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Mylene Farmer - Desenchantee (cover).jpg
Single by Mylène Farmer
from the album L'Autre...
Released18 March 1991
Recorded1990 (Paris, France)
GenreEuropop, freestyle, synth-pop, new wave
Songwriter(s)Lyrics: Mylène Farmer
Music: Laurent Boutonnat
Producer(s)Laurent Boutonnat
Mylène Farmer singles chronology
"Plus grandir (live mix)"
Alternative cover
12" maxi
12" maxi

"Désenchantée" (pronounced [dezɑ̃ʃɑ̃te]; English: "Disenchanted") is a 1991 song recorded by the French singer-songwriter Mylène Farmer. The 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, which reached number one in Belgium.

Mylène Farmer version[edit]

Background and writing[edit]

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.[1] The text was inspired by the 1934 book On the Heights of Despair by the Romanian philosopher Emil Cioran.

Very quickly, the song achieved great success in France, becoming Farmer's biggest hit. As a result, the song was also released in other countries including Canada, UK, Austria, Switzerland, Belgium, Netherlands, Germany, Australia and Japan. There were many formats for this song.

Lyrics and music[edit]

"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.[2] In the lyrics, the singer expresses her great lucidity on the absurdity of the world and discusses topics related to the existentialism.[3]

Music video[edit]

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[4] 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 painting La Liberté guidant le peuple by Eugène Delacroix.[5]

The music video is included on the videos albums L'Autre and Music Videos I.

Promotion and performances on tours[edit]

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.[6] Farmer also performed the song live on Studio 22, broadcast on the radio RTL on 15 May 1991.[3]

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 Vela d'Oro at Riva del Garda (Rai Uno, 4 October). 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.[7]

The song was performed on the 1996 tour, the Mylenium Tour, the 2006 tour à Bercy, 2009 tour, the Timeless tour, as well as the Mylène Farmer 2019 residency at the Paris La Défense Arena.

Chart Performance[edit]

"Désenchantée" was the most aired song on radio in 1991 and was also the highest grossing song in 1991, 1992, and 2006, according to the SACEM.[8]

The single debuted on the French Single Chart at number 12 on 13 April 1991, climbing to number one two weeks later, where it stayed for nine consecutive weeks. Then it fell slowly back down the chart, remaining in the top ten for eighteen weeks and in the chart for 25 weeks in total. In the 2010s, the song re-entered the chart many times : on 1st October 2016, it was number four due to downloads, and number 26 on 16 December 2017 when a maxi vinyl was released.[9] It was the best-selling single by a female artist in France and was certified Gold disc by the SNEP.[10]

The song had some success in Belgium where it reached number 18 and in the Netherlands (number three). In the other countries where it was released, "Désenchantée" achieved moderate success. In Switzerland, the single peaked at number 23 on 9 February 1992.[11] In Austria, the single charted for eleven weeks, from 11 August to 20 October 1991, reaching a peak of number 16 on 29 September.[12] In Germany, the song only ranked at number 46.[13]

Cover versions[edit]

The song was covered by many artists, including :

  • In 1996, Lio recorded her own version for the compilation album 1991 - Les Plus Belles Chansons françaises.[14]
  • In 1998, the French band Alliage covered the song on Hit Machine, but this version was not released as a single.
  • In 1999, the French singer Allan Théo performed the song on stage.
  • The Belgian dance-music singer Kate Ryan in 2002. This version is perhaps the best known cover, because it was released as a single and achieved a great success in many countries.
  • In 2002, Liloo covered the song which was remixed by Mad' House.[15]
  • In 2005, the song was recorded by Pascal Obispo and Zazie and is available on Les Enfoirés' album 2005 : Le Train des Enfoirés.[16]
  • The song was covered by the Swedish artist Christer Björkman.[17]
  • In 2006, Cynthia Brown, Cyril Cinélu, Domy Fidanza and Elfy Ka covered the song in a rock version for an album of the Star Academy.
  • In 2008, German Dance Band Siria (An offshoot project of Cascada) Covered the song in a "Handz Up/Euro-Trance Format.
  • In 2018, French duo Madame Monsieur covered the song in a electro-pop version
  • The lyrics of Electronic's 1992 single "Disappointed" were partly inspired by "Désenchantée".

Formats and track listings[edit]

These are the formats and track listings of single releases of "Désenchantée":[18]

1 French promo and English promo versions
2 Mainstream and promo versions

Official versions[edit]

Version Length Album Remixed by Year Comment[3]
Album version 5:22 L'Autre... 1991 See the previous sections
Single version 4:45 1991 The musical bridge is shortened.
Chaos mix (short version) 4:10 Laurent Boutonnat, Thierry Rogen 1991 This dance version is fast and begins with the sound of thunder.
Chaos mix (extended version) 6:50 Laurent Boutonnat, Thierry Rogen 1991 Various sounds are added to the music. Farmer's voice is very mixed at the end of this remix.
Edited version 3:55 1991 The musical bridge is entirely deleted.
Remix club 8:10 Dance Remixes Laurent Boutonnat, Thierry Rogen 1991 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.
Live version (recorded in 1996) 8:15 Live à Bercy 1996 This version is very dynamic. See 1996 tour
Live version (recorded in 2000) 7:12 Mylenium Tour 2000 This version has techno sonorities. See Mylenium Tour
Album version 5:00 Les Mots 2001 The musical bridge is shortened.
Thunderpuss club anthem 10:04 RemixeS Thunderpuss 2003 This dance/techno version has a musical introduction which lasts about 2:30.
Live version (recorded in 2006) 6:42 Avant que l'ombre... à Bercy 2006 See Avant que l'ombre... à Bercy (tour)
Live version
(recorded in 2009)
7:42 N°5 on Tour 2009 See Mylène Farmer en tournée
Live version
(recorded in 2013)
7:04 Timeless 2013 2013 See Mylène Farmer en tournée

Credits and personnel[edit]

  • Mylène Farmer – lyrics
  • Laurent Boutonnat – music
  • Requiem Publishing – editions
  • Polydor – recording company
  • Marianne Rosenstiehl (Sygma) – photo
  • Com'N.B – design

Charts, certifications and sales[edit]

Kate Ryan cover version[edit]

Désenchantée (Kate Ryan version).jpg
Single by Kate Ryan
from the album Different
Released29 March 2002[26]
Composer(s)Laurent Boutonnat
Lyricist(s)Mylène Farmer
  • Phil Wilde
  • AJ Duncan (main version)
  • Paris Avenue (2009 remix)
Kate Ryan singles chronology
"UR (My Love)"
"Mon cœur résiste encore"

In 2002, Belgian singer Kate Ryan released her dance-pop 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.

Track listings[edit]

CD single

1."Désenchantée" (radio edit)3:38
2."Désenchantée" (extended mix)8:27

CD maxi

1."Désenchantée" (radio edit)3:38
2."Désenchantée" (extended mix)8:27
3."Désenchantée" (club version)8:12

Chart performances[edit]

In the Flanders region of Belgium, the single went directly into the top ten, then reached number one on the third week and stayed there for six weeks. It 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. The single also reached number one in the Belgian dance chart. The single was also very successful in other European countries, such as Austria, Germany, Hungary, and Norway, where it reached the top three of the singles chart and stayed for several weeks in the top ten.


Region Certification Certified units/sales
Belgium (BEA)[58] 2× Platinum 100,000*
France (SNEP)[59] Gold 250,000*
Germany (BVMI)[60] Gold 250,000^
Sweden (GLF)[61] Gold 15,000^

*sales figures based on certification alone
^shipments figures based on certification alone


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External links[edit]