Voulez-vous coucher avec moi?

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Voulez-vous coucher avec moi (ce soir)? (French pronunciation: ​[vule vu kuʃe avɛk mwa (sə swaʁ)], "Do you [formal] want to go to bed with me (tonight)?") is a French phrase that has become well known in the English-speaking world through literature and popular songs.

Origins and usage[edit]

In Literature[edit]

The origins of the actual usage in print of the phrase in English can be traced back to the early 20th century.

American author John Dos Passos' 1920 novel Three Soldiers features an Americanised version, "Voulay vous couchay aveck moy?"

A poem by E. E. Cummings published in 1922 and known by its first line "little ladies more" contains the phrase "voulez-vous coucher avec moi?" twice.

The phrase also appears in Tennessee Williams' 1947 play A Streetcar Named Desire.

In Media[edit]

In 1973 porn star-turned-Italian politician Ilona Staller (Cicciolina) achieved fame with a radio show called "Voulez-vous coucher avec moi?" on Radio Luna.

In Music[edit]

The phrase is perhaps best known from the 1974 song "Lady Marmalade," first popularized by the group Labelle, of which singer Patti LaBelle was the lead singer. (Later, in 2001, singers Christina Aguilera, Lil' Kim, Mýa, and Pink did a remake of the song for the Moulin Rouge! film's soundtrack.)

In 1979, ABBA released an album called "Voulez-Vous", with a track of the same name.

In 1983 country singers David Frizzell and Shelly West recorded a country music song called "Cajun Invitation" which contains the line, but was also unrelated to "Lady Marmalade."

In 1993 jazz rap group Digable Planets used the phrase in their song "Swoon Units".

In 1998 German Euro disco group Bad Boys Blue used the phrase in their hit song Hungry For Love.

In 1996 the phrase was used in The Whitlams song "Love is Everywhere" from the album Eternal Nightcap.

In 1997 the phrase was used 13 times by Peter-Paul Pigmans (3 Steps Ahead) In the song "Its Delicious" from the album "Most Wanted and Mad".

In 1997 it was used in All Saints' double A-Side to their cover of the Red Hot Chili Peppers song "Under the Bridge", which although also entitled "Lady Marmalade" was considerably different from the original.

In 2006 the band Aquarium used the phrase in a similar song from their album Carefree Russian Tramp.

In 2007 it was part of a remix of Swizz Beatz's song "It's Me Bitches."

In 2011 and 2013 rapper Logic used this phrase in his song "All I Do" in the albums "Young Sinatra" and "Young Sinatra: Welcome to Forever".[1]

In 2012, singer Christina Aguilera for the second time used this phrase in her song titled "Around the World", from her album Lotus.

In Television[edit]

In 1995, the British soap opera Coronation Street featured a memorable humorous moment when Ken Barlow teaches French to dizzy blonde Raquel Watts;

Raquel: "I met a French man in Corfu who taught me how to say isn't it a lovely day today."

Ken: "Right, let's put a sentence together. I want you to say to me in French 'Hello Ken. My name is Raquel. Isn't it a lovely day today?' Raquel: "Ooh, clever. Right, here goes. Bonjour Ken. Je m'appelle Raquel. Voulez vous coucher avec moi ce soir?"[2]

In the 2006 tenth season episode "Make Love, Not Warcraft" from the animated series South Park, Cartman is persuading one of the boys, Clyde, to join the World of Warcraft to take down this strong player by mentioning that if Clyde went back in time and stop Hitler, would he do it (except Cartman wouldn't because he admired him). When Clyde insists on giving up, Cartman mentions that when Hitler rose to power, the people that gave up were the French; he then taunts Clyde by saying if he's French and saying "Voulez-vous coucher avec moi, Clyde?" Clyde, irked, finally relents by joining the group: "Alright, Alright, I'll do it!"

In the show Friends, Monica goes on a double date as Phoebe's date has a friend, and the former dates a man fluent in French. She asks him "Voulez-vous coucher avec moi?" not knowing what it means. He then responds, "This is embarrassing," and then explains what it means, making Monica embarrassed.

In Film[edit]

In the Scooby-Doo live-action film, Shaggy at one point refers to the phrase, remarking to love interest Mary-Jane, "You don't need to know what "voulez-vous coucher" means to love that song", presumably referring to "Lady Marmalade". It is likely that Shaggy himself does not understand the meaning of the phrase.

References[edit]