Tuesday, September 29, 2009

After Hours

Sylvie Vartan. Irr├ęsistiblement
Every so often something comes along that is so unbelievable that it's hard to imagine humans ever creating it. It's always a thrilling discovery. This is one of those things. The year is 1968. For two solid weeks, the world is in the grip of "Barbarella Fever." After that, the trend is forgotten. But during that time, this video was made. Bulgarian-born Sylvie Vartan is queen of the galaxy, wonky teeth and all. How can I tell? She's sitting down and she's the only blonde - and yes, that's her real hair, not a wig. The same can't be said of her robotic brunette-bewigged space vixen assistants. The set is cheaply futuristic. The direction is inept. Sylvie's dancing is terrible. And the tune is magnificent - half wall of sound, half Telstar-esque future-pop. There's much oddness to it, from the six-bar phrases in the chorus to the weird futuristic effects in the violins to the grade-school sophistication of the lyrics. This video is just mind-blowing. And wouldn't you know it, the YouTubes will not allow it to embed. What to do, what to do? Go here. Go immediately. It will change your life.

Well, after that experience, what is there to look forward to other than a happy, peaceful death? If you're not quite feeling completely fulfilled, here is another version. Gone are the space-trappings, but some dancers persist. This version is very charming. The song is still the greatest French pop single of the sixties (yes, even better than the lovely FH's "Comment te dire adieu"), but the setting has changed. We're at some variety show soundstage that is both too small and too large for the performers, who are constantly dashing in and out of the picture. But they all look so happy to be on TV. The guys wear identical sharp suits (with sparkly ties!) and the gals... well, it's a miracle that nobody tripped on their jet-intake-sized bellbottoms. They also sport weird beehive jr. hairdos. Sylvie looks fantastic. Dig those boots. And yes, that's still her real hair. Honestly, this was best bit of foreign-language pop music I've found in ages. Enjoy!

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