Zouk music

2 702 Zouk songs with 55 872 monthly listeners

What is Zouk Music

Zouk is a type of popular dance music in the Caribbean Islands. This includes countries like Guadeloupe, Martinique, Saint Lucia, Dominica, and Haiti and also in French Antilles/French West Indies.

A combination and blend of African, Caribbean and North American music styles make up the genre. It is mainly characterized by the use of French Antillean Creole language, electronically synthesized sounds and advanced audio recording technology.

The term was first used on the islands of Guadeloupe and Martinique to refer to parties which spanned throughout the night, and all the various types of music which were mainly Caribbean played on the night would be referred to as mizik zouk.

The genre was just a collective term until 1979 when Guadeloupean sound technician and bass player Pierre-Edouard Décimus and Paris-born guitarist Jacob Desvarieux formed a group named Kassav. The group innovated and created a new sound with the different styles of mizik zouk, which merged with the then-contemporary urban sound and was given its now-known name.

In 1984 the group Kassav recorded their first massive commercial success with their record titled “Zouk-la sé sèl médikaman nou ni” translated as “Zouk is the only medicine we have.” The success of the song was instrumental to the establishment of this sound as a new and accepted music style in the Caribbeans.

The Kassav band appealed to Guadeloupe, Martinique, Dominica, and Saint Lucia and was widely accepted to the point where it became a symbol of cultural pride in these communities. The success of the Kassav band opened the doors for other artists to jump and make successful careers in the genre. “Soumia, from France; Kairos, from the French overseas department of Réunion, off the east coast of Madagascar; as well as French Antillean singers Medhy Custos, Orlane, and Jean-Marie Ragald, among others,” were one of the most successful artists who even further took the sound
international.

A worthy mention of successful artists in the genre is the all-female band, Zouk Machine. The group had five members by the names of; Christiane Obydol, Jean-Marc Vivenza, Dominique Zorobabel, Joëlle Ursull and Jane Fostin of which the latter is now the only active member of the group.

The group’s success can be defined in the terms of them having the number-one single on the French SNEP Singles Chart with their record "Maldòn (la musique dans la peau)." In 1990, they sold over one million copies a feat which meant that they outsold every other band, even the originators, the Kassav band. Their singles Ou ké rivé and Sa ké Cho, both released in 1991 and DJ released in 1992 peaked on the singles chart in France at numbers 28, 9 and 31 respectively.

Popular Zouk Artists

1. Kassav’
2. Experience 7
3. Kaysha
4. Soumia
5. Perle Lama
6. Thierry Cham
7. Medhy Custos
8. Ali Angel
9. Slaï
10. Eric Virgal
11. Talina
12. Warren
13. Francky Vincent
14. Jocelyne Beroard
15. Princess' Lover

Popular Zouk Songs

1. Alice ça glisse by Francky Vincent
2. One Love by Kaysha
3. Polisson by Ralph Thamar
4. Goudjoua by Experience 7
5. 88bpm by Kaysha
6. Case à Lucie by Malavoi & Ralph Thamar
7. Fruit de la passion by Francky Vincent
8. Ou lé by Kassav'
9. Tcham Bai by Abégé
10. Emmène-Moi Avec Toi by Perle Lama

With the sound evolving, some other subgenres started emerging. “Love”, with romantic themes and slow tempo, and also the faster-paced “béton” (hard, or “concrete”) are some of the most popular subgenres.

Since its inception in the 1970s, there have been a few misconceptions about its origin and other aspects. For example, the popular Brazilian dance which started in the 90s has often times been mistaken as the main origin. But the Brazilian version is actually a partner dance which developed from Lambada. Lambada which was a very well-known style in Brazil had its own dance but then as it went out of fashion, Lambada dancers turned to what was trending in the French-speaking Caribbean countries and from there created a dance style which was now named Brazilian Zouk. The main characteristic of this dance is the lead and follow movements and the upper body movements. There’s always visible chemistry between the dancers which drives the misconception that it is a sexual dance, but this is not true unless in the case where the dancers decide to turn it into one and make it sexual.

Some African countries like the Democratic Republic of Congo and Angola have produced stars in this genre but in other music-rich countries like Nigeria and Ghana, there is no known popular music artist in this genre. Kaysha and Roga Roga both from the Democratic Republic of Congo are two of the most popular African artists who have excelled in this style. Elizio from Angola is another big African name making this type of music.

Zouk songs, beats and albums are online on Mdundo.com and are available for download in MP3.