One Random Single a Day #96: “Lady Melody” (2008) by Tom Frager

Oh hey, another French #1 single! In case you lost count, the first I’ve covered was the lush, beautiful “Les valses de Vienne”, and this one is the second (or at least, the second from a French artist – I’m too lazy to check if any of the American singles reached the top at some point). Interestingly enough, Tom Frager is not even primarily a singer-songwriter but a surfer. He’s actually pretty successful at the sport, having won ten championship titles in his home region of Guadeloupe. In 2002, he formed the group Gwayav’ with a few of his friends. While their debut album didn’t fare very well, it did provide Frager a decent stepping stone into a solo career of his own. He would eventually find major success in 2009 when his song “Lady Melody” entered the French charts at #1 and stayed for four weeks. He does continue to make and perform music both with Gwayav’ and solo, though nothing else he has made has come close to touching “Lady Melody”‘s level of success.

Sonically, “Lady Melody” sounds very much in the mellow reggae-rock vibe of bands like Sublime and their ilk. Its chill vibe certainly meshes well with Frager’s background as a surfer, certainly influenced by the sunshine and euphoria that the surfer’s lifestyle would surely provide. Replete with a bouncy melody and general feel-good vibes, it’s not all that hard to see how a song this pleasant to the ear would resonate to listeners. Frager doesn’t have too great of a voice, but what he lacks in talent he certainly makes up for in his mellow, peace-loving demeanor. This just sounds like the kind of song that would work well played against a beachy backdrop, and he comes off as the kind of guy who would be pretty enjoyable to hang out with.

Lyrically, the title pretty much says it all: it’s a love song, but the love song is to the concept of music as a healer, characterized as a hypothetical woman. It’s quite an enjoyable little ditty, sung mostly in French but with crucial phrases like “my lady melody” and “fly away” sung in English for good, hard-hitting measure. In general, though, it’s as simple as simple could get. There’s a sense that this is the kind of song that any mellowed-out person could have penned – but I think that’s what I find so weirdly charming about it. As a rule, I’m lean pretty hard against non-Jamaicans attempting reggae, or just the whole “white boy with an acoustic guitar” genre as a whole, and this song is both. I do really want to hate this, but Frager in this song sounds way too happy to not have at least a little bit rub off on me in some way. The melody is also infectious in all the best ways and I just don’t have the coldness of heart in me at the moment to really rag on how corny this all is! I can understand if overplay would cause some to despise this track at this point, but there’s no denying that at least the first listen or two are mighty pleasant.

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