"Comme j'ai mal" (English: "How Much I Suffer") is a 1995 song recorded by Frenchsinger-songwriterMylène Farmer. Fourth single from her fourth album Anamorphosée, it was released on 1 July 1996. It was a relative failure: indeed, it failed to reach the top ten in France and was the least-selling single from the album.
In June 1996, Farmer continued her concert tour through France that she had begun on 25 May, while her fourth studio album Anamorphosée was a success despite a lack of promotion. However, on 15 June, the singer fell at her concert in Lyon and broke her wrist, forcing her to stop her tour. To make her fans wait, the release of "Comme j'ai mal", initially scheduled for August, was delayed to July, although no music video was shot then. The three official remixes available on the various formats were produced by Laurent Boutonnat and Bertrand Châtenet. As the previous single "California", a CD maxi was released in Germany. The song was later included in the studio version on the 2001 best of album Les Mots.
Journalist Benoît Cachin said "Comme j'ai mal" seems to be as "a confession and may be related to the texts of "Ainsi soit je..." and "Laisse le vent emporter tout"". Farmer evokes "her pain of living that prevents her from enjoying life"; she also talks about her lucidity and disillusionment and "that leads her to disconnect both physically and psychologically from the real world for a better world that belongs to her". Author Erwan Chuberre considered that with this song, Farmer keeps up with lyrics "evoking death and the escape from reality". According to psychologist Hugues Royer, the song contains "the sign of a hope of change" of the malaise from childhood, "of a travel for the mind and the body".
The music video was produced by Marcus Nispel, who had previously directed the ones for "XXL" and "L'Instant X", and later for "Souviens-toi du jour". Nispel also composed the screenplay alongside Farmer, and this video was generally regarded as his best. A Requiem Publishing production, the video was filmed in Los Angeles for two days in August 1996 with a budget of about 80,000 euros. It was said that the video was produced twice, as the scenery of the first one was ransacked by panthers that were originally included in the video. Only few photographs were taken by the only photographer who attended the shooting, Jeff Dahlgren, who also played in the 1992 film Giorgino. The costumes, make up and hairstyles required several hours of preparation. Farmer was deeply involved in the creation of the butterfly costume which holds itself through an iron wire and pins, and Farmer deemed it a masterpiece.
The video features Farmer at different stages of her life, and two actors who seem to be her parents. At the beginning, Farmer plays with a praying mantis in a cupboard. Then a little girl in a dark room opens a box containing many insects that she likes. When her father comes, she hides them in the box. She is then beaten by the latter who also starts to break everything in the room. With her doll and her box, the girl runs to take refuge in her cupboard where she plays with an insect. Then she eats sugar and gets covered with honey and finds herself in a cocoon in a forest. She begins to leave it, the sticky body with wings in the back, very long nails, ruffled hair. She has therefore converted into a butterfly whose face is that of Farmer. The father cries because he understands that his daughter is gone away.
The video was broadcast for the first time on television about one month after the single's release. According to French magazine Instant-Mag, this video underlines "the relationship with a father figure". "The girl, scared by her father, who hides in her cupboard, is the representation of a child beaten and mistreated. The most painful is the metaphor of Farmer converted into a butterfly, which has therefore no more than one day to live : allegory of a child injured in search of paradise ?" Royer considered this video proves the fact that "animals have something valuable to teach us. Something that we lost, and which undoubtedly relates to the survival instinct."
On the television, Farmer performed "Comme j'ai mal" on the Tip Top show, broadcast on TF1 on 24 October 1996. Just after her performance, she sang "La Poupée qui fait non", a song originally composed by Michel Polnareff, as duet with Khaled. Regarding tours, the song was performed on the 1996 Live à Bercy tour; Farmer sang it alone in the middle of the stage illuminated by many lights. It was also performed on the Timeless tour in 2013.
"Comme j'ai mal"'s trajectories on the singles charts were rather disappointing in comparison with the previous three singles. In France, the single failed to enter the top ten, debuting at number 11 on 10 August 1996, then dropped and fell off the top 50 after nine weeks, becoming the lowest-selling single from the Anamorphosée album. On the Belgian Ultratop 50, "Comme j'ai mal" started at number 36 on 24 August, reached a peak at number 21 the next week, dropped quickly and totaled four weeks, which was the shortest chart run of a single from the album in Belgium.