« The Kids Are All Right vs. I Am Love | Home | Ben Affleck, Jon Hamm, and The Town »

July 14, 2010


Mark Ronson and the French

Mark Ronson, Bang Bang Bang

Happy Bastille Day!

In celebration, here's the video from a new single from the dependably wonderful Mark Ronson, "Bang Bang Bang". (thanks, King Pigeon!) It features a Japanese talk show, breakdancing preteens, and a chorus with lyrics taken from the French children's song you probably sang in 2nd grade music class, "Alouette". And MNDR and Q-Tip on vocals.

The video walks a fine line between funky kitsch and tired '80's video parody, but somehow everything comes together just right to make a phenomenally cool video. Does Mark Ronson ever make stylistic missteps? I don't think he does.

His new album "Record Collection" is coming out in October under the name Mark Ronson & The Business Intl, and it will include guests vocalists Ghostface Killah, D'Angelo, Simon LeBon, and BOY GEORGE. How does he do it?

His last album, "Version", was all covers of pop songs, with lots of really inspired selections on there, including the last (ever?) great recording by Amy Winehouse, "Valerie".

In watching the video for "Bang Bang Bang", I started wondering about those lyrics to "Alouette", which I've half-known since childhood. "Alouette, gentille alouette, je te plumerai." Then you go through all the different parts of the bird--the head, the beak, the wings, the tail. It's pretty much the only French I know, besides "Voulez-vous coucher avec moi (ce soir)", which every American girl is required to know so she can scream it at house parties when that Christina Aguilera song comes on and imagine she's very cosmopolitan.

But although I assumed the song was a sweet tribute to a bird, I had no idea what a lot of the words meant. So I looked them up.

Turns out that "plumerai" means "pluck". It's a song about plucking a DEAD BIRD. Gentille alouette! I'm going to pluck your head!

What I had always thought was a mild song celebrating a beloved bird as it happily fluttered around in the French countryside turns out to be a gruesome tune about ripping the feathers off a bird's dead little body.

Those sick French bastards.

categories: Celebrities, Music
posted by amy at 3:53 PM | #

Trackback Pings

TrackBack URL for this entry:


I've often thought that the biggest difference between modern suburban/urban life (and even modern rural life) and the rural life of a couple hundred years ago is how little contact we have with killing and dead animals. I mean, I know you're a vegetarian, but it amuses me how many cheerful meat-eaters would be horrified to know that children are singing about plucking a dead bird, and even more horrified by the idea of children killing a bird. Which they did, for hundreds of years.

Then there's the topic of parental sex, which once happened in the same room the kids slept in---I'm convinced our modern squicked-out reaction at the very thought of old people and especially parents having sex is a holdover from the days of urban upward mobility, when it was a way of distinguishing oneself from peasants. But that's another topic.

Posted by: That Fuzzy Bastarrd at July 15, 2010 11:04 AM

I take comfort in knowing that my parents haven't had sex in the last 36 years, since I was conceived.

Posted by: amy at July 16, 2010 1:23 AM

Alouette is actually a Canadian song, or as they say in Canada, "a Canadian song." So the next time those trash talking Canadians get all uppity about American militarism and how peaceful, serene, puppy Canada wouldn't hurt a fly, you can say at least our folk songs aren't about mutilating wildlife.

Posted by: T-Rock at July 20, 2010 10:23 AM

Excellent point. I'm going to go up to Quebec and tear the flesh off a loon. Just like the traditional little Canadian children love to do! Et la bec! Et la tete! O-o-o-oh!

Posted by: amy at July 20, 2010 11:55 PM

Actually the song is about what the person will do to the bird (alouette) once it is caught. "Plumerai", if you really want to get into it, is the future tense. It's a bird-taunting song.

Posted by: karine Prot at July 23, 2010 7:59 PM

Hi Karine! Thanks for your help with our understanding of French conjugation. Here, pretty birdie bird! I'm going to pluck you!

I suppose you could argue that the song implies plucking the feathers off the bird after it's caught but while it's still alive, which is maybe even grosser than what I had envisioned. This is one surprisingly dark bird-taunting song.

Posted by: amy at July 26, 2010 11:35 PM

Post a comment

Remember Me?

(you may use HTML tags for style)