According to the Guardian,
The Belgian singer Plastic Bertrand has admitted that the voice that gave the world the 1977 Euro-punk anthem Ça Plane Pour Moi was not his. Roger Jouret, the man behind the Plastic Bertrand persona, had previously denied that he was not the singer on the record. But in an interview with the Belgian newspaper Le Soir, he admitted it had been another singer – and laid the blame at the door of his former producer, Lou Deprijck. His admission came a day after a linguist commissioned by a judge concluded that the singer's accent did not match the voice on the record.
To set the stage, here's a YouTube version of the song:
(A slightly less plasticized performance is here.)
Another report has Plastic Bertrand advancing a (fanciful) hypothesis about who the actual singer was, and gives a bit more detail on the dialect issue:
Plastic Bertrand n'est pas l'interprète de Ca plane pour moi selon plusieurs experts mandatés par la justice belge. Ce jugement n'a pas l'air d'avoir ébranlé Plastic plus que ça, qui a réagi hier soir sur RTL. "Tout ce que le rapport dit, c'est que c'est quelqu'un qui a l'accent ch'ti ou picard qui l'a chanté. Alors c'est Dany Boon", a-t-il déclaré.
Plastic Bertrand is not the singer on Ca plane pour moi according to several experts commissioned by a Belgian court. This judgment doesn't seem to have shaken Plastic up very much, as he responded yesterday evening on RTL, "All that the report says is that it's someone who has a ch'ti or picard accent who sang. So it's Dany Boon", he said.
Some other necessary background: the court case in question seems to be based on a lawsuit started by the record producer Lou Deprijck, apparently aimed at establishing that the voice on the hit song belonged to Deprijck himself. (More background on the song is here, including the amazing fact that it was used as background music in National Lampoon's European Vacation, Ferris Bueller's Day off, and an episode of What's New, Scooby Doo?, as well as other far-flung cultural connections including Extreme Championship Wrestling and Australian Mars Bars commercials.)
According to rtbr.be ("Plastic Bertrand reconnaît que ce n'était pas sa voix", 7/28/2010), Plastic was rather out of the loop on the whole recording process, explaining why he might still be in the position of having to guess who the actual singer was:
"Mais c'est moi la victime. Je voulais chanter, mais il (Lou Deprijck, ndlr) m'interdisait l'accès au studio", affirme-t-il. Et d'ajouter : "Le jour où j'ai quitté RKM (la firme de disques qui avait produit les premiers albums à l'époque, ndlr) pour gagner ma liberté, il a gerbé sur moi".
"But I was the victim. I wanted to sing, but he [Lou Deprijck] barred me from the studio", he asserted. And he added: "The day I quit RKM [the record company] in order to free myself, he vomited (?) on me."
Wikipedia explains that
Picard is a language closely related to French, … spoken in two regions in the far north of France – Nord-Pas-de-Calais and Picardy – and in parts of the Belgian region Wallonia, district of Tournai (Wallonie Picarde) and a piece of district of Mons (toward Tournai and France frontier).
Picard is known by several different names. Residents of Picardie call it picard; but in Nord-Pas-de-Calais its dialects are more commonly known as chti or chtimi, in and around the towns of Valenciennes and Lille as rouchi; or simply as patois by Northerners in general. Linguists group all of these under the name Picard.
Some questions for our Francophone readers:
What is the etymology of ch'ti(mi)?
What aspects of the singer's performance in Ça plane pour moi identify it as Picard?
What is Plastic Bertrand's own variety of French? What features does he have (or lack) that the singer lacks (or has)?
Who are the "plusieurs experts" who analyzed the accent, and is a copy of their report available?
What does "il a gerbé sur moi" actually mean? Do Belgian record producers really vomit on their musicians to express annoyance, or is this just another of the many pieces of French slang that I don't know?
And finally, why would anyone expect that someone who adopted the stage name "Plastic Bertrand" would sing his own songs?
Selon Lou Deprijck, l'auteur compositeur, le rapport d'expertise est formel… "Les bandes 24 pistes de 1977 et de 2006 ont été analysées, piste après piste, minutieusement par les experts. Le rapport (…) révèle qu’avec les terminaisons de phrases relevées sur les bandes, on ne peut attribuer la voix qu’à un Ch’ti ou un picard" a-t-il expliqué au quotidien belge "La Dernière Heure". "Or, Plastic Bertrand est Bruxellois, et moi je suis du Nord"… souligne l'homme qui se revendique comme le vrai chanteur du tube. Paraît même que c'est flagrant sur la prononciation du mot "gouttière", un fait linguistique irréfutable… Faîtes chanter vos amis "ch'tis", comparez… De quoi passer une gentille petite soirée.
According to Lou Deprijck, the producer, the experts' report is categorical… "The 24-track tapes from 1977 and 2006 have been analyzed, track after track, throughly by the experts. The report […] reveals that with the phrase endings revealed on the tapes, the voice can only be attributed to a Ch'ti or a Picard", he explained to the Belgian daily La Derniere Heure. "Now, Plastic Bertrand is from Brussels, whereas I'm from the north [from Nord-Pas-de-Calais]" … emphasizes the man who claims to the real singer. Apparently it's especially clear in the pronunciations of the word "gouttiere" ["gutter"], an irrefutable linguistic fact… Have your ch'ti friends sing it, compare… How to spend a pleasant evening.
You may or may not have any "ami ch'tis" to rely on, and none of us have the 24-track tapes, but here's the relevant segment of the song:
The lyrics are approximated below, in case you can't follow their somewhat Dylanesque thread. The segment reproduced above is in red, and means something like "as for me, worn out, bullied, I had to sleep in the gutter":
Ouam! bam! mon chat splash
git sur mon lit a bouffé
sa langue en buvant tout mon whisky
quant à moi peu dormi, vidé brimé
J'ai du dormir dans la gouttière
Où j'ai eu un flash
Hou hou hou hou
En quatre couleurs
I wouldn't have noticed anything special about "gouttière", but I have no ear for French accents.]