[personal profile] tenbun_archive
So, being on a French music kick at the moment, as I am wont to do, I recently rediscovered this Canadian with an awesome voice, named Roch (pronounced "Rock") Voisine and his awesome folk/rock/ballad songs. Reading up on him, All these articles are like, 'he's tried for years to break into the English music scene, in addition to the French (that is, he's big in Canada, France, la Francophonie, etc, but not in the U.S.). The man is gorgeous, as far as men go, and has an amazing voice, performs spectacularly well live, and plays his own guitar. What could possibly be the problem, you might ask?

Surfing around youtube, I am enjoying his French songs, and decide to try some English ones. There are a few covers, and then a melody I recognize from a French piece I discovered earlier. It only takes a few seconds to realize that I have found the problem to his lack of English-language success.

Roch Voisine has the most suck-tacular English-language lyrics. Ever. And this means a lot, coming from me, who is generally a fan of even the most ultimately cheesy, cheesy ballad songs. Let us compare, shall we.

The song I want to use to illustrate these examples, is one known as "Ne Viens Pas", in French, which literally translates as "Don't come (to me)". Right away, we have our first problem. English song title: "With these Eyes". WTF, omg, where is the connection? Ok, so at first, maybe this doesn't seem like such a big deal. Translators have to take artistic license all the time, so perhaps that is what happened, and the title will make sense given the rest of the lyrics. Not so much. And by "not so much" I mean, not. at. all. The French piece is a fairly poignant ballad about a man whose love has left him at some point in the past, or, was his best friend (this is unclear), and at some point left him for another man. It's his feelings and emotional turmoil as she attempts to come back into his life (after having her own heart broken) . Typical ballad fare, yet the lyrics are evocative, the language is descriptive, and the melody moving; combined with his vocals, this is overall a very good, possibly poignant (if you are over emotional life me ;) ) listen.

This is the first Stanzas and Refrain, in translation, to give you an idea of what I'm talking about.

Don’t come back
To awaken my memories
To say that all can be repared
That one has to know how to forgive
Don’t come back
To turn my life upside down, you, who have weakened it
Without heart, and without mercy

Don’t come back, if you have not chosen
If a little bit of him still remains in your silences
Don’t come back, if it’s to go to bed each night
Trying once again to leave

"With these Eyes", aside from a few a few lyrical lines and word play, reads more like romantic mary-sue badfic, the kind that is sappy and yet so poorly put together, that you can tell the author just threw in every cliche possible and did not even bother to attempt to make the events flow together into some sort of coherent plot or characterization. It is so bad, I am actually *offended* at having been forced to listen to it, knowing what could have been from "Ne Viens Pas".

For example, after reading over the lyrics twice, I still have NO IDEA how the man's "eyes" relate to anything in the piece. The first stanza, goes something like this:

With these eyes
I’ve held you in my arms
And love was all I had
But you had to end it all

With these eyes
I’ve stood out in the rain
I’ve listened for your call
That never came at all

With these eyes
You’re everything to me
Without your love
I’ll wind up down upon my knees
With these eyes
I’ve learned from my mistakes
That a sad song doesn’t care whose heart it breaks

How do "eyes" relate to any of the above? Nothing. Nothing at all. It pisses me off. Arms, body, whatever, would work. I just want "eyes" to transition to something there, and they don't, and that jars me so much that I can't relate to the rest of the song, even though on further examination, the phrase "with these eyes" seems to be the worst bit of the song, as it causes disconnect between the rest of the lyrics.

It would make more sense if "these" possibly referred to "her" eyes, rather than "his", but as a native speaker of English, that's certainly not the first reading that comes to my mind, nor does any part of the song give a clue.

That said, the whole song isn't bad for a cheesy love ballad. The bridge is particularly well-constructed:

And though my love for you runs so deep
It doesn’t mean that you and I are sharing the same dream
If only I could listen to your words and not my heart
You‘re tryin’ to spare my feelings, but you’re tearing me apart

But all that is ruined because the stupid-ass "with these eyes" phrase is repeated EVERY STANZA AND REFRAIN. The one bit, *one* *bit* that makes no poetic/logical sense with the rest of the song is the crux of it. Grraaaarrrrrg. Seriously Roch, fix your lyrics. You speak English without an accent, I know you know better.

I suppose this would be a much better rant if I were to take the time to cite more examples from text above, but I am lazy and even I do not have that much time to kill, at the moment. Especially as the only person who will likely get anything out of this exercise is me. (I know my flist does not really do the whole French music thing, and could probably care less.) And it's not like Roch or his people will ever see this. So I will wrap this up:

Roch Voisine, you have an amazing voice, lots of talent, stage presence, and poignant lyrics in French. Get yourself some goddamn decent English translations, or take a tip from Joe Dassin and change the topic of the lyrics entirely when going between languages, instead of this uber-badfic incoherent gook you are currently using, and you'll have a much better chance at making it in the English-speaking world. Thank you.

If anyone cares, I'll post full text and youtube links to "With these Eyes" and "Ne Viens Pas" (with translation), in a separate post, so you can make your own evaluation.


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Date: 2009-10-05 02:18 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] the-z-girl-zara.livejournal.com
I am totally checking this guy out(... of the library)

Date: 2009-10-06 08:37 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] tenbun.livejournal.com
awesome! I've got a convert... (and I didn't even manage to scare you away with incoherent ranting!)

Although, you are much smarter than me.. I never thought to look in the library. I just raid youtube ^^;;.

You'll have to let me know what you think of his english lyrics ;)

Date: 2009-10-06 08:38 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] tenbun.livejournal.com
also, you did see the song samples in the next post, right? heh... yeah, probably didn't need to ask this, but i feel compulsive..



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