The following people are considered by Pantheon to be the top 10 most legendary French Singers of all time. This list of famous French Singers is sorted by HPI (Historical Popularity Index), a metric that aggregates information on a biography’s online popularity. Visit the rankings page to view the entire list of French Singers.
With an HPI of 86.20, Édith Piaf is the most famous French Singer. Her biography has been translated into 118 different languages on wikipedia.
Édith Piaf (UK: , US: ; French: [edit pjaf] (listen); born Édith Giovanna Gassion, French: [edit dʒɔvana ɡasjɔ̃]; 19 December 1915 – 10 October 1963) was a French singer-songwriter, cabaret performer and film actress noted as France's national chanteuse and one of the country's most widely known international stars.Piaf's music was often autobiographical, and she specialized in chanson and torch ballads about love, loss and sorrow. Her most widely known songs include "La Vie en rose" (1946), "Non, je ne regrette rien" (1960), "Hymne à l'amour" (1949), "Milord" (1959), "La Foule" (1957), "L'Accordéoniste" (1940), and "Padam, padam..." (1951). Since her death in 1963, several biographies and films have studied her life, including 2007's Academy Award-winning La Vie en rose. Piaf has become one of the most celebrated performers of the 20th century.
With an HPI of 81.21, Charles Aznavour is the 2nd most famous French Singer. His biography has been translated into 77 different languages.
Charles Aznavour ( AZ-nə-VOOR, French: [ʃaʁl aznavuʁ]; born Shahnour Vaghinag Aznavourian, Armenian: Շահնուր Վաղինակ Ազնավուրյան, Shahnur Vaghinak Aznavuryan; 22 May 1924 – 1 October 2018) was a French-Armenian singer, lyricist, actor and diplomat. Aznavour was known for his distinctive tenor voice: clear and ringing in its upper reaches, with gravelly and profound low notes. In a career as a composer, singer and songwriter, spanning over 70 years, he recorded more than 1,200 songs interpreted in 9 languages. Moreover, he wrote or co-wrote more than 1,000 songs for himself and others.One of France's most popular and enduring singers, Aznavour sold between 180 and 200 million records during his lifetime, making him one of the best-selling music artists of all time. He was dubbed France's Frank Sinatra, while music critic Stephen Holden described Aznavour as a "French pop deity". He was also arguably the most famous Armenian of his time. In 1998, Aznavour was named Entertainer of the Century by CNN and users of Time Online from around the globe. He was recognized as the century's outstanding performer, with nearly 18% of the total vote, edging out Elvis Presley and Bob Dylan. Jean Cocteau once said: "Before Aznavour despair was unpopular".Aznavour sang for presidents, popes and royalty, as well as at humanitarian events. In response to the 1988 Armenian earthquake, he founded the charitable organization Aznavour for Armenia along with his long-time friend impresario Levon Sayan. In 2008, he was granted Armenian citizenship, and was appointed ambassador of Armenia to Switzerland the following year, as well as Armenia's permanent delegate to the United Nations at Geneva.He started his last world tour in 2014. On 24 August 2017, Aznavour was awarded the 2,618th star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Later that year, he and his sister were awarded the Raoul Wallenberg Award for sheltering Jews during World War II. His concert at the NHK Hall in Osaka, on 19 September 2018, would be his final performance.
With an HPI of 77.78, Serge Gainsbourg is the 3rd most famous French Singer. His biography has been translated into 54 different languages.
Serge Gainsbourg (French: [sɛʁʒ ɡɛ̃zbuʁ] (listen); born Lucien Ginsburg; 2 April 1928 – 2 March 1991) was a French musician, singer-songwriter, author, filmmaker and actor. Regarded as the most important figure in French pop whilst alive, he was renowned for often provocative and scandalous releases which caused uproar in France, dividing its public opinion, as well as his diverse artistic output, which ranged from his early work in jazz, chanson, and yé-yé to later efforts in rock, funk, reggae, and electronica. Gainsbourg's varied musical style and individuality make him difficult to categorize, although his legacy has been firmly established and he is often regarded as one of the world's most influential popular musicians.His lyrical works incorporated wordplay, with humorous, bizarre, provocative, sexual, satirical or subversive overtones, including sophisticated rhymes, mondegreen, onomatopoeia, spoonerism, dysphemism, paraprosdokian, and pun. Gainsbourg wrote over 550 songs, which have been covered more than 1,000 times by a range of artists. Since his death from a second heart attack in 1991, Gainsbourg's music has reached legendary stature in France, and he is regarded as one of France's greatest ever musicians and one of the country's most popular and endeared public figures. He has also gained a cult following in the English-speaking world with chart success in the United Kingdom and the United States with "Je t'aime... moi non plus" and "Bonnie and Clyde", respectively.
With an HPI of 77.00, Mireille Mathieu is the 4th most famous French Singer. Her biography has been translated into 58 different languages.
Mireille Mathieu (French: [miʁɛj matjø]; born 22 July 1946) is a French singer. She has recorded over 1200 songs in eleven languages, with more than 150 million albums sold worldwide.
With an HPI of 75.51, Carlos Gardel is the 5th most famous French Singer. His biography has been translated into 52 different languages.
Carlos Gardel (born Charles Romuald Gardès; 11 December 1890 – 24 June 1935) was a French Argentine singer, songwriter, composer and actor, and the most prominent figure in the history of tango. He was one of the most influential interpreters of world popular music in the first half of the 20th century. Gardel is the most famous popular tango singer of all time and is recognized throughout the world. He was notable for his baritone voice and the dramatic phrasing of his lyrics. Together with lyricist and long-time collaborator Alfredo Le Pera, Gardel wrote several classic tangos. Gardel died in an airplane crash at the height of his career, becoming an archetypal tragic hero mourned throughout Latin America. For many, Gardel embodies the soul of the tango style. He is commonly referred to as "Carlitos", "El Zorzal" ("The Song thrush"), "The King of Tango", "El Mago" (The Wizard), "El Morocho del Abasto" (The Brunette boy from Abasto), and ironically "El Mudo" (The Mute).
With an HPI of 74.21, Johnny Hallyday is the 6th most famous French Singer. His biography has been translated into 65 different languages.
Jean-Philippe Léo Smet (French pronunciation: [ʒɑ̃ filip leo smɛt]; 15 June 1943 – 5 December 2017), better known by his stage name Johnny Hallyday, was a French rock and roll and pop singer and actor, credited for having brought rock and roll to France.During a career spanning 57 years, he released 79 albums and sold more than 110 million records worldwide, mainly in the French-speaking world, making him one of the best-selling artists in the world. He had five diamond albums, 40 golden albums, 22 platinum albums and earned ten Victoires de la Musique. He sang an estimated 1,154 songs and performed 540 duets with 187 artists. Credited for his strong voice and his spectacular shows, he sometimes arrived by entering a stadium through the crowd and once by jumping from a helicopter above the Stade de France, where he performed 9 times. Among his 3,257 shows completed in 187 tours, the most memorable were at Parc des Princes in 1993, at the Stade de France in 1998, just after France's win in the 1998 FIFA World Cup, as well as at the Eiffel Tower in 2000, which had record-breaking ticket sales for a French artist. A million spectators gathered to see his performance at the Eiffel Tower, with some 10 million watching on television. Usually working with the best French artists and musicians of his time, he collaborated with Charles Aznavour, Michel Berger and Jean-Jacques Goldman. Hugely popular in France, he was referred to as simply "Johnny" and seen as a "national monument" and a part of the French cultural legacy. He was a symbol of the Trente Glorieuses when he emerged in 1960 and a familiar figure to four generations. More than 2,500 magazine covers and 190 books were dedicated to him during his lifetime, making him one of the persons most widely covered by the media in France. His death from cancer in 2017 was followed by a "popular tribute" during which a million people attended the procession and 15 million others watched the ceremony on TV. He remained relatively unknown in the English-speaking world, where he was dubbed "the biggest rock star you've never heard of" and introduced as the French version of Elvis Presley.
With an HPI of 73.30, France Gall is the 7th most famous French Singer. Her biography has been translated into 56 different languages.
Isabelle Geneviève Marie Anne Gall (French pronunciation: [izabɛl ʒənvjɛv maʁi an gal]; 9 October 1947 – 7 January 2018), known professionally as France Gall, was a French yé-yé singer. In 1965, aged 17, she won the Eurovision Song Contest for Luxembourg. Between 1973 and 1992, she collaborated with singer-songwriter Michel Berger.
With an HPI of 72.96, Françoise Hardy is the 8th most famous French Singer. Her biography has been translated into 33 different languages.
Françoise Madeleine Hardy (French pronunciation: [fʁɑ̃swaz madlɛn aʁdi]; born 17 January 1944) is a French singer and songwriter. Mainly known for singing melancholic sentimental ballads, Hardy has been an important figure in French pop music since her debut, spanning a career of more than fifty years with over thirty studio albums released. She rose to prominence in the early 1960s as a leading figure of the yé-yé wave, a genre of pop music and associated youth culture phenomenon that adapted to French the pop and rock styles that came from the United States and the United Kingdom. The singer quickly differentiated herself from her peers by writing her own material, a rare feat in an industry dominated by older, male composers and producers. France's most exportable female singer of the era, Hardy rose to international fame and released music sung in English, Italian and German, apart from her native French. She also landed roles as a supporting actress in the films Château en Suède, Une balle au cœur and the American big-budget production Grand Prix, although she never pursued a serious acting career. In the mid-1960s, she also established herself as a pop and fashion icon with the aid of photographer Jean-Marie Périer, becoming a muse for top designers such as André Courrèges, Yves Saint Laurent and Paco Rabanne. In the English-speaking world, her trendy public image and personal style made an even greater impact than her music, becoming an icon for the Swinging London scene and attracting the admiration of several famous artists. She is married to fellow French singer-songwriter Jacques Dutronc since 1981 and their only son, Thomas, is also a musician. Born and raised in the 9th arrondissement of Paris, Hardy had a troubled childhood marked by the strict upbringing of her single mother and a largely absent father. As a teenager, she discovered English-language rock and roll and Brill Building pop acts like Elvis Presley and Paul Anka through the radio and decided to pursue a singing career. Hardy made her musical debut in 1962 on French label Disques Vogue and found immediate success through the hit song "Tous les garçons et les filles", which remains one of her most popular compositions. Disliking the production of her early releases, she began to record in London in 1964, which allowed her to broaden her sound with albums such as Mon amie la rose, L'amitié, La maison où j'ai grandi and Ma jeunesse fout le camp.... In the late 1960s and early 1970s, Hardy sought to assert herself as an artist, although this implied less commercial repercussion. The albums Comment te dire adieu, La question and Message personnel—released during this period—are among her most influential and critical acclaimed works. In them, Hardy began to work with more renowned songwriters such as Serge Gainsbourg, Patrick Modiano, Michel Berger and Catherine Lara. Between 1977 and 1988, she worked with producer Gabriel Yared in a string of successful albums, including Star, Musique saoûle, Gin Tonic and À suivre. Her 1988 record Décalages was widely publicized as Hardy's final album, although she returned eight years later with Le danger, which completely reinvented her sound to a harsher alternative rock. Nevertheless, her following albums of the 2000s—Clair-obscur, Tant de belles choses and (Parenthèses...)—saw her return to her usual mellow style. As a public figure, Hardy is renowned for her shyness, disenchantment with celebrity life and self-deprecatory attitude—attributed to her lifelong struggles with anxiety and insecurity. In addition to music, Hardy has developed a renowned career as an astrologer, having written extensively on the subject since the 1970s as a proponent of the "conditionalist" school of thought—outlined by Jean-Pierre Nicola—which rejects the divinatory use of the discipline. Since the 2000s, she has also worked as a writer of both fiction and non-fiction books, including a bestselling autobiography and two essays. Through these works, Hardy has been noted for her frankness in discussing her family life and health problems related to MALT lymphoma and old age, as well as her sometimes controversial political ideas. In 2006, she was awarded the Grande médaille de la chanson française honorary award given by the Académie Française, in recognition of her career in music. In the 2010s, Hardy released her last three albums: La pluie sans parapluie, L'amour fou—released alongside her eponymous first novel in celebration of the 50th anniversary of her music career—and Personne d'autre—which put her out of a previously declared retirement. In 2021, an increasingly ill Hardy announced that she would be not be able to sing again due to the effects of cancer therapy. Long after the height of her career in the 1960s, Hardy remains one of the best-selling singers in French history and continues to be regarded as an iconic and influential figure in both music and fashion. Her work has appeared in several critics' lists.
With an HPI of 72.08, Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo is the 9th most famous French Singer. His biography has been translated into 21 different languages.
Guillaume Emmanuel "Guy-Manuel" de Homem-Christo (French pronunciation: [ɡijom emanɥɛl ɡi manɥɛl də ɔmɛm kʁisto]; born 8 February 1974) is a French musician, record producer, singer, songwriter, DJ, and film director. He was one half of the French house music duo Daft Punk, along with Thomas Bangalter. He has also produced several works from his record label Crydamoure with label co-owner Éric Chedeville.
With an HPI of 71.40, Maria Malibran is the 10th most famous French Singer. Her biography has been translated into 29 different languages.
Maria Felicia Malibran (24 March 1808 – 23 September 1836) was a Spanish singer who commonly sang both contralto and soprano parts, and was one of the best-known opera singers of the 19th century. Malibran was known for her stormy personality and dramatic intensity, becoming a legendary figure after her death at age 28. Contemporary accounts of her voice describe its range, power and flexibility as extraordinary.
Pantheon has 120 people classified as singers born between 1155 and 1999. Of these 120, 85 (70.83%) of them are still alive today. The most famous living singers include Mireille Mathieu, Françoise Hardy, and Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo. The most famous deceased singers include Édith Piaf, Charles Aznavour, and Serge Gainsbourg. As of October 2020, 19 new singers have been added to Pantheon including Christophe, Line Renaud, and Mady Mesplé.
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Which Singers were alive at the same time? This visualization shows the lifespans of the 25 most globally memorable Singers since 1700.