Thursday, 18 June 2009



It’s okay; don’t be scared, that was just my old English teacher metamorphosing into a disturbing living embodiment of Mumm-Ra The Ever-Living. Yes, it was a terrifying sight that could easily have scarred a youth in his formative years. But in retrospect, I can see she was trying to use the word in a way that would demonstrate its very essence. And I haven’t forgotten it since. Gold Star for my teacher.

The Yé-Yé genre is littered with nonsensical song titles (see previous post Dam Dam ou Dum Dum), and they certainly didn’t shy away from the onomatopoeia-ic. Serge was a particular fan; his lyrics are peppered with clever word plays and vocal tics.

Here’s one he wrote for Minouche Barelli (sweet name / terrifying set of pipes). It’s like a Eurovision* heart attack, boom-bang-a-bang-ing** and exploding out of every black and white telly across the continent. You can imagine Gainsbourg taking her aside and directing her to method-act like her life depended on it. He counts her in “Cinq, quatre... trois, deux, un, zéro…”


She belts it out, drowning out every instrument in the orchestra, bar the brass section. And she gives them a good run for their money too! Now run for cover!

Minouche Barelli – Boum Badaboum
[buy it:]

*It made the number 5 spot for Monaco in Eurovision 1967. Sandie Shaw romped it barefoot with 'Puppet on a String'
**This was 2 years before Lulu performed 'Boom Bang-a-Bang' at Eurovision 1969.

Something a little quieter now… Mareva hushes down Sonny Bono’s ode to childhood innocence lost. Her duel with Jacno is like a dew-y focussed fairytale shot on grainy cine-film, accompanied, Morricone-style, by a lone ukulele and music box plucking out the fragile melody.
A pair of toy pistols unfurl red and white flags…

Mareva Galanter (avec Jacno) – Bang Bang
[buy it: iTunes |]

Mareva made these beautiful Scopitone-style videos to accompany her Ukuyéyé album

But we can’t overlook Serge and Brigitte’s ode to onomatopeia, where Serge takes BB by the hand and they leap inside a comic book world of technicolour explosions and brash’n’bold sound effects.

Serge Gainsbourg et Brigitte Bardot – Comic Strip
[buy it: iTunes |]

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