Rocking Le Vote

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You can tell a lot about your friends from the kind of music they put on their playlists, so it's not hard to see why France's political parties take such great care when choosing the official songs for their presidential election campaigns. Take the case, for example, of conservative presidential front-runner Nicolas Sarkozy: the former Interior Minister, Sarkozy faces a major problem with the children of immigrants, many of whom will be voting for the first time in this year's race, after denouncing immigrant rioters as "scum" during nationwide disturbances in 2005. So, his party, the UMP, sought to repair some of the damage by chosing as its song "Mon pays France" (France, my country), a hip-hop track laid down by a young party activist. Unfortunately for Sarko, the kids were not amused. "Unbearable," writes blogger Cédric on "The chorus hurts my ears."

Sarkozy is not the only candidate to poll poorly in the music stakes. Most efforts over the 25-year history of the French campaign song have been, frankly, terrible. But thanks to the marvels of Web 2.0, the Internet has breathed new life into the genre. Mash-ups and tribute tracks abound on (the French answer to YouTube) and in the country's satirical blogs.

Fans of Ségolène Royal dedicate slushy ballads to the Socialist Party candidate with titles such as "One Rose, One Campaign, One Woman." Sarkozy — a more polarizing figure — has inspired tributes and tirades in equal measure. Anti-Sarkozy numbers include "S.A.R.K.O." — a comprehensive diss sung to the tune of "D.I.S.C.O." — while supporters sing his praises on ditties such as "Sarko-Oh-Oh" — a track that the UMP candidate liked so much, he posted it on his official campaign site.

Herewith,'s Top 5 in French political pop-aganda:

5. Although it's hard to picture the self-styled champion of rural France as a reggae fan, anti-globalisation candidate José Bové has clearly taken to this tribute track, "Si j'osais José Bové Président" It's now played at all his campaign rallies.

4. "Miserable vocals, terrible rhythm, rubbish mixing." France's bloggers remain unimpressed with "Mon pays France," a rap offering from the party of conservative front-runner Nicolas Sarkozy.

3. Sarkozy isn't the only candidate seeking ghetto affirmation through his choice of song. Olivier Besancenot, candidate of the Revolutionary Communist League, has used this hip-hop interpretation of the classic socialist anthem "The Internationale" for most of his 2007 campaign.

2. In his (unsuccessful) bid to secure the socialist party's nomination as its presidential candidate, Dominique Strauss-Kahn released this re-make of a 2006 summer hit. In a pretty danceable chorus, the former Finance Minister lays down his socialist credentials ("to the left, to the left").

1. Although his political achievements are the subject of debate, Jacques Chirac's campaign-musical legacy remains unsurpassed. Composed for his 1981 presidential campaign, "Jacques Chirac - Now!" features choirs, saxophone solos and unashamedly partisan lyrics. Pop-aganda par excellence.