Today, the yé-yé queens would have slick music videos and personal stylists, but a much more lo-fi ethos prevailed at the time. The surviving performance footage and music videos from the era— including France Gall’s suggestive, must-be-seen-to-be-believed “Les Sucettes” to Françoise Hardy’s mournful, mellow performance of “La Fille Avec Toi” for her first TV appearance (above) — have an understated charm, while more recent takes on the songs by April March and Free Kitten tease out the songs’ feminist leanings.
France Gall, “Les sucettes”
The singer later claimed ignorance of the song’s innuendo. (It was written by Serge Gainsbourg, who performed it with her on French TV.)
France Gall, “Teenie Weenie Boppie”
If you’d like to see Napoleon trip out on LSD, look no further.
France Gall, “Bebe requin”
Gall weaves an elaborate metaphor about being a shark while unidentified groovy dudes dance around her.
France Gall, “Cet air-là”
After seeing this choreography, we now know where SNL’s French teens got their moves.
Françoise Hardy, “Tous les garcons et les filles de mon age”
You’ll never see someone acting more depressed at an amusement park. It takes deep-seated ennui to resist the simple charms of bumper cars.
Brigitte Bardot, “L’appareil à sous”
On a set filled with shiny Calder-size mobiles, she dances a modified mashed-potato on a French New Year’s special.
Brigitte Bardot, “Bubble Gum”
Taken from a B.B. TV special, this segment never incorporates actual gum, but there is a lot of priceless Bardot posing.
Chantal Goya, “J’ai le cœur en joie, j’ai le cœur en peine”
Come for the obvious lip-syncing, stay for her wide striped tie.
April March, “Chick Habit”
An English-language take on Hardy’s classic, “Laisse tomber les filles,” this later made it into yé-yé aficionado Quentin Tarantino’s Death Proof.
Free Kitten, “Teenie Weenie Boppie”
Kim Gordon takes France Gall’s beachy LSD anthem for a test drive.