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France Gall

Although she's best-known as the pretty, perky teenager who won the 1965 Eurovision Song Contest with her hit "Poupee de Cire, Poupee de Son," French pop singer France Gall has had a much longer and more varied career than that, having released solid records almost non-stop since the early '60s. Although only a cult figure in most of the rest of the world, Gall is a major star and beloved figure in her native country.

Born Isabelle Gall in Paris on October 9, 1947, Gall was the daughter of French performer and producer, Roger Gall, who had written songs for Edith Piaf and Charles Aznavour. In 1962, at the age of 15, Gall was ushered into the studio by her father to record her debut EP, Ne Sois pas Si Bete. The four-track EP (the standard in French pop music at the time, and the format of most of her releases for the rest of the decade) was an enormous hit, selling 200,000 copies in France thanks both to the irresistible title-track and the absolutely stunning cover photo. Gall released a series of similarly successful pop hits for the next several years, peaking with winning the aforementioned Eurovision Song Contest in 1965. But although many dismissed Gall as a Francophone Lesley Gore, making fluffy and ultra-commercial pop hits with little substance, Gall's hits from this era stand up far better than most. Only Francoise Hardy was consistently making records up to these standards during this era. Though Gall's high, breathy voice was admittedly somewhat limited, she made the most of it. Even dopey hits like "Sacre Charlemagne," a duet with a pair of puppets who were the stars of a children's show on French TV, have an infectious, zesty charm; meatier tunes, like the sultry jazz-tinged ballad "Pense a Moi" and the brilliant rocker "Laisse Tomber les Filles," were as good as any single produced in the U.S. or Great Britain at the time.

In 1966, Gall's public persona shifted into a more mature phase, both musically and personally. The change came with that year's controversial hit "Les Sucettes." Though on the surface the Gainsbourg-penned tune was a pretty little song about a young girl and her lollipop, the unmistakable subtext of the sly lyrics meant that the not-yet-18-year-old Gall was singing approvingly (and, she later claimed, completely unknowingly) about oral sex. Les Sucettes and its follow-up, Baby Pop, are among Gall's finest, musically richer and more varied than her early hits, but every bit as catchy. (During this period of her career, Gall was signed not only to the French division of Philips, but to the German branch of the company, and also released several German-language EPs and albums, mixing translations of her Francophone hits and all-new material.) The psychedelic era found Gall, under Gainsbourg's guidance, singing increasingly strange songs, like "Teenie Weenie Boppie" (a bizarre tune about a deadly LSD trip that somehow involves Mick Jagger) set to some of Gainsbourg's most out-there arrangements. The excellent 1968 is Gall's best album from this period, with "Teenie Weenie Boppie," the trippy "Nefertiti," and the slinky, jazzy "Bebe Requin," perhaps Gall's sexiest single ever.

Like all of the stars of the '60s ye-ye scene, Gall's career took a downturn in the early '70s. No longer a teenager, but without a new persona to redefine herself with, (and without the help of Gainsbourg, whose time was taken by his own albums and those of his wife Jane Birkin), Gall floundered both commercially and artistically. A label change from Philips to BASF in 1972 didn't help matters, but in 1974, Gall met and married songwriter/producer Michel Berger. Berger took over his wife's career starting with 1975's France Gall and re-established her popularity throughout Europe. Berger's middle of the road soft rock style (think late-era Elton John, with whom Gall recorded a duet, "Les Aveux," in 1980) is slickly commercial and for the most part, less-inspired than Gall's '60s work, but although her material was by and large weaker, Gall became a much stronger and more technically adept singer during this era. Albums like 1987's Babacar, 1984's Debranche, and 1988's live Tour de France cannot be recommended to those completely averse to mellow "lite" rock, but they have their charms.

Gall's life took a tragic turn in the '90s; Berger died of a heart attack at the age of 46 in 1992, and their daughter Pauline died of cystic fibrosis at the age of 19 in 1997. Gall announced her retirement after Berger's death, but after reconsidering, she restarted her career with 1996's France, a tender tribute to her partner and mentor. That same year, a new generation of listeners began discovering her work when Heavenly covered her Serge Gainsbourg-penned hit "Nous ne Sommes pas des Anges" on Operation: Heavenly. ~ Stewart Mason
full bio

Selected Discography

x

Track List: Grandes Éxitos (Remastered)

1. Poupée De Cire, Poupée De Son

2. Sacré Charlemagne

3. Attends Ou Va-T'en

4. Pense À Moi

5. Laisse Tomber Les Filles

6. N'écoute Pas Les Idoles

7. Les Sucettes

8. Ne Sois Pas Si Bete

9. Bébé Requin

x

Track List: Cinq minutes d'amour

1. Cinq minutes d'amour

2. Frankenstein

3. Le Quatro Domande (La quatrième chose)

4. C'est curieux de vieillir

5. Plus haut que moi (Marai Vai Com As Outras)

6. Par plaisir

7. Les petits ballons

8. Le lâche

9. La quatrième chose

10. Sole Mare Cielo Amore (Le soleil) (la mer) (le ciel) (l'amour)

x

Track List: Best Of Live

Disc 1

1. Viens Je T'Emmène (Live au Théâtre des Champs Elysées 1978)

2. Samba Mambo (Best Of Live)

3. Si Maman Si (Best Of Live)

4. Comment Lui Dire (Best Of Live)

5. Ce Soir Je Ne Dors Pas (Best Of Live)

7. Je L'Aimais (Best Of Live)

8. Chanson D'Une Terrienne (Best Of Live)

9. Chanson Pour Consoler (Best Of Live)

11. Quand On Est Enfant (Best Of Live)

12. Musique (Live au Palais des Sports 1982)

13. Trop Grand Pour Moi (Best of Live)

14. Aime-La (Best Of Live)

15. Ceux Qui Aiment (Best Of Live)

16. Donner Pour Donner (Best Of Live)

17. La Fille De Shannon (Best Of Live)

18. Amor Tambien (Best Of Live)

20. Diego Libre Dans Sa Tête (Live au Palais des Sports 1982)

Disc 2

2. Il Jouait Du Piano Debout (Best Of Live)

3. Résiste (Best Of Live)

5. J'Ai Besoin De Vous (Best Of Live)

6. Cézanne Peint (Live au Zénith - 1984)

7. Débranche (Best Of Live)

9. Urgent D'Attendre (Best Of Live)

10. Evidemment (Best Of Live)

11. J'Irai Ou Tu Iras (Best Of Live)

13. Ella, Elle L'A (Le Tour de France 88 - Live au Zénith - 1987/1988)

Disc 3

1. C'Est Bon Que Tu Sois Là (Best Of Live)

2. Jamais Partir (Best Of Live)

4. Quelques Mots D'Amour (Best Of Live)

5. Bats Toi (Best Of Live)

6. Le Paradis Blanc (Best Of Live)

7. La Négresse Blonde (Best Of Live)

10. Cézanne Peint (Live Pleyel)

11. Les Princes Des Villes (Best Of Live)

12. Superficiel Et Léger (Best Of Live)

13. La Bonne Musique (Best Of Live)

Disc 4

1. La Groupie Du Pianiste (Best Of Live)

2. Privée D'Amour (Best Of Live)

3. Lumière Du Jour (Best Of Live)

4. Mademoiselle Chang (Best of Live)

5. Plus Haut (Best Of Live)

6. Message Personnel (Best of Live)

7. A Qui Donner Ce Que J'Ai ? (Best Of Live)

8. Tout Pour La Musique (Live Concert Privé)

9. Ella, Elle L'A (Live Concert Privé)

10. La Mamma (Best Of Live)

11. La Déclaration D'Amour (Live Concert Privé)

12. Diego Libre Dans Sa Tête (Live Concert Privé)

13. Attends Ou Va-T'En (Best Of Live)

14. Musique (Live Concert Privé)

15. Viens Je T'Emmène (Live Concert Privé)

x

Track List: Poupee De Cire, Poupee De Son (Single)

1. Poupee De Cire, Poupee De Son

x

Track List: Pleyel

2. Musique (Live Pleyel)

3. Résiste (Live Pleyel)

4. Laissez Passer Les Rêves

5. Mais Aime La (Live Pleyel)

6. Cézanne Peint (Live Pleyel)

7. Diego Libre Dans Sa Tête

8. Les Princes Des Villes (Live Pleyel)

10. Message Personnel (Live Pleyel)

11. Superficiel Et Léger

12. Débranche (Live Pleyel)

13. Si Maman Si (Live Pleyel)

14. La Bonne Musique (Live Pleyel)

x

Track List: Evidemment (version standard)

1. La déclaration d'amour

2. Comment lui dire

3. Samba mambo

4. Musique

5. Si maman si

6. Il jouait du piano debout

7. Donner Pour Donner

8. Résiste

9. Tout Pour La Musique

10. Débranche

11. Calypso

12. Hong-Kong Star

13. Cézanne peint

14. Babacar

15. Ella, Elle L'A

16. Evidemment

17. Plus haut

18. La seule chose qui compte

x

Track List: Poupee De Son

1. Poupee De Cire, Poupee De Son

4. Les Sucettes

5. Laisse Tomber Les Filles

7. Ne Sois Pas Si Bete

12. Baby Pop

15. Les Rubans Et La Fleur

16. Attends Ou Va-T'en

17. Nous Ne Sommes Pas Des Anges

19. Teenie Weenie Boppie

23. Ne Dis Pas Aux Copains

x

Track List: Paris, France (Remasterisé)

1. Il jouait du piano debout

2. Trop grand pour moi

3. Plus d'été

5. La mort douce

6. La chanteuse qui a tout donné

7. Bébé comme la vie

8. Parler parler

9. Plus haut

10. Ma vieille Europe

Comments

Report as inappropriate
my absolute favorite 60s French yé-yé it girl.
Report as inappropriate
Brilliant!
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kenknopp1984
Sexy! An excellent cover by April March is used in Quentin Tarantino's Death Proof, in English.
Report as inappropriate
Tina Rabe ok
So slew
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tristanbybee
Bonjour in the colours!!��
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Good alright bonjar
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Sweet songs. Brings memories for my girlfriends all over France in sixtees
Report as inappropriate
I dig it
Report as inappropriate
Elle est hyper tranquille et doucement un reve pour les oreilles.
Report as inappropriate
Ah les sucettes a l'anis !! Et puis elle a gagné l Eurovision avec Poupée de cire, poupée de son.
Report as inappropriate
alinavillase n o r
Lovely!
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tinydant
Oh.Very nice !!!!
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WHY IS SHE ON SHIRLEY ELLIS RADIO!?!?!?! ?
Report as inappropriate
emilykaysmit h
:)
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*Lol* Lolita
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You're my girl
Report as inappropriate
Wtf Isabelle wtf? ?
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Update lyrics
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Hmm....inter e s t i n g .

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