France Gall: Les Sucettes

Yé-Yé
France Gall in her naive days
Great Britain had the Beatles and yeah, yeah but across the channel, France had ye ye, it's own version of popular youth music.  Thus, while swinging London was rocking the world with innovate bands, mod culture and Mary Quant,  the  French had it's own groovy 60s scene going.

One famous exponent of French 60s pop was actor, director and musical individualist, Serge Gainsbourg. Notable for his unique lyrics and varied styles (as well as his affair with 60s icon Jane Birkin), Gainsborough had dabbled in jazz in the 1950s but moved on to sexy bubble pop in the 60s.

In 1965, Serge won the Eurovision song contest with a catchy number called Poupée de cire, poupée de son (A Lonely Singing Doll)performed by sweet-faced French teenager, Francis Gall but it was his next creative outpouring, Les Soucettes (Lollipops), again sung by Gall,  that was to really stir up the establishment. The song had more phallic symbols than a Freudian nightmare,  dripping with innuendo  and cynically exploited the sixteen year old naivety of Gall, who had no idea she was warbling a song about...well, watch the video and you'll see what I mean.



The Singing Doll
So strong was the reaction to the song that it actually set France Gall's career back. Gainsbourg had been approached to write songs for Gall  by music publisher Denis Borjeois as early as 1963 and the collaboration had produced a number of hits for Gall, including Ne Coup pas les Idols (Don't Listen to the Idols) and  Laisse Tomber les Filles (Never Mind the Girls) but she also had had hits independent of Gainsbourg, with songs penned by her father, Robert Gall and other big name lyricists. Gall was a popular singer of the day, partly because her material was more original than many of her Ye Ye contemporaries, who commonly sang peculiarly French adaptions of English and American hits.

These days Gall considers she was manipulated by Gainsbourg with Les Sucettes, refuses to ever perform the song and prefers not to discuss the whole Gainsbourg episode in her life. Nowadays of course,  there's no way purveyors of pop culture would even dream of  blatantly sexualising a 16 year old like that. Oh wait...

The infamous 2008 Lee Jeans Lolita ad