

• Extensive appendices listing international hits by French, Belgian and Swiss Artists, international hit covers of French songs by foreign artists, and recommended listening, reading and websites.

• 473 illustrations including rare and previously unpublished photos, record labels and sleeves, sheet music and magazine covers, vintage ads, posters, etc.


"This is no mere collection of discographies, but an extremely detailed history of French pop via analyses of instrumental combos, dance crazes, musette and accordion traditions, the influx of American jazz, UK and US ex-pat rockers, male and female groups and solo artists, the provincial scenes, talent shows, Eurovision, et al. In essence, every 'pop' sub-genre you can imagine had French contributors and Jones rightly champions their importance to the history of Western music.... The most comprehensive introduction to French pop music available in English." Shindig!

"The informative narrative text and richly detailed appendices combine to provide a vivid picture of how the leading proponents fared while deploying either original material or translated adaptations of smash hits from overseas - and also show how although they had relatively little impact on the UK and American scene, domestic singers and instrumentalists of the time did find considerable success in other parts of the world." The Beat

"Anyone researching or even merely interested in French pop should go first and last to Gareth Jones... His infectious enthusiasm and witty way with words enhances near-unerring factual accuracy throughout a history from the dawn of the domestic record industry to 1963, when the onslaught of British beat coincide with the death of Édith Piaf." Ugly Things

"French Pop repudiates the idea that yé-yé was simply a knock-off of American rock'n'roll with a French twist, and the author includes jazz, chanson, bossa nova, exotica, surf and a plethora of other genres to make his case, all contextualised culturally and historically. Such stringent details helps to bring to life artists you may never have heard of such as Danny Boy et ses Pénitents, outsider rivals to Les Chats Sauvages; the Pénitents were supposedly Madagascan students who wore KKK-like hoods so their parents wouldn't recognise them on the telly. French Pop may become a reference book for a niche group of enthusiasts but its very existence is welcomed all the same." Record Collector

"Few books can serve as both an enjoyable reading experience and a reference guide, with hundreds of side notes to complement it. This is the case of French Pop by Gareth Jones, a thorough investigation and documentation of the history of French pop music... Jones does not overlook the “background players”, to whom he devotes as much attention as the big names, thus building one of the most comprehensive pop and rock music books of all time.
     French Pop, beautifully illustrated with rare photos, posters, album covers, and labels, includes also a valuable glossary of names that allows the reader to use this book as a reference when they want, as well as a rare guide to some of the key records in the history of French pop, and a guide to French pop songs covered by other artists across the globe - a precious sharing of Gareth Jones’ extensive enthusiast work.
     This is a book for any serious music fan and for anyone who wants to deepen their knowledge of music and history, not exclusively French. Over 500 pages of pure knowledge, French Pop: From Music Hall to Yé- is an exceptional and indispensable book."  Pop Expresso


Published: 28 February 2022

ISBN: 978-1-7399667-0-6

Format: Paperback

Edition: First

Extent: 542 pages

Dimensions: 234 x 156 mm

RRP: £31.99

Our price: £27.99 + p&p

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French Pop