Tuesday, 15 January 2013

Richard Gotainer - a gifted musician who personified the fun spirit of the Eighties

Remember those happy-go-lucky days of the Eighties? Music was often more tongue-in-cheek then. Irreverent, fun, off-the-wall, quirky and upbeat were the music buzzwords then, and no French musician did it better than Richard Gotainer, a man whose work deserves to be much better known than it is.

Although his songs - an eclectic mix of electro dance beats with various musical styles layered intricately over them - seemed superficial on the surface, those who scratched the veneer a little recognised that they were in fact full of pertinent social commentary. This is because Gotainer was not only a musician, he was (and still is) also a successful humorist and comic.

Gotainer's lyrics at that time caricatured various kinds of French popular cultural sterotypes, sometimes cruelly, sometimes gently, but always with humour. His targets were ridiculed with sympathy, criticised with compassion, and torn apart with tender loving care. Women, perverts, dogs, old people, school, nothing and no-one he dealt with was spared his mercilessly acid yet ultimately benign sense of humour.

And there's more. Gotainer's musical arrangements also appeared to be corny, but they were anything but. Complex and exacting, they are perfectly executed with ne'er a note or a beat to be heard even a millisecond out of perfect timing, and the effect is hypnotising. He did use drum machines, but the technical ability of the musicians was second to none. And the voices! Although not a singer in the Freddy Mercury mould his playful voice perfectly suited his music and lyrics. As for his female backing singers, they were sublime. Again, perfect timing and they were given some draconianly demanding and rigorous parts to sing.

There's a cherry on the cake too, in the form of his official videos. They too are irreproachable. One of the reasons for this was that Gotainer began his working life in TV advertising, a world in which each frame of an ad is studied to be sure that every smile, grimace and word are perfectly delivered. His videos rely on their imaginative scenarios, which faithfully transpose the lyrics, and they are set in classy and kitchy 80s decor. So it will come as no surprise to those who recognise Gotainer's eye for accurate detail that his dancers were also of a very high quality.

Put all that together and you get music that, although it may not be to everyone's taste, is undeniably exceptional.

Richard Gotainer's 80s music is an accurate reflection of French society at that time. It's a mix of childish naivity and the fun side of life. His eye-winking cameos, zany videos and the fact that he was and remains inimitable put him in a class and category of his own. It's a bit like as if Frank Zappa had been French and, instead of using progressive rock as a platform for his alliterative and darkly funny humour, he had used electro dance music instead.

Anyway, enough of all that and here are a few of his songs and official videos. This one takes a look at people who treat their dogs like children and who, both husband and wife, claim that the dog loves them most, and, of course, when Youki poops on the floor........

Ah, kids today, they make a noise whilst us old 'uns are trying to get to sleep. Well, if you can't beat 'em, join 'em! Super dance beat this, the longer it lasts the more hypnotic it becomes..

This is a charming video about schooldays. The teacher's pet, the cheeky childish pranks kids get up to, the headmaster, the teacher, it's all there.

Lastly, and inevitably of course, given the reputation of French men for being particularly (how can I put it) appreciative of the female gent, here's a tongue-in-cheek view of them....
(Oh, and there are a couple of really neat 'n short guitar solos in there too.)

Have a good evening everyone!


  1. If only my connection was fast enough to play these songs! Happy New Year to you. Diane

    1. Hey hi Diane, back from your hols? Happy New Year to you to! As to being able to watch the videos, don't worry, I hear that the Charente is going to to get electricity soon. Maybe even a train line in and out too! :)

  2. Well I had never heard of this guy. When I came home to “maman” in Paris I guess she did not have this on TV – she always decided what channel to watch. C’est un grand rigolo – the videos are well done. Is he still in show business?

    1. 'A grand rigolo'? Perfectly put. That's exactly what he is, and he's still touring too, although in smaller venues. Still, he's almost 65 now so I suppose it's a rather more low-key affair. Can't keep a good man down eh?