Shortcut Series – World Cup Special: France

Deezer Shortcut WC France

The World Cup might not even exist had it not been for a Frenchman. As the third President of FIFA, Jules Rimet introduced the competition in 1930 – kicking off what would quickly become one of the biggest events in the sporting calendar. Add this to the list of iconic (and often controversial) players that France has given the world – Platini, Zidane, Cantona… the list goes on – and it’s pretty obvious why France is such an important footballing nation.

It has also produced some moments of musical brilliance. From Gainsbourg and Piaf through to the likes of Justice and Daft Punk, the Gallic sound has evolved considerably over the last few decades, but it’s never lost that certain je ne sais quoi that has always set it apart. Get acquainted with some of the most essential releases below…


The sixth World Cup was France’s most successful since the competition began in 1930. They finished in third place with striker Just Fontaine picking up the Golden Boot with an incredible thirteen goals – seven more than Pelé scored that year and still the highest number ever to be scored in a single World Cup campaign.

It was around this time that chanson français really started to accrue global recognition. The Sixties saw the likes of Francoise Hardy and Serge Gainsbourg becoming hugely popular outside of their native country alongside Edith Piaf, whose single ‘Non, je ne regrette rien’, was released in 1960. It spent seven weeks atop the French singles chart upon its release, and its allure hasn’t faded over time – it’s still a well-loved classic today.

[iframe src=”” width=”700″ height=”80″]


Following more than a decade of disappointing results in both the World Cup and the European Championships, the 1980s finally saw the fortunes of the French national team turning in their favour. Captained by the now-legendary Michel Platini, they reached the semi finals in 1982, won Euro ’84 in France and came third in Mexico ’86.

French music wasn’t doing quite so well on the world stage, however. During the Sixties it had been in rude health, but by the mid-Eighties there was a noticeable absence of French artists doing well outside of mainland Europe. But then along came Desireless with the synth pop mega-hit ‘Voyage Voyage’ which, despite being sung entirely in her native tongue, topped charts around the world and remains a new wave classic.

[iframe src=”” width=”700″ height=”80″]


’98 was a golden year for France. It saw them emerging from a period of underachievement after Platini’s retirement and re-establishing themselves as a force to be reckoned with in both the sporting and musical worlds. Following their failure to qualify for either Italia ’90 or the 1994 tournament in the USA, Les Bleus returned in 1998 under manager Aimé Jacquet to deliver their finest performance ever on the world stage. They won the trophy on home soil and a new national hero was born in the form of Zinedine Zidane, who scored twice in the first half of the final against Brazil to secure a memorable victory in Paris.

That year also saw the release of Moon Safari, the debut album from Air, which marked the beginning of a renaissance for French music. Not only was it to become a seminal album in its own right, it also opened the door for the new wave of ‘French touch’ artists such as Daft Punk, M83, Busy P, Justice and many, many more. Although heavily influenced by the sounds of the Sixties and Seventies, Moon Safari lay down the blueprint for today’s French music in a way that very few other albums have.

[iframe src=”” width=”700″ height=”80″]


A year that will be looked upon less fondly by French football fans is 2010. The wounds inflicted by the previous tournament were still raw; not just the loss to Italy on penalties in the final, but also Zidane’s infamous headbutt on Marco Materazzi, which ended Zizou’s international career on a bizarrely sour note. However, had the nation known what lay ahead, they might have welcomed their position as runners-up with a little more enthusiasm. France’s 2010 campaign in South Africa can only be described as a complete meltdown. Nicolas Anelka was sent home following his verbal assault on coach Raymond Domenech and in response the squad went on strike, refusing to train. Unsurprisingly, they finished last in their group with a single point and a single goal to their name, and returned home to widespread disgust from the public and the media.

But it wasn’t all bad news for France. Just as the football team was very publicly imploding, French house music was exploding across the globe in a way never seen before. David Guetta was enjoying massive worldwide success following his 2009 album One Love, leading the newly-titled EDM movement to world domination and clearing the path for the next generation of French producers, including electro-house wunderkind Madeon.

[iframe src=”” width=”700″ height=”80″]

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Want to dig a little deeper? Check out the playlist below:

[iframe src=”” width=”700″ height=”240″]

Related Posts