French girl singers of the 1960s

Gallic girl pop in the 1960s had a distinctly American flavour. Like their male counterparts, many of the French girl singers relied on covers of US hits for their material, at least until the mid-1960s when a more British sound became popular.

In what are known as the yé-yé years (after the ‘yeah yeahs’ popular in rock ‘n’ roll), girl singers earned the appellation ‘the yé-yés’. The derivative nature of their music meant that many failed to earn the respect they deserved. Until now, that is.

Sylvie Vartan and Sheila were two of the most successful of the yé-yés, enjoying hit after hit throughout the 1960s, often with covers of Anglo-Saxon songs, particularly in the early years.

But not all yé-yés relied on British or American material. France Gall, for instance, had a team of French songwriters behind her, and others, such as Françoise Hardy, wrote many of their own songs. These two chanteuses of cool sat at the very top of the hit heap in the 60s.

The French penchant for an international sound left the door open for foreign singers, and many recorded French versions of their hits to find favour in France.

Here we celebrate France’s domestic doyennes of pop and the other European singers who twisted their tonsils around the language of Molière.

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France's most successful girl singers of the 1960s

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France's lesser-known girl singers of the 1960s

New

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Other girl singers who sang in French

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Other girl singers whose pops we’ve picked

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Coming soon

Highlights of the coming months include:

Les Surfs
Christine Delaroche
Evy
Les Parisiennes
Marianne Mille
Brigitte Bardot

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