Yé-yé, It’s Summer!


Music for me movies in seasons, and incidentally every summer I find myself straying away from the top of the charts and toward music that fits my one part relaxed, one part nostalgic mood.
One genre that I return to year after year is yé-yé music (henceforth called ye-ye because I’m too lazy to deal with the accent aigu repeatedly), a genre of music, mainly French- but also from Italy, Spain, and Portugal- that was popular in the 1960s.  It’s basically the continental version of American 60s surf music (of which I’m also very fond).

So this will be mainly French (because prior to writing this I had no idea the style included other countries and I am now planning and thrilling at the prospect of the impromptu research I get to do and music I get to find!)

Without any more ado, here are some ye-ye and ye-ye adjacent songs:

  • “Yes Sir, I Can Boogie”, Baccara: So it turns out that Baccara is a Spanish duo and I was unintentionally in the loop re: the universality (internationality?) of ye-ye. This was released maybe fifty years ago and, as one would predict from the title, it does indeed make you want to dance.
  • “La Poupee Qui Fait Non”, Michel Polnareff: A sixties superhit due to being subsequently released in many other languages (including Spanish, German, Italian, and… Flemish? This is the French original.
  • “Je Suis la Tigresse”, Delphine Desyeux: The cutest title.
  • “Une Histoire de Plage”, Brigite Bardot: My chosen BB song. But if you want a laugh I really do recommend Bonnie and Clyde, which may be the most embarrassingly bad song ever made. But that aside, Moi Je Joue is also quite good. Use Histoire de Plage is better. Supremely laid back and beachy.
  • “Pourquoi Pas Moi”, Stella: This is one of the quintessential ye ye girls songs. The instrumentals are great and it’s also one of the songs where the ‘ye ye’ exclamation is actually in the lyrics (inspired by the Beatles and all of their ‘yeah yeah’ing.)
  • “Poupee de Cire, Poupee de Son”, France Gall: France Gall is another of the big ye ye girls, and this song is very similar in tone to the one above. The title refers to a noise-making wax doll, if you’re wondering.
  • “Les Sucettes”, France Gall: Also by France Gall. Excellent song, exceedingly irritating history: Serge Gainsbourg (who wrote the song) rather exploited her by having her sing this, as she was too naive to grasp all of the blowjob-oriented double entendres he had included. The song is superficially about anise-flavored lollipops.
  • “Zou Bisou Bisou”, Gillian Hills: I think seeing the clip of this piece performed by Mad Men’s Jessica Pare may be what initially introduced me to ye-ye many years ago. It’s pretty perfect and undoubtedly a classic.
  • “Di Doo Dah”, Jane Birkin: Jane Birkin never really adequately adopted the French language so I think it does make more sense for her to sing largely in nonsense syllables. And I say this from a place of love, being a big Birkin fan.
  • “C’est Pas Sérieux”, Les Chats Sauvages: Is there any more quintessentially summery message than “It’s not serious”?
  • “Le Temps de l’Amour”, Francoise Hardy: You may remember that this song was on my summer music playlist last year.  It is still quite possibly the perfect summer song- things don’t change. And I am only include one by Francoise Hardy because a) this is the best and b) if I included more there would probably be something like five.

So what music do you listen to in the summer? Do you have any ye-ye suggestion for me?

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