Top 10 of 2012: Most Overused French Words In Album Reviews

As TheVine hurtles towards 2013 and the holiday season, we've asked our critics to give us their Top 10 best music "things" from over the past year -- whatever the hell they may be and in whatever haphazard fashion they so declare.

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10. Pièce de résistance

Example: ‘Idler Wheel is Fiona Apple’s pièce de résistance, a detachment from the pop music she’s been linked to.’ (TwelvMag)

What the reviewer is actually saying: "They were only going to use one line from my blog on their email press release that nobody subscribed to, so I had to ensure that it looked as fancy as humanly possible"

9. Avant-garde

Example: ‘It’s clear that Kendrick Lamar has a genuinely avant-garde, legend-minting classic in him’’ (FACT Magazine)

What the reviewer is actually saying: "What we have here is radically different to the two other rappers I have vaguely followed in my lifetime, namely Tupac Shakur and Kanye West, which means it’s unlike anything else, ever. There. I didn’t even say ‘urban’ once."

8. Tour de force

Example: ‘Three years later and engulfed in young adulthood, the boys [Japandroids] are back in town with another eight-track tour de force, Celebration Rock.’ (Gambit)

What the reviewer is actually saying: "This album is really goddamn loud and fast and reminds me a bit of Blink-182 but it’s not cool to say that and they’re Canadian anyway so let’s default to some French."

7. Denouement

Example: The song’s orchestral denouement is both solemn and comforting.’ (WhatCulture, on Bat For Lashes’ The Haunted Man)

What it says about the reviewer: I am fully aware of the fact that had I not inserted this word, this sentence would make me come off like an office clerk. Incidentally, the last thing I came to the end of that was both solemn and comforting was the large packet of salt and vinegar crisps I was eating while writing this in my underwear.

6. Panache

Example: Full of ethereal light, emotional depths and obsessive darkness it packs a power punch that builds with repeated listenings. I wondered how The Presets would ever be able to follow up Apocalypso and now, with Pacifica, I see how they did with such impeccable panache and creativity (Amazon CA)

What it says about the reviewer: at the time of writing, I am still unsure as to the precise sexuality of the members of this band despite being told that they are married with kids. By using this word and backing it up with others like ‘accoutrement’ later, I intend to show that for my own keen mind, there is still something very queer going on here.

5. Extraordinaire

Example: You might be familiar with their wildly popular 2009 debut, which was highly touted among critics and fans alike as the best album of the year, and introduced the world to beat maker extraordinaire, Jamie xx’ (The Waster)

What it says about the reviewer: The first ten results I found when I Googled ‘Jamie xx’ included the phrase ‘beat maker extraordinaire’ and ‘beat maker par excellence’. This is obviously a thing that famous writers do, so I’m not going to be the one to mess with the formula.   

4. Je Ne Sais Quoi

Example: ‘What we see in 2Chainz is a certain kind of je ne sais quoi, an otherworldly self-belief that means he’s called back to guest on hit after hit (Complex)

What this says about the reviewer: 2Chainz is an insufferable moron and I hope that people will see that I am trying to be ironic here rather than earnest. The man cannot even speak English properly, let alone be emblematic of something sensually Gallic. But hey - that’s four extra regular words I didn’t have to write about the guy.

3. Mêlée

Example: ‘Once you throw the rest of those synths and drums into the mêlée, Passion Pit’s sophomore release becomes a truly swirling, gorgeous thing’ (Exclaim)

What this says about the reviewer: Because Passion Pit are so overproduced and everything sounds like a different variation of that horrible falsetto anyway, I’m finding it very hard to deconstruct this record. This is a very kind way of saying that it reminds me of a bunch of hyperactive five year olds having a keyboard fight.

2 & 1. Début/Cliché (double whammy)

Example: ‘Amid the gentleness of Frank Ocean’s major-label début, “channel ORANGE,” there are moments of intensity and grim wisdom that could make a writer reach for a cliché like “Nothing can prepare you for . . .”’ (The New Yorker)

What this says about the reviewer: I don’t count mixtapes as debuts, even though this particular one was meant to be released on a major label anyway. Also, by using both this and ‘cliché’ in a sentence, I have unwittingly become perhaps the most irritating journalist cliché ever – the one who says ‘cliché’ like they invented it.

Jonno Seidler

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