Carla Bruni is a woman who wears many chapeaux: she’s been everything from a model to, as the wife of President Nicolas Sarkozy, the “First Lady” of France. She’s also a singer-songwriter, perhaps best known for her 2002 release Quelqu’un M’a Dit. She’s returning to her guitar-strumming roots with her new album, Little French Songs, available in the U.S. on Apr. 16.
Listen, below, to the U.S. premiere of the song “Le Pengouin” (“The Penguin”) off the album—and learn for yourself just how accurate the album title is. Everything about this song is French.
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The confessional nature of the album has already caused controversy, around the time of its original release earlier this month, with songs thought to be about her relationships with Mick Jagger and Sarkozy alike. “Le Pengouin” is no exception. As Billboard reports, “penguin” is French slang for an oaf. And some, like France’s RTL, have guessed that the titular penguin is current President François Hollande. Bruni herself remains mum. In an interview with Le Nouvel Observateur, she said
C’est une chanson sur les malappris, ces gens désagréables, qui restent mystérieux pour moi… La courtoisie est une grâce, je ne trouve pas d’excuse à ceux qui n’en ont pas. Certains pensent que je parle des journalistes : c’est faux, j’en connais de très courtois.
This is a song about the ill-mannered, these unpleasant people, who remain a mystery to me… Courtesy is a grace, I can’t find an excuse for people who don’t have it. Some people think I’m talking about journalists: that’s false, I know some very polite ones.
Or, if guessing about that kind of intrigue isn’t interesting to you, skip to about 1:10 to hear Bruni expertly turn the French word for “nothing” (“rien“) into something that we think is her high-quality impression of a penguin.