With the immense success of her debut LP, Chaleur Humaine, becoming the best selling debut of 2016 in the UK, Héloïse Letissier’s commitment to performing in her mother tongue, cannot be stressed enough as being the key reason why Christine and the Queens music reaches so much further than it would in English alone.
Released, 21st September 2018, Because Music.
The language that Christine and the Queens uses, whether it be through her music, during interviews or her interaction with an audience, lacks the ability to conform to normal forms of dialect which makes every word she projects, all that more enticing. The French artist is neither incapable of being normal or speaking in such a manner, but nor does she wish to. The simplistic reality behind the complexity of Héloïse Letissier will reveal itself the moment she breathes, yet the French artist will forever remain an enigma for those who are unwilling to take notice of what herself and her work are trying to communicate.
Fluidity is of great importance on Chris, but more so as a form of personal narrative for listeners, rather than the story being told by Letissier. As an artist, Christine and the Queens has expressed a love of being a freak, ignoring boundaries, creating a world that allows ones self to be unique to themselves, demanding that the world around them only does the same, so that everyone may dance to the beat of their own drum. The enigma of Letissier is that her world is open, free for all to join and bare witness to, yet if your eyes and ears remain closed to the idea of Chris flaunting her masculinity and campy aesthetic around freely, you’ll never crack her code and only see the picture she is painting but fall deaf to the music she is producing.
Damn Dis-Moi as the ground-breaking first release from Chris, embodied this idea of fluidity and invited everyone to reject normality for a moment, loading her arms, as girls gasp with envy, turning heads as the love bite shone through, projecting a masculine aura that is far from being a façade, becoming much more intoxicating and insatiable than Letissier has ever been before. The glow of 80’s synths and funked up guitars, the likes of which Nile Rogers would be in love with, welcomed in this era of ‘not giving a fuck’, dancing wherever a beat may carry you, whenever the mood strikes, understanding everything she says without a need to analyse every possible second of sound. With such brazen confidence, the alter ego of Chris has immediately been marked as something completely natural and to be welcomed with open arms.
The inclusivity of both a French and English version appearing together throughout most of the released singles, prior to the full release of Chris, demonstrates the importance of fluidity on Letissier’s second LP.
Isolating the idea that the French artist would cater to only one set idea, focusing solely on either French or English, elevates Chris to an even higher level than her debut release had done so. While Chaleur Humaine was a different time for Christine and the Queens, making a separate English release in 2016, 2 years after it’s original debut release in French, Chaleur Humaine’s English release was just that, an English version of her debut. On Chris, this is far from just being an album that has an English/French mirror for whatever version you’re listening to and demands that your mind remains open and free to the nature of being a freak, noticing that Chris is an album which bounces from language to language instead of merely appealing to a mass market.
The notion of understanding none of what you hear from Christine and the Queens say while understanding every word and beat that she unleashes is the key to Chris’s success, whether she is combining both French and English together in one song, performing solely in one language, or secretively creating layer upon layer on top of a plethora of enigmas that she has made for us to find.
Following singles Voleur De Soleil and 5 Dollars, mirror the first obvious layer of Chris’ affair with language, with Voleur De Soleli’s chorus being sung in English, while 5 Dollars is strictly a singular language affair for both the French (5 Dols) and English versions. Bringing a welcoming gaze into the world of Chris, revealing sexuality without boundaries and a freedom from identity and joy that knows no cost, 5 Dollars discusses sex workers and the release of social norms and gender identity when it comes to sexual gratification. Chris is equivocal with the answers that she allows to be found on 5 Dollars; whether to be confined by rules of morality or submit to the freedom of unexplored sexuality, asking only for payment rather than your soul. Voleur De Soleil similarly discusses what would be regarded as ambiguous topics, examining power imbalances and the pressure of challenging the structures of masculinity, the very notion that Chris’ campy pseudo-masculinity seeks to unravel and does so magnificently.
La marcheuse as the first track prior to Chris’ release being shared only in French, personifies the notion of requiring only a willingness to listen to and understand everything Chris shares, capturing the essence of the entire LP in just over four minutes. A sense of pride in the notion that being targeted for being different, a freak or queer, whatever label is projected onto you, is a badge that will welcome in the confidence to stand tall and reign in the beauty and strength that lies behind understanding. The Walker delivers the English version of this soon to be timeless ballad, elevating La marcheuse’s narrative, however raising the point that if the need for strangers to know everything about you and essentially becoming their image of yourself is what you aspire to do, this will close the door to a world that allows you to push your own narrative forward, which Chris warns of throughout La marcheuse and The Walker.
This love affair with language on Chris, is captured effortlessly throughout, notably on Goya! Soda!, a thumping late 80’s pop track, Machin Chose/What’s Her Face, a bleak look into Chris’ past and the three version exclusive tracks, Feel So Good (English), Bruce est dans le brouillard and Le G (French). Héloïse Letissier’s mark on the world will forever be as not only one of France’s top exports, but truly as a soon to be pop icon. A free spirit who’s masculine alter ego, Chris, has shown Letissier exploring an alternative route in her brand of 80’s inspired pop that digests gender norms and openly projects fluidity in both form and narrative. Chris had already received the tumultuous task of just matching Chaleur Humaine, let alone surpassing the ground-breaking debut, yet Chris as an album, is simple yet complex, beautiful and equally gritty, but most importantly is an expression of freedom, the beauty of language and a true testament to the freak of wonder that is Héloïse Letissier.