I
Fifties

French pop has always been easy to adept new influences and gave it a French twist. In fact, the twist was made popular in France by artists like Dalida, Sylvie Vartan and a very young Sheila. This was halfway the fifties when rock ‘n roll blew over from overseas. The French named it Yéyé. The first French rock artist was Danyel Gerard who had a hit with ‘D’ou viens - Tu Billy Boy’ which features lyrics by Boris Vian. Like so many other countries in Europe the fifties were a time when modern technology became easily accessible for the main public. Small record players (and the limited knowledge of the English language) demanded a string of French sung translations of English hits. Artists like Sacha Distel were a big success this way. The fifties were also the time of the Blousons Noirs who modelled themselves after rock artists like Gene Vincent and Elvis Presley. Examples of artists within this scene were Eddy Mitchell, Hervé Villard and the French king of Rock ‘n Roll Johnny Hallyday. In 1963 the sociologist Edgar Morin used for the first time the term "Yéyé" to describe young lovers rock and twist. In the months that followed, the word from the norm, enabling journalists to stigmatize young people. "Yéyé" becomes a synonym for them young idiot who endlessly repeated the same empty word: yéyéyéyéyéyé.

But next to this Americanized popular music culture was the more traditional scene with artists like Barbara, Jacques Brel, Juliette Greco, Leo Ferré and Serge Gainsbourg. Usually accompagnied by the orchestra’s of Andre Popp and Michel Legrand. Again both scenes weren’t strictly separated and artists frequently would cross over. Only listen to the albums of Gilbert Becaud who wasn’t named Monsieur 100.000 volts for nothing.

 

 


 

 

 




 

  EUROPOPMUSIC - France