Christine and the Queens

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Photograph: CelebMix.com
Photograph: The Version
Photograph: The Version

Get ready, Glasgow! French indie pop star, Christine and the Queens, launched herself successfully in the US this summer with three sold-out shows along the east coast and now prepares to make a move in the UK this November with three consecutive stops in London, Manchester, and Glasgow. Her synth-pop style, reminiscent of Björk and openly inspired by Michael Jackson, has long since found success in France. But now, with her charming and original dancing, well-developed and seemingly genuine stage presence, and intellectual pop sound, she is ready to take US and UK audiences by storm.

Christine and the Queens is a stage name for Heloise Letissier, a French singer, songwriter, and dancer. The success of her first EP, Mac Abbey, with the label Because Music in 2012, landed her as the opening act for Lykke Li, The Dø, and Woodkid soon after, widening her fan base and exposing her synth-pop tunes to a more global audience. In June of 2014, she released a full studio album in France called Chaleur Humaine which was nominated for the IMPALA Album of the Year Award, and awarded Best Female Artist and Best Video Clip of 2014 at the Victoires de la Musique awards. It also went BEA-certified platinum, peaking at number two on the SNEP (French) charts.

After this level of success at home, she re-released her album in the US in February of 2015, renaming it simply Christine and the Queens. While this re-naming was definitely a strategic move to help establish her brand along with name recognition in the new American market, it’s worth questioning if there was also a fear among her label that an album titled in French would turn off American audiences. The songs and verses on her EP released in the US and the UK often bounce between being sung in English and French, though originally recorded in entirely French. While some songs are sung in one language or the other, there are a number of songs, including her hit single Tilted, in which both of the languages are featured prominently. She is juggling, largely successfully, two worlds in that she wants to be more relatable to US and UK audiences, but being viewed as an inherently French artist is also clearly important to her.

Photograph:  CelebMix.com
Photograph: CelebMix.com

While she and her team have obviously worked strategically to make her more marketable to different, international audiences, one of the huge reasons for her genuine popularity and devoted fan-base, worldwide, is the joyful and unique dancing that accompanies all her performances, music videos, and rather the persona of Christine and the Queens herself. The ‘queens’ referenced in her stage name refer to her backup dancers whom she met as drag queens performing in clubs years before even her first EP was released. They all dance together, which adds a unique, and incredibly entertaining, element to her value as a performer. Her music video for Saint Claude alone has over 20 million views, and her YouTube channel as a whole has approximately 111 million views and over 100,000 subscribers.

Photograph: Wikipedia
Photograph: Wikipedia

It is no question that taking advantage of online media such as YouTube or Instagram (of which her account is very active) helps foreign artists make the transition from nationally known to international stars, allowing even remote fans to feel a connection before their work may be fully available in that location. But along with her music videos, she was able to achieve success in the US with the help of Trevor Noah, who hosted her for a performance on his popular nightly show, The Daily Show, on Comedy Central, which conveniently aired right before her US tour kicked off. She also acted as the opening act for Marina and the Diamonds’ 2015 North American tour, promoting her own EP that was being launched in the US at the time.

With all of this success mounting since 2014, though, it was not until 2016 that her hit song, Tilted, was released in the UK. However, it was well-received, ending up charting on the UK Singles Chart. With the US and much of Europe seemingly secured, the UK seems to be her next goal. Her London and Manchester dates are already sold out and right around the corner, but she is also performing at the O2 Academy Glasgow on Monday, November 7 and tickets are still available online! Go enjoy the French discotheque atmosphere she creates for her performances, knowing you are watching a truly talented, truly bizarre artist ascend from drag club purveyor to global superstardom.

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