The In Deep Music archive goes controversial and posts Serge Gainsbourg’s Les Sucettes (Lollipops) as performed by the unknowing teenage France Gall. This was the beginning of Gainsbourg’s controversial arc that made him a legend in France. Sexual exploitation provokes rage in all of us, as does torture and any humiliation or disrespect of human dignity but in a highly strung society racked with corruption and extremes, morality has difficulty in keeping balance between the puritanical and the controversial. But the French seem less provoked by Lolitas; fabulously successful singer/actress Vanessa Paradis features high on the list of respected artists in France. Under the direction of French FEMALE superstar Mylène Farmer, French Lolitaesque singer Alizée has achieved huge success in Europe and hasn’t seemed to pose too much of a threat in the 21st Century.
Gainsbourg exploited the French half-hearted outrage towards his antics at every turn, recording Je T’aime Moi Non Plus first with Brigitte Bardot in 1968, she then backed out and asked him not to release their version. Gainsbourg rerecorded the song in 1969 with Jane Birkin, the mother of their daughter Charlotte – the song was simultaneously banned and a hit record all over Europe. In 1983 when Charlotte was 12 years old, father and daughter recorded a duet called – wait for it, Lemon Incest.
Gainsbourg went on to be one of the most popular figures in French culture. On his death President Mitterand referred to him as “our Baudelaire, our Apollinaire”. Never far away from controversy, a Gauloise cigarette and a sexual provocation Gainsbourg died in 1991 at the age of 62 from a heart attack.
France Gall struggled to shake off the controversy of Les Sucettes, suffering suspicion and microscopic analysis of her lyrics for years to come, even with Gainsbourg long gone from any collaborations, but she too eventually became a French superstar, retiring in 1997.
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