Just Say

Victoria Meyer sings yé-yé on Joueuse

The last gift I expected to receive over the holidays was a conversation about Johnny Hallyday at a party in West Hollywood. Bob Merlis, longtime music publicist and passionate fan of the recently deceased French rock ’n’ roll star, had been as blown away as I’d been by Johnny’s Los Angeles concert at The Orpheum. When Merlis disappeared after our conversation I thought that was the end of it, mais non. The CD he slipped my husband and me was all about yes.

It was news to me that yé-yé, which some would describe as France’s answer to the British “yeah! yeah! yeah!” sound, was not simply a teen phenomenon doomed to disappear. Johnny Hallyday and Sylvie Vartan, his former girlfriend/wife/muse, helped popularize the craze, but interest in the high-spirited lyrics and melodies hardly ended with the ’60s. If you watched Jessica Paré, aka Megan Draper, perform the curious Zou Bisou Bisou during an episode of Mad Men, there’s a reason you occasionally find yourself humming this example of yé-yé music. These tunes can be catchy.

What you may not know is how Matthew Weiner, creator of the show, chose the sexy, playful song and how hesitant Jessica Paré initially was about performing it. Singing privately in French came naturally to the actress from Montreal, but singing before an audience was another matter. After much cajoling by Weiner she gave in, seducing not only Don Draper, but millions of viewers.

Victoria Meyer, a scientist at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in La Cañada Flintridge, didn’t require that much coaxing. When the French native was approached by her boss a couple of years ago to help a music producer friend write some songs in the yé-yé tradition, she quickly agreed. Like Paré, she sang in the shower and in her car, but not in public. She never dreamed she would eventually be launching a second career as chanteuse with Andy Paley, who has produced for a long list of artists, Madonna and the Ramones among them. Though too young to have known the music firsthand, scientist and now singer Victoria knew the music from parties. Check out C’est un Tombeur and other selections on iTunes and CD Baby. And by all means, sing the lyrics in the shower. Who knows where it will lead?

— Linda

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