Twenty. Demon vs Heartbreaker’s song “You Are My High” released in 2000.
French touch is a captivating genre of dance music that originated in France during the mid-90s and potentially lasted until the late 2000s. It incorporates elements of house rhythms, funk and disco basslines, and manipulated vocal samples. A key technique used in this style is extensive equalization to create a trippy, compressed and expanded sound. These distinctive components are all present in the iconic track You Are My High, which uses a recognizable snippet of Stevie Wonder’s music for intense club experiences filled with hair-stroking, closed eyes, and declarations of love among friends.
In 2007, datA remixed “Minuit Jacuzzi” by Tepr.
During the 2000s, Daft Punk rose to prominence and became the most influential stars in the French touch scene. This genre gradually shifted away from house music and towards electro, which was commonly referred to as “blog house”. It was often played by individuals wearing American Apparel hoodies and appeared to have a lack of nutritious diet. Some may argue, but I believe this style is a significant part of French touch, maintaining its funk elements while incorporating finely chopped samples. This lesser-known track showcases the era’s use of tinny compression as a unique feature. For maximum authenticity, it is recommended to play this song as a 128kbps mp3.
The 2007 track “Midnight Swim” by Para One has been remixed by Surkin into “Drowning mix”.
This track features a vocal sample that mimics a heated argument over a poor phone connection, along with a traditional piano-house beat and an extended breakdown perfect for raising your hands to the sky. It’s a hidden gem in the world of modern French touch music. Para One’s most well-known work at the time was his remix of Daft Punk’s “Prime Time of Your Life,” solidifying it as the definitive version. Since then, he has also become a frequent musical collaborator for film director Céline Sciamma, creating the mesmerizing Latin chant in “Portrait of a Lady on Fire” and the powerful choral synthwave ballad in “Petite Maman.”
17. Uffie – ADD SUV ft Pharrell (Armand Van Helden vocal remix) (2010)
Reworded: Uffie, a Parisian club kid with a touch of French influence, was like a precursor to Kesha, rapping over a variety of electronic and Velvet Underground-inspired beats. American producer Armand Van Helden was clearly inspired by the French touch movement when he created the disco-sampling UK hit “You Don’t Know Me”. In their collaboration on this remix, Van Helden boldly replaced the original beat with a one-bar loop from Black Ivory’s “Mainline”, giving it a strong and distorted edge. The sped-up verse by Pharrell sounds amazing and serves as a reminder of the symbiotic relationship between French touch and hip-hop, with J Dilla famously sampling Daft Punk’s Thomas Bangalter’s “Extra Dry”.
16. Mr Oizo – Patrick 122 (2007)
Specializing primarily in electronic music, Mr Oizo gained recognition for his Levi’s-sponsored hit single in the UK, “Flat Beat”. He is also responsible for creating this intense track that samples Gary’s Gang’s “Do It at the Disco” and uses scissors to chop it up in a way that would be suitable for young children. The song stutters, glitches, and almost sounds like it’s falling apart, but this only adds to its funky charm.
15. DJ Falcon – First (1999)
A more polished and refined use of disco samples is evident in this track, which also features a catchy half-second snippet from disco-funk band Dynasty that unites the crowd with the chant “Everybody!” Falcon, known for his minimalist approach, relies on the quality of his source material and his ability to uncover deep grooves within it. His remix of Cassius’s La Mouche is a prime example, using only a single bar from the original track. After taking a break to pursue surfing and photography, Falcon made a triumphant return in 2022 with the ballad Step By Step, a collaboration with Alan Braxe and Panda Bear.
14. Bob Sinclar – Gym Tonic (1998)
Bob Sinclar went on to incorporate charmingly cheesy whistled choruses in popular songs like Love Generation – always leaning towards the more corny side of the French touch scene – but his early disco experiments, such as I Feel For You with a sample from Cerrone, also exude a genuine fervor. Even more impressive is Gym Tonic, featuring a Jane Fonda workout video for energetic dancefloor instructions (co-produced by Bangalter).
The song “Santa Claus” was released in 1997 by Le Knight Club.
Both members of Daft Punk have created individual tracks outside of their collaboration. While Bangalter’s tracks tend to receive more recognition, the tracks made by his partner Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo in collaboration with Eric Chedeville as Le Knight Club are also excellent, filled with vibrant Ibiza-inspired energy. The weathered, space-themed Intergalaktik Disco, high-speed love song Chérie D’Amoure, and endlessly euphoric Hysteria are all impressive, but their first release on Crydamoure label, Santa Claus, remains the standout. The French touch basslines have a captivating longing quality, while the disco guitar is expertly filtered and chilled into frosty waves.
12. Superfunk – Lucky Star (2000)
Unfortunately, this track was unfairly excluded from the UK Top 40 despite its potential to be just as popular as Modjo’s “Lady (Hear Me Tonight)”, a French-influenced crossover that reached No. 1 in the same year. Modjo used a shallow technique to find their sample from Chic’s “Soup For One”, and Superfunk did the same with Chris Rea’s Balearic classic, “Josephine”. However, the execution is excellent and includes a powerful bass line that will make you want to dance, while Ron Carroll’s vocals are genuinely heartfelt.
The album “Grandlife” by We in Music was released in 2001.
We in Music sat at the heart of the Parisian scene – the vocals are by an uncredited Benjamin “Music Sounds Better With You” Diamond and Homem-Christo’s younger brother Paul co-produces – and they meld the sample-spotting of Falcon or Bangalter with pure pop songwriting. It results in an ecstatic track that got unfairly lost in the post-Daft Punk major label scramble.
10. Etienne de Crecy – Prix Choc (1998)
French touch first emerged from a distinct style that can be described as lounge-y, Afro-Latin, and rare-groove music in the 1990s. Artists such as Alex Gopher, DJ Gregory, Pepe Bradock, and St Germain were pioneers in this genre, with popular tracks including “The Child,” “Elle,” “Deep Burnt,” and the album “Boulevard.” This type of music is more suited for a sophisticated cocktail bar rather than a nightclub. One notable example is the track “Prix Choc,” which features a strong house beat and organ chords, as well as vocals referencing “sensimilla” and “marijuana” that add to the overall ambiance of the song.
The song “Sunshine People” by Cheek and Venus was remixed by DJ Gregory in 1996.
The refined atmosphere of the early French touch genre reaches its peak here with the energetic and straightforward rhythm guitar groove reminiscent of DJ Falcon. The track is elevated by the cheerful greeting of “sunshine people we are!” similar to what one might hear from a group of hippies at an Ibizan yoga retreat. Even someone who typically prefers darker techno music may find themselves nodding along to this while reluctantly tagging along to a beach bar on vacation.
8. Justice – Stress (2007)
Justice is making a comeback at Coachella this year with a highly-anticipated performance. They were the complete opposite of the glamorous disco vibes of French touch, but their first album still stays true to the genre. Their standout track Waters of Nazareth is a terrifying electro masterpiece, while Genesis incorporates funky slap bass and disco influences. DANCE and Phantom Pt II also have hints of disco strings. Stress combines both styles, with haunting violin melodies reminiscent of Bernard Herrmann’s work, but with a confident beat that evokes the Bee Gees in tough boots. The iconic vocal samples of French touch are also incorporated into the mix.
7. SebastiAn – Walkman (2006)
In the later era of blog house, there was definitely some foolish music, but as a result, the quality stuff has been overlooked. This particular piece is expertly crafted, with intricate sound design that is also intensely funky. The disco bassline is distorted, and a single-note noise riff glides across its shattered surface. While they may be distorted, the recognizable elements of French touch can still be found amidst the chaos, with vocal samples reduced to gasps and distressed cries. (If this catches your attention, another one of SebastiAn’s masterpieces is his remix of Revl9n’s Walking Machine.)
6. Cassius – Cassius 1999 (radio edit) (1998)
The beginning of 1999 is comparable to snorkeling around the beat, with a subtle bassline and a faint outline like that of a jellyfish. As the maximally filtered Donna Summer sample plays, it feels as though you are floating in the water. However, when the announcement of “Cassius in the house!” is made, you are abruptly brought back to land and greeted by a funky house rhythm under the warm sunshine. This French touch track is both sensual and psychedelic.
5. Alan Braxe and Fred Falke – Intro (2000)
Almost a sister track to 1999, using those filter-effects to access an eldritch and spectral mirrorworld. The intro to the Jets’s US Top 3 hit Crush on You is played as if in an echoing haunted house, the singers moving wraithlike around the rafters and crawling up your back – only for one of history’s great basslines to kick in and get the ghosts grooving. Surely a huge influence on Dua Lipa’s Don’t Start Now, too.
4. Together – So Much Love to Give (2002)
DJ Falcon and Bangalter, known as a duo, only released two songs, both of which are highly regarded in the dance music community. Their self-titled single has an exceptional bassline and an irresistible charm, even amidst the cosmic elements. However, “So Much Love to Give” stands out with its 10 minutes of overwhelming euphoria. The song features a maximalist arrangement of intense synths and repeated declarations of love, followed by the same arrangement with the addition of a powerful bass drum. When this song is played, it erases all intellectual capacity from the dancefloor and replaces it with pure uninhibited emotion.
3. Stardust – Music Sounds Better With You (1998)
In August 1998, the track from the trio of Bangalter, Braxe and Diamond was held off from reaching No. 1 by Boyzone’s “No Matter What.” Despite this unfairness, the track remains a significant part of pop history. With Diamond’s energetic vocals and an irresistible guitar lick sampled from Chaka Khan’s “Fate,” it’s nearly impossible not to air guitar to it while attempting to maintain a cool demeanor on the dancefloor. However, it is Bangalter and Braxe’s filtered production in the background that truly sets it apart, creating a cosmic sound that emanates from the small Khan sample.
2. DJ Mehdi – Signatune (Thomas Bangalter edit) (2007)
A reminder of the vast range of sounds present in each recorded song, and the limitless potential in using samples. In just ten seconds, the disco-funk song “Strokin'” by Dynasty (yes, them again) transforms into three and a half minutes of chaotic brilliance in dance music, thanks to the late DJ Mehdi’s manipulation of the sample until it bursts with energy and Daft Punk’s addition of a thumping kick drum. The music video features competing car enthusiasts, perfectly capturing the gloriously overstimulated nature of the track.
The song “One More Time” was released by Daft Punk in 2000.
It requires great intelligence or perhaps even supernatural insight to recognize a sample in the manner that Daft Punk did in this instance: they took a one-second brass chord from Eddie Johns’ 1979 disco track “More Spell on You,” cut it out, and changed the pitch to create the entire backbone of “One More Time.” In contrast to the purely artificial tropical house and EDM that followed French touch, these trumpets, although altered, still maintain a sense of breath, effort, and excitement, adding a human touch to the track even as its creators presented themselves as robots. Vocalist Romanthony also straddles the line between man and machine, using a vocoder but still exhaling forcefully – “you can’t stop-AH!” – as dancers take a break during the extended breakdown. The beat itself is precisely quantized, yet it remains fluid. As the lyrics emphasize, “One More Time” is a testament to the liberating, endlessly repeating, and distinctly human power of music.