"Désenchantée" (pronounced: [dezɑ̃ʃɑ̃te]; English: "Disenchanted") is a 1991 song recorded by the French singer-songwriter Mylène Farmer. First single from her third studio album L'Autre..., it was released on 18 March 1991 and achieved great success in France, topping the charts for more than two months. It was Farmer's most successful song and is generally considered her signature song.
In 2002, the song was successfully covered by Kate Ryan, who reached number one in Belgium.
After a two-year absence from the media, Farmer launched this new single "Désenchantée" on 18 March 1991, three weeks before the release of the album L'Autre.... At the time, many demonstrations were organized by students throughout France to protest against their status and conditions for learning, and the Gulf War was raging. The pessimistic lyrics of the song strongly echoed the feelings toward worldwide events and thus certainly contributed to its success. According to the sound engineer, Thierry Rogen, "Désenchantée" was recorded four times. Boutonnat originally wanted a jerky song with techno influences, but Rogen convinced him to add drums and a more funk sound. The text was inspired by the 1934 book On the Heights of Despair by the RomanianphilosopherEmil Cioran.
"Désenchantée" has a melodious tune, and its lyrics have "unexpected hyphenate which dissect the phrases in small sections". This song also has "a very dancing rhythmic color" thanks to the chords played on the piano in the introduction, the bright and chiseled percussion or vocals (performed by Debbie Davis and Carole Fredericks) which bring out the refrain. In the lyrics, the singer expresses her great lucidity on the absurdity of the world and discusses topics related to the existentialism.
The music video was produced by Requiem Publishing and Heathcliff SA and directed by Laurent Boutonnat, who also wrote the script. Shot for five days (from 18 to 23 February 1991) in Budapest, Hungary, with a budget of about 240,000 euros, this video was one of the longest at the time (10:12) and used many extras: 119 children and many Hungarian actors such as Erika Francz Jánosné. There is another version shortened to four minutes. The video for the single features a riot in what appears to be a concentration camp or gulag facility where adults and children are subjected to forced labor and being treated abysmally by armed guards. The riot scenes are quite realistically shot and contain much violence. The anthem-like song goes well with the visual background. According to French magazine Instant-Mag, this music video has a fairly similar structure to that of "Tristana". It has a gloomy story, an ambiguous ending, allows various interpretations, and deals with the theme of messianism. Farmer "symbolically embodies the spirit of freedom". The final scene is inspired by the 1830 paintingLa Liberté guidant le peuple by Eugène Delacroix.
During the shooting of the music video, Farmer also gave a lengthy interview to French television host Laurent Boyer, in Budapest. The interview was later aired on M6, on 7 April 1991. Farmer also performed the song live on Studio 22, broadcast on the radio RTL on 15 May 1991.
In 1991, Farmer appeared on five television shows to promote the songs: Sacrée soirée (17 April, TF1), La Une est à vous (20 April, TF1), Stars 90 (13 May, TF1; Farmer also sang "L'Autre"), Tous à la une (31 May, TF1) and Riva del Garda (Rai Uno, September). On these occasions, Farmer had short hair (as in the music video) and wore white clothes. The performances were accompanied by a choreographed collective dance.
"Désenchantée" was the most aired song on radio in 1991 and was also the song that brought the most money in 1991, 1992, and 2006, according to the SACEM.
The single debuted on the French Single Chart at number 12 on 13 April 1991 and reached number one two weeks after. There it stayed for nine consecutive weeks. After that, the single fell, but slowly, and managed to remain for eighteen weeks in the top ten and for 25 weeks on the chart. The song has the second longest chart trajectory of all Farmer's singles in the top 50. It was the best-selling single by a woman in France and was certified Gold disc by the SNEP. The song was also a huge success in Belgium where it reached number one, in the Netherlands (number three), and in Canada where it was a top nine hit.
In the other countries where it was released, "Désenchantée" achieved moderate success. In Switzerland, the single peaked at number 23 on 9 February 1992. In Austria, the single charted for eleven weeks, from 11 August to 20 October 1991, reaching a peak of number 16 on 29 September. In Germany, the song only ranked at number 46.
The song begins with the sounds of children in a playground, and then with a musical introduction in which the words "génération", "désenchantée" and "tout est chaos" are sampled. The music is accelerated and the bridge is extended.
In 2002, Belgian singer Kate Ryan released her eurodance style version of "Désenchantée" as the third single from her debut album Different, released in the same year. This version was successful in several European countries.
In 2009, the song was remastered and remixed by Paris Avenue, with dance/electronic style. The remix was included in Ryan's greatest hits album French Connection.
In Belgium (Flanders), the single went directly into the top ten, which happens not very often in this chart, then it reached number one in the third week and stayed there for six weeks. Then it dropped very slowly and even spent ten weeks in the top three and twenty weeks in the top ten. After 27 weeks on the chart, it fell off the top 50. This chart running was the very best for Kate Ryan in this country. The single also reached number one in the Belgian dance chart.
The single was also very successful in other European countries, such as Germany, Austria and Norway, where it reached the top three of the singles chart and stayed for several weeks in the top ten. It had the best chart performances of all of Ryan's singles ever.