Sunday 18 October 2015

Petite Meller @ Heaven

Few French popstars are able to make it in the UK charts. Aside from dance artists like Daft Punk, Justice, Madeon and *shudder* Guetta, the only French singer most people can name is Edith Piaf.

Petite Meller is set to change that. Arriving via Africa ("my inspiration"), she delivers catchy electro-pop with a large dollop of ethnic drums, flutes and dance rhythms. This is probably the most successful African-pop crossover since Paul Simon's Graceland.

Her purposeful cultural appropriation is all part of the artistic vision. She's joined onstage by three African instrumentalists, which only highlights her whiteness, her waif-like, elfish charm. Dressed in tiny outfits with huge hats and childlike make-up, her cutesy image is oddly sexual as she squeaks breathlessly through each song, though you get the sense this covers some steely determination. As her repeated calls for lighting changes prove, she is a woman in charge of her own aesthetics. The visual melting pot is left for the audience to decipher.

More so, this results in some great pop that's refreshing amongst charts full of Americanised polished bangers. Yes there are elements of disco, 80s electro and computerised bleeps, but it's joined with jazz saxophone, African flavours and a sense of chic sophistication. So far, she's riding predominantly on the success of breakthrough hit Baby Love, with its video that seems more like a Comic Relief advert. Yet the remaining tracks in her short set continue the utter joy of this song, latest single Barbaric in particular as she's joined onstage by some elderly dancers from the video. Far from misguided cultural appropriation, the gig is a night of inclusiveness where young, old, black and white join together to simply enjoy some pop music.

And despite not having the strongest of vocals, Meller herself exudes charm, style and boundless aerobic energy. An infectious performer who radiates happiness, she just might make it over here yet.