First of all, bless the cacophony that is YouTube. You find the darndest things there. For instance, this video of Juliette Gréco, probably one of the last living members of the generation that sang the French chanson into the world’s collective consciousness. Here she sings the absolutely delicious “Déshabillez-moi” (Undress me). You can find the lyrics here and a reasonable, though not exact (or half as inspirational), translation here, if you want. But that’s not the point. Listen to and look at the way she sings it. Do the lyrics even matter?
I find that incredibly sexy.
But wait, there’s more. Now here’s a cover of the same song by Mylene Farmer, who has been singing it for at least 20 years herself.
Meh. The song is still fun and the update isn’t bad – the crowd certainly seems to like it – it’s just somehow too much. Everything from standing there in lingerie, to the mini pole-dancer move, to the squat-and-spread towards the end and that ridiculous scream (which is part of the way she does the song – it’s been there since at least the 80s) made me roll my eyes.
The original, for me at least, shows that you do not need to get your kit off to be sexy, or even deliberately sexual. It shows that ‘sexy’ doesn’t reside so much in the body but in whatever it is that that camera captured 40 years ago. It’s the idea that arouses, not so much the physical fact (though that’ll work at a basic level). I guess it’s the difference between the sexual and the sensual or the erotic. Any mammal can be sexual (at least in the way we tend to be – no offense to any avian or reptilian readers I may have), but sensuality requires the involvement of the mind as well. Sexual is doing. Sensual is how you do it. For me, it’s Juliette all the way.