Ignored Obscured Restored
In the mid-’60s there was a genre of European (mostly French, mostly women) pop music called yé-yé (pronounced yey-yey) that derived from British rock songs like the Beatles “She Loves You” (Yeah Yeah Yeah).
One of the top yé-yé singers was France Gall, who had her first brush with stardom as a sixteen-year-old girl. She exuded a “girl-next-door” virtue that complimented her pop hits like Laisse Tomber Les Filles (Let the Girls Fall).
The intro sounds like it could be an outtake of “The Munsters’ Theme.” Quentin Tarantino, a master at digging up obscure songs to use on his soundtracks, used an English version of the song (“Chick Habit”) by April March in his film Death Proof (2007). Tastemaker Jack White has recently reissued Gall’s first three albums on vinyl, on his Third Man imprint.
Later, Gall was still working with Serge Gainsbourg when he wrote her hit “Les Sucettes” (“Lollipops”).
This song took advantage of Gall’s innocent, yet implied sexuality. Gainsbourg once called her The French Lolita. Turns out, the song was a metaphor for… well, I don’t have to spell it out (whether she knew it or not). Wikipedia explains further:
The very noun for lollypop in French, “sucette”, is the substantivised verb “sucer”, sucking – so that the title and the refrain (“Annie aime les sucettes”, Annie loves lollypops) are far more evocative in French than in the English translation. A possible translation to preserve the innuendo would be “Annie loves suckers”. The song also features a direct double entendre, stating that Annie has lollipops “pour quelques pennies” (for a few pennies), which can also be heard as “pour quelques pénis” (for a few penises).
And if that’s not enough to convince you, check out the 1966 video that accompanied the song’s release. It’s about as subtle as a train going through a tunnel!
Many other yé-yé singers are worth checking out on the six-volume Ultra Chicks series – if you can find them.
Enjoy… until next week.