“Music Queens”, on Arte: girl power rock in cartoon form

Cyndi Lauper, Caroline Loeb and Nina Hagen, “Music Queens.  A history of girl power and pop... in songs”, by Leslie Plée.


She woke us up for a long time on Fridays with a successful title launched on her show “Tubes N’ Co” on the morning show of France Inter, before taking control of “Totémic”, the replacement show for “Boomerang” in September 2022. by Augustin Trapenard. He must have missed rock and popular music. Rebecca Manzoni has concocted an animated miniseries for Arte, Music Queens, dedicated to the female icons of the song of recent decades. Well-crafted pastilles, where the fifty-year-old gives new substance to her conviction that music has played a role of emancipation in the history of women. And where we find her very particular stamp carried by the humorous line of the cartoonist Leslie Plée.

The first episode – each lasts three minutes – immerses us in the France of the Chirac-Pasqua tandem and the triumphant liberalism of the years 1986. The atmosphere is then competitive, entrepreneurship extolled and the cohabitation between Mitterrand and the right . A piece will occupy the French and European airwaves in first place: It’s the wadding, sung by Caroline Loeb, a thirty-something with a boyish cut. On a music combining synths and drum machine, the song is a hymn to laziness and the aftermath of being cooked. The journalist sets the scene in two or three formulas before dissecting the song and painting the portrait of her interpreter as a trendy girl.

Sparkling portraits

The next day, it’s with Nina Hagen and her African Reggae that the show takes us on board. In 1979, in a mix of punk and reggae punctuated by yoddle, an East German woman wearing grunge makeup and red hair launched her feminist and libertarian anthem. In London, the punk scene explodes, and the 24-year-old young woman arrives after being expelled from her country for “anti-German attitude”. Rebecca Manzoni – chosen by France Inter to replace Jérôme Garcin at the head of “Masque et la Plume” – tells us the story of the tube with a wealth of small details that bring back memories: the crazy silhouette of the artist, the girls who then dare to go on stage and themselves choose to be rock and sexy. Here we are.

Episode after episode, the journalist and the cartoonist walk us between Debbie Harry alias Blondie and her Heart of Glass, Marianne Faithfull and The Ballad of Lucy Jordan which signs its comeback, passing by It’s Raining Men of the duo The Weather Girls and Girls Just Want to Have Fun by Cyndi Lauper. We will also hear the French Sheila and Christine and the Queens as well as the Belgian Angèle. The pellets reveal sparkling but also politically situated portraits of singers who have claimed their place in the spotlight.

The twenty hits highlighted are hits that have brought the emancipation of women and remain topical. They were chosen for this. And we understand then why these popular successes persist not only on current playlists, but also in the demonstrations where we can see clusters of girls singing them in chorus to claim their place. The three minutes of the “Music Queens” are a real moment of pleasure, to be enjoyed between aperitif and dinner.

Music Queens, a story of girl power in songs, sAnimated series by Rebecca Manzoni, Emilie Valentin and Leslie Plée (Fr., 2023, 3 min). From June 5 to 30 at 8:50 p.m. On Arte.tv from June 5.

Graphic novel by Rebecca Manzoni, Emilie Valentin and Leslie Plée, arteeditions, 160p., €19.50.

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