A shortlist of French-speaking artists to watch out for in 2022!
As the fifth largest music market in the world in 2020, France has seen its music industry drastically reshaped in a few years due to streaming. In 2013, revenue from streaming accounted for 11% of total music revenue, a figure that reached 69% in 2020.
This shift in music consumption habits has also changed the French music landscape. As the younger generations consume music the most via streaming, youngsters are also most represented at the top of the charts in recent years: in 2021, several artists under 30 years old were in the top 20 best sellers. When it comes to music genres, urban pop and hip-hop now take the largest share, although pop and French chanson are regaining ground.
Still, the French attachment to domestic music remains the same: in 2021, 18 albums in the top 20 were French productions. This is a constant, as for the last ten years, there have been between 17 and 19 domestic albums in each annual top 20.
To help you discover this young generation of artists, we have prepared a selection of artists who will undoubtedly make the French music news in 2022.
A newcomer to the French music scene, Emma Peters spent her childhood in the small town of Senlis, among a music-loving family. If she was passionate about music, she first had to concentrate on her studies, spent in Paris and London. To keep up with her guitar playing, which she has been practicing since the age of 7, she practiced every day, asserting her style and her voice.
The year she turned 20, in 2016, she created a YouTube channel where she regularly published covers that garnered a growing number of views. French variety, rap or international pop, Emma set no limits for herself. In 2019, FILV and Edmofo, two Russian DJs, remixed her cover of ‘Clandestina’ by the singer L'Artiste and the track became a colossal success, with over 38 million views on YouTube and as many streams. This exposure put Emma's talent on the map and motivated her to bring her own tracks to the public.
Supported by Julio Masidi (who has notably produced for Aya Nakamura and Fally Ipupa) and Maxime le Guil (producer for Vincent Delerm and Christophe), Emma Peters released two EPs in 2021, “Fous etc.” and “Le temps passe”, which were very well received by the critics and the media, who regularly put her in the spotlight. Rich of these new experiences, Emma Peters is preparing the release of her first album “Dimanche” in March.
Thanks to TikTok, Yanns is meeting a dazzling success. Very active on the network, the 24-year-old artist from Nancy published during the summer of 2020 excerpts of his first clip 'Mon Bébé'. In a few hours, the sound became viral in the French-speaking TikTok community and the clip quickly exceeded the million views on YouTube. He applied the same formula for his second clip 'Dans ma folie' and it turned out to be a new hit.
But Yanns's success has been a long-term work. He started playing music at the age of 14 and devoted himself entirely to it after an injury forced him to stop his other passion, soccer. At 17, he became a father and left his musical career aside. However, he returned to it very soon, out of desire. Since then, he has had a string of hits, thanks to his danceable and positive songs, very inspired by Latin American urban pop sounds, and above all thanks to an authenticity that appeals to his fans.
Extremely prolific, Yanns released two albums in 2021 – “Bambino” and “Cœur Brisé” - and multiplied singles with ratings records: Released in November 2020, ‘Mon Chouchou’ reached 14 million views on YouTube, ‘En Détresse’ was released in April 2021 and exceeded 10 million views. Since its release last December, ‘Clic Clic Pan Pan’ has reached 8 million views. No doubt that his album “Pays des Merveilles”, which has just been released, is also going to break the stream counters.
The youngest of a family of five, Nej' was a quiet child who soon used music as a means of expression. At the age of 12, she was spotted by Yannick Noah who invited her to sing with him on the stage of the Zenith in Toulouse, an important event that convinced her to pursue her dream.
When she turned 18, in 2011, she moved to Paris and quickly started collaborating with rappers like S.Pri Noir, Jarod or Mister You. Strengthened by her studio experiences, she launched her solo career in 2016 with singles like ‘Ailleurs’ or ‘C'est toi’, in a style mixing urban pop and American R'n'B, a genre that has always inspired her.
In 2019, Nej' released “Enchantée”, a double-album of 35 tracks where oriental sounds blend with urban pop, and with the participation of rap and R'n'B celebrities like Zaho, Naps, Lefa or YL. In 2021, Nej' hit over 20 million streams with ‘Ma colombe’, extract from his EP “SOS Chapitre 1”.
2022 is already a great year for Nej’, who just released “SOS Chapitre 2” in early January: her two shows in the prestigious Parisian venue La Cigale were sold out, a good sign for her future tour and the release of her new album!
Joyce Jonathan is no stranger to the French public. In 2008, when she was only 18 years old, her songs published on the artist crowdfunding website My Major Company were acclaimed by the public, who helped her raise the money needed to create her first album “Sur Mes Gardes”. Produced and arranged by Louis Bertignac, the album was released in 2010 and was certified platinum within a few months. The same year, she was awarded the NRJ Music Awards for best French-speaking newcomer.
In 2013, the single 'Ça ira', announcing her 2nd album “Caractère”, became a chart hit, and the album went gold within a few weeks. Joyce Jonathan embarked on a new tour in France, but also in China, where she is especially popular since she also sings in Mandarin! Her 3rd album "Une place pour moi" released in 2016, then "On" in 2018 were equally successful with the public. In 2019, she celebrated 10 years of career in a sold-out concert at La Cigale with many guests: Tété, Ibrahim Maalouf, Hoshi, Benjamin Siksou...
Returning to her roots, she came back to My Major Company to release her new single 'Les p'tites jolies choses' in May 2021, which will also be the title of her 5th album. In November, she joined Jason Mraz for 'A la vie comme à la mort', a French adaptation of the song 'Could I Love You Any More' that the American musician did with the Filipino singer Renée Dominique. At the very beginning of 2022, the radiant single 'T'es beau, t'es beau' gave the green light for the arrival of “Les p'tites jolies choses” in March. The pop-heavy album will be accompanied by a jazzier EP co-written with trumpeter Ibrahim Maalouf.
Under the nickname of chien noir (a name inspired by Stevenson's "Treasure Island") lies the author and composer Jean Grillet from Bordeaux. Previously singer and guitarist in the band A Call At Nausicaa, Jean started playing the piano at the age of 6 at the Bordeaux Conservatory, then learned guitar and composition at 13. But it was not until 2019 that Jean Grillet went solo as chien noir.
In addition to his solo project, Jean Grillet writes and composes for others with Bertrand Belin and Mark Daumail (frontman of the pop-folk band Cocoon). We notably owe him the track ‘Vague à l'âme sœur’ by Vanessa Paradis in 2019. Signed to the Naïve label in 2020, he released two singles with a distinctive indie-folk sound: 'Quelle importance' and 'Lumière Bleue' co-written with Mark Daumail. The same year, he was also laureate of the Chantier des Francofolies festival.
He returned to the same stage in 2021, after the release of his first EP "Histoire Vraies", in which Mark Daumail was once again featured. Well received by the public, the EP earned him a place on Amazon Music's Revelations program and allowed him to go on tour, opening for talented artists such as Yseult, Keren Ann, Pomme and Kimberose. In early 2021, chien noir was also a laureate of the Fond d’Action et d’Initiave Rock (Rock Initiative Action Fund), an organization that funds and supports young artists.
2022 is off to a strong start for chien noir: in addition to a new EP to be released very soon and a forthcoming tour, chien noir was also nominated in the Male Revelation category at the 2022 Victoires de la Musique.
It was during the first 2020 lockdown that Iliona published on YouTube the video of her first official track, ‘J'ai du mal’, an electro-pop ballad that quickly found an admiring audience. For the young Brussels artist, it was the outcome of her teenage years spent playing the piano, experimenting with composition and writing to chase away a spleen from which she learned to create luminous pieces.
After the music video of 'Rattrape-moi', she released 'Moins Joli' in July 2020, a melancholic piano-vocal track with sharp lyrics, which can be found in her first EP 'Tristesse', released in January 2021 on the Artside label. Critically acclaimed for the maturity of her lyrics and the quality of her compositions, which remind us of French chanson from the 60s as well as current pop, “Tristesse” has already made Iliona one of the newest revelations of French pop. Iliona ended the year with the delightful video for 'Si tu m'aimes demain', which has already been seen more than 400,000 times.
2022 already promises to be a big year for the 21-year-old singer: less than a week after the release of her second EP “Tête Brûlée” on January 14th, she was at home for her first concert in the legendary venue Le Botanique in Brussels, then in Paris shortly afterwards on the stage of Studio 104 of Radio France as part of the Hyper WeekEnd Festival. Even though Iliona's schedule is likely to be busy this year, we are very much hoping for a new project.