Top 5: Jean-Michel Jarre

Back in the early days of this blog I started drafting a post how I missed new artistic output of artists who might have reached such an age that they might in fact have opted for a well-deserved early retirement. I was in particular thinking about Jean-Michel Jarre and Mike Oldfield: two artists who I have enjoyed from an early age, and who, at the time, had not released new material for 6-7 years.

The post did not progress much beyond a few headlines. Partly because I just felt more like writing other stuff at the time, but also partly because I was conscious of the fandom trap of pretending that idols somehow owe me the fan anything. I don’t believe they do. The closest to an obligation that I can think of is that I will only buy-on-release-date-without-reading-reviews as long as I can expect a product of reasonable quality (so if they don’t, then I will be less likely to buy their next material uncritically etc.).

I am so happy I never wrote that post. It would not have aged well, since after that time Oldfield has released 2 albums and Jarre at least 4. Pretty cool.


Jean-Michel Jarre is a French musician and a pioneer in electronic music. He is also famous for spectacular concerts. His first album was released in 1973 and he has released 23 albums as of Dec 31, 2020.

I got introduced to Jarre in the mid-eighties through my older brother who was a fan at the time and that music just clicked with me and my early interest in computers etc. Through the nineties I discovered other genres, but kept coming back to Jarre regularly and watching him play live in 1997 was a great moment. I somehow missed Jarre’s releases in the early 2000s and while I remember listening to some of those albums when they first became available on streaming platforms 2008ish, they just didn’t fit my mood at the time.

It was only in 2014-15 or so that I really rediscovered Jarre at a time when I was exploring trance and ambient music (and probably started drafting the above mentioned post); and then was happy to and was happy to discover Electronica 1 when it came out in October 2015. Since then, I have listed to both old and new stuff, but I kept missing the middle part of the discography, so when I got the idea of writing top 5 posts it felt like a great opportunity to remedy this. Here goes.


The list of studio albums is retrieved from Wikipedia -> here (the main biography article contains a slightly longer list with more limited release albums, but since I have no access to these, I stick to this list)

To determine my top 5 of the albums I will focus on how well the tracks combine into a whole start to end experience and how interesting and memorable I find the compositions. In the walkthrough I will first divide albums into a top, middle, and bottom group, where those in the top are truly great and always worth listening to, those in the middle which are generally and I will play occasionally when I am in the mood, and those in the bottom that I would usually avoid.

Sky Palace (1973)

I know of it, but unfortunately have never had the opportunity to listen to it. I will keep looking though.

Les Granges Brûlées (1973)

A soundtrack, which recently became available for streaming. It is interesting as an early work of Jarre’s and early electronic music, but like many soundtracks it does not stand well on its own. Most of the tracks are variations of a common theme, but track #6 “Le Juge” sounds like an early version of Chronology Part 8 and is worth checking out. As an album I put this one in the bottom of the pile.

Oxygène (1976)

This is the first classic electronic Jarre album and it sets the stage for most of what has come later. It is an enjoyable musical journey, like a first exploration into unknown (musical) territory. Great music in my opinion and it has aged very well. Top tier material.

Équinoxe (1978)

The next album continues and refines the style from Oxygène, but is less somber and more playful, so if Oxygène is an early exploration, then this is a fun tourist roundtrip. For many years it was my favorite- the first 3 pieces in particular – I still put it at the top.

Magnetic Fields (1981)

The album first continues and refines the style from the previous two albums, with a long and coherent first half, but the second half is works less well for me. I put it in the middle.

Music for Super Markets (1983)

This album was only released in a single pressing which was auctioned off and the master recording destroyed. It was played once in the radio and what I have listened to are recordings from the transmission. The sound quality isn’t great (kindly put) and it makes it hard to appreciate the music, and I place it in the lower tier.

Zoolook (1984)

A more experimental work than the previous main albums, which makes heavy use of samples and vocals. The first track Ethnicolor is great, but the rest doesn’t follow-though and eventually you almost wait for the album to finish. Lower third to me.

Rendez-Vouz (1986)

A pretty good one, the first half in particular. When the album came out part 4 was a popular hit, but listening to the album today it is like this track breaks the album in the middle, similar to the way part 2 of Magnetic Fields change the mood of that album).

This may be because the album was first released on an LP and split into A- and B-sides, where the B-side might be planned to contain some radio-friendly single tracks. That may have worked well in the 80s, but today the end-to-end experience suffers from it.

To me Rendez-Vouz is somewhere in the middle.

Revolutions (1988)

This was the first Jarre album I bought without having listened to it before and the first time I was disappointed. I have tried and tried for 30+ years but while the first half is good, the second still does not work for me. Bottom third.

Waiting for Cousteau (1990)

An underrated album – at least by me when it first came out. The first three tracks bring a lot of new energy and styles to Jarre’s music and are followed by an ambient underwater piece (probably groundbreaking at the time), where nothing happens, or, then again, when you really listen to it, there is just enough happening to keep attention and stay relaxed. Today I rate this highly.

Chronologie (1993)

Seems like the distilled perfection of the early albums. It does everything right, maybe too right to me, but does not quite work for me. While I am happy to recommend it, it is middle tier for me.

Oxygéne 7-13 (1997)

Named as a sequel to Oxygéne this album perfects the style from the classical albums released since 1976. Both varied, coherent and with memorable tunes, this is one of my favorite Jarre albums. In the top.

Metamorphoses (2000)

I missed this for many years, and it was only for this review that I listened to it in earnest. It is a shame I did not listen to it earlier, because there are many entertaining and memorable songs here. Stylistically it is a refreshing break from previous albums. I can imagine that put off fans at the time (I missed the album entirely, probably because I lived in the US at the time, where the album was not released until 2004), but listening through Jarre’s discography chronologically, such change is exactly what I needed after the great Oxygène 7-13. I place Metamorphoses in the top tier.

Interior Music (2001)

This album was only a limited release and does not seem to be intended for general listening. It is on Youtube, though. Not that exciting as an album and I put in the bottom third.

Sessions 2000 (2002)

I have done my best listening to this one several times, but it does not stick. Bottom.

Geometry of Love (2003)

Another Jarre album that wasn’t widely released at first. Apparently a soundtrack for a nightclub, I think this is a fine album to listen to, but with no memorable tunes. Not bad, not great, I put this in the middle.

Téo & Téa (2007)

While some Jarre albums have been re-released recently, this one seems to have disappeared from streaming services. It can still be heard on Youtube. It is sort of OK, but not great and I ´can imagine why the artist himself considers it a mistake. Bottom.

Oxygène: New Master Recording (2007)

OK – I understand why this was made, and while the sound may be improved and more surround-soundish, it remains Oxygéne, but does not add anything radically new. To me it goes in the middle, and then I go back to listening to the original.

Electronica 1: The Time Machine (2015)

Something new! Collaborations with other musicians and new ideas and some great some tunes and some I don’t really care about, but all in the album works and I put it at the top of my list.

Electronica 2: The Heart of Noise (2016)

More collaboration stuff similar to Electronica 1, and it would be in the top of my list if #1 wasn’t there already. Highly recommended from here, although I put it in the middle of the list.

Oxygène 3 (2016)

After the collaborations and varied styles on the Electronica albums, this is a return to the classical style, just as the name implies. Not bad, but I miss memorable tunes and thus the album goes somewhere in the lower middle for me.

Equinox Infinity (2018)

A follow-up to one of my all-time favorite albums ever (Jarre and otherwise), I knew this album had a hard task, and I do not believe it succeeds. In fact, just like it is the case with Oxygéne 3, I still struggle to remember any song from it. So, just like the predecessor, this also goes somewhere in the lower middle.

Honorable mentions

In addition to the studio albums Jarre has also released plenty of live albums and remixes. Many of the live albums contains new material that does not show up on any studio albums so are worth listening to for that reason alone, but Jarre also keeps refreshing the studio tracks. For example, the 1981 Concerts in China would be a great album on its own.

Top 5

That was the chronological list, and I marked Oxygène, Équinoxe, Waiting for Cousteau, Oxygène 7-13, Metamorphoses and Electronica 1 as my favorites.

That is six entries, so while Oxygène 7-13 may be the perfect example of a classical Jarre album, it is also a refinement of what came before and that puts it just a little below the rest in this top group. To me the top contest is between Oxygène and Équinoxe, and while I have tried hard to put my old fondness of Équinoxe aside, that album just brings so much happy energy, so it keeps the position. The remaining three top albums are all characterized by their refreshing style and are great in each their way. Still, thinking about the coherence of the albums, I rank Waiting for Cousteau third, Electronica 1 as fourth and finally Metamorphoses is fifth:

  1. Équinoxe
  2. Oxygène
  3. Waiting for Cousteau
  4. Electronica 1: The Time Machine
  5. Metamorphoses

Featured image

Portrait of a sheep. I visited the garden/activity park Birkegårdens Haver in September and used the opportunity to make portraits of several animals in the petting zoo. It was interesting and fun to try some new models.

Related posts

Top 5s

Princessology: Erata, Enchanted Etc.

Spoliers ahead


In my previous Princessology post I did thorough work to determine the scope of the study. Must of the usual suspects makes the cut and then there are several honorable mentions who didn’t make it to my list, for example because they aren’t animated or because they are not princesses at all.

One young lady I summarily excluded from the study was Giselle, the protagonist of Enchanted, on the grounds that the movie wasn’t animated. I realize that I should have been more precise: I obviously meant “fully animated”…

That said, further study into the character reveals that while Giselle not only wears a dress and has an animal sidekick, but also has most of the characteristics of the classical distressed damsels like Snow White and Cinderella, she lacks a defining trait: She is not a princess and neither does she become one during the movie. Therefor she is stricken from the list in any case and get to hang out with Mulan instead. I can imagine worse company. However, there is another character in the movie who might pass that criterion depending on the scheduling of wedding and coronation, but as already pointed out the movie must be fully animated.

Good to have that cleared up now.


I enjoyed casually watching Enchanted. It was interesting to see Amy Adams in one of her earlier roles before her career really took off. Also, watching and not just listening to Idina Menzell (the voice of Elsa) was interesting. It is fair to wonder what the ambition of the movie is – is it a retelling/mashup of the classical Disney fairy tales, or is it a satire of these movies, showing how absurd they are when watched through modern eyes? It may be age or movie watching experience, but I believe the latter, and as such the movie is fine – just think about the cleanup/singing scene – brilliant. I’ll rate it 3/5.


Probationary Princess

Upon further consideration, Megara has been moved to probationary status. While hooking up with the Son of Zeus, King of Gods certainly count towards princess status, the fact that Hercules gave up his god-hood to be together with her counts against him being a prince, and her princesshood as a consequence. More research is required.

Likewise, Jane Porter needs to be reviewed, since she is romantically involved with Tarzan, who is often referred to as the King of the Jungle. This might make Jane a queen (but skipping the princess stage entirely). However, if Disney’s movie doesn’t make clear reference to Tarzan being king, the Esmeralda rule will be applied, since only the movie version count.

Rewatching Frozen II

When I published my previous Princessology Update Frozen II had just premiered on home video and as expected I have watched if several times since. A few times with the kids, several times by myself. I like the movie very much.

I guess there may have been many possible plot-lines to choose between, including the most obvious one with some new antagonist arriving and the sisters teaming up to win the day for Arendelle. Instead the relationship between sisters is explored and resolved. Maybe the creators took input from the senior Pixar people who receives thanks in the end credits. Especially if watching the movie through a neurodiversity lens, it tells story of the challenges sisters that are different may experience as they grow up. In that sense, Frozen II is not just a kids’ movie, but a movie for everyone with an interest in how siblings grow up and it is well worth watching. I’ll rate it 4/5.

Featured image

A landscape photo from Thy, where I just had vacation with the family. The landscape is something special, the light in midsummer is something special and the weather was cold and rainy, which was bad for beach trips, but great for photographing landscapes with interesting clouds.

Related posts

Princessology Update

Princessology Update

Beware, spoilers ahead

As I write this (mid-May 2020) the time of waiting is coming to an end. Specifically, the wait for the home video release of Frozen II, which, given the demography of my household, will probably run almost non-stop on the TV for the foreseeable future. This is a great time to make an update to my princessological study of Disney princesses.

Princessology being the study of princesses, just like geology is the study of the earth and climatology the study of the climate (the abominable misuse of the term “methodology” in situations where “method” will do just fine shall be ignored – it will get its own post some day). The subject is not generally taught in schools where I live, but it is part of the curriculum at Ever After High and that is good enough for me).

This began as a speech to a niece at her confirmation some years ago about princesses as role models. I started out with real life examples like the daughters of  English Henry VIII and Valdemar IV of Denmark, after which I turned attention to Disney royalty. First as a as a chronological walk-through so that I could demonstrate how the characterizations of princesses changed over time, but with 22(!) princesses on my list that didn’t work in practice and did not do justice to the better written characters. Below is what I did instead and at the end of the post some additional thoughts and personal observations.

I know there a plenty of post like this one out there, often either discussing how horribly old-fashioned some of the female characters are portrayed, or celebrating the modern portrayal of other (newer) characters. I find it worthwhile to look at them all – to confirm both the new and the old views, and find something interesting in-between.

Definitions and Scope

What is a Disney Princess anyway? The short reply is “depends :)” and Disney has at least two answers themselves: According to Maui (Shapeshifter, Demigod of The Wind and Sea, Hero of Men) you are a princess if you wear a dress and have an animal sidekick; and then there is the official Princess Squad (numbering 12 as of May 22, 2002). I am not going to argue with a flashy demigod, but I also have issues with the princess squad list as being both too inclusive and too exclusive. Specifically: Mulan, for all her personal qualities and potential as a strong, female role model, just is not a princess nor does she become one. Likewise, there are several perfectly fine princesses-by-birth who could be added to the list if Disney should choose so, for example Vanellope von Schweetz and Kida.

Examples of alternate princess squads from the Internet: The Disney Princes ‘B’ Club and The Disney Princes B-squad

To arrive at a more accurate list of princesses I consider only female characters in Disney theatrical animated features who are of royal either or noble descent, or become royal or noble by marriage. As mentioned above, the nobility requirement this eliminates Mulan from the list, but I do include chieftains’ daughters like Moana and Pocahontas.

Next, limiting the study to a specific list of Disney movies also scratch several candidates from the list, starting with Merida who is great, but a Pixar character. If she was added to the list, then we might arguably add characters from Blue Sky Studios movies, since that studio became part of Disney as part of the Fox Deal (it actually looks like Blue Sky has managed to avoid princesses in their movies so far, although I am not going to watch all Ice Age movies to confirm it). This also removes Sally Nightmare  from the list (stop motion is technologically closer to the vintage animation of the movies from CGI was introduced, than today’s CGI productions).

Then, by considering only theatrical features we not only remove the (also) excellent Elena of Avalor from the list, but also Sofia the First and all the other pupils from Royal School of Enchancia school (as well as Princess Ivy and, if one considers the Amulet of Avalor a princess summoning device: Olaf the Snowman). It also leaves out direct to video sequels and the new remakes.

Finally the study stick to “animated”, which leaves out not only Giselle, but also any other Princess showing up in a theatrical Disney production. 

A good test is the Leia Criterion: Don’t include a character in the list, if including that character would allow include Princess Leia. 

Through this the list of princesses has been reduced considerably. I do not, however, see any reason to limit the study to human characters: I think Vanellope and Nala are both very fine princesses.

Furthermore, the study is limited to female characters. Disney Princes may warrant their own study post in the future, just think about the story that could unfold if Frozen III picks up the story about commoner Christoph being married to royal Anna (in Denmark media have been ripe with stories about the trials of a prince consort; or watch The Crown on Netflix for a British perspective).

Finally, the study only consider the characters’ story within the context of the movie, so while Esmeralda marries Captain Phoebus in the Disney adaptation of The Hunchback of Notre Dame and he is a noble in the book, I will not cheery-pick that single nice fact and ignore Victor Hugo’s vastly different character story arcs.

All said, the list of princesses making the cut follows below. There are less than 22 because I leave out the three Pixar princesses Merida, Atta and Dot.

NameMovieYearPrincess byNotes
Snow WhiteSnowwhite1937Birth
TigerlilyPeter Pan1953Birth
AuroraSleeping Beauty1959Birth
Lady MarionRobin Hood1973Birth
EilonwyThe Black Cauldron1985Birth
ArielThe Little Mermaid1989Birth
BelleBeauty and the Beast1991Marriage
NalaThe Lion King1994Marriage
Kida (Kidagakash Nedakh)Atlantis: The Lost Empire2001Birth
TianaThe Princess and the Frog2009Marriage
Vanellope von SchweetzWreck-it Ralph, Ralph Breaks the Internet2012, 2018BirthPrincess by initialization
AnnaFrozen, Frozen II2013, 2019Birth
ElsaFrozen, Frozen II2013, 2019Birth
MoanaMoana2016BirthAlso called Vaiana in some regions.

A mentioned the study started out as a rumination of the feminist development of the Disney princess over time, and while that is an important point, I eventually divided the princesses into four different categories:

    • The Damsels 
    • The Driven
    • The Responsible
    • The Rebellious

The first group is the usually reviled group of pretty girls waiting for Prince Charming, but the other categories are a reminder that there are sgreat characters out there with more interesting stories to tell.

The Damsels

This is the home of the first,classical Disney princesses: Snow White, Cinderella and Aurora (Sleeping Beauty). Beautiful, loving girls who can mange a household while waiting for Prince Charming to show up. Lady Marion is saved and Faline is conquered, saved and get to bear the next generation.

All characters don’t do much in their story except wait to be saved and then presumable become good wives and queens and live happily ever after.

The surprise member of this group is Belle from Beauty and the Beast’, because although she is introduced as an intelligent and bookish girl who wants more from life than what her village has to offer, she succeeds through goodness and love. The pivotal character saving the day is the boy Chip, who has the technical savvy to make farther Maurice’ contraption work. Of course the title of the movie and name of the character gives this away, but it still seems like a wasted opportunity to me.

The Driven

The next group is less likely to live happily after after, but if they do, then it is because they made it so. They are driven and ambitious and their royalty is a secondary trait. Consider self-made business woman Tiana, whose prince gets to entertain in her restaurant; or Vanellope von Schweetz who will rather drive racing cars than rule her kingdom.

Who knows if that ends well?

The Responsible

I expect it to end well for the responsible princesses, who experience a crises and use their wit and charm to succeed against the odds. Anna, who journeys through ice and snow to bring summer and her sister back to of Arendelle belongs in this group, along with Nala who asks Simba to drop ‘hakuna matata’ and become a proper Lion King. Kida from Atlantis gets to rebuild her society from almost nothing. I also put The Princess Eilonwy and Tigerlily in here, although their story arcs aren’t great (for Eilonwy’s complete story read The Chronicles of Prydain).

Final member in this group is Moana (or Vaiana, depending where you live), whose journey both across the sea and personal discovery is driven by a desire to save her island (of course she is a Chosen one, but while she is attracted to the unknown, she does return to (and for) her people).

I am confident that these women will do well.

The Rebellious

Exciting stories are those of the rebellious princesses. Like Jasmine, who meets Aladdin after running away from tradition and arranged marriage. Instead, when she gets marries it is to a commoner. Megara, on the other hand, confronts the bad decisions of her past.

Some princesses rebels against there parents. Rapunzel, who pursues her Dream (well-) armed with a frying pan, the little mermaid Ariel and chieftain’s daughter Pocahontas, who follows their love heart instead of duty.

Finally I now confidently place Elsa in this group. In the original (non-posted) version of the study I was reluctant about placing Elsa in this group. She does leave behind her place as queen of Arendelle to go on a journey of self-discovery and -realization. But then she is back home again, creating skating fields.What happened to the girl who ‘Let it go’? Of course she had a rough time in the movie, but ending her story there never felt credible to me. I was optimistic when the sequel was announced, and after watching the movie also delighted that Elsa’s story arc is concludes in a satisfactory way.

Final Thoughts

The study may be whimsical, but at the core it is about thinking critically about the entertainment that we allow our children to watch and emerge themselves into. Who should be their heroines and heroes? Which stories catches their attention and when do they need guidance and when should their ideas and understanding be challenged? The study could be written about any piece of entertainment featuring a diverse cast of characters. Who is the favorite pub of Paw Patrol (Everest, if you ask me, no competition even close), The greatest superhero? (Batman, of course, but what if we play Marvel only?) And so it goes, on and on, but as long as they take it seriously, I as parent will do the same.

The number of universes created and pushed upon children is enormous, but I find it worthwhile to at least follow which ones my children watch and enjoy. It is something to share with them and I hope that if we can share the funny things now, then they will also share the less funny stuff when that day comes.

Featured Image

Closeup of crabapple flowers.