Meet the French-singing songwriter who covered Kanye and totally rules
Though Kanye West is now known as much for his non-music activities as he is his music ones (where’s Swish, Yeezy?), one of his older albums is undergoing a bit of a renaissance. 808s and Heartbreak, which West released after the death of his mother and a painful breakup, was the only subject of a recent live show, and the album’s use of Auto-Tune ushered in hip-hop’s complete adoption of the tool.
Now, one of the album’s songs has been untethered from its sad robot vibes for a totally transformative cover. Christine and the Queens, the moniker for French musician Héloïse Letissier and her backing band (the “Queens” part is inspired by the drag queens in London who helped her find her voice), has been quietly putting out beautifully atmospheric songs, including the gender-bending “iT.” As part of her recently-released self-titled album, she’s released a music video for her gorgeous mash-up of West’s “Heartless” with what Pitchfork noted to be French music icon Christophe’s “Paradis perdus” (“lost paradise”), from which the song gets its name.
Sung in both French and English, Letissier’s cover unspools over a warmly pulsing beat. Her softly-accented voice curls around the lyrics, and by the time she segues into the West portion of the cover, it’s understandable if you find yourself preferring this version instead.
As for the music video: Letissier sits alone as her clothes grow over and around her, though the camera stays fixed on her slowly swallowed-out form. It’s as sparse and symbolic as the generations-spanning cover itself; watch and listen below:
And, check out a stream of Christine and the Queens here: