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Vanessa Paradis

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Album Review

French pop star (and significant other of Johnny Depp) Vanessa Paradis recorded her English-language debut record in 1991; the self-titled disc was a bit of a flop commercially, but, surprisingly, succeeds artistically. Producer Lenny Kravitz gives Vanessa Paradis some of his best songs and she really can carry a tune with her breathy little-girl vocals. The highlights of the record are many, but the songs that will have you smiling like a fool at the sheer poptasticness of it all are the gliding funk with orchestra of "Natural High;" the strutting girl group of "Be My Baby;" the sweet-as-sugar sunshine pop of "Sunday Mondays;" the psych-soul of "Your Love Has Got a Handle on My Mind" (which features Paradis' most assured vocal and a nice background assist from Kravitz); and the sweet soul of "Just as Long as You Are There." Even her cover of the Velvet Underground's "I'm Waiting for the Man" works wonders. It really shouldn't, but the propulsive beat and Paradis' sexy vocals somehow do the trick. The only song that falls flat is the autumnal folk of "Silver and Gold," as the ultra-serious lyrics and tone are painfully out of step with the glitter and groove of the rest of the record. Kravitz should be praised for his wonderful production. He rarely makes a wrong move and provides wonderful settings for Paradis to shine. It is too bad they didn't make more records together. Johnny Depp's gain is pop music's loss. Odds are there will never be a deluxe reissue (sadly), so you will have to seek this out in used stores and bargain bins. [Polydor's 2000 reissue included one bonus track.]

Biography

Born: 22 September 1972 in Saint-Maur-Des-Fossés, Val-De-Mar

Genre: French Pop

Years Active: '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

French singer and model Vanessa Paradis first hit the charts in 1987 at the tender age of 14. Her single "Joe le Taxi" spent 11 weeks at the top of the French charts, and proved an international success as well. She recorded two albums in Paris before traveling to New York in 1992 to record her self-titled English-language debut, with one-time boyfriend Lenny Kravitz as producer. The album's "Be My Baby" was also a hit, but Paradis' popularity waned a bit. Among the various film, television, and...
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Vanessa Paradis, Vanessa Paradis
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