France Gall

I love French Ye-ye music. I can’t understand a lick of the French language but that doesn’t keep me from appreciating the finer aspects of this early pop style. Ye-ye was originally started in 1959 by a radio DJ named Daniel Philippacci. He put together a radio show that featured young girls in their mid teens singing about age appropriate topics like riding a bike or a boy they like. This subset of French pop music became known as Ye-ye. It’s very innocent music and I can’t imagine a music with a greater bubble gum factor. Although on occasion sexual undertones can be detected, no doubt put in at the amusement of the writers and musicians behind the scenes that propped these girls up. Despite any misgivings Ye-ye is fun and surprisingly original.

France Gall was one of the more popular Ye-ye acts to record in France. Her voice, honest naivety and image wholly embodied what Ye-ye was all about. Born in 1947 in the fine city of Paris, France she was an ascendant of a long line of musicians within her family. France’s father was a lyricist and he would write lyrics for her at times throughout her early career. Her grandfather was a well known composer and writer. Pretty much all around her family tree musicians and composers are to be found. It’s a bit ironic that with a musical pedigree background like her’s she ended up a Ye-ye singer but que sara sara. The Ye-ye genre is full of young girls of initiative and Frances was no different. At a mere fifteen years old she was signed to her first record label with her initial hit single soon to follow. For the next twenty years or so France would release music on varying record labels to varying success.

Early in her career France Gall worked a lot with song writer/performer Serge Gainsbourg. Serge had a bit of bad reputation for his interaction with the Ye-ye girls. He was known to be a lech and on occasion even slept with some of the girls. Not with France though for she was too strong. Serge caused a major downturn in France’s career when he set her up for a scandal to his own gain. In 1966 he wrote a song titled “Les Sucettes”, it’s lyrics were basically one long sexual innuendo involving oral sex and lollipops. France was unaware of the innuendo and recorded the song. The song received good airplay on the radio and sold well but it tainted the public’s view of France. Suddenly all of her past songs came into subject and were suspected for having sexual connotations. Considering that her target audience were tweens this was a major blow to her immediate record sales. Eventually things settled down but it was a pretty crappy thing for Serge to do

France Gall retired in 1991. Unlike many acts that “retire” she really has retired with no official releases coming from her after that date. There are tons of France Gall compilations out there and unlike many of these older acts you can even find her intact original albums on compact disc. I have a couple of her albums but my favorite thing I own by her is an import compilation titled “PoupĂ©e de Son”, it’s on Polydor and it’s quite nice.

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