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  • Musique

    Chez les yéyé (part 1)

    By Vincent Hanon 21 October 2015

    WHAT is ye­yé ? A bastardization of the English ‘yeah yeah’. Because the French couldn’t get English lyrics right, the yé­yé pop movement is a Francophone take on American genres, a camp style which occurred in innocent times.

    The whole yé­yé idea started with ‘Salut les copains’ (‘Hi Mates’), a five days-a-week program broadcast on French radio station Europe 1 between 1959 and 1969, that played all the songs of this humourous and bubbly phenomenon where most of the singers were female.

    The one and only Serge Gainsbourg wrote many wonderful songs for the yé­yé girls, who included actresses like Anna Karina, a muse for Jean Luc Godard, and of course Brigitte Bardot, for whom he composed ‘Harley Davidson’ and the erotic ‘Je T’aime… Moi Non Plus’, which was excommunicated by the Vatican and that he re-­recorded with Jane Birkin in 1969. And of course there’s ‘Les Sucettes’ that the man with the cabbage head composed for France Gall, then only 18, who thought she was singing about Lollipops (“The most daring song of the century”, he said)!  Not to mention the effortlessly cool Francoise Hardy (Mick Jagger once called her the ‘ideal woman’, and Bob Dylan wrote poetry for her), with ‘Comment Te Dire Adieu’, ‘Tous les Garcons Et Les Filles’ and ‘Mon Amie La Rose’, these last two songs without the input of Gainsbourg. We must also acknowledge amongst the yé­yé girls Sheila, who reincarnated a few years later into a huge disco star, and Gillian Hills with ‘Zou Bisou Bisou’, a funny little tune which recently went viral on the internet with Jessica Paré singing a steamy version in the hit tv series ‘Mad Men’.

    (…to be continued…)