Grégoire

Toi + Moi

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While from a musical standpoint Toi + Moi sounds fairly typical of French pop in 2008, Grégoire is more than just another contemporary singer/songwriter with a blockbuster hit on his hands. Make no mistake, he was a national phenomenon in France, where "Toi + Moi" was an inescapable smash hit, heard around the clock on the radio and streamed millions of times on the Internet. Grégoire was such a phenomenon that he inspired a backlash, with seemingly as many people loathing his music as loving it. The root cause of the phenomenon is not so much Grégoire himself, or even the music heard on Toi + Moi. It's more about how the album came to be. Grégoire was the first artist produced by My Major Company, a Web-based company that promotes independent artists and raises money for the production of their music. According to the company's website, 347 different people donated upward of six thousand euro for the production of Grégoire's debut album, which was ultimately released in association with Warner Music France. The underlying idea is that common people can be empowered by the Internet to produce whatever music they value. The feel-good backstory of Toi + Moi was compelling enough to garner nationwide publicity for Grégoire in the news media, and the title track (whose video features dozens of the song's "producers") was picked up for airplay on the leading French radio stations RTL and NRJ. As for the music itself, it's fairly typical French pop with a contemporary singer/songwriter slant. Grégoire is backed by piano, acoustic guitar, percussion, and occasional string arrangements, and the songs are built around his vocals and lyrics. Though not especially talented as either a vocalist or lyricist, Grégoire has a distinct style, albeit dour in tone, and knows how to craft a middle-of-the-road hit. Love it or hate it, there's no question that the title track has all the makings of a blockbuster French pop hit, and many of the other songs sequenced at the beginning of the album also have hit potential, including "Ta Main," "Nuages," "Rien à Voir," "Donne-Moi une Chance," and "Rue des Étoiles." Yet one can't escape the creeping feeling throughout Toi + Moi that the idea of the album (music for the people by the people thanks to the Internet) is more appealing than the music itself, which is too often mediocre.

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